Ella and Matthew

Ella and Matthew

I look at men a lot. Well, depending on which scientific journal you believe, it’s in my DNA, after all. I don’t necessarily look at men because I fancy them, but instead I try to weigh up their potential. If I were them staring at myself in the mirror every morning, what would I do differently?

Obviously good-looking men are all well and good, but I can’t tell you how much hotter it is – and so much more exciting – to have a date turn up who’s not immediately drop-dead gorgeous but has ‘something about them’. Working out what that something is, and plotting how to get it all over you and then making it yours for ever, never gets old.

Half the time, of course, the understated guys turn out to be as exciting as an entire weekend spent hanging socks on a washing line between two orange tents in Ambleside in a force-10 gale, but occasionally, they turn out to be the sexiest man you’ve ever met. Reason enough to keep on trying. Charm is addictive, intoxicating. 

With that in mind, behold today’s Guardian Blind Daters. Ella, 26, is a publishing sales manager (why can’t they just say what type of work they do rather than the granular, LinkedIn-style, appraisal-ready job title?!) and 27-year-old Matthew, who’s a solicitor and dresses like he fell face-forward into the sale rack at Debenhams, covered in superglue. But he has ‘something’, doesn’t he? Oh yes.

Read what happened on the date before I leap in with a pricing gun and mark them reduced to clear with a bright yellow “WHOOPS!” sticker.

Ella is first and her comments are in pink. Matthew’s are in blue.

ella hoping

matt hope

It seems a little early in the day for a pre-agreed answer, but here we are. I’m guessing that they both said this to themselves on the bus – definitely bus people, aren’t they? – as they made their way to the date.

“Well, if they’re beastly, at least I’ll have a good story to tell the other people in my miserable flatshare where nobody washes up and one of my flatmates is obsessed with having sex in the lounge while Call of Duty 4 plays in the background.”

Two angels who took a wrong turn and ended up with Satan for a landlord, on their way to find each other. 

ella first

It is very rare for someone to use up the first impressions question to say the date was good-looking.


matt first

I am a seasoned hater of using physical attributes as a first impression – it started when one date said her first impression of a guy was that he was “ginger” – and saying “Ooh aren’t you tall” is like [800 gun emojis]. I’m going to give Matthew the benefit of the doubt and assume he said this in a bumbling, “Hollywood remake of the Harold Bishop from Neighbours Story way, and that he’s just a bit awkward.

ella talk

From Wikipedia: “In Power Grid, players compete to build up electrical networks from scratch and be the player to power the most cities at game end.” Fucking hell.

Brunch isn’t really a meal, it’s a lifestyle choice. It’s God’s way of making eggs look exciting. Ooh nom nom nom bacon ooooh sossidges oooooh lovely bidda toast n maybe a mushroom looooooovely. Brunch. I bet they queue up outside The Breakfast Club.

I have nothing to say about Milton Keynes.


matt talk

Well, they can agree on brunch, so we know they were both listening at that point.

Travelling always comes out as a conversation topic on a date, doesn’t it? I find it quite remarkable people talk about this, because the first thing I want to do when someone starts to tell me about the majesty of some bullshit mountain range they once saw is get up and walk over to the bar and stick my head under the gin optic until I pass out.

No-platforming anyone who talks about Jennifer Lawrence on a date, by the way.

This is Ella’s “gauche heroine from a rom-com who eats Philadelphia on Ryvita on her lunch break and dreams of taking her lecherous boss to a tribunal” world and we just live in it, guys.

Nah, this is sweet. And we know how awkward it can be when you go in for a handshake and they decide to reciprocate with chest-to-chest contact, don’t we?



matt awks

And he didn’t even notice! What a hero! Or just a typical man. You decide.

Table manners next! I’m guessing unless the waiters slipped something in their drink we are not about to see fireworks. Somehow that is strangely comforting. 

ella table

matt table

is that all you've got

ella best thing

Attentive. People underestimate how important this is.

We are all so used to bigging up our own brand now, I think, and curating ourselves and making sure all our experiences are the best they can possibly be – either for our own enjoyment or progression – we forget that, usually, to be the best we can be, we need a little something else. And that something else is at least one other person who you can make feel great.

It can be a small thing, like taking a picture of somebody else (have you noticed nobody really does this anymore unless they are IN the photo themselves), or pouring a drink for them, or asking what they think of something, or keeping your eyes locked on them, even when a door slams shut behind you and you’re dying to turn round and see why.

matt bst

Clearly. Or not, as the case may be. I feel like I’ve slept through a key scene. Excellent taste in what? Men? Easy tiger. 

matt friends


If there’s one thing that turns my blood to lava in this column it’s when someone reckons their friends are too cool to meet this random they’ve gone on a date with. Matthew and Ella pass this section with flying colours.

Nobody’s too special to meet your ‘squad’.

ella three

Usually I am deeply suspicious when not a single physical attribute is mentioned in these three words but that’s because I’m a vain old dog who needs their ego stroked on an almost hourly basis. And is there a greater compliment than being called ‘clever’? Apart from someone shaking and crying and screaming that they have to have you because you are so beautiful, of course. These two feel like they mean it. 

“Thoughtful” – I’m here for this. It does sound a bit like Ella is a schoolteacher doing an an end-of-term report and trying to find nice things to say about the child who sits and eats crayons all day, but thinking of others is sexy – unless you are thinking of others while having sex.

matthew three

Outgoing makes me roll my eyes right to the back of my bonce but he too has praised Ella’s intelligence so at least they can agree they are both super-clever.

Unpretentious, though. Hmmm. Like a jam sandwich? Not being afraid to scratch your arse in the Wolseley? Do not be afraid to be pretentious – keeping it real is vastly overrated. Leave that to the famously grounded Jenny from the Block.

ella mad eof you

I love how quaint these two are. They’re like two charming bedside tables you’d see in an antiques shop that’s run by a gnarly old man with halitosis (and very probably from Lancashire) who doesn’t think they’re of any value. And you, middle-class and middle-aged and with just enough disposable income that you can afford to buy yourself butter, cream and jam for your scone in the adjoining tea room, decide to rescue them both and take them home with you.

matt made of you


Matthew! Don’t do this. Don’t get to near the end of the column and start doubting. Don’t prepare to mark down your score just in case you read the signs wrong. Say no to being pretty much every straight man who ever appeared in the Blind Date column.

We all have a “thing for guys in bands” at some point. Then we realise they’ve all got that super-strain of gonorrhoea and the social skills of a cat trying to climb out of a colander full of quinoa. Fuck guys in bands – which we tend to do, at least once, sorry – they’ve got nothing on you.

ella go on

He may look like a geography teacher trying desperately to get through his marking, but Matthew is smoother than Nutella.

ella kiss

Kissing and telling? it’s like Ella and Matthew were created in a lab just to give me everything I love about these dates. YES, if you snog on the blind date, let us know – our lives are empty and you’re all we’ve got.

matt kiss


Neither of them would change a thing about the evening, which is adorkable, so we move on to scores.

ella scores

This is the most honest positive score I have ever seen. And I love it.

matt score

You mean 9. You do. You totally do. I’ve just read this whole thing TWICE and there is no way, save for your wobble that you’re not Brandon Flowers, that this is an ‘8’ date. I see you.

You can rescue this, Matthew, with the last question. Don’t let me down.

mtt meet


Ella? You want to do this again and see if you can get that hug hello right this time?

ella meet



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 editing of answers may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena.  This isn’t about me thinking these two people are dicks – I don’t know them. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people. I’m critiquing the answers, not the people themselves.  If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally.  If you want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

Execrable GIF of Owen Jones and Olly Alexander hugging: @kidd_kong78


Mark and Adam


One of the worst things about being a bit of a bitch is that you will, eventually, meet your nemesis, usually at a party. It’s always a party. Accustomed to being the most acidic person in any room, with a million pissed-on parades and ruined lives behind you, all of a sudden you’ll find yourself with a challenger for your acerbic rosette.

They think they’re cattier than you, that their comebacks are snappier than yours. They have an arsenal of zingers up each sleeve  – or so they think, but usually their weapons are dud fireworks – and, more often than not, I’m afraid, are thinner and younger than you. So you do what any normal lion would do when threatened with obsolescence from an upstart – you step it up, trading putdowns and flinging all manner of barbs until at least one of you is dead.

This week, reader, we are at that party – you’d better sharpen your best bitching knives.

Anyway. Gays! Meet Mark, a 26-year-old recruitment specialist (a job title negotiated in a disciplinary hearing if ever I heard one) and Adam, 29, a healthcare manager. Read what happened on the date before I throw myself down the stairs at their wedding just to get a bit of attention.

Mark is in yellow, and Adam is pretty in pink.

mark hoping for

We’ve all been there. Well, we have if we’re serial daters who use meeting strangers off dating apps as the perfect excuse not to do the washing up, anyway.

You always hope that this one – maybe this time! – will be the one. And when I say ‘the one’ I don’t mean the one you get to marry. It’s more ‘the one you don’t want to punch in the face’ by the third drink.

adam hoping for


Well, we’ve definitely all been there. And, so it seems, have most of Adam’s friends.

mark first

I prefer to arrive second to a date. Not late, because that would be rude, but I do like to make an entrance. I like to know expectant eyes are going to be on the door when I walk through it.

Sadly, however, what usually happens is that those eyes are indeed eagerly checking out the door – usually just as you smack right into it because there’s no ‘Push/Pull’ sign, or trip up the step as you blunder in.

But arriving at the same time is cute, and important. What they don’t say however, is whether they were both on time, or late. I am guessing late, because… well. This is not our first time at the rodeo, is it, boys?

adam first

Outgoing. Like a direct debit or a disgraced minister. Adam here means Mark was loud and chatty, perhaps even throwing his head back in maniacal laughter a few times. Outgoing.

mark talk about


What is it like being a gay man in London? Someone should shine a light on this lifestyle, about which very little is known. Perhaps there should be a blog.

adam talk

Oh that’s such a Samantha thing to say.

mark awkward

I assume Mark means the original Star Wars, which came out in 1977 and, for some reason, is one of those movies people are falling over themselves to tell you they haven’t seen.

When you are one of those boring people to whom nothing exciting ever happens, you find yourself snatching moments of relevance, or attention, whenever you can. I speak from bitter experience.

You see these people all the time, at parties again usually, wondering how they can differentiate themselves from all the other turbo-basics and clean-shirts in the room. Like a maestro stepping up to conduct a beautiful concerto, they will plump their hair, make sure everybody is watching them and then lean forward on their virtual podium, imaginary baton poised, and say: “Do you know, I’ve never even seen Star Wars”.

The room gasps like a Wimbledon crowd at match-point. Front pages are immediately held. The world’s media begins to claw down the door of whichever desperately untidy Streatham flat the party’s in. Publishers wave blank cheques, desperate for this story to be told on their pages. The Man Who Hasn’t Seen Star Wars: An Autobiography.

Alternatively, everyone rolls their eyes and gets back to talking about their boring jobs. The act of not doing something loads of other people have already done doesn’t make you an enigma.

That said, I don’t know about “unforgivable”. The big secret about Star Wars 1977 that not many people let you in on is – and I say this as a big fan – it isn’t particularly good.

adam awks

Oh, I’ve already gone and used that Countdown slut GIF too. Um.

bang face with pink sticks scream queens chanel 2

Do not ever, ever, ever talk about previous dates when actually on a date. It’s so déclassé. You don’t go to a wedding and talk about all the groom’s previous girlfriends, do you? Unless you’re really tacky. or the best man, and drunk.

Anyway, it’s table manners. Nervous?

mark table

“But I was.”

adam table

Ah, the oldest trick in the book. Make a date think you’re super polite and gallant by topping up their wine glass regularly.
“What a gent!” they’ll think.
“He isn’t drinking fast enough, and I want/need most of this wine. Time to move things along,” you think.

Whenever a date keeps topping you up,  a) check how much is left in their glass when they do and b) count how many seconds it takes to fill up each glass. £5 says that he’ll be spending longer pouring into his own.

mark best


Note complete lack of comment on any of Adam’s physical attributes or personality, just that he sat there and endured conversation. We don’t need to queue at the condom machine tonight, do we, readers?

adam best

Is this good? This is good, right? You’d be pleased if someone said this to, yes? Oh, but hang on. The best thing. Best. Better than all others.

Not “He’s hot, he’s fly, he’s sexy” but “He knew a lot about the Spice Girls and whether Larry Stylinson was actually true or not”.

I don’t know. We all love to read Heat, but none of us want to fuck it.

mark friends

Ugh. Are they cannibals? I never understand, in a world where we are pretty much all judged on the company we keep, why you’d want to paint your friends as a bunch of monsters who couldn’t act like a normal person when introduced to a stranger.

Nine and a half times out of ten, this supposedly intimidating, hedonistic crew turn out to be less ‘Last days of Rome’ and more ‘overdue fine on a Catherine Cookson at Mytholmroyd Library’.

adam friends


“A bit much.” Ooh, let me guess: they drink one cocktail too many, wear too little, get really loud and say something offensive? Congratulations: you’re basically everyone’s auntie they only see at Christmas, not Caligula.

mark three

Pushing aside the beige can of Dulux that is “sweet” for a second: chirpy?! Chirpy! Like Hilda Ogden from Coronation Street or an over-friendly volunteer in the Sue Ryder shop? Any sexual potential is dribbling out of this date like beaujolais through a sieve.

adam three

Told you. Some incredible bitch points scored there by Adam. Nothing like accusing something of burgeoning alcoholism in a national newspaper.

mark mde of ypu


mark go on

adam go on

Note Mark was drinking two pints to Adam’s one. We have all been on this date, haven’t we? And we have all been each person on it. It’s incredible how we switch from good time gal to abstemious preacher uncle depending on our mood and, crucially, whether we want to bang anyone that evening. Adam, at the very least, does not appear to be interested in stepping out of the pulpit tonight.

adam kiss

On the scale of passionate kisses, “it was nice to meet you” is one notch above “kiss your enemy to signify to the assassin which one to shoot” and just one below this:


mark change

I can’t wait to see the E4 comedy Mark thinks he’s auditioning for in this column, can you? Too much ibuprofen can lead to ulcers, Mark, so maybe switch to paracetamol on other hungover days – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, perhaps.

It’s the scores. We’ve made it.

mark score


The date itself? What do you think we want you to score? Our credit rating? What does this actually mean?

“Well, I managed to get drunk for free, so the date was an 8, but Adam was… not” maybe? This is, at least, I suppose, a way of sticking the knife in that could be passed off as totally innocent. But we know, don’t we, readers? Mark’s cannibal friends gave him away.

adam score

Sounds like Adam should’ve done his own pouring, got drunk and enjoyed the show, because an after-party looks very unlikely. But I doubt it was ever going to be any other way.

And we end, of course, with the question we always ask. Will you see each other again? Does Mark fancy downing two more bottles of prosecco while Adam stares on, helplessly?

mark meet


cat bitch please

And Adam, will you meet up with Mark to compare notes on your tattoos and execrable social circles?

adam meet


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 editing of answers may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena.  This isn’t about me thinking these two people are dicks – I don’t know them. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people, despite, well, everything. I’m critiquing the answers, not the people themselves.  If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally.  If you want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

Alice and Joe

Alice and Joe

They say youth is wasted on the young, don’t they? That if we, at our advanced age, could snatch it back and do it all again, better, we would.

I’ve always said that youth is, in fact, a punishment meted out retrospectively. Youth exists only for us to have something to look back on and regret when we’re older. All these people who become millionaires at 21 because they invented a social media network for people to share pictures of peg bags, or apps that tell you how fast your hair is growing, are missing the point of being young. You are supposed to screw everything up, throw it all away, so that when you’re older you can learn from it and try to be successful and responsible before it’s too late. Start early and get yourself sorted before 30 and, well, you’re staring into the abyss of an early death in the bath with a coke-clogged nose when your inevitable midlife crisis rebellion kicks in.

Two people who are definitely going to sit in their rocking chairs and wish they’d partied a little bit harder are today’s Guardian Blind Daters. Read what happened on the date between Alice, 23, an arts fundraiser, and 25-year-old musician Joe, before I unwrap a set of Werther’s Originals and get chewing.

Alice, who looks vaguely, disturbingly familiar, starts us off:

alice hoping

Bad luck, then, Alice, that the Guardian has set you up with a musician, as I imagine being an arts fundraiser you must meet quite a few of those. 

“A nice dinner.” Readers, my nana is back from the dead and cutting up a Mars bar into slices if you want some?

joe hoping

“A good meal in good company.” The sort of answer you’d hear from a 74-year-old contestant on Challenge TV reruns of Mr & Mrs, not tumbling from the mouth of a 25-year-old musician.

alice first

I love it when the woman describes the guy as “chatty” because it is almost certainly a diss in every instance. Anyway, Alice thinks Joe is friendly, which is nice, although it’s probably the kind of word your auntie would use about the most vicious of her cats in an effort to get you to pet it.

“No, it’s OK, Tibbles is really friendly, go on stroke him.” Seconds later:

File 16-01-2016

joe first

We are playing Jeopardy and the question is “What would your basic, middle-class friend’s mum say about Kate Middleton?”

alice talk

Baking, pottery and museums. See what I mean about youth being a punishment? 60-year-old Alice is going to look back on this and think “fucking hell”.

“Being valued for what you do” = two millennials wang on about how annoying it is that the world doesn’t see just how totally brilliant they are and kiss their feet for it every day.

We have all worked in an office with one of these, haven’t we? Strolling in late and taking 20 minutes to turn their computer on, flicking through BuzzFeed or Vice or MailOnline for another half-hour, wandering off for a coffee break and then, when you finally ask them to do something, they tell you they feel undervalued and need to do something more exciting and creative, and sign themselves off with stress to go home and watch Homes Under The Hammer, ironically.

joe talk

“Drinking in parks in teens.” Adele’s 25 album has come to life! I don’t imagine the parks these two drank in while teenagers will have been the rough kind with broken glass everywhere, vandalised tennis courts and odd, random pages of pornography strewn in the bushes. Alice and Joe look like the kind of teens who’d smuggle “a half-pint of shandy booze” into Proms in the Park and think they were Iggy Pop.

I could be wrong.

Oh, and “Nazi art theft”? Hmmm. Have you noticed that Joe looks a bit like a taller, less slick Moriarty from Sherlock? I don’t know why he’d be talking about Nazi art theft but whoooomp – there it is.


alice awks

joe awks


Table manners next. I wonder what they’re going to pull out of their (Anya Hindmarch) bags for us, eh?

alice table

joe table


This is like watching two “Speak Your Weight” machines bag off with each other.

alice best thing

This is nice. This is a nice thing to say. It’s nice. She was nice about him. This is good. They’re in a magazine, after all.

You don’t want someone to say, “He bored on about his pointless, dogged determination to learn Japanese, which he will probably use to chat up bored bar workers in Tokyo, before driving me into a coma with his witless musings about pottery, which he took up to give his hands something to do other than play the guitar and pull himself off.”

Definitely not.

joe best thing

ENGAGING! Like a PowerPoint slide! Like a corporate health and safety video presented by Ant and Dec! Like a specially commissioned abstract painting in the reception at Deutsche Bank! ENGAGING!

alice three

ENGAGING! Like a brochure for a day spa! Like a display of hair gels in a hairdresser’s window! Like an instruction manual for a George Foreman grill! ENGAGING! Like pretty much anything other than the answers these two have given so far.

If these two haven’t been emailing each other, proofing their answers and making sure everything is “on brand” I will be very, very surprised.

joe three

“You had to be there.”

alice made of

He thought you were engaging! Like a… oh, you get the idea. Alice seems nice. They both do. They just deserve to have a night out with a little more kick to it than this boring old trundle round the crematorium.

They are 23 and 25. Fifteen years from the future – a dystopian future featuring osteoarthritis, grey hair and an overwhelming sense of underachievement I like to call BEING 40 – my soul is shouting itself hoarse. Do something, anything, before the elasticity in your skin, and your pelvises, is gone for good.

joe made of again


THANKS JOE. Saving all your words for your lyrics, I guess.

joe go on

Oh, might they, Joe?


alice change


“I was happy with how it went” sounds like something from a customer testimonial in a brochure for double glazing.

If they both wanted to go on somewhere, why the HELL didn’t they? “If it had been the weekend” – fuck the weekend, it’s now. There will never be another now.

So you’ll be tired at work tomorrow, so what? So you might find yourself buying out-of-date condoms from a machine in a dodgy pub staffed by the living embodiment of emphysema, so WHAT? Live this life that’s been bestowed upon you. Stay out a bit later than usual. FUCK someone you just met. Appear in a magazine. Make your autobiography a page-turner. You owe it to yourself, AND us sitting at home, reading this ab-so-lute trivia.


alice score

alice score

Eight. The beige, non-committal, “twirling its hair round its finger in faux-seduction because it’s desperate not to appear too… well, desperate” number that says absolutely nothing. They appear to have got on quite well – he could put Alice’s description of him on his CV, let’s face it – yet their scores seem businesslike, doled out with all the sexual anticipation of a warning label on the back of a bottle of bleach.

So they’ve talked about pottery, she’s pretended to care he’s learning Japanese, and they both wish they’d stayed out for another Diet Coke – will they be meeting again? Alice?

alice meet


Joe? You got some final words of wisdom to impart? Wanna tell the world just how much you can’t wait to see Alice again?

joe meet


Stick a fork in me. I’m done.

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 editing of answers may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena.  This isn’t about me thinking these two people are dicks – I don’t know them. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people, despite the fact they give as much away of themselves as double agents. I am critiquing the answers, not the people themselves.  If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally.  If you want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

Photograph: James Drew Turner, for the Guardian



Sanjive and Jane

sanj jane

We live in a terrifyingly ironic world. We hate-follow, we roll our eyes, we sneer at things other people enjoy. We are eternally in the playground, desperate for the cooler kids to notice us, not even realising that nobody is cool, on any level.

We go to parties and events primed to hate them. We steel ourselves for the disappointment, consoled only by the fact that we’ll get loads of online material out of our miserable experience. You can dine out on a rubbish night at a gig or the cinema for months, years. Very few of us beg someone to repeat the story of how wonderful something was.

And when we actually enjoy a thing, it turns out to be even more disappointing. All those clean-shirts who were simply dying to hate Star Wars or Mrs Brown’s Boys or EastEnders or Madonna in concert, and yet, when they get there, they found themselves loving it.

This week’s Guardian Blind Date is exactly that. We tune in wanting two people to shred each other like the final scenes of the War of the Roses – we know it’s all we want. However. This week brings us Jane, 61, a carer, and 46-year-old estate agent Sanjive. Read what happened on the date before I wade in.

Despite being on the right-hand side of the photo, Sanjive starts us off.

sanj hope

I’ve never seen the word “chit-chat” used so positively before. It’s usually a dismissive word, isn’t it, said with all the sincerity of a drag queen asking David Gest who does his hair.

jane hope

I don’t know why, but Jane’s “possibly more” reminded me of Grindr bios from way back when: “Just want drinks or chat if I’m online – if horny, possibly more. No booze, no chems. No fat, no fems.”

Possibly more. Believe me, it always meant you were getting definitely less.

sanj first

Where have they been all our lives, ladies? Gays? The men like Sanjive who notice when we’ve gone to a little bit of effort? The ones who notice what we’re wearing, and how we smile and – if we’re lucky – what we look like underneath.

Say what you want about being old-fashioned and the modern world going to shit, but I haven’t ever seen one of those tattooed airing cupboards from Geordie Shore compliment what a lady was wearing.

jane first


“This bus is on diversion to Cute Overload. Please listen for further announcements.”

As if this January fairytale wasn’t enough, something very unusual is about to happen:

sanj talk

jane talki

Leaving aside some of the stone-cold boner murdering subjects like “the tax office”, it seems that both Jane and Sanjive were listening to each other. Almost never do both daters agree on even one conversation topic, let alone three. India? Tick! Yoga? Tick!

It’s a tick for families/children, too. Although I’d rather talk about my favourite mass-murderers than wang on about my offspring, all of whom no doubt have “moved back home to save money” for a mortgage on a luxury flat-shaped coffin above an M&S Simply Food on a B-road in Penge.

sanj awkss


Nothing wrong with a bit of posh.

Not all posh people want to hunt foxes in your front garden and make you hand in your satellite dish and Sky subscription if you’re on benefits.

jane awkss

This feels like a dramatic storyline flung in by a producer desperate to improve the ratings. Let’s be honest, things have been a bit gentle so far. This is up there with ‘scarf getting caught in leg of chair’ and ‘I had to ask for a fork – they’d given me two knives’ when it comes to dating disasters, but I’ll let it go.

Table manners!

sanj tablee

I can’t bear the word “relaxed”. It always reminds me of this exercise video from gays’ favourite, Angela Lansbury, the Mary Berry of Beverly Hills. If you’ve never watched this before, you need to immediately.

Do you need a minute after that? Thought so. Best not to dwell too long, though.

jane tablee


sanj three


Sanjive has inexplicably turned into a wellness blogger, and thinks he’s captioning sunsets with a chipotle chicken and ‘avo’ salad in the foreground. Nonsense.

jane threee

“Open like door.”
“Unaffected like Nando’s.”
“Adventurous like Gaga.”

Play the game, Jane.

sanj madee

You are kind, Sanjive. You are nice. A good guy. Although I’m not sure I’m going to be rolling out the bunting because you listened “on a human level” because I’m not even sure what that means.

jane madee



sanj go on


This is oddly specific. Boast post? And did he have a ticket for Jane to see The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House (see ROH website for times, ticketing and merchandise)? At this point it isn’t clear. Until…

san changee

Oh he did! I’m not sure how I’d feel about someone turning up to a first date with pre-arranged tickets for something that they expected me to go to and, I assume, hadn’t consulted me about first. In a way, it’s a sweet gesture, and it *is* the Royal Opera House. I imagine Sanjive wanted to make a lasting impression.

“Teach her a bit of meditation.” No word on whether Jane was interested in the date turning into her very own Educating Rita, but this is all getting a bit… I dunno. I feel like I’ve got in the wrong lift and got out on the floor marked ‘Stealthy Mansplaining’.


I am going to give Sanjive the benefit of the doubt and assume he just wanted to spend more time with her, talking. Jane offers no feedback on the ballet, save for:

jane changee

I see.

The kissing question is odd.

sanj kiss

jane kiss

I don’t know what an Indian smooch is, and is Jane is telling the truth about it being a kiss on the cheek, why is Sanjive “too shy to elaborate”? Hmmm.


sanj makrks

jane marks

Surprised by Sanjive’s 8 – a little bit of vanity creeping in there fir our mango-loving yoga fan?

And will they do it again? Will they meet up to talk yoga, or reminisce about the lovely time they had at The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House (see ROH website for times, ticketing and merchandise)? Will they once again lock horns and spraff on about their children?

sanj meet

jane meet


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 – fragrant like mango, even. I am critiquing the answers, not the people themselves.  If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally.  If you want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

Photograph: Graeme Robertson, James Drew Turner, both for the Guardian

Scott and Peter

scott snd peter today

When you’re gay, and of a certain age, you spend most of your time trying to convince people – and perhaps even yourself – that you don’t fall into a stereotype.

“No, I don’t like Kylie, actually,” you find yourself saying, even though you’ve been to see each and every one of her tours (you even went to Showgirl twice – good wasn’t it?).

“Yes, I would consider myself non-scene,” you will fib on your dating profile, even though anyone chucking a casual glance at your Instagram would see your top nine grid consisted of only pictures of you in whichever gay pub in your city has the nastiest toilets, clutching a pornstar martini with your gold lamé pants tied around your head.

The most common gay stereotype is actually bleating on about not fitting into a stereotype, something we have to do simply because we think it makes us more attractive to others, be it other gay people or bloodthirsty, fist-swinging heterosexual people who want to stove our heads in.

The Guardian Blind Date column has been awash with rainbow couples in recent weeks, of all shapes and sizes, and at different stages of stereotype denial. Still too few lesbians and trans people, though; it’s like only gay men are attention-seeking enough to appear. Who knew? This week, we have Scott, 32, a project manager and 31-year-old Peter, who is a teacher. A project manager and a teacher – I can feel the sexual tension fizzing off the page already, can’t you? Read what happened on the date before I walk in wearing a blood-stained wedding dress and wreck the whole thing.

Scott is first:

scott hoping

A spark! We’re all looking for that, aren’t we? As Tracey Thorn once sang on Massive Attack’s Better Things: “You say the spark’s gone? Well, get an electrician.”

peter hoping

Can you honestly put your hand on your heart – or swinging brick, in my case – and say that you have hoped for good food and wine on a date? “Yeah, I’m meeting him in the Royal Oak at 7 – hope the ale’s good!” Get out.

In fact, if the food is terrible on a date, it can be a fantastic bonding experience. There’s nothing worse than two foodies gargling casserole and saying how ‘piquant’ the starter was – give me two drunken old soaks guffawing at the fact their prawns were off any day of the week. There is unity in horror.

scott first

A few things to note here. In my experience, dates rarely recover from lateness, especially a 45-minute wait. It immediately sets up a bad atmosphere, and when the latecomer does eventually stagger through the door – and I’ll wager “lost at the Tube” actually means “changed outfits six times and left the house late” – it’s all you can talk about.

Having a look at where they met, I am guessing Peter – or “Pete” as Scott tags him here, how tantalisingly familiar – went out of the wrong exit at Old Street station. We’ve all done it.

Also: Scott actually waited 45 minutes for Peter? Forty-five?! Just how long has it been, Scott? Nobody in their right mind would wait longer than 30. And by 30, I mean 20.

peter first


Turning up and finding my date sitting there in a suit isn’t high on my checklist of “good first impressions” but maybe you have a kink for estate agents or pallbearers, I dunno.

scott talk


A tenner says all this “innuendo” was about balls and dodging them and “oh LOL I’m gay so that’s the very opposite of what I’m used to doing when it comes to balls LOLOL”. Just a hunch.

pete talk

Peter reading out BBC2’s Boxing Day lineup from the Radio Times, there.

scot awks


Certainly sounds like it.

pete awks

Poor Peter. Forever tarnished with being late. It is the kind of thing, should these two ever get together, that will be brought up again and again, at dinner parties and barbecues and wine-tasting evenings and even, about 15 years down the line when they’re trying new things, in the sauna, to the young guy sitting between them with their hands on his knees.

“Oh, we have a funny story about how we met,” Scott will say, with a twinkle in his eye. Peter’s peepers, however, will glaze over and he’ll stare into the distance, even as the young buck’s towel slips to the floor, wishing that maybe he should’ve kept on walking once he’d come out of the wrong exit at Old Street.

It’s table manners next. Anyone who obsessively sanitises their keyboard before sitting down at their desk may want to look away now.

scot manners

Nibbles to me are served on a tray by inept hosts at boring parties. Nibbles are stale cashew nuts, out-of-date Boursin on softening Tuc crackers, olives bought from the petrol station on the way home, swimming in oil. I went to the website of the restaurant they ate at to see what they might have chosen – five fucking clicks to get to a “Download menu” option, btw; thanks for the amaaazing user experience – and saw nothing nibbly at all. Maybe they took a bag each of Seabrook in and shared those.

“Both just used our hands” – oh the jokes write themselves. Let me know when they appear on the page.

peter table


I know safe spaces are important and whatever, but I don’t think even the most militant vegetarian would expect you not to eat meat in front of them if you were on a first date. Peter’s answer, however, does make it sound like this may have been an issue.

Unless Peter had go-go-gadget arms and was wrenching lambs out of a field long-distance, whacking their heads on the table to stun them and eating them raw, gurgling with maniacal laughter, I don’t really see the problem.

“I made a veggie watch me eat meat” sounds like someone breathlessly recounting a night in Chariots in the pub the next day.

scott best

“A wide-ranging vocabulary.” Is that a thesaurus in your trouser compartment or are you merely contented to observe me? “Sapiosexuality is so hot right now!” as Paris Hilton would, sadly, probably never say.

pete friends


scot three

If there’s a word that’s had an identity crisis in recent years, it’s “cheeky”. I want impudent young rapscallions in the playground to reclaim this word for their own, and stop it being applied to chicken, or gin and tonics, or men in their 30s chuckling every time they say the word “length”.

pete three

Alliteration! Always a good sign that you’ve really thought it through and aren’t merely picking three words that all start with the letter E.

pete made


See?! It becomes a thing. Don’t ever be late; this is what happens to you. Even if you do it once, you become that person. Word gets around, so people coming to meet you will set off later and thus be late themselves. YOU will get the blame for this.

“Well, you’re always late,” this piece of shit will say as they saunter toward you. “So I thought I might as well be too.” Do. Not. Be. Late. It is a weakness. They will exploit you.

Scott takes the next three:

scott go on


scot kiss


I’ve no doubt in my mind that Scott manages his projects with determination and precision, but “for a first date that’s sufficient” sounds about as sexy as a self-checkout going on the wonk and blurting out “unexpected item in bagging area” over and over again, like a Dalek narrating porn.

scot change


OK, Scott, I take that back. You are actually a gay man I can identify with and not a cash machine in drag.

pete change

Oh, you were late? You never said!

SCORES, then:

scot marks


I don’t think I can handle a single further mention of this lateness. People are going to die today. I haven’t felt this anxious and angry since I was stuck in a really long queue in Uniqlo. So, yesterday.

pete marks

This is the least sexy sentence I’ve ever read in my entire life. “70%.” Why, thank you.

So now we’ve gone through what The Apprentice contestants seemed determined to call “the process”, will these two Bic biros want to see each other again? Scott obviously had a taste for the way Peter nibbled his nibbles – will they move things to a Friday and dance the night away?

scot meet

pete meet


Next week: I’m away. So see you in two. x

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. These are actual jokes – including the gay stereotype stuff. It’s meant lightheartedly and I’m not saying you’re not a totally Masc4Masc gay who loves rugby. If you don’t find it funny, maybe go watch some sport and calm down, bro. If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally.  If you want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian