Albie is white with blond hair and is wearing a green jacket, jeans with, like stripes on them or something, and trainers. David is wearing a white T and wide leg trousers with grey trainers
Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Albie and David

Gay Guardian Blind Dates are like buses – everybody gets to sit on one. No, hang on, I mean, you wait ages for one and loads come at once. Well, kind of. After a six-month drought, we’re back with more boy-on-boy action. if we all manage to live through the soaring temperatures coming our way Monday and Tuesday, let’s hope this trend continues, so there’s a reason for me to get up at *checks clock* 7:55am on a Saturday. I like getting up early just fine but I’m not one of those health people who keeps a yoga mat by the front door, you know?

Anyway, the two hopefuls with guest passes to the lions’ enclosure are Albie, 25, who works as a documentary development producer, and David, a 29-year-old actor. TELLY/THEATRE/MOVIE PEOPLE. You know what that means – two shameless show-offs. I love it already.

Let’s take look at them from top to tail so we can have a good old judgey 10 seconds analysing their outfits. It’s fine, they’ll love it.

Albie is white with blond hair and is wearing a green jacket, jeans with, like stripes on them or something, and trainers. David is wearing a white T and wide leg trousers with grey trainers
Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

Hmmm. It’s giving ‘the Midwich Cuckoos have gone wild in the ASOS sale’ but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Read what happened in full on the Guardian website to give them some clicks, before returning here for what fashion people insist on calling ‘the edit’.

Albie on David | David on Albie

First impressions?
Very dapper, and welcoming. There was a glass of prosecco for me on arrival and we had a chat about “hun” culture, so that made me feel very comfortable.

A glass of prosecco on arrival? Are they trying on wedding dresses?

As regular readers may know, I loathe the word ‘dapper’. Obviously I don’t mind being called it if I look incredible – a compliment is a compliment. But I do usually take it to mean I’ve overdone it on the accessories. It’s up there with ‘thoroughly enjoyed’, a phrase that, for some reason, makes me grind my teeth into dust.

‘Hun culture’ for the uninitiated, has been around about a decade and is an affectionate celebration of the camp, borderline basic and slightly half-arsed face of British culture. It’s ‘live, laugh, love’ scatter cushions, it’s Nadia Sawalha saying ‘haemorrhoids’ on Loose Women, it’s a glass of prosecco on arrival absolutely anywhere, it’s Kim Woodburn threatening someone on reality TV. In its early days on Twitter and Instagram, it had a rocky start, and was interpreted as mean and mocking [sounds familiar] but has softened a little now so everyone is in on the joke. Apparently. Sonia from EastEnders is a fan and if she’s into it, what more persuasion to dive in do you need? (Start with Loveofhuns on Instagram.)

First impressions?
Handsome, stylish and laughed easily.

They both appreciated each other’s outfit, which is a relief, isn’t it? Nothing worse than turning up to find your date is dressed like they hand out balloon animals by the slot machines on the North Pier in Blackpool.

What did you talk about?
Our lines of work. Literature. Scottish independence. His long-lost grandad. Queerness. The borough of Hackney. Chatroulette. And poppers.
New York. Scottish novels. Harold Wilson’s cabinet – doesn’t everyone? Clapham being confused for a personality rather than a place. The role of Chat-Avenue in our closeted youths. And death.

Our lines of work – ‘everyone in TV or the theatre that we hate’

Literature/Scottish novels ✅ – I’m not Scottish but my boyfriend is, and he has read my novels, so why don’t you buy one of them! What a great idea! My rent just went up!

Chatroulette/Chat-Avenue ✅ – What did young LGBTQ people do before the internet, eh? Well, guess what, I was there so I can tell you. We sat at home and worried and thought we were the only ones who felt weird and like we weren’t quite wired up the same and assumed we would never have sex or find friends the same as us or fall in love or be able to be ourselves, whatever that actually meant, because we’d spent most of our lives editing everything we said or did to avoid discovery. Especially in wildly homophobic small towns, believe me. The internet is perhaps one of the most poisoned chalices in modern life but baby I drank from that cup willingly, and while the internet came along a little too late for me, it warms the few remaining living cells in my calcified heart that it’s helping like-minded young queer people find each other.

It is so, so important to get to be yourself without fear or judgement. Especially when the ghouls vying to be Prime Minister are trying to make your very existence part of a Two Minutes Hate that gets them into power.

The borough of Hackney – The gayest borough of London? Maybe? Would have been unfathomable to me twenty years ago when I first moved to London that east London would be the centre of it all but that’s the thing about hanging round a long time, history and the future start to blend into one. Anyway I assume they were talking about that and not its council tax rates or how often the bins get collected or something.

Harold Wilson’s cabinet – next week: Edward Heath’s tallboy.

Poppers.

Fred Elliott from Coronation Street looking mildly perturbed
ITV
Any awkward moments?
Not awkward, more wonderful! Discovering he’d slept with my housemate halfway through the meal made my day.

I wonder how it came up. The subject I mean. Do you reckon they both got their phones out, fired up their Notes app, and said, ‘Right, we’re both in the biz that is show, let’s get this over with: who’ve you shagged?’

Any awkward moments?
No. He was very easy company.

Not as easy as the flatmate. I’m here all week guys. Try the veal.

Dan from BBC Breakfast putting his finger in a hole in his hand
@daytimesnaps/BBC
Good table manners?
The best! And we shared everything, from starter to dessert, which was cute.

Shared everything! Including – SPOILER TAGS OR WHATEVER – saliva, later. Never mind sharing food with all its “‘scuse fingers” awkwardness, you may as well have eaten your dinner right out of his mouth. 

Good table manners?
Impeccable. We split everything and no one dribbled.

No one dribbled – they were saving that for the cab home.

Best thing about them?
His impressions and storytelling skills.
He was full of interesting things to say, and passionate about life. I liked how open he was about how hard it can be to decide what you want to do with the time you’ve got.

I don’t often pause here to say anything other than a derisory snort at some man saying the best thing about his female date is her ‘ponytail’ or something, but this is a very thoughtful – and thought-provoking – answer from David. ‘How hard it can be to decide what you want to do with the time you’ve got’ – I don’t know whether this is related to anything specific going on in one of their lives or just a general musing, but, it’s true: there’s so much to do and so little time, and there’s a pressure to make it count or ‘do something with your life’. But maybe that’s not always the answer. Achievements and experiences are nice things to rack up, but sometimes you have to get on with the very busy but mundane business of living. Life is brief and fragile – which is why I have decided not to kill the fly that has been circling my living room at Lear jet speeds for the last half-hour.

Sometimes, it’s okay to ‘waste’ your life if it’s fun – I have been reviewing these Blind Dates for EIGHT YEARS this weekend. 8! Sodding! Years!

The guy from Grand Designs saying 'seriously?'
Channel 4
Would you introduce Albie to your friends?
Happily. Actually, it seems that his flatmate and I have already had a brief but memorable encounter at the Edinburgh fringe in 2019.

Sounds to me like David fancies a second act of that night with the flatmate. Sequels always disappoint, David, so be careful. Perhaps best to recast and hope for the best.

Describe David in three words.
Charismatic, cheeky, wise.

Charismatic – like Nigel Havers trying to sell you bitcoin on a blush-pink Trimphone.
Cheeky – a word I am willing to bet one of these guys has previously used to describe a) a Nando’s b) a cocktail c) a spa day or d) a glass of Kylie rosé.
Wise – like children make me feel when they ask me a really obvious question but are stunned when I know the answer and treat me like God.

Describe Albie in three words.
Insightful. Attractive. Engaging.

Insightful – like a proctologist’s head light.
Attractive – like Lynda Bellingham slinking down the staircase of a Trusthouse Forte hotel in orange chiffon in 1976
Engaging – I can’t believe people still say this word here. It is 2022. I’ve sat at this laptop for eight years. I have run out of jokes about this word. I have nothing. I’m spent. Please, new adjectives.

What do you think David made of you?
A name-dropper.

The flatmate is famous! So we have a name-dropper and a starf*cker. I wonder which one of the very few gay actors in the business it was. We should be able to narrow it down to a final five around ten minutes before the sun collapses in on itself.

What do you think Albie made of you?
Nice enough, with an overly familiar relationship with the sound of my own voice.

‘Nice enough’ – ah the ultimate damning with faint praise, that usually precedes a gigantic BUT. I’ve been on dates with actors and, while they might like the sound of their own voice a bit, it’s always entertaining to watch them talk as if they’re trying to reach a slightly deaf person who’s seventeen rows back on the dress circle and busy opening every single sweet in a bumper size tin of Quality Street. It’s called projection, darling, look it up.

Did you go on somewhere?
Yes, for an overpriced Aperol spritz.

10p is overpriced for that drink. I’d rather drink a jug of blended slug. 

Did you go on somewhere?
We went to Pop Brixton for one.

Lucky old Brixton. Did it pop you back?

And … did you kiss?
That would be telling …
Who, dear? Me, dear? Gay, dear? No, dear.

gif of man using toy train to insert an eclair into his mouth v2

Well done, lads. As we were saying, life is a tiny spark in time. If you can’t climb Everest or save the planet, you might as well bag off with someone on a Guardian Blind Date.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
I’d have sat alfresco – it was too stunning an eve to be inside.

‘Too stunning an eve’ – if I had been drinking tea when I read this line I would’ve snorted it out of my nose. Too stunning an Eve to me means:

Eve the rapper in a stunning red hat

If you could change one thing about the evening what would it be?
The desperate journey from Finsbury Park to West Dulwich for dinner.

I bet David was that kid on Scout camp who tried to bring a microwave and hair straighteners with him. I looked this journey up. Fifty minutes. Virtually nothing in London terms. Victoria line to Brixton, number 3 bus. Or tube to Victoria, overland to West Dulwich – not exactly the north face of the Eiger, David. Come on.

Marks out of 10?
9.
9.

AKA the CORRECT score if you kiss someone on a GBD. However, if they did go home together – perhaps for a three-hander with the flatmate, why not eh – then a 9 is disastrous. We’ll never know.

Would you meet again?
As friends, absolutely.
We’ve swapped numbers and agreed we’ll make good friends.

‘We didn’t rate the snog, but we’re going to set up an evening where David drops in while my flatmate is in a towel.’

Friends are hard to make – take it from someone mid-40s whose friends have all fled the capital to get married or have babies – and in a way this is possibly the best way to start a friendship. You already know the sexual chemistry isn’t there but you’ve found something much more valuable and sustainable: the spark of friendship. Seriously, if more of us went on dates hoping to come out of it with a new pal instead of an all-consuming, lustful liaison with a soulmate, we’d all be a lot happier. Make as many connections as you can while there’s time.

 

Thank you for reading these reviews for eight long years. If you like them, and refuse to buy my books, please consider tipping me a small amount to buy me a coffee or help cover the site’s running costs.

I’m part of a test group that’s trying out the new Twitter Notes feature, a way to write longform on Twitter. My latest one is about coming to terms with the death of my best friend, which was three years ago this weekend. (There are no jokes in this, I’m afraid.) Read now

I have written a new roundup of some of the best alcohol-free drinks I’ve tried, for the summer! Read now

I am delighted to be returning to the Henley Literary Festival this year, alongside actual legends Mike Gaye and Clare Pooley, on Thursday 6 October. Book tickets to join us in person or hop onto the livestream. I promise to be very funny indeed. Ish.

Something to remember about the review and the daters that I put at the end of every review

The comments I make are based on answers given by participants. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits answers to make the column work better on the page. Most things I say are riffing on the answers given and not judgements about the daters themselves, so please be kind to them in comments, replies, and generally on social media. Daters are under no obligation to get along for our benefit, or explain why they do, or don’t, want to see each other again, so please try not to speculate or fill our feeds with hate. Guys, I hope you made the most of the evening – and please tell me who the flatmate is, thank you.

Albie and David ate at Walter’s, London SE21. Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com

3 Comments

  1. A friend of mine had a cat called Albie, so I kept imagining his lines said by an 19 year old incontinent Maine Coon.

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