Impeccable Table Manners

Alastair and Charlotte

750 Charlotte and Alastair copy

We live in dark times, you may have noticed. The country is taking it in turns to feel angry and disenfranchised, racist attacks are on the up, America seems intent on blowing its own brains out, feather-headed law students are hysterical because their professor wore a #BlackLivesMatter T-shirt and, best of all, we have Evil Edna from Willo the Wisp and a malfunctioning  wet-nurse android battling it out to be the next Prime Minister of the UK, before it disintegrates.

What light relief will save us now? A basket of puppies and tasteful white candles brought to us in our dressing room, Mariah-style? The recommissioning of Goodnight Sweetheart? Or maybe a hint of romance between a proto-Zandra Rhodes and a man going as a Tory MP “for Halloween”? Well, hold on to your hats, Britain, I can deliver one of those for you right now.

Read what happened on the date between 27-year-old tax adviser Alastair and Charlotte, 22, a TV production student, before I jump in with my pencil case and crayon all over the skirting board in a desperate play for attention.

Alastair kicks us off and is in blue. Charlotte, like the hair, is in pink.

Al hope

Might I suggest walking down Oxford Street with a golfing umbrella on a windy day?

char hope

One of them says this every week now. I think we’re being trolled. No higher hopes other than the perfectly reasonable and attainable aspiration that you might have something nice to eat and meet a cool person when being set up on a date by a newspaper who is also paying for said meal? No? Nothing? Don’t want to dream a little bigger? At least Alastair was hoping to fall over.

al first

I wonder if, like a toddler who doesn’t get out much, Alastair is prone to pointing at things and exclaiming loudly exactly what he can see. Imagine the bus journey to the date. Car! Building! Traffic! Waiter! Chair! Blue hair!

Charlotte’s hair is pink in the photo, of course, but I’m afraid I must shatter the widely held illusion that the daters are photographed just before or just after the date. It can be months before they find the perfect match. It’s almost like something could be putting them off applying – I have no idea what.

char first

A great smile is a great smile and when you see one, you’ve got to appreciate it. It feels very early for “chatty” to be wheeled on in its iron lung, but I have a feeling this is meant more sincerely than usual, when it’s customarily used as a low-level diss by someone who couldn’t get a word in.

Guys, I think we have what used to be known pre-Brexit as good people here. Do you remember the good people? Were you one of them, once? They’re funny and kind, they wait patiently at pelican crossings, they worry a bit when they see an elderly person hobbling down the street on a dark night and they’d never hurt a dog. Were they a dream? Did they get deported overnight by the frothing, thrashing mobs of “I think you’ll find” and “well, actually” and “I want my country back”, in Union Jack shoes and ill-fitting suits, religiously keeping appointments at the hairdressers yet sending the country down a helter-skelter with no sides, baying at the moon for recognition, aiming air rifles into the sky and shooting out all the stars? I hope there are some of the good ones left; we’re going to need them.

al talk

char talk

I know I place a lot of importance on the things people talk about on dates and can get quite forensic about what they don’t say, but this does not sound dull. Well, apart from tax, maybe. What do two people in their 20s have to say about tax? I don’t think I knew what tax actually was until I was 34.

I’m usually very against politics being mentioned on a first date because, like politicians, it does tend to be a very overbearing subject that can take over the entire date and leave little room for life experience and emotion. But we now live in a state of bizarre pre-wakefulness hysteria where politics is suddenly everything. The Kardashians could burst into flames tomorrow and nobody would notice.  Politics is the new red carpet. Brexit has usurped Brangelina.  Heat will have a Miliband brother as their torso of the week before 2016 is out. (Fingers crossed it’s David, eh?)

al awks

char awks

jon stewart heart eyes

al table

char table

The only “wine-pouring skill” I have is the talent for putting more in my glass then I ever will in yours. Is that what she means?

al friends

char friends

See? Look. We’re not lost. There is hope. The Guardian Blind Date column, usually a gladiatorial arena packed to the rafters with sociopathic points-scoring and drivelling, misfiring attempts at snark that wouldn’t even make the second draft of a script for a Radio 4 comedy, is suddenly a bright beacon shining on the crumbling white cliffs of wherever it was. We can be as one again. Call off the construction workers – let Hadrian’s Wall be for today.

al three

I’d be happy to overhear someone saying this about me, wouldn’t you? Sure, the “grounded” does make it sound like you wear the same shirt two days in a row and would be perfectly OK with farting in a supermarket – and wafting it around – but these are good things to say about a person. Good. We can do good.

char three

As regular readers of this blog will know, engaging used as a compliment for anything other than a safety training video at an induction to work the grill at Burger King is not my favourite. It seems like such a waste of a word to describe a person, an actual living thing in front of you. It’s a service word, jargon. It belongs in school reports and letters from the bank and the mouths of lawyers negotiating your third divorce – it is not to be uttered in the first breathless whispers of romance. Ban it. Ban it now.

Nice work on the other two words, though, Char.

thumbs up

al made

char made of you

This is self-deprecation done right, isn’t it? It’s the bits about yourself that you know are kiiiiiind of irritating but you don’t really care because you are you, and if you have to live with you 24 hours a day, then they’ll have to get used to it too.

It’s adorable that both of them think they talk too much – or at least claim to think that, because, NEWSFLASH, people who admit being garrulous are usually absolutely SHAMELESS about it and are just pretending it’s a negative quality because all our very worst primary school teachers conditioned us to think that way. It makes me have feelings I haven’t felt about this column for some time. Unless one of them pulls out a secret penchant for fascist memorabilia or a pair of Union Jack shoes, with pointed toes, then I think I can safely say I like these two.

char go on

OJ did you do it

I mean, did you? You’re 22 and 27 (it says here), you have your whole lives ahead of you. Tell me you took the opportunity and ordered a third bottle of wine to take home in the cab, whereupon you crept into the flat so as not to wake your no doubt really annoying and earnest flatmates, navigated discarded pizza boxes and dried-up dishcloths on filthy worktops and tumbled into the bedroom, blurting out “excuse the mess” and clearing the Xbox and half-eaten cronut off the bed before slamming onto it and getting nasty? Did you? No? Really? Oh.

al kiss

Oh well at least you necked. I was about to consign you both to the very bottom of my kitchen bin.

al change

how dare you

Don’t ever let me hear you say that again, Alastair. Don’t ever regret what wine can do for you. You think it was just your looks and charm that snared Charlotte’s kiss? Yeah guess what, babycakes, none of us are going to be on the cover of Vogue any time soon and nobody is that fascinating. Wine does for us what no PR could ever do. Wine was there for you, it delivered for you, it brought the night home. Recognise your idol and kneel before it. And go wash your mouth out – perhaps with some more wine.

char change


I don’t want this to end either. Can you two come back next week? Oh, actually, there’s no blog from me next week. Week after?

We’re at the scores now. I’m sensing two perfect tens gleaming like they’ve just been Silvoed to within an inch of their lives, a celebratory glass of ‘bubbles’ and an Uber home. Guys?

al marks

edina bright light

Where is my 10? And what the hell is an 8.7? You kissed! Unless she had a lizard tongue or still had an onion between her teeth from dinner, any date where you kiss and it’s not terrible cannot be lower than a 9. I don’t make the rules. Except I do.

char marks

madonna vogue mtv vma

Eight. I see. I thought this was the generation where everyone has to get top marks, where there’s a prize for everyone? Not so, it seems – these two have the brutal marking strategies of Craig Revel-Horwood on Strictly when his hip’s playing up. What do you have to do to get a 10, I wonder? Have genitals made of nothing but money and gold? Cher’s phone number in your mobile phone? Tickets for Hamilton? We’ll never know.

But despite the scoring showing the zoned-out level of excitement you’d expect from a teenager deciding which baked bean to eat next, all can be redeemed with the final question. It’s the clincher: will floppy hair meet pastel-coloured bonce for another round of political ping-pong? Come on guys, of all weeks, we really need this.

char meet

Businesslike, but positive. There’s an unexpected item in the bagging area but it’s OK – you can see the assistant coming.

al meet

Heart. Eyes. Emoji.

harry air punch 2

BOOM. See you in two weeks.

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 bad people – I don’t know them. I am sure, in real life, they’re great. In fact, I’m bang into them this week. I’m critiquing the answers, not the people themselves. If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally; I don’t see the date in advance so my reactions are my first ones. If you want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal or comments you might have.

Another note: Remember, there will be no Blind Date blog next Saturday 16th July. Please don’t tweet abuse at me for missing a week; it’s a bit unsettling.

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

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  1. YAY!!! Loved it! (As per!) I’m glad these two didn’t passive aggressively attack each other and try to score points in their post date interview for once! What a joyous blog!

  2. Truly they are two of the only ten remaining nice people left. Lovely. V droll on Leadsom btw :'(

  3. Thank you sweet baby jesus for the hope again. You are so right. I was dying the last few weeks. If the table manners were impeccable then the people were insufferable. I have to say it’s boringo when you can’t even like ONE of them. Previous events here, had me believing that the people of this world have their heads entirely way too far up their own asses. Good stuff as always.

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