Alex is wearing a burgundy short, over a white T eight jeans and white trainers. Maeve is wearing wet-look shiny trousers with a white T and a green sweater
Photo: The Guardian/Jill Mead/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Alex and Maeve

Another year? We have to do this again? They just keep on… coming. 2022 felt very much like the final boss level of a very long and dull platform game – surely we deserve something different? Apparently not, because it’s 2023, we’re still in our first week oxytocin glow of our resolutions – yoga! morning pages! giving jackfruit a go! – and the Blind Date stumbles on.

Thankfully, to ease us gently into another 52 weeks of this terrible movie franchise called time, the pair of them are very cute and seem lovely. Look, I’ve been ill all week and trying to edit a novel; the last thing I needed was two people rejected from The Apprentice for being *too* sociopathic. I needed this duo. Alex and Maeve are both exactly 20 years younger than me – excuse me while I go drink bleach – and as for their jobs, who cares? Must we talk about work? It’s the 7th of January.

Here they are in full human form:

Alex is wearing a burgundy short, over a white T eight jeans and white trainers. Maeve is wearing wet-look shiny trousers with a white T and a green sweater
Photo: The Guardian/Jill Mead

Read what happened on the date in full on the Guardian website and then please star-jump back to me for analysis, snark, wisdom, and… that’s probably all, tbh.

Alex on Maeve | Maeve on Alex
What did you talk about?
Death row meals. Bad dates. Whether or not the restaurant staff thought we were food critics from the Guardian rather than on a date.
The classics: life stories, travel stories, dating stories. The less classic: ideal Gail’s bakery orders, Alex being a guest at a dog-themed wedding.

Death row meals. I can’t really think of anything I could eat that would take my mind off imminent execution. Not even fish and chips, or my mother’s roast potatoes. I fear the enjoyment of this ultimate meal might be hampered by the terrible surroundings – cells are almost never painted in Farrow & Ball shades – and it being served on a plastic tray by someone who has probably spat in it and, crucially, the fact I’ll be boxed up in a chiller before it’s even digested. Actually, I can think of one meal that might distract me – the broccoli salad teeming with bad bacteria that caused me to spew waste from both ends like a fetid double-headed geyser in a cubicle in Liverpool Street railway station toilets at 7pm on a Saturday in 2003.

Bad dates/dating stories ✅ – I always say that wanging on about your dating history on a date is bad form but sometimes I just say things to fill dead air or blank space.

Gail’s bakery – I’m not saying these starchy ‘what Patrick Bateman would open if he were 21 and getting a startup loan from Waltham Forest Borough Council’ chains are becoming ubiquitous, but I fully expect to descend one morning and find my kitchen has been turned into one, complete with laptop-wielding freelancer chewing their sleeves, staring at a blank screen (other than ‘think of headline later’ atop a pristine document), and nursing a latte that was already 10ºC too cold when they were served it.

Hang on, is a Gail’s bakery order one of their Death Row meals? Carbs?! Before an execution? Couldn’t be me.

(worth saying also that there is nothing very funny about being on death row, that capital punishment is grotesque and wrong, and if you ever find yourself there, you probably have more to worry about than a cinnamon bun.)

Being a guest at a dog-themed wedding – I refuse to believe this is anything other than a rejected B-plot from an episode of According to Bex (BBC, 2005).

Good table manners?
Impeccable. She’s clearly a seasoned Middle Eastern cuisine expert: we got a great selection of food.

Goldie Hawn waves

Can you be a seasoned expert? Isn’t that tautology? Look, this is the only thing I can pick on them for.

Good table manners?
Yes, but his baklava went flying.

Harry Styles pouting and saying 'oof'

Few things make you feel more like a twat than a food-related mishap on a first date. Beyond, even. My bf and I went to the pub the other night – very limited range of non-alcoholic stuff to say everyone is on the wagon for January… wagonuary! – and I got chips and as I forked one it JETTED across the pub and landed by a table of three clean-shirts. To be fair, judging by the state of their conversation, I probably brightened up their week no end. At least baklava is slightly more glamorous than a chip that was peeled, sliced, and frozen upward of a year before being cooked.

Best thing about Maeve?
Great conversation and a real laugh. Also, the fact we had a 95% music taste match on our Spotify blend.

‘We linked Spotify accounts’ is perhaps not the horniest start to the year but at least it minimises the likelihood of arguments over background music. If my bf or I put on the Spotify blend playlist, a song might come on that we pretend we’ve never heard before and we’ll exclaim ‘Who’s is this? I didn’t know YOU like this’ – as if it’s an Abyssinian flute ditty that’s come on the shuffle and not the usual ageing gay men standards: camp has-been or a power-lunged diva or Sugababes. The hours fly by.

Best thing about Alex?
He’s not a classic tech bro. Well dressed, well read, well travelled. He can hike a mountain on minimal sleep and with only a can of Pringles.

Let’s check back on him after the second divorce.

(These are great answers; they seem like good eggs.)

Marks out of 10?
We decided we weren’t going to do ratings. But it was a great date so make of that what you will.
You can’t put a number on a good time.
Prince Harry looking like he's meditating or something
Apple TV

I’m going to try to stay zen about this because these two seem adorable and ‘you can’t put a number on a good time’ and ‘make of that what you will’ are basically things your ‘happening’ boomer uncle would say while he flipped the swordfish on the barbecue (he’s got a good job and his wife has the second most expensive fillers at the local salon). Plus, last time I complained about a dater doing this, they got a weird amount of hate from the rest of the internet. But. Baby. Come on. We need the scores. Let us gamify your lives, turn romance into data. Maths is big this season, haven’t you heard? We’re numbers people now.

I will score it for you. This is two (‘strong’ or ‘solid’) eights.

Would you meet again?
Hopefully. We discussed catching up after I get back from three weeks in Costa Rica.
We’ll see. He might “find himself” on his trip to Costa Rica and not return.

Don’t look too hard for yourself, Alex. And don’t forget to use both hands and a torch if you need one.

madonna blows a kiss

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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. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story. I was right about the eights, wasn’t I?

Maeve and Alex ate at Imad’s Syrian Kitchen, London W1.
Fancy a blind date?


  1. Ah it warms your heart – two such sensible, and it seems, genuine, thoughtful and lovely heterosexuals. The country’s future is safe in their hands.

    But a bit dull – I cant help feeling that this would have gone much further if they had been gay/other – maybe not knickers in taxi level but at least a kiss.

    Hopefully Alex is back from Costa Rica now and they have got it on, hopefully too Maeve isnt being worked too hard/ lost faith in the NHS given the current Tory NHS crisis.

  2. I like the jaunty tied jumper. Imad’s Syrian Kitchen is on my wishlist of places to eat in London – the food sounds delicious and Imad is a wonderful human.

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