All posts by The Guyliner

The definitive, yet disastrous, gay dating blogger.

Pádraic and Josh

We know this already, I’m sure, but when we go on dates we ask the wrong questions. To which we get well-rehearsed, beige answers. So it’s our own fault when relationships ultimately fall into the sea like precarious coastline hotels.

“Where are you from?” “What TV shows do you like?” “What do you think of Brexit?” All perfectly functional and occasionally revelatory, but dull. Where is the real meat? If you are going on a date tonight, or soon, slip another one into your repertoire, just for me: “When did you last leave a comment underneath an article on a newspaper or news website?” There’s a right or wrong answer, isn’t there?

I say this because on last week’s Guardian Blind Date, the comments were open (thank you to the person who mentioned this blog; that was not of my doing). Sometimes they leave them open; I have always assumed it’s simply a mistake as usually the articles are closed off from the prying keyboards of Stressed of Sidcup,and their grammarian, nitpicking, vainglorious army. It’s a pointless exercise, anyway – most of the comments were from people screaming they couldn’t believe comments were open, like toddlers who managed to wake up before everyone on Christmas Day, sneak downstairs and open all the presents of their sweeter, more lovable sibling. But some comments were complaints that the daters featured that week were gay. Yeah, the Guardian’s readers thought Blind Date was getting too gay. The call really is coming from inside the house, isn’t it?

Anyway, this means I am DELIGHTED to see that it’s gay men again this week – I’d have preferred gay women because they are thin on the ground in these dating reviews, but if they don’t apply, they don’t apply – and I’m equally thrilled they seem (spoiler) just as interminably dull as the last pair. Boring gay men clogging up your Saturday mornings – just the way I like it.

Click the pic to read what happened on the date between Pádraic,  a 26-year-old (it says here) trainee architect, and Josh, 23, a charity campaigns officer. My poison pen begins right after.

*ripple of laughter so polite you can hear Melania Trump’s jewellery shaking*

Aiming low is probably the best way to have a decent experience on a Blind Date, but if you’re telling me the aim of 75% of them isn’t to feel the thrilling, urgent grip of a stranger’s hand on their inner thigh, 23 minutes after dessert was served, then you are wrong. Surely you are wrong. Why do we all pretend we’re here for a night of urbane grumbling about the state of the world and the odd pop culture reference?

We’re here to get drunk and SCREW, surely? And I’m not just talking about the gay guys. Come on. I’m done with this.

This is very nice. Especially when you discover Pádraic is forgetting something…

Hmmm. I don’t hold with lateness. Especially on a first date. I mean, if it’s unavoidable – perhaps there was a brief nuclear holocaust en route, or you stopped to pet a dog that was dressed in a tuxedo – then some lighthearted texts to your date to explain should just about get you out of jail. When you walk into the bar or pub or whatever, all these minutes late, do not saunter, or stroll – you need to look sheepish, embarrassed, slightly harassed. Ideally, you’d walk in accompanied by the women from that gif (from Game of Thrones, I think, I don’t watch) who walks ahead of you ringing the bell of shame. Here, like this:

Topics of conversation or answers to questions posed on Fifteen To One? Who can say?

I guess I can forgive the university chat because for these two it happened, like, 5 minutes ago, but once you get a guy in his late 20s or early 30s who still has more to say about uni than a simple where he went and some polite response to your own, inane memories or knowledge of that city, you need to press the eject button. I had a lovely time at university but I also used to very much like doing a big shop at the Asda on the Old Kent Road, but I tend not to go on too much about either.

I’m not entirely sure why two men in their mid 20s would be cracking out the well-known aphrodisiac that is Alzheimer’s on a first date – surely that’s more for my generation, in eternal panic that THIS mislaying of your house keys is the one that plunges you into a spiral of dilapidation, wandering the streets of Shepherd’s Bush in just your socks and forgetting all your best relatives.

I do not binge-watch, as a rule. I did once rewatch the entire first series of Catastrophe in a night before the next one started, but I couldn’t sit through six straight hour-long intricately plotted episodes of some comic-book adaptation or tedious law drama like some do. It feels like self-harm. There’s too much else happening, too much air outside, too many cups of tea to drink, tweets to send, future to obsess over. Binge-watching feels like parking your brain outside a shop, and I’ve never yet had a conversation about boxsets that I haven’t wanted to end with the death of either myself or the person attempting to bore me into my eternal slumber, so thank you but no. No, thank you.

Suuuuuuuuuure.

Oh, amazing. Truly, a gift. Spoiler culture and the dictators who perpetuate it.

Here’s the thing: if something has been broadcast, even online and, yes, in a different country, the onus is not on the rest of the world to keep it from you, like it’s a surprise party or perhaps a terminal prognosis that would stop you from enjoying your friend’s wedding. It’s for you either to try to see it as quickly as possible, or to hide away from all social media, TV channels, news websites, and magazines until you have. Sound impossible? It’s no less impracticable than getting the entire WORLD to shut up.

Often, you will be lucky – I guess I can think of the Star Wars movies as a recent example – and there’ll be a genuine effort by everyone not to spoil it for others, so there’ll be a kind of unspoken agreement nobody will discuss the finer plot points, or the ending, or the outfits, or wherever your general interest lies. But you cannot, and should not, EXPECT this deference. If you are part of a small group who makes a pact not to reveal spoilers, then good for you; that is super cool or admirable, but remember: the rest of us signed nothing.

Drag Race is a tricky one because it airs overseas quite far in advance of over here and not everyone has the nous, energy or wherewithal to go looking for links to download or stream it. Often, then, there’s a grace period. But, you know, say it was two days ago – you literally cannot expect a gay man who watches that show to keep his trap shut about ANYTHING, let alone the result.

I do find it strange how we’re so keen to turn ourselves back into toddlers, unable to deal with disappointment or things not going our way, satisfied only by a constant stream of surprises. Imagine the strain on our hearts. Can you really not sit and enjoy the show now you know what’s going to happen? What is with this continual need for shock? Why are we so intent on creating drama or jeopardy in even the most mundane of situations? I know there is a certain buzz from having a genuine “WTF?” moment when you’re watching something, sometimes, but life can’t be full of them. Sometimes it’s better for you if you read ahead, take note of the spoilers – in life, surprises can be nasty, irreversible. Bone up on your own storyline; don’t leave everything to chance. Because, spoiler: you still end up being you.

This is what someone would write on your notes after they’d just interviewed you for a graduate scheme. A graduate scheme you would not get a place on.

“The best thing about him was he turned up before me.” Yeeeeees, I don’t think these two are going to be indulging in a spot of fleshy swordfighting before sundown, do you?

I imagine  these two going at it would be as much fun as watching the last two Pringles in a tube turn stale, anyway.

Somewhere out there a Radio 4 comedy commissioner is shouting for their nearest child to “Go get me my phone”.

About as much enthusiasm as going to the GP to have a lump checked or a child forcing down a Brussels sprout so they can have ice cream.

PASSIONATE, like a Maeve Binchy novel.
ETHICAL, like all the detergents in my extra-woke cupboard under the sink.
CHEERFUL, like a character who will almost certainly be murdered second in a Miss Marple mystery.

SMART, like a Foxtons estate agent who can calculate their commission and drink a Diet Cherry Coke at the same time.
CONSIDERATE, “like you were when you were younger, such a lovely little boy, a fine young man, not like now” – your grandma.
RELAXED, like the poppers have just kicked in.

23. An early night. Some people don’t deserve to be gay.

You have to feel sorry for straight people, who have only just worked out what “vada your dolly old eek” means, only to be confronted by yet more impenetrable gay references thanks to the internet and, some might say, us just wanting a little bit of something for ourselves.

Well, we all like to be liked. But the question mark at the end tells you a) that Josh really isn’t sure and b) he’s not too bothered either way. It’s a shrug, a whatever, a “Well I guess if I had to come up with something, I suppose it would be OK if he thought I was friendly”. And, luckily for Josh, who has perhaps never even considered what someone might think of him before – and how little control he has over that, so I imagine he may start pondering on it more now – Pádraic did think he was friendly. It was one of the first things he said, despite Josh being LATE. Pádraic is a better man than I – they’d be dredging canals by now if Josh has been coming to meet me.

“Coming up after these messages: what happens when an 8 is a 9 but they give you a 7 that is actually a 6? One half of a doomed couple tells their story.”

Another comment left under the Guardian Blind Date last week was a complaint they should get rid of the last question “Would you meet again?” I think they said it was unnecessarily cruel – I can’t remember and I’m not going back to read it. This is a nonsense opinion. This question is the lingering closeup just after someone loses the prize, it’s the “for sale: baby shoes, never worn”, it is the final sweet aftertaste of pudding, that you hang on to as long as you can before it’s washed away by the inevitable glug of water or wine or Pepsi Max (you asked for Diet Coke but they “just have Pepsi, is that OK?”).

This question must never die, even if it is in itself a mass murderer of hope.

Beautiful.

Photograph: Linda Nylind; James Drew Turner, both for the Guardian

Disclaimer: The comments I make are meant to be playful and humorous and are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy – Lord knows they need it sometimes. Anyone participating in the date would usually be made aware of this editing process before taking part. If you are the couple in this date, please don’t take this personally.  It’s about what you say, not who you are. I’m sure the sex would have been ELECTRIC. If you want to give your side of the story,  or send in your original answers, just get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal or comments you might have.

José and Tom

Gay men today! This could be just what we need. Here are José a 36-year-old project manager and Tom, 31, a restaurant manager. Click on the pic to read what happened on the date before we join them for a fight in the lily pond (’80s reference – avail yourself of Google).

Is it? It is if you go to the same three bars and always hang with the same people and never sleep with anybody you haven’t spent at least a year WhatsApping, I guess.

Here you go, Tom. Quite shocked you don’t have this already, tbh.

I quite like Tom’s cheeky allusion to the fact he’ll definitely F on the first date because, look, we’re gay men and we’re a long time dead so, come on. I’m not sure I would ever accept breakfast from a one-night stand, though. The trouble is, you know exactly where their hands have been.

A bona fide first impression. Although it does sound like a description of a dalmatian.

Not strictly the kind of first impression we’re going for. You would think that the question comes so EARLY in the set would be a clue to them, but… oh I’ve had enough. I shan’t feature this question again unless the answer is interesting.

We only have one restaurant manager among us and that is not José, so I think our man is trying to tell us Tom wanged on a little too much about his job. You’ll notice “managing projects” is not among the conversation topics here. I don’t know what you’d say about being a project manager anyway. “Yes, I walk into rooms and let everyone else do the talking until, by my silence, I’ve convinced them all it’s their fault we’re behind schedule, then I sit staring into Excel spreadsheets and project timeline software for a couple of hours, send emails to ‘stakeholders’ at annoying times, implying that anything less than a speedy reply would hold up the entire project, then, after warming my scarf and gloves on the top of my MacBook, I go home at 4:30 pm, and invoice them for £450. Per day.”

I refuse to believe live music during dinner was anything but a pain in the arse, but I’ll have to give José the benefit of the doubt because he was there and I, sadly, was not.

As “regular readers” may know, my bêtes noires when it comes to dating conversation are, after exes and politics, “London life” and “dating”. I’d love to know what hitherto uncovered mysteries about London these two managed to air. London is one of the most fantastic cities in the world but I like to think living here is like a magical spell, and if you start overthinking it and talking or analysing about it too much you will break this enchantment and realise– with a lurch of the stomach – that it’s just a big Southampton, with nicer buildings, better places to get coffee, more than one decent H&M and loads of people who hate you.

Ditto dating. Nobody wants to hear your horror stories or “a funny thing happened once” monologues. Get a blog so we can ignore it in peace. Worked for me.

Yeah. They kind of have to do that to take your order. You know, as much as they’d love to spend all night watching you forensically debate the pros and cons of getting the Central line instead of the Overground – which I am willing to bet you call the “Ginge” – to east London, they have orders to take, bills to prepare, restaurants to clean, and homes to go to. A waiter’s nightmare is two daters engrossed in smalltalk who keep saying “We haven’t even looked!” when they come over to try to get you to order a starter, 35 minutes after you sat down.

When a waiter says to you, “Are you ready or would you like another couple of minutes to decide?” they actually mean “Bitch I am here now and the food all tastes the sodding same. You’re not defusing a bomb or picking a new sofa, just get on with it. And when I say a couple of minutes, I mean I will be back in exactly 45 seconds and you two better be ready. You better. Don’t make me mad. I’m crazy”.

But of course Tom should know this. He’s a restaurant manager. Unless he’s one of those people who takes the opportunity of a day off to behave like the worst customer. Oh, you know, like people who work in a shop and then go to a different shop and DEMAND the very best service because they “know how this works” and “have high standards”.

I don’t think I’ve seen such a weak attempt at building and maintaining suspense since Downton Abbey was last on.

Does this happen to you a lot, José? At client lunches, perhaps, when they see your daily rate on the invoice?

This is fine. A decent answer. No praise for being able to sit up at a table and not get carbonara down himself, just a statement of fact: he wasn’t offensive.

“He talked too much.”

“He barely said a sodding word.”

“No. But I can say yes because it is never going to happen as, inexplicably, despite working as a project manager in London, I have no friends here. They are in Portugal. Yep. Otherwise, I’d love to introduce him to them, I really would.

“But no.”

“No. But I would show them his dick pic if he sent one.”

Can I just take a break here to do this:

Thank you.

Onward.

CHATTY like he talked too much, hang on have I already said that, I guess I have but I need to say it again. He talked too much.
POSITIVE like a pregnancy test a soap character always finds in the bin when they are searching through it for some nonsense reason.
FRIENDLY like a cat that thinks you know where the tuna is.

GENUINE like around 75% of gay men on Grindr claim to be.
CULTURED because he’s from Portugal and ordered something that didn’t look or taste that nice.
EASY-GOING like an uncle who has concerning views on immigration but “really loves curry”.

None? Really? You can, I guess, walk away from a date – say, an excruciating two hours of turbo-silences, staring out of windows and wringing the end of your shirt in your hands – and not have any particular clue what someone thought about you. But to end an evening with a stranger – a GAY stranger – eat in the Oxo Tower, and then (spoiler) go on for more drinks after, and come away with absolutely zero impression of what they thought about you? NOTHING? Like, no analysis of the situation whatsoever? No scenario-building? Nope?

Or, more likely, you have a pretty good idea what he thought of you, but you’d rather not say. This question is actually a very big trap. Assume the other person liked you and you risk looking like a bighead and/or an idiot when they absolutely drag you in their sketch of the evening. Say they didn’t like you and you could be cockblocking yourself

Spark. The get-out. The silent killer. It has extracted me from many tricky situations. “No spark” covers all bases. It is the kindness, the trip to Dignitas, the polite decline for the boring, the stupid, the joyless, the bigoted, the pathetic, the bitchy, the braindead, the hairy-backed, the selfish in bed, the balding, the unwashed, the obsessive, the coldhearted, the shameless, the shameful, the C*NTS – all the things you cannot say are conveyed with “no spark”. It means no thank you, not now, not ever. Not you.

All that chat about “London life”, like they had two rolled-up Time Outs and were bopping each other over the head,  and they still ended up in one of the top 5 worst bars in the capital.

Dates used to ask to meet there sometimes, in that sodding bar. “The nice one,” they would say, “the one at the back.” Compared to the one at the front, which is like sitting in among a pack of chihuahuas while an airhorn blasts continually, I guess it is “the nice one”, but I should’ve known better and not bothered turning up. That bar somehow drains the sex potential from you. It’s so charmless, and stressful, and free of atmosphere – you can’t even see anything from it, just loads of concrete giving you the side-eye and someone having a substandard dinner in the even worse restaurant adjacent to it. Seriously, just stay home, sit on an uncomfortable beanbag, crack open a bottle of unchilled wine you paid too much for, half-tune for radio into TalkSport and have a wank –you’re already having a better time than anyone in that bar.

“Look, I’m a professional and I wouldn’t stand for this in my establishment.” Way to get a waiter SACKED in a magazine column, by the way.

Scores!

Don’t ever let anyone tell you gays are mean. We’re just as shy, sweet, dull and desperate as everyone else. For example, these two sevens are ones if ever I saw them and yet, despite the date sounding as interesting as sanding a floor or counting the sequins on a drag queen’s frock, they managed to keep things polite and award each other a 7.

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

Disclaimer: The comments I make are meant to be playful and humorous and are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy – you know how it is. Anyone participating in the date would usually be made aware of this editing process before taking part. If you are the couple in this date, please don’t take this personally. It’s about what you say, not who you are, and most of the time I’m just reaching and making something out of nothing – a lot of nothing. If you want to give your side of the story,  or send in your original answers, just get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal or comments you might have.

Damola and Karen

Something we hardly ever get to talk about is where the daters are sent. Not that it’s not fascinating – which it almost always is – but because the daters themselves usually hog the limelight with ridiculous tales or personal beliefs about who should be pouring the wine (yourself, always).

Anyway, today’s duo went to Exmouth Market Grind, part of a small chain beginning to make its presence felt across the capital. I have been a couple of times, but if you haven’t, here is a delicious testimonial from the homepage of their website that should give you an idea:

screen-shot-2017-03-04-at-07-59-37

I could write 1,800 words on this quote alone, I reckon, but that is not what you’re here for. Is it? No.

Onward.

Today’s participants are Damola, 25, a content writer – which seems an oddly granular and slightly superfluous description but perhaps that’s what it says on his business card – and 28-year-old researcher Karen. Let’s get going.

damola-karen-key

damola-hop

Abraham Lincoln?

karen-hope

I have some bad news on line 2.

damola-first

WHOA. No messing with the formula, Damola. I know you like to write your content and all that, but three words and shoehorned alliteration belongs to the “Describe her in three words” question. Here, you’re supposed to misunderstand what a first impression actually is and instead drop a massive spoiler and give your overall impression of the evening. Allow Karen to show you:

karen-first

She’d have got away with it if it hadn’t have been for that “dynamic”, too, wouldn’t she? “Dynamic” is the fairground owner with a pillowcase over his head scaring away the customers for an insurance scam.

damola-talk

So much to unpack here. So much content, you could say.

“How much we both like Jamiroquai” is the doozy, though. I mean, aren’t they a bit young to even remember Jamiroquai at their (his) peak? Or maybe they heard the new single, which isn’t too bad (Automaton, not the other one), and they’re getting into them (him) in a kind of ironic retro way, much like a 21-year-old hearing Kim Wilde’s Cambodia for the first time might do. Either way, I didn’t think this was the kind of thing people actually said out loud. Not any more.

As for who would win between a giant spider and giant octopus, this depends on a) where they are, because water tends to favour one, while land the other and b) what exactly they’re competing in. A fight? A beauty contest? A stock car rally? A sponsored climb up the side of a giant bath for charity?

Anyway, it’s a nice try, but I have always found baboon vs badger a much more compelling idea for a fight to the death within the animal kingdom.

karen-talk

“Life’s zigzags” sounds like something you’d hear in a meeting about potential new Radio 4 comedies, describing Moira, a 40-something divorcee who’s toiling through the choices, challenges and chancers that come her way when her eldest son goes off to university, decides to retrain as a barista and gets pregnant by a colleague 20 years her junior. Working title: The Immacchiato Conception.

karen-awks

Meanwhile, over at ITV, commissioners are hammering out casting details for The Power Of Love, a six-part comedy about Peter Power and Lucy Love, two confirmed singletons who, after a disastrous first date where they’re actually seated at different tables and end up on dates with the wrong people, get together and set up a dating agency to make sure other lovelorn characters – to be stunt-casted and  make only one appearance – have a much smoother path to true love. The main characters’ marriage is pencilled in for the series finale of the third season when the actress becomes massively popular and decides she wants to star in hard-hitting dramas that Suranne Jones and Sarah Lancashire haven’t got time to do. (If you would like to commission this script from me, do get in touch.)

damola-awks

Staff. Forever building their part. I hope he was shouting, “Please say nice things about us and tell them we keep meaning to take down that Sam Smith quote but our web editor is off with RSI at the moment and none of us know the passwords”.

damola-table

karen-table

Bet they shared. They look like sharers. Octopus, probably.

damola-best

rihanna-cross-eyed

Here come the eyes! The compliment you dole out when you can’t think of anything to say because if you hang around any longer you’ll miss your train to the Friend Zone.

karen-best

the-magicians-apprentice-9

Thank you for not telling us about a single one of them.

damola-friends

karen-friends

dp43s7u

Ooh, that “sure”. It’s back. It’s non-committal. Purely hypothetical. “I would” is missing only “if my life depended on it in a hostage situation” at the end of it. Sure, they would introduce the other to their friends, but there’s no way on earth that’s ever going to be a situation they’ll find themselves in.

damola-three

You’d worry Damola had used up all his best adjectives earlier on in “the show” but don’t worry, here he is with three more. He has the CONTENT you need, at all times.

REBELLIOUS like Betty Boo says in probably one of the very best pop records of all time. “Hoodlum, that’s what you you called me. Rebellious, you can’t ignore me.” Yes I still know the rap.
STREETWISE like the secondary character in a “very special episode” of your favourite teen comedy who will suffer a terrible breakdown or sudden lack of confidence according to the laws of issue-driven television.
KIND like sensitive handwash.

karen-three

SHARP like a sheet of A4 just waiting to slice the tenderest part of your thumb.
POSITIVE like a team leader on an away-day.
SPARKLY EYES like—hang on…

tumblr_m3jgnqi7zo1qzhj33o1_500

That’s… four words altogether. You… you can’t do that. You can, if you must, make the three words a sentence and, if you’re the kind of troll who loves to be both lazy and extra af, make “a” one of the words, just to make your crap sentence work. But you must never, ever, use four words here. Could you not, oh I don’t know, have conjured up an adjective, slung in a hyphen, if you really must cram more stuff into your little word suitcase here? Hmmm? Sparkly-eyed, maybe? This is why the world needs more Damolas – people just don’t respect the words enough.

damola-change

karen-change

Like hemlines, bum bags and Taylor Swift, the questions in the Blind Date column slip in and out of vogue, and relevance, quite regularly. One of the most telling at the moment is the “change one thing” question. It could, in a way, replace the scores quite happily and I wouldn’t mind. As with most of the date, it’s all about what they don’t say and, here, when given  the opportunity of a virtual, textual time machine, if they squander it then you KNOW there is more than meets the eye.

“Nothing at all” is, of course, a boring answer, but quite sweet. An even more awful – yet revelatory – answer is what we have here today, in duplicate to boot. They make it about the food. This means they certainly do have things about the evening they’d have changed, but they don’t want to look like garbage people in a magazine column and they’re worried they’ll get recognised on the Tube, so play safe and pretend the only thing that could’ve made the evening any better is to have eaten something else, or, more usually and depressingly, to have ordered MORE of it. It means “The evening was such a waste of time I wish I’d just eaten myself to death instead of allowed myself to be bored into it”.

Yes it does.

damola-marks

One for every leg of your giant spider, Damola.

karen-marks

Sadly, Karen bit off one of her delicious octopus’s tentacles so could only manage a 7. Giant spider wins after all.

So, after a night of lightning conversation, perched in Sam Smith’s favourite hostelry, will our media-trained pair ever see each other again? Prepare yourself for carefully worded statements now:

damola-meet

sophia-loren

It’s traditional, it’s brief, it’s optimised. Damola knows less is more here. It means no.

karen-meet

tiffamy-pollard

It’s a no.

Photograph: Linda Nylind; James Drew Turner, both for the Guardian

Disclaimer: The comments I make are meant to be playful and humorous and are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy – Lord knows they need it sometimes. Anyone participating in the date would usually be made aware of this editing process before taking part. If you are the couple in this date, please don’t take this personally, or if you do, at least just shrug it off in public. It’s about what you say, not who you are. If you want to give your side of the story,  or send in your original answers, just get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal or comments you might have.

David and Mary

We’ve all got a clapped-out Vauxhall Viva parked on a meter outside so let’s not mess about.

Today’s willing victims tap dancing on the side of the cauldron of boiling oil that is the Guardian Blind Date column and the wrath of its readers are David, a 55-year-old physiotherapist, and Mary, 61, a teaching assistant.

Here they are:

david-mary-full

Read what happened on the date before we hold our nose, breathe in and dive into the deep end.

david-mary-key

david-hope

This is more common than you’d think. Not everyone skating precariously around the dating arena is looking for love, true or otherwise – it’s an exercise in self-assessment and improvement. This is exactly why I started dating. Would anyone be interested? Would I know how to talk to people who weren’t a) friends b) relatives c) shop assistants? Would anyone ever look at me and think “you’re gorgeous”?

You could stare at yourself in a mirror all day, guessing what people might think of you, or you could spritz on a bit of Tom Ford, floss your teeth extra carefully, and go and find out for yourself. Clean your mirror before you leave – in case you want to take any drunk, crying selfies when you come back.

mary-hope

Sad Sack from Raggy Dolls

While this may not be the most positive start, hoping for nothing can be quite a good idea. It’s pretty much the only thing you’re guaranteed from a night out with a stranger. Nothing. Bring on the bonuses.

Mary has the world-weary air of cabin crew stuck doing the Manchester–London shuttle for the last 10 years – bing-bonging the passengers about their seat belts in perfect deadpan, sticking her finger through every tenth mini-croissant just for something to do, to check she’s still alive.

Brace, Mary. Brace.

david-first

morticia-addams-o-rly

“What about these?” said the cheery young girl in the optician, handing Mary a pair of bright purple specs. “These are quite jolly.”
It had been a long day. Mary took the glasses from her – the seventeenth pair she’d tried on – like she’d been handed a nappy by a stranger’s child in the toilets of a petrol station (just outside Widnes), and wearily tried them on.
She looked like a Far Side cartoon character, or an agony aunt on Lorraine who’d been a bit of a goer in her youth but had discovered grandchildren and quadruple gin-and-tonics. But they were better than all the matronly goggles and faux-ironic plastic “web-designer who dyes their hair grey despite only being 24” ones she’d been trying on before.
“I’ll take them,” she said, resolving to buy not one but two bottles of white zinfandel on the way home.

I think if someone thought my glasses represented my personality, I would shimmy under an oil tanker – while it was moving. Incidentally, I have exactly the same glasses as David. Whether this is an insult to one, neither, or both of us, I’ll leave you to decide.

mary-1st

Very good.

dvid-talk

mary-talk

This is nice. I’ll take David’s “illustrious” here to be slight sarcasm, on which he’s taken a lead from what Mary was telling him. Otherwise it sounds rather like he’s taking the piss and with those glasses, there’s no way David could be such a shady bitch. It’s just not in our nature.

david-awks

I’m not sure how I feel about a 55-year-old man not knowing how to tell someone he needs to go for a wee. Did Mary not pause to drink any wine?

mary-awks

Do you know how there are some things you know you won’t like, without trying? Holidays in the Falklands. That new flavour of Findus Crispy Pancakes. Emmerdale. Mine is fennel. It’s ugly, it smells funny, and even before I accidentally tasted it once at the dinner party of a friend who took “is there anything you don’t eat” to be his cue to establish a career in aversion therapy, I knew it wasn’t for me.

david-table

mary-table

Two “impeccables” that got a makeover on This Morning. Next.

david-best

Whenever I hear the phrase “boundless energy” I think back to when I was a child and 85-year-old women who had joined the local gym would pop up on the local news programme, Calendar, to show they were “young at heart”. They almost always made them wear godawful leotards and Reebok classics as they filmed them glacially lifting a pink dumbbell and giving a gummy smile to camera. Seriously, there was about one a month.

It also reminds me of Mary Brazzle. If you do not know of this amazing sketch, avail yourself of it now.

mary-best

So good a listener he almost wet himself, Mary, but don’t let that put you off. And more about these glasses! I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that today’s date was sponsored by SpecSavers. (You can’t get those glasses at SpecSavers, btw. Very reasonable online, though.)

david-three

DEDICATED like a plaque on the wall of a leisure centre, to commemorate the site of the world’s oldest chocolate vending machine.
FUNNY like that smell on the Bakerloo line platforms at Waterloo.
BROAD-MINDED like absolutely nobody in the comments underneath a piece in the Guardian, ever.

mary-three

Ooh, alliteration.

CHATTY like someone who talks so much he would rather carry on chatting than relieve himself.
CHARMING like Kaa in The Jungle Book.
CHEERFUL like the man behind the counter of your local off-licence, pretending to like you because you’re the only person to buy booze that’s outside the “4 cans for £5” deal.

david-made

nod

mary-made

cybill-2

Single in your 20s or 30s? Then either take heart, or run into the hills with a tea-towel over your eyes, at the realisation you can get to the age these two are and still not really know whether someone likes you or not. It’s going to be a long forever, isn’t it?

The other week, I was at a work event and someone I’d just met asked me, “If there was anything you could say to me as a 19-year-old, what advice would you give?”

My main tip would be “Don’t ask life advice from 41-year-olds you don’t know”. Any 41-year-old, in fact. Anyone older. They don’t know any better, they aren’t wise – they just got here before you, with a larger catalogue of mistakes behind them than you have. The idea we should have it “all figured out” by some magic age is not only nonsense, it’s extremely dangerous and patronising. I’m still finding my way, we all are –it’s just that I’m doing it with eye bags and greying hair and acid reflux instead of youthful effervescence. I didn’t say that to her, though. She would grow up and come to that conclusion herself anyway.

My advice, which I delivered very kindly because she was very sweet and had flawless skin which I couldn’t take my eyes off, was: Don’t assume advanced age brings any wisdom whatsoever. Worry less. You’re probably not studying enough, so make sure you do. Perhaps  my ACTUAL advice should have been to ask those you admire for guidance, not people who just happened to have been alive longer.

Anyway, then I remembered I had an online advice column, and someone else might have told her, so that’s probably why she was asking. My memory’s not what it was. Oops.

david-kiss

mary-kiss

fe1f34dc0f9cc0de644a21de59e7e764

david-change

mary-change

Well, this is very encouraging, isn’t it? What would you score someone who held their pee in for you?

david-mark

A strong 7. Seven. How strong is this 7? As strong as your bladder, David? I mean, we all know what a 7 is. It’s a gentleman’s 1. Maybe – and this is me giving you the benefit of the doubt, David, because we are Tom Ford spectacles buddies, so obviously you are a great person because we are ALL the same – you’re old-school and don’t believe in over-marking. But if Mary, who has had an “illustrious” career in education, remember, and thus will be an absolute expert in marking appropriately, scores you higher than you scored her, what does this say about you?

mary-mark

Oh, David.

So we’ve come to the end of the line.  It has been a fairly uneventful journey, to be honest. They haven’t given me much – my main takeaway from the whole thing is that their favourite music sounds like it would be played at a barbecue in 2004, David’s bladder was like a hot air balloon by the end of the night, and Mary loves alliteration but not believing someone actually might find her interesting for a whole evening. Will they finally show their hand, and a little enthusiasm for each other?

david-meet

harry-styles-1111

mary-meet

kermit-ice-bucket-challenge

Photograph: Christopher Tomond for the Guardian

Disclaimer: The comments I make are meant to be playful and humorous and are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy – Lord knows they need it sometimes. Anyone participating in the date would usually be made aware of this editing process before taking part. If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally. It’s about what you say, not who you are. If you want to give your side of the story,  or send in your original answers, just get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal or comments you might have.

 

Emma and Gervase

I once knew someone who approached dating with the mantra “What would Madonna do?” It served her quite well for a while. Madonna wouldn’t go for second best (baby), Madonna wouldn’t let them bore her to death, Madonna would make sure the conversation was at the very least 70% about her, Madonna would not get hysterical about splitting the bill. Adopting the virtues or channelling the spirit of someone you admire when on the lonely treadmill of dating can be quite empowering, until you realise the ultimate truth: Madonna would not, under any circumstances, be sitting in the Royal Oak on Columbia Road, waiting for a 7.5 who’s “running a bit late because of the buses”, nursing a flat gin and tonic (Gordon’s as well, your cup runneth over). No, she’s in Hollywood, or unpacking her Ocado delivery in Marylebone, adopting someone, ordering her next toy boy off the internet.

Goodness knows which celebrity mottos have driven Emma, a 27-year-old social enterprise events coordinator (¯\_(ツ)_/¯) and Gervase, 28, civil servant, together, but let’s hope it’s more early-era ABBA than latter stages of All Saints when someone says the word “jacket”.

emma-gervase-full

Read what happened on the date before we pull up a chair and stare at them both really intensely until they squirm.

key1

emma-hope

“A good time with a nice guy” sounds like an advert in the back of Boyz. “A good time with a nice guy” has a veneer-perfect smile and his Aussiebum briefs pulled right up his… anyway, never mind. I doubt this is where Emma is going with this one. “A fancy meal” – almost a surefire sign you’re going to be sent to make romantic overtures at the worst table in Islington Wagamama.

gerv-hope

Values. I have got to the grand old age of 41 without knowing what my values actually are, so congratulations to Gervase for working this out already, at 13 years my junior. Although, somehow, I’m not sure this is something to celebrate. What should my values be? Do I really not have any? Are they just bland statements of things I vaguely believe in? Let me try come up with a few values:

– Crisps are acceptable in an emergency only.
– Don’t ever patronise – it means “talk down to”, in case you were wondering.
– I believe wifi passwords should be all lower-case with NO numbers or stupid symbols.

emma-first

stranger-just-under-your-nose

WHAT was he reading, though? I guess in every perfect romcom – which this answer would suggest we’re heading for – it would be her favourite book, or something classic and beautiful. Or perhaps, because it’s 2017, something powerful and political. But I would have way more respect for Gervase if it were something like The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins, or a book about emojis, or the latest Andy McNab.

“Pretty cute.” We’ll take it. Let’s stop things here. Just get married so we can all go home.

gerv-first

gif-bike-accident

Oh good. A bike. My favourite. Cockblocker-in-chief, not just a third wheel, but an extra two, leaving tyre marks all over your wretched body as it speeds off into the night, carrying our last hope of a first-date shag with it.

At least she wasn’t doing dry January. But with a bike outside, waiting – that’s assuming she left it outside and didn’t have it on a seat next to her, suggestively feeding it oil and cooing into its spokes – she may as well have been.

emma-talk

gerv-talk

kermit-grimace

Sounds wild.

emma-awks

This is nice. I love those excruciating brief exchanges with the waiter when you very, very obviously haven’t so much as glanced at the menu and yet they’re over to your table every verse-end asking if you’re ready.

“Or would you like a few more minutes?” they say, not meaning it at ALL, because the longer you take to order, the longer you’ll take to eat it which means they’ll be very pointedly polishing glasses and dropping cutlery all around you at the end of the night to get you to leave.

gerv-awkas

It’s not often the waiters get a cameo in the column but when they do it’s usually because they’ve quite actively tried to build up their part. I’ve recently read quite a few listicles and explainers about what you should NEVER say or do to a waiter – there is obviously a trend of being rude to them or something, because I don’t remember these handy guides being a thing when I was a waiter. You can tell a lot about someone by how they treat staff in any service environment, really, although restaurants are certainly the most revealing.

Be polite, be respectful, appreciate they have a lot of work to do, that it’s unlikely they’re going to be very well paid, don’t use it as an opportunity to see what it might be like to be a junior member of the Royal Family, be calm and reasonable if you need to complain about the food and, generally, mind your Ps and Qs. All solid advice.

HOWEVER, let’s not forget that occasionally waiters can be the biggest wankers on Earth, often for no reason, and it works both ways. If anything, a rude waiter can be a bonding experience on a date, as it will give you something to talk about in the pub after when you’re wondering whether you should kiss them or not. So just endure the server’s barbs and eye rolls and bitch about them later. Needlessly sassing a waiter is usually a boner-killer; no good can come of it.

emma-table

kim-woodburn-scowl

I’m always amazed by how excited people get at someone pouring wine for them. If it’s white, they’re pouring chilled into tepid and killing the joy. If it’s red, they’re pouring fresh wine into that claggy, horrible soup-like residue that’s already in the glass. And if it’s rosé, everyone’s gay so it doesn’t matter.

Please don’t pour my wine. I don’t like it. And that also goes for waiters. Posh restaurants that insist on squirrelling away the bottle and then reappearing with it when my wine falls below a certain level are my WORST nightmare.

gerv-table

Oh whatever.

emma-best

gerv-best

Look, we may well be painting our ears shut and clutching our stomachs in boredom at the thought of conversations like this but do you know how BRILLIANT, and UNEXPECTED, and INVIGORATING it is to meet someone interested in what you have to say? It hardly ever happens on dates, especially in London, that great big casserole of ME ME ME where all anyone can talk about is the cost of travel, pubs that have shut down, how much they hate luxury apartment developments (that they actually secretly want to live in), East Dulwich, bad drugs and popups.

Dating in London – which is another subject lots of people like to talk about when actually on dates in London, bafflingly – is usually just two people in haircuts they can’t afford pushing their specs back up their nose and reciting the last issue of Time Out they read at each other. So THIS development makes my heart sing and you can’t take it away from me.

emma-three

KIND like a stranger on a train who hands you a tissue to blow your nose. Although they’re not actually being kind as such; they just can’t listen to you Dysoning up snot through your throbbing sinuses for a minute longer.
CONSIDERED like the Cryptic in The Times.
INTELLIGENT like a self-checkout machine that somehow knows that Creme Egg you placed in the bag was not dried apricot.

gerv-three

SMART like the dress code at a funeral.
ALTERNATIVE like nobody who claimed they were ever turned out to be.
OPEN-MINDED like your wokest of woke baes with all the best memes.

emma-made

beyonce-rhythm-heaven2

I’m going to be honest here, Emma, and say the whole date sound light on LOLs, but better to be a bit serious and interesting than three hours of endless fucking bantz bantz bantz bantz bantz with mind-bending jokes and witless negging, like you’re in the audience for a male comedy duo’s test show for the Edinburgh Fringe.

I am dour as hell and it never did me any harm or kept my sheets empty.

gerv-made

rik-right-kids

emma-go-on

wink-point

COME ON THEN, LET’S HAVE IT.

emma-kiss

gerv-kiss

thirsty

YES.

emma-change

OK, well this isn’t the slightly salacious or hopelessly romantic answer I was expecting. Why does it matter you ordered the same thing?

People who go on like this in restaurants do my head in.
“Oh we can’t order the same thing; it will look stupid.”
“Hey, do you mind if I order the same thing as you?”
Know what? I don’t care. Order what you like. Don’t spend an extra 20 minutes desperately scanning the menu for something else you like so that we’re not “matchy matchy”. Who cares? The waiter? They just want you to eat up and get out. And if you’re thinking of getting something different from me so we can both try a little of each other’s THINK AGAIN. Your fork stays on your half of the table – don’t be dangling it over my linguine like a dick over a urinal.

“You can’t order that, I’m having it” – yes this fills me full of hope for our future if you’re already dictating what I can eat on our first date. I can tell this is going to be a very tranquil and easygoing forever.

gerv-change

long-sigh

Maybe he wanted to take her number or something. I don’t know. She could’ve emailed it to him. People still do that, don’t they? Or, I don’t know, found a pen? Do they still make pens?

emma-score

gerv-score

These are hopeful. I… I feel something. Thing is, these two have ostensibly been very keen and yet they are quite hard to read – almost as difficult to crack as that novella Gervase was pretending to be engrossed in when Emma arrived – so I’m not sure if these pretty good scores mean anything.

Often people mark down when they don’t want to appear too eager, but sometimes they mark up, to somehow disguise their lack of interest. Thank goodness, then, for the last question – possibly the only one most participants answer truthfully and directly.

Emma, after that  9 – a NINE – how are you feeling?

emma-meet

screaming-internally-veep

See? That nine was a nothing. There are some people who can’t tell if there’s a spark until they snog, which I find a bit odd because surely it’s the general feeling that there’s this mythical spark that gets you to snog them in the first place, but for Emma true love’s kiss was not waiting for her at the back of Gervase’s meat-free throat.

And Gervase? Would you? Could you?

gerv-meet

slipper-doesnt-fit

More: No blog next week.

Photograph: Linda Nylind, Alicia Canter, both for the Guardian

Disclaimer: The comments I make are meant to be playful and humorous and are based on the answers  Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy – Lord knows they need it sometimes. Anyone participating in the date would usually be made aware of this editing process before taking part. If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally. It’s about what you say, not who you are. If you want to give your side of the story,  or send in your original answers, just get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal or comments you might have.

Jonny and Kit

The trouble with a first date is that while it can be the beginning of something, it’s also very definitely the end of something exciting.

It brings a close to the anticipation, the build-up obliterated by a simple handshake. As any yule-o-phile will tell you, the best part of Christmas is the preamble – so October, November and December to us hardcore Christmas fans – and while the day itself is a joy, it can never live up to the suspense that comes before it.

A date is a mini-Christmas, then. You’ve had texts or WhatsApps, you’ve seen carefully chosen snapshots, they wooed you and charmed you with jokes and stories. But now the big reveal – the face to the name, a voice to the words, a close-up of that skin, and those eyes, and that hair. And the wrinkles. Will anything ever be the same again? Will you ever get that rush you had in the last 25 minuets before you met them, before you knew, before the secret was out once and for all? No. You won’t. That first feeling is gone. Toothpaste never goes back in the tube.

Saying goodbye to their hopes and dreams today are 26-year-old graphic designer Jonny, and programme manager Kit, also 26, who have swapped their day job working somewhere with stripped floorboards where 6 Music blares out on the office stereo all day (in east London I imagine) for a restaurant in W1, and the pages of the Guardian Blind Date.

jonny-kit-large

Read what happened on the date – and marvel at this restaurant because good heavens – before I arrive on set with some really big script changes that I’m sure everyone’s just gonna love.

jonny-kit-kwy

kit-hope

The good thing about life in the 21st century is even if you have a terrible time somewhere, or with someone, it can be a good story. It’s nicer if you get a story out of having a great time, of course, but not compulsory. We have audiences everywhere taking an interest in our lives like never before, on our social media networks.

Whereas before your incredibantz about a bad date you went on would take years to trickle down to everyone you knew or met, now it can be published as content and, for a brief moment, you’re a big news story among the 400 or so people poring over your Facebook feed. People might say this is a bad thing and that we’re all becoming narcissists and as soon as I’ve taken this selfie I will rebut that argument very strongly. Oh, that’s not right. Let me take another.

jonny-hope

Small talk. So boring. Rent, where do you go out, what do you do, any brothers or sisters, music that you’re into, been to any gigs, favourite restaurant, prefer east or west, wow isn’t the Tube awful, I don’t really watch TV, boxsets, last film I saw, where I went to uni, yeah wasn’t 2016 the worst.

Mind you, with big talk being so terrifying these days, perhaps there’s something comforting about regressing to insipid niceties while Trump and May get handsy for the cameras.

jonny-1st

“Pretty girl” on its own would’ve been enough, I reckon. Not sure why you’d want to dull its shine with two qualifiers that sound like apologies or excuses. “Down to earth”, I know, is supposed to be a compliment, but it depends who’s saying it. Usually, when middle-class people are wheeling it out amid chat about house prices, it means “common, but not so bad that you couldn’t sit her next to grandmother at dinner”.

kit-1st

Like a… dog that just woke up?

jonny-talk

kit-talk

A total lack of a match on conversation topics would usually have alarm bells ringing, but here it seems quite charming. Cute, even.

I, too, am sickened by the “PDA going on at table six” – which is a very nice Victoria Wood-level of detail there – but the restaurant looks like the kind of anything goes, “credit card debt dressed up as wild hedonism” place that people who love PDAs would really like to go.

We’ll brush dry January aside because nobody cares nobody cares nobody cares and move on to the winking. I like it. I like to give  a cheeky wink, and sometimes make a clicking sound with my tongue as I do it. I used to wink at my boyfriend a lot in the early days. It’s not necessarily always salacious, but reassuring, a bonding thing. My dad used to wink at me a lot when I was a child – and still does very occasionally if we catch each other’s eye out in public. “I’m here,” it says, “I get it”, or “We’re not like the others”.

So if you can’t wink, you must learn immediately. It is code.

jonny-awks

That’s not awkward – that’s what you’re supposed to do. Better that than chewing on and on until you start to gag.

kit-awks

Hmmm. Cigarette? Phone call? A deep breath to stave off a panic attack? Who knows. Maybe he’s like the guy I knew a long long time ago who, if a night was going well, would excuse himself to go to the loo and put a condom on there and then. Maybe he was doing that. But outside.

jonny-table

kate-winslet

I’m not sure if it’s the same for anyone else who lived through the 1990s, but I’m quite amazed at the contempt levelled at vegetarianism now. It’s labelled a weakness, as a massively inferior lifestyle. For all the hand-wringing about #eatclean and everything being gluten-free, you can’t move in London now for restaurants that fetishise and celebrate meat, that advertise great big hog-roasts and bring huge hunks of animal to your table. Burgers, once the scourge of nutrition, are now back and bigger than ever, dripping in cheese and bacon and sauces and onion rings and another level of cheese and welded to a brioche bun.

When I was younger, being a veggie was the ultimate lifestyle choice. Everyone was doing it. You were mocked by your parents, sure, but revered by your peers. Apart from a brief flirtation with Linda McCartney’s veggie lasagne during my teenage years, I have always eaten meat. But I have noticed a definite shift from going veggie being something people either admired about you or let you get on with, to a thing people actively take the piss out of you for, and obsess over, like it’s a character flaw. No wonder we’re all turning ourselves inside out with worry about our diets and our bodies – nobody can mind their own sodding business about our dinner.

kit-table

What, he got up and served you? Or did me mansplain the positioning of the knives and forks to you? The hours must’ve zoomed by.

jonny-friends

kit-friends

eyebrow_raise_sexy

I see.

kit-three

FUNNY like a comedian, that you fancy.
CHEERFUL like an avuncular postman, who you also fancy.
HANDSOME like Jonny, who you fancy.

Being called handsome never stops being a buzz. And if it does, and you think you’ve heard the word too often, how dare you – take the compliment and realise how lucky you are to hear it. Some people, like Plug from the Bash Street Kids, or Eric Trump, or Ken Dodd, or the guy out of Simply Red (#TeamMartine) have probably never heard that word in the direction in their lives. Can you imagine?

jonny-three

A like A dickhead who doesn’t do this right so I can’t do my “three words like” thing that I always do.
GOOD like it would’ve been for Jonny to actually say three distinct words rather than a statement, especially when you consider the fact that “A” isn’t really a word, as such, I mean it is, but taken out of context, it is meaningless. Anyway, thanks for this Jonny.
LAUGH like I’m sure we all will, about this, one day.

I’m not sure how I feel about Jonny saying Kit was “a good laugh” while he got a “handsome”. It smacks of playing it cool or, more worryingly, feeling rather cool and playing it exactly as it should be. I think we could’ve done with the “pretty” down here rather than all the way up there if we’re going to be taking this to an 8+ today.

should-i-be-worried

jonny-made

Hard to tell. Hard to tell. We waste a lot of time by being hard to read, I think. So many things left unsaid. We are worried, perhaps, about getting hurt if we reveal too much of ourselves. We don’t trust others not to use it to their own advantage. And there’s something irritating about those who wear their hearts on their sleeves, isn’t there?

But if there’s one time you need to show your hand and let the Botox crack, it’s on a first date. Whether it’s bad news and you’re never going to see them again, or a small spark with inferno potential, don’t leave each other wondering. Don’t consign each other to days of staring expectantly at the phone, agonising over whether to make the first move. Yes, it’s part of the thrill, or the chase, if you like, but really it’s a waste of time. And we don’t have too much of that – especially if Tiny Hands finds that big red button.

kit-made

See? Cards so close to her chest, the print from the Jack of Diamonds has rubbed off on her bra.

eye-roll-oh-please

jonny-go-on

grease-tell-me-more

Good sign. Very good sign. A pub next door, for a conspiratorial chat about the date, in more relaxed surroundings, maybe jostling a little for space among the other dry January deniers. Things happen when you go on to other pubs. If you get past the first venue, you’ve pretty much made it beyond a story to tell your friends.

jonny-kiss

australian-open-tennis-yes-1

kit-kiss

Attagirl. You’ve got to be direct. You have to steer things toward the result you want. You have to try. On dates, if I felt something between me and the guy, I’d be pretty upfront about this kind of thing. I’d either press them to get on with it – as my boyfriend will testify – or run my intention to get on with it myself by them. If they don’t want to do it, they can say no. Nothing ventured and all that, so long as you take your rejection gracefully.

Not that anyone has ever said no to kissing me, but I have read it’s a thing that can genuinely happen to others.

jonny-score

madonna-awks

“Not my type.” “Down to earth.” “A good laugh.” “I did as I was told.” And now a 7. You could argue that all the evidence points to Jonny not really fancying Kit and you may well be right, but I instead choose to believe that this is a shy 8 from Jonny, because the most telling answer of all, ironically, is Jonny’s “hard to tell” when asked what he thinks she made of him. Jonny doesn’t want to gush in case Kit wasn’t interested, nor does he want to be too harsh on her or humiliate her in a magazine. So he keeps his answers cool but complimentary.

Nobody really cares, I know, but it can be very hard to be a man in tis column and not say the wrong thing. And I should know, because I jump on them often enough. Too keen, too standoffish, too cool, too aggressive, too bitchy, too dismissive, too much. Jonny’s answers here get it right on nearly every single one. Except this one. This should be an 8. And he knows it. I hope Kit does too.

kit-xcore

And it’s equally hard to be a woman in this column because you get so accustomed to the men behaving like absolute arseholes that you worry anything you say might make you look like a tragic heroine of a terrible romcom.

You’re not just flattering his ego, Kit, you’re boosting your own. You deserve the freedom to give a man an 8 if you think he deserves it. Also: this is a 9. I didn’t come down in the last shower, you know.

It’s kind of beautiful this awkward little dance of a possible romance, isn’t it? If this were the 19th century, I bet their diaries would fizz with excited prose about the evening. Sadly, it’s 2017 and this is all we’ve got.

So here we are with our shy 8 and a timid 9 in fancy dress, but will they get the chance to upgrade to 10s? Heeeeeeere’s the big one.

jonny-meet

drag-queens-watch

kit-meet

bird-watch-popcorn-the-guyliner

Oh, we will.

More: No blog next week.

Photograph: Sarah Lee, Alicia Canter; both for the Guardian

Disclaimer: The comments I make are meant to be playful and humorous and are based on the answers  Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy. Anyone participating in the date should be made aware of this editing process before taking part. If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally. It’s about what you say, not who you are. If you want to give your side of the story,  or send in your original answers, just get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal or comments you might have.