Owen and Marina

owen marina

Writing this on a Sunday feels like wearing a Team GB T-shirt a year after the Olympics or a Santa hat in February, but it’s Sunday and here we are.

Today (or yesterday), we have Owen, a 27-year-old research student, and Marina, 25, an assistant music agent. Both occupations/statuses that, if I were to hear of them at a party during some introductions, I’d cock my head to one side, maybe purse my lips a little and squeak: “Ooh, sounds interesting. What does that entail, then?” But then I wouldn’t listen to a word because I’d be too busy giving fuck-me eyes to the nearest gin and tonic.

Anyway, read what happened on the date and I’ll be over here smoothing down my pinafore and getting ready to let them have it.

Owen kicks us off.

owen hoping for

Years ago, I had to break it to a guy I’d been seeing that I didn’t see a romantic future for us, but I’d love to remain friends. His response was impressive. I’ll never forget it. “Friends? Great. I don’t know about you, but I joined a dating site to fall in love, not to make friends. I don’t want to be your friend. Fuck being friends.”

He had a point. Romantic potential is the whole reason we’re here; it’s not a bonus. Finding a Kit-Kat with no wafer in the middle and only chocolate is a bonus, and I see no surprise chocolate here.

marina hoping for

Spoiler: Marina’s answers all have the air of someone who was caught straightening their hair while the phone rang. She’s polite, but she really must be getting along before her ‘bangs’ frizz up.

owen talk

From religion to Armando Iannucci – that’s not a conversation I’d want to be stuck behind on a long bus journey .

If your mum is available to dispense advice, you should always take it. Button up those coats (and take them off indoors to feel the benefit when you go out later), eat your greens, don’t talk to strangers and, of course, never talk about yourself too much. How did he do, Marina?

marina talk


In the online version of the date, Marina goes on to say: “I was less impressed when he asked me for the third time where I live”.

Poor Owen, he seems to have spent the entire date with his fingers in his ears, facing the wrong way. Maybe he just really liked the way she said “Clapham” (or wherever) so got her to repeat it, like a guy I used to know who’d make me say “cellar door” over and over again while he… oh, actually, never mind – it wouldn’t feel right telling you on a Sunday.

owen awkward

Owen is that man on the Titanic who just missed the last lifeboat so decided he might as well order a mojito and drown happy.

marina awkward

Marina – treating her appearance in this column like someone knocking at the door trying to sell you tea towels.

Table manners next – let’s hope Marina can look up from her Take A Break long enough to give us some juice. Owen first though:

owen table manners

Owen is so apologetic, so keen, so eager to please. And destined to be foiled. Owen is Penfold. He is Smithers.

marina manners



owen best thing

I can’t think of anything to say about this; I am only typing here so the GIF above moves farther up the screen, because it’s making me feel sick.

marina best thing

If I were a basic bitch I’d say something here about herpes being contagious too but I’ve got more class than that so let’s just say Marina here seems like she really wanted to answer, “Owen’s cackle sounded like a fire in a pet shop”.

owen friends

OWEN. Don’t say things like this. Either you’re being really overly self-deprecating – which is a guaranteed boner-killer – or you have totally garbage friends.

If your friends would really prefer Marina to you – and Marina is giving off some serious ‘bored behind the counter at River Island’ vibes – then perhaps you need to get some new ones. Maybe go on more dates! That’s a good way to make friends, right?!

marina three words

Ooh, look, the traditional “chatty” jibe has got its hair did, put an extra chicken fillet in its bra and is showing off some new confident vibes. Talkative, it’s never a compliment, is it? Unless you’re trying to sell someone a budgie.

owen made if you

You’re appearing in a magazine column just to get a free meal at a restaurant that has a concept like THIS

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 10.47.09

of course you’re a bloody cheapskate.

marina made of yo

Owen would make a fabulous sassy gay best friend in a Radio 4 drama, wouldn’t he? Agents: get calling.

Marina’s eye-rolling can be seen from space.

owen kiss

If the racists really are right and there is no room for refugees, why don’t we swap out every person physically unable to answer this question with yes or no for someone who needs asylum or safe passage or whatever – that should clear out a few towns.

marina kiss

I am willing to bet this originally said “FUCK no” and had to be edited.

owen change

Marina ran off, didn’t she? In fact, she probably miraculously produced some rollerblades or one of those weird scooter things out of her handbag and zoomed off into the sunset, eager to get anywhere Owen wasn’t.

marina change

For some reason, Marina’s answer reminded me of the little bit of trivia that Charlotte Church’s favourite way of relaxing used to be spending all night hogging the karaoke in her mum’s pub.


owen score

marina marks

Some vastly differing scores, here. It’s like the date happened over email, or videoconferencing. Marina’s 6 screams out into the abyss – she really wanted to be somewhere else.

owen meet

Oh OWEN. Sweetheart.


marina meet


Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian.

Note: All the comments I make are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy. The participants in the date are aware this may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people. I am critiquing the answers, not the people themselves. If you are the couple in this date and want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 


Guardian Blind Date 2015: A retrospective

benjamin and mark

I’m not doing the Guardian Blind Date blog today because I’m taking a day off. But I shan’t leave you wanting; it’s just not in my nature.

Here, then, is a compendium of some of my favourite bits from the column and my blog from the first half of this year (and a bit of last). What we’re getting here, I’m afraid, is one of those episodes of Friends where it’s a ‘clips show’ because Courteney Cox has got the week off to get her veneers fixed.

And, yes, I know, this is a bit like someone linking to a list of their funniest tweets and saying, “Look how great this one was – you should really RT it or something” but this is 2015 and at least it’s not a shirtless selfie or something #eatclean.

Benjamin and Mark


Did you go back to the top of the page, as I did, and check their ages again? Your turn up on a date to find some smooth-skinned honey in their twenties sitting there and all you can talk about is wanting a house?

When I was about 21 I dressed like I was in my early 40s and owned one of these houses these two manchildren are lusting after. I had a long corduroy coat and wore grey flannel trousers and sensible, well-fitting woolly jumpers. My hair was atrocious, and fell into an unfortunate centre-parting that never really worked because I have two crowns.

I was fooling myself into thinking that if I dressed like an investment banker taking the weekend off to go see his flaxen-haired braindead daughter at university that I’d be taken seriously, that nobody would spot I was an imposter – a young northerner from a council estate who had nothing but popcorn for brains. So I know a try-hard bore when I see one.

The house thing made me want to travel back in time, stride into the restaurant where these two were boring each other into infinity, shake them by the shoulders and say “Look, this ‘being in your twenties’ thing isn’t going to last long and rather than dreaming of some house which you’ll only be able to afford to buy when you’re ancient, fat and unfuckable, you should be concentrating on the here and now and getting busy with Aftershock and making plans to destroy a duvet”.


I am trying to imagine these two ‘doing it’, but all I can picture is two John Lewis gift cards sliding around on top of each other.

Tom and Oona


Line up all of the “eyeroll.gif” files in the world. Every single one. And then watch them all. And you still won’t have enough eyerolls. I rolled my peepers so hard they span out of my skull, went to the shop for milk, and came back with the wrong change.

“Boat-building lineage” – this entire column is the reason we can’t have nice things. “Syllabub.” Welcome to the try-hard Olympics. Bad news, you’re up against Geri Halliwell and she’s just had a vitamin shot.


Here’s a hot take from someone old enough to be your older brother who wishes you’d never been born: nobody cares whether you know about wine. Leave it to a sommelier.

Fuck your wine list musings. Do what we all do: pick the second or third cheapest and pretend it doesn’t taste like vinegar.

Emma and Kenny



“Hey, guys, ever since I waded into this swimming pool that was absolutely full of water, I’m all wet. Weird. Anyone know why?”


Emma is 24.

Imagine being so burned out by your mid-twenties that “an early start” would put the fear of God into you.

It doesn’t last for ever, you know. And when you’re in your 70s and carefully negotiating your way out of the shower and hoping this isn’t the day the bath mat gives way, landing you in A&E and at the mercy of a sad-eyed social worker, you’ll wish you hadn’t been so uptight about Mondays and early starts.

Just a tip from halfway down the abyss, here.

Rena and Chris


Oh, that loud whirring sound? It’s just me turbo-rolling my eyes. Giving stuff up for Lent isn’t “a thing”. We have Dry January now, if you really want to be worthy and have everyone congratulate you for not lifting a glass of wine  to your lips, that most arduous of toils. Come on.

Seriously, You’re on a date. It’s all free. Fuck Lent. Pour me a gin and tonic. Double. No, no lemon or lime – there’s no room in the glass.

Lucy and Tom


Running. Oh God. Running bores. The curse of getting into your thirties and realising you *can* be arsed doing some exercise after all so maybe you’ll try running because that’s easy. You then talk about it nonstop.

I used to run and I was terrible for this. I would even mention, on dates, actual routes I ran. If my date looked too bored, I would try to pull it back by getting up from the table and walking over to the bar, and thus away from them, so they could check out the benefits of running on my behind. It worked pretty much every time.

Tom, here’s a tip: “nodding politely” isn’t a good thing. You don’t want your date to be nodding at you like Prince Harry meeting a renal ward in Leicestershire. You want your date to be throwing her head back in laughter and imagining you pressing them up against the doorbell as you kiss goodnight. Nobody ever got banged because they were good at making people nod.

Lucy and Bruno


Hahahahaha. Oh, Bruno. I would have said this at 20. In fact, I probably didn’t even know what house wine was at 20 – all my eating out was confined to dreadful American burger joints and cheap breakfasts in BHS cafe.

I would be disappointed with anyone his age giving even the slightest fuck about wine. Until I was about 26, it came in “colours” and that was as much as I knew about it. Oh, and “fizzy” too.


I imagine the conversation on this date to be on an awkwardness scale somewhere between “Grandma is on the phone and your mum has wet hands so can’t take the handset from you for the moment so you have to tell her about university and your coursework and she doesn’t understand” and “Caught lying about whether you used a large, chargeable carrier bag at an M&S self-checkout”.

Rob and Dan



Grace and Richard


This is a bit of a safe, tame response, but I suppose it’s better than saying: “Cracking tits. Passable teeth.”

Danny and Anni


Really? WHEN?!


You don’t give eights to people you don’t fancy. Although “haven’t decided yet” – this goes out on PAPER, Anni. I know you are 22 so are a digital millennial or what-fucking-ever, but you do understand that once the copy is submitted and printed, it cannot be altered, right? Anyway, people who say “8 or 9” mean 9. So, 9.

Russell and Jennifer


I think Jennifer was staring at you fantasising about stoving your head in with an anvil, Russell, but it’s great/concerning you can read this as a come-on. And as for the high fives? What a pair of dicks.


Oh, this explains the staring. She was trying to read him. Sadly, Russell isn’t a Kindle and if he were, the backlight certainly wouldn’t be on.

Lucy and Jamie


Jamie’s answer is another dull thud masquerading as a sharp zing. It would be funnier if it weren’t for the fact Lucy later mentions her “amazing hair” in another joke answer later on in the column. This suggests Jamie has been groomed to say that.

I have to take my hat off to Lucy here – and thus reveal my own amazing hair – because if I had the power to make people compliment my hair in national newspapers, I would use it on an hourly basis. It would certainly brighten up Ukip scandals and ‘love cheat’ tell-alls. However, I feel compelled to ask: what exactly is so amazing about her hair? I don’t get it. Is it sentient? Does it play piano? No idea. Just looks like your average long hair to me. But what do I know? I’m just a big gay.

Gemma and Dean


Let’s be real. Straight, gay, bi, curious, not really sure, frigid, rampant, virginal – it doesn’t matter. We are all secretly hoping Beyoncé is going to turn up on a date and tell us she wants a fresh start.

Alex and Edward


Look, I’m sure Alex is a stand-up guy in real life, but holy HELL, he is the worst date ever. This is why I hate going for food on a first date – it is potentially packed with millions of deal-breakers. Let’s step inside Edward’s head for a moment:

“No you can’t try my sea bass; it’s mine. We looked at the menu and you dithered for what seemed like millennia over whether to get the sea bass or the hot prawns. When I said the sea bass was probably the only thing I liked on the menu, you opted for the prawns as it would be “silly to get the same thing”, which is a stupid rule that only idiots – or restaurant reviewers as it’s their job to eat everything – feel compelled to stick to. If you wanted to get the sea bass, you should’ve ordered it. And now, to avoid looking like a prick over something so trivial, I am going to have to let you poke your chopsticks in my fucking dinner. You are the worst. The absolute worst. I will never have sex with you.”

Sarah and Aled


Yes, Aled, she was soooooo interested in it, she didn’t even mention it as one of the conversation topics on your date. Aled, she was pretending. Nobody has ever cared about anybody’s dissertation. Not ever. Nope. I’m serious. No. BTW, mine was about the Labour Party. No, wait, come back. Guys? See? Nobody cares.


Is this a compliment? It reads to me like a spectacular diss of all the women Aled has met before. Maybe it’s because of that bloody dissertation.

As Aled says, usually, nobody is interested. Here, though, Sarah gamely sat through the chat, her eyes perhaps wide and warm. Inside, however, she was composing her shopping list for tomorrow, trying to remember whether she put a wash on before she left the house and wondering if she would have found this any more interesting had Aled unbuttoned his shirt to the waist.

Sophie and Gareth


If you listen very carefully, you can hear Sophie’s hopes plummet, like a buffalo falling from the top of the Empire State Building. Gareth, who appears to have been hoping his date would turn out to be the treats cupboard from a kindergarten, slams even harder back down to planet Earth with his flatlining “She’s Australian”. An unexpected Antipodean – it can be a hard thing to recover from.

Alan and Graham


“Hello, yes, I’d like a taxi to the Friendzone, please. As soon as you can. Thanks.”

Eleanor and Charlie


Keep. Your. Hands. Out. Of. My. Dinner.

When somebody “orders better” than you, the protocol is to sulk a bit, maybe look at their plate wistfully – perhaps compose a short blog or Instagram post for later, lamenting your bad decision – and then get on with eating your own dinner.

When your date, who has noticed your bottom lip scraping the edge of your plate, asks if you would like some of their food, you smile brightly, like you’ve just seen all your family killed in the Blitz but have been handed an ice cream to make it all better, and refuse. You say no. They are only being polite. You have to live with the consequences of your actions. You ordered badly. Your fault.

Sarah and Pete


“From taking public transport, then eating with my hands” – not only is Sarah a comedian, she’s a doctor too. I’m sure there are a million other ways you get norovirus, but if it makes you feel better that it was an innocent old handrail, that gave you the Technicolor squits, so be it.

This means that not only did Sarah steal some of Pete’s hard-earned chips, she did it with fingers absolutely leaping with norovirus. Has anyone been round to Pete’s to see whether he’s still got his stomach lining?

Richard and Patrick


“Sweet.” Remember that time you got a massive boner when somebody said you were sweet? No, me neither.

“Good views on life” = we agreed Cucumber didn’t represent us in any way whatsoever.

Sandra and Eddy


Haha, despite scoring him a six and giving the impression that she would rather be talking about BLANKETS than go on a date with this guy, Sandra is peeved Eddy didn’t ask for her number. I can totally get behind this attitude.

“No, I didn’t fancy you at all and your chat was only a few degrees short of being instruction-manual-boring, but you could have at least asked for my number. How DARE you not fancy me?”

Janelle and Joe


I’m sure Janelle is all of these things, but if this answer were any more basic it would be you.

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian.

Note: All the comments I make are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy. The participants in the date are aware this may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people. I am critiquing the answers, not the people themselves. If you are the couple in this date and want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

Julie and Dorothy

julie and dor

I would hate to be psychic.

Imagine always knowing what was going to be for dinner, or who the killer was in Murder She Wrote, or that the man you married was going to bang somebody else before you’d even opened the last wedding present (a Dualit toaster, in a colour you don’t like).

But now I am slightly worried I may have ‘the gift’. As I opened my eyes (two, blue) this morning and reached for my iPad to see what today’s column would be like, I wondered why we’ve never had two women – at least not while I have been doing this blog in any depth.

For all the right-wing haranguing that us Guardian readers are a bunch of quinoa-knitting, refugee-loving, professional offence-taking lesbians, you never actually see any in the Blind Date column. Not often.

Well, grab a coaster for your cup as it is about to runneth over. Behold Julie, 25, a journalist and 26-year-old Dorothy who has orange hair and the very specific job title of deputy box-office manager. I’m guessing the actual box-office manager is quite insecure and phoned Dorothy before the date to make sure she gave her exact job title. Anyway, read what happened on the date before I go in, make nice and remind you all that it could be worse – Dapper Laughs could be writing this blog.

Julie begins:

julie hope

Ah, welcome to being gay in 2015. Thanks to the world shrinking minute by minute, with social media and dating apps and the dreary bar scene, the chances you will already know the person you’re going on a date with are quite high. And they usually all look at least five years older than their photos.

dorothy hope

Rightio. I had a really long conversation with a colleague yesterday about the pronunciation of ‘troll’ and ‘trolling’. She pronounces it like ‘roll’ and ‘rolling’ whereas I think it should be like ‘doll’ and ‘lolling’. The hours flew by.

The new definition of a troll appears to be someone who merely disagrees with you and isn’t afraid to tell you, rather than the old reliable piece of shit on a message board who says they hope your children die or something, so it will be interesting to see where this one goes.

IMG_0951 copy

dot first

Both liking each other’s hair is a good start, because if the night plays out in the best possible way, you’ll end up with rather a lot of it in your hands.

It’s a shame Dorothy couldn’t think of a few personality traits for Julie here rather than admire her handbag but maybe it really is ridiculously tiny. Snapchat or it never happened.

julie talk

Why should half-pints be illegal? I love a half-pint. Not only do they mean I can have a little drinkie with Sunday lunch if I am feeling delicate and don’t want to be bloated and overwhelmed by a pint – which I can drink in about 90 seconds flat – but they also allow me to pretend I am a giant drinking a pint.

Queer politics. Oh well, somebody’s got to.

dot talk

Dorothy is into canals. This is actually quite normal. Almost everyone has a slightly odd, retirement-couple type of thing they’re into. I shan’t tell you mine because the perceived captivating personality afforded to me by anonymity is hanging by a thread as it is.

Food not being served on plates is quite a good first-date chat topic. I actually think most places do it now just to troll us and get shares on social media, so we can all bantz each other to death, tell pubs to get in the sea, or wherever, and post that GIF of Beyoncé pulling a pizza out of her hair. This one:


julie awks

I am quite po-faced when I want to be and I do hate somebody pretending to do something that they know will get a reaction out of you. “Just kidding.” “It was a joke all along.” Ugh, kill it with fire.

Anyway, it looks like Dorothy has got her troll.


dot awka

And the worst thing was, I suppose, at the end of this conversation, Dorothy couldn’t suddenly throw her head back in raucous laughter and claim she’d been “joking all along” and it wasn’t actually canals she liked but pulling off million-dollar jewellery heists with a 12-strong pack of sexy Amazonian bikers.

We are at table manners. Hold on to your hats.

julie table

dot table

Can I just say I would never again go home with anyone who’d eaten a burger on a first date. I once went on a date with a man who had the face and body of a god – but wearing denim the colour of a urinary tract infection, sadly – and he ate a burger. I was picking onion and bits of cow out of my teeth for what felt like decades.

But, anyway, Julie has somehow managed to get a good table manners rating despite ordering a ‘Hawaiian’ and eating with her hands so Dorothy is either crazy in love or drunk or both.

julie best thing


This vendetta against half-pints. The existence of halves doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a pint, you know. Have a pint, have two. But don’t come running to me when you only have room for a half, when it is the difference between you waking up tomorrow “a little fuzzy” or covered in your own vomit on the hard shoulder of the M25 in a car you have never seen before. I have hidden all the half-pint glasses. They are mine. You’re on your own.

Also: “Best thing about Julia?” That she’s actually called Julie, perhaps?

julie three

dot three

CHATTY. The Guardian Blind Date go-to when you can’t think of a third attribute to give them. It’s kind of unusual to get a double-chatty – usually it’s wheeled out by one half of the duo who wants to communicate the other person’s total lack of interest in anyone but themselves.

I always suspect ‘chatty’ is just a really pass-agg way of saying someone didn’t shut up no matter how hard you tried to interject, so this must have been like a crossed line or a good old-fashioned threadclash on Popbitch.

juliemade of you

I really need to know how these two pronounce “troll” – could you write in, please?

Anyway, despite a really weird potential disaster by pretending to be a Ukip voter, Julie escapes being labelled a troll, which is quite impressive really.

It should be a prerequisite on these dates that before you meet up, you have to tell each there your Guardian comments’ logins. I wonder how many people would turn up.

julie on somewhere


julie kiss

dot kiss

I have noticed an increase in power struggles and one-upmanship in the answers to the kiss question. It used to be the table manners answers where we’d get some real insight but in 2015, snogging is the weapon of choice.

Saying “a lady/gentleman never tells”, unless pre-agreed, is a bit of a dickmove, really. It suggests something has happened and, if your date answers differently, you make them look like a liar or a prude or someone who just can’t answer a simple question.

You’re in a magazine and have agreed to go on a date and answer questions about it. That’s all we ask of you.

Anyway, according to Dorothy it was just a peck on the cheek so Julie is obviously trying to make all this a bit more #content than it actually was. Bloody journalists.

julie change


Yes, I’d probably have workshopped that one a bit harder too, Julie. Oh well.

dot change

A nap. Canals. Is anyone else starting to suspect 26-year-old Dorothy is actually three little old ladies standing on top of one another under a raincoat? All of whom are actually called Dot?

I suppose she could’ve worked late in the box-office or whatever but I have never had a nap in my life and I am not about to start now.

They don’t mention it so maybe it didn’t happen to them but being stuck on a date with someone whose main pleasure in life is telling everyone how tired they are – see also: busy obsessives – is the absolute pits. Here, take this duvet. Go to sleep. I’ll be at the next table sliding into the DMs of everybody within a 10-mile radius.


julie points

dot points

Sooooo is Julie saying it would’ve been a 10 had it not been for Dorothy’s tales of the UK canal network’s proud beauty? Do we have some serious liking going on here?!

julie meet

If only our Cilla were here to see this – she’d be tearing through the nylon hat department in BHS before you could say “our Graham with a quick reminder”.


dot meet

Oh well. Maybe you could meet for a PINT?!

Sadly, despite their loathing of halves, Julie and Dorothy find themselves in a couple that certainly has two very distinct ones. One that will, and one, well, that won’t.


Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian.

Note: All the comments I make are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy. The participants in the date are aware this may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people. I am critiquing the answers, not the people themselves. If you are the couple in this date and want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

Martin and Ola

Martin and Ola

When you first come out as gay, one of the worst things is not worrying what people will think, or that you’ll get beaten up by a skinhead wielding a Staffordshire bull terrier or that you’ll have to listen to Madonna songs every waking hour. Oh no.

It’s the grim inevitability that once everyone you know has painstakingly assured you they’re “cool” with it, they will turn to you with the dead-eyed brightness of a TV-AM weathergirl and say, “Ooh I know a gay guy. He’d be perfect for you!!”

He may have the wrong colour hair, skin like a snake, terrible taste in music and a face like a Pink Floyd album cover, but it doesn’t matter. He’s gay, so you’re bound to like him.

A theme of recent Guardian Blind Dates is the hapless pair hoovering up the free meal have similar jobs. The Guardian is that well-meaning auntie pairing you up with that acidic gay who works two floors down from her.

This week, two people who both work in finance. Those working in finance will be eager to tell you “Actually it is not boring and it’s very important, and without people like us, you lot would be…” and other things that usually send me to sleep before they get to the end. So let’s see if they’re right!

Read what happened between finance director Martin, 40, and 32-year-old Ola, who gets her kicks being a financial auditor. Ooh, it’s like LinkedIn has got New Look vouchers for Christmas and is clumsily trying on sexy outfits in the changing room, isn’t it?

Martin starts us off.

mart hoping

Well, you’re fresh out of luck there, Mart. Coal, meet Newcastle.

ols hoping

Is Ola tall? I can’t tell from the magazine. It does look like Martin is not, so perhaps this is one of those hilarious setups for a reaction shot that Khloe Kardashian is so good at, every time one of her family speaks.

Tall. It’s a fetish, right? Like being into bears or ‘silver foxes’ or big knockers or dicks, or MILFs or people of certain races. “I like tall men.” Will any tall man do?

martin first imp

“Great shoes.” “A very cool scarf.” We are fortunate Martin took time out of his busy schedule watching E! and reading OK! to be with us today.

On a serious note, it’s good when men take an interest in what women wear because we all, do we not, dress in the hope someone will say, “Ooh, that’s nice”.

ola first

alexis look up and down

As Destiny’s Child would say, Martin: “Here’s your papers, baby, you are dismissed”.

You can learn to fall in love with someone who doesn’t quite match up to whatever ridiculous ideal you have in your head, but sometimes it’s easier to solve that troublesome zit on the nose by sawing your head off.

martin talk about

In a scientific study I have just conducted in my head, based on past experience and years and years reading this column and others like it, I can exclusively reveal that talking about dating while you’re actually on a date is one of the most boring things you can do and a pastime beloved of fuckboys, dolts, drones and arseholes.

It’s up there with making a vegetarian pal explain to you why they don’t eat meat, or chewing a pregnant woman’s ear off about motherhood, the birth canal and Mumsnet, or talking through your extreme vertigo with everyone else in your death-capsule on the London Eye.

I won’t even get on to the accountancy sexy talk and their amazing opinions on hen dos because I’ve got crumpets in the toaster, and I assume the Czech Republic has come up because Ola is from there?No idea.

ola talk about

“My plans to go to Australia.” By the sound of it, Ola plans to make her escape Down Under before we get to the pudding.

I’m not sure why OCD came up in conversation. Maybe they’re both those kind of awful people who think  cleaning your kitchen more than twice a week means you have OCD.

martin awkward


Unless Martin reveals halfway through the date that he was actually the Yorkshire Ripper all along, I can’t see how I’d be anything other than on his side.

Lateness. People who are always late for everything laugh it off, call you uptight for expecting punctuality and say things like, “X was late for their flight and then it crashed without them on it so it just goes to show lateness can save your life”.

Don’t accept this. Don’t let someone tell you your time isn’t worth anything and you need to “loosen up” and accept that being on time isn’t important. If we’re meeting at 7:00pm and you arrive at 6:59pm you are bang on time. Well done. Any later than that, and we’ll be eating our romantic dinner in silence and I’ll be dreaming up ways to poison your tortellini while you’re at the loo. Don’t be late: it’s what garbage people do.

ols awkward

Oh, who cares? Worst attempt at a bit of drama since they brought back Crossroads. I am quite comfortable here on the edge of my seat and don’t think I’ll be falling off any time soon.

We have arrived at the table manners question and I am concerned we are in some unpalatable answers.

martin table

I don’t know why, but I have a funny feeling Martin is one of those guys who pronounces ‘epitome’ to rhyme with ‘roam’. Don’t ask me why. Just a hunch. Anyway, it’s better than an impeccable. Let’s see what men-on-stilts enthusiast Ola has to say.

ols table


I think if my feelings toward this date get any chillier, I’m going to need Lemsip, blankie, and a crowbar to override the thermostat.

martin best thing

Here we have a stock Guardian Blind Date answer. Men say it a lot. Crybaby men. Men who fart in lifts and then sail out one floor down from where they’re supposed to get off. Men who ask for an extra two shots in Starbucks (nobody needs that much caffeine; go fuck yourself). “She knows what she wants” means “she didn’t want me, so here’s a passive-aggressive mallet to smash your walnut”.

She knows what she wants. So do I. It’s for my ceiling to fall in so I don’t have to write about you two any more.

Ola cops out with “A good man with a good heart”, which is code for “Not even with a barge pole, but I wouldn’t mind him being uncle to my spoiled children”.

martin bfriends

Oh dear. This again. Our pitbull has a throat in its jaws and it’s not letting go.

The online dating world is minuscule. All the same people are on all the same sites and apps. Log in after six months away from a dating site – perhaps after a rather boring yet sexually adequate fling with one of Martin’s friends – and you will see the same old faces, each bio more depressing and lame than the last.

They should clear out all that meaningless text, all the “I like going out and staying in” and the erroneous colons and double spaces after fullstops and wittering and replace it with “Yes, I am still here. You may as well date me now to save time later”.

Anyway, who gives a shit whether Ola dated Martin’s friend? I hope she screwed him on Martin’s desk.

ols friends

Maybe he could bang one of your pals in return, Ola? Then you’ll be even.

martin made iof

I’m going to go with “hungry and lost”, I’m afraid, Martin.

ola made of

“I don’t care what he thought of me, but at least I still have his friend’s number.”

martin go on

Apart from remembering your mother’s birthday, show me one thing more important than waking up on a weekday on the wrong side of town, your mouth dry and groin tender, absolutely dripping in last night’s sex with a perfect stranger. Impossible. Il n’y a rien.

martin kiss

ola kiss

If you’re going to go on the date, wolf down the free meal, have a journalist badger you for your answers and take up valuable space both in the magazine and my Saturday morning, I am going to want to know every single place your tongue went on this date, complete with map coordinates and links to any liveblogging.

Does this mean Martin is fibbing and they full-on pashed? Either way, he broke the agreement and went rogue so I imagine Ola is fuming now. It’s like hearing the dullest secret in the world and then being asked not to tell anyone. I couldn’t shrug hard enough. No1curr.

ola change

See? Ola was just hungry. Poor Mart.

Can you believe we’re onto the scores, already? I know this has been like a particularly exhilarating salsa in the arms of the hot one from Strictly Come Dancing and you don’t want it to end, but sadly, it must. Let’s hear what these two mathematical whizzes can cook up in the numbers department, then.

martin score

ola score

Ola comes in a point lower than Martin, knocking one off for his lack of stature, perhaps. Martin’s 8 is optimistic, friendly, hopeful. Ola’s 7 is a fire door, swinging shut on your fingers.

martin see again


Ola? Fancy doing this again?

ola see again

*hollow laugh*

Absolutely no comment. None. Except:


If next week we could have two people with different jobs and slightly sexier hangups, that would be great. Until then…

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian.

Note: All the comments I make are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy. The participants in the date are aware this may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people. I am critiquing the answers, not the people themselves. If you are the couple in this date and want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

Edina and Jonathan

edina jonathan

September. The dying days of summer. The brilliant colours of autumn. Grey skies. Too-big school uniforms. Darker evenings. The knowledge, thanks to that prick in the office who can’t help but announce it, that the next bank holiday is Christmas Day.

While for some, autumn is romantic and beautiful, for others it is a three-month long day without weather, porridge with no sugar, a weak cup of tea, Basingstoke.

This week’s Guardian Blind Date is the greyest of skies – so grey even Farrow & Ball would struggle to come up with a name for it any jauntier than “Your Drains Are Blocked and, Yes, That Might be a Bit of Poo Floating There”.

Read what happened on the white-knuckle ride that was the meeting between 46-year-old librarian Edina and Jonathan, 55, a research manager before I go in for the kill. Warning: today may see a high level of “Sssssh! NO talking!” jokes because librarian.

Edina kicks us off:

edina hoping

Do you think there have been many evenings where the “someone” hasn’t wanted to meet Edina again? That’s quite sad, isn’t it? Poor Edina.

jona hoping

Good food and good company. The Ford Mondeo (with broken sunroof) of Guardian Blind Date answers.

edina first

“Jolly” = not as thin as I was expecting. “Relaxed” = he was on his third glass of wine by the time I got there.

jina first

I am fascinated by this “not overly familiar” because… well. I don’t know what it means. Was Jonathan expecting some hyper-sexed divorcée who’d devoted her life to looking after three strapping sons but was now ready for some “me time” and would spend the entire evening dragging her Louboutin-shod trotters up and down his distressed denim leg?

edina talk about

“His activities, my lack of activities.” Nothing worse when you’re the kind of person who considers switching over to something else in the half-hour gap between Corrie episodes on a Monday to be quite adventurous and find yourself on a date with Surbiton’s answer to Bear Grylls.

It would be easy to mock Edina’s passion for being a librarian, a job many would probably imagine to be very boring. But if you think about, Edina has been dying to tell people to shut up AND GET PAID FOR IT since she was 17. That’s a burning ambition I can truly get behind.

joan talk about

“Immigration.” How romantic.

“Surviving at work.” Jonathan is that guy you see at the watercooler in the office and out of politeness you ask him how he’s doing and he’ll shrug over-dramatically and say “Nearly Friday!!”

And then when Friday comes, no matter what task he has to do that day or whatever you ask him, he’ll roll his eyes and say “At least it’s Friday, eh?” but he won’t actually do anything.

edina awks

jina awks 2

No awkward moments. Apart from all of us, sitting at home and reading this all-too-thrilling tale of two Ryvita crackers glaring at each other for three hours.


Table manners. Let’s have it then.

edina table

I’d normally applaud this as I don’t believe anyone really notices table manners except when they’re really bad, but Edina’s insistence that it was the scintillating conversation that distracted her… well.


jona table

Well, well, well. An impeccable. Figures.

jona best thing

The men on Guardian Blind Dates have often been known to trot out the D word. Determined. Hmmm. Determined about what? Determined not to fuck you, perhaps.

edina friends

Well, exactly. Why keep all that juicy nectar to yourself?

jona friends

Oh yeah? Friends with a pack of werewolves are we? Close pals with everyone on the serial killer wing at Broadmoor? Did you go to school with a rare strain of small pox?

I doubt very much, Jonathan, that Edina would be scared of any of your golfing, “just the one, I’m driving”, cheese-and-biscuits pals.

Edina is a librarian. Do you know what kind of people you find in a library? All kinds. All fucking kinds. People who hide sandwiches in books or talk loudly on their phone RIGHT NEXT to signs telling you to be quiet. She has caught people fucking in the toilets, smoking weed in the agriculture section and has almost certainly read unflattering graffiti written about her in the study room. Edina has met every soulless, thankless, rude, gross human you could ever even think of. She could handle your mates. Trust me.

edina made of you

Edina, I’m sure I saw up there that you both talked about libraries. Nothing in common? I didn’t realise there could be different strands of library chat, that it had genres. Anyway, if the Dewey system and mutual appreciation of someone underlining all the rude bits in Judy Blume’s Forever can’t bring you together over dinner, nothing can.

joina made of you

There is no greater way you can cockblock yourself than to get absolutely riotously hammered on free wine while a teetotal date sits opposite you hoping you get murdered on the way home.

Notice he says “appreciation” of the wines. This means Jonathan couldn’t just sit there and quietly get wrecked while Edina told him about the complex photocopying credit system she’d introduced, he had to wang on about the wine each time he sipped it.

I like my wine in three types: Under £9.99; Over £9.99; Champagne. Any other amateur sommelier bleatings are utterly wasted on me.

Both of them say they wouldn’t change a thing about the evening, which says to me both of them are used to settling somewhat in life and probably don’t complain very much in restaurants, and then we move on to scores. Come on, Edina, give him a Dewey score.

edina score jona score

Sigh. Never has a 7 said so much and meant so little. They had nothing in common but wouldn’t change a thing; table manners were generally good or ignored. This date feels like it was automatically generated by two self-checkout machines left out in the rain too long.

And yet no unexpected items going in any bagging areas today.

Let’s kick the chair away, shall we?

edina meet

Oh, Edina.

jona score111

And it is the very depths of winter on both of them.



Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian.

Note: All the comments I make are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy. The participants in the date are aware this may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people. I am critiquing the answers, not the people themselves. If you are the couple in this date and want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal.