Impeccable Table Manners

Amy and Chris

There’s an age gap in this week’s Guardian Blind Date. We have to be careful about age – some people get very touchy about it, and rightly so. Many of us spend our entire lives trying not to look our age, whether we’re desperate to get into a nightclub at 13 or hoping we’ll get asked for ID when buying the second-cheapest bottle of prosecco in Tesco at the age of 29. Our relationship with age is a perma-shifting battle of wills which time is determined to win.

Don’t listen to those who crow they don’t mind getting older – my very least favourite type of celebrity interview, closely followed by “I don’t exercise; I stay slim just by running around after my kids” – because someone truly at peace with sciatica, eyes disappearing into their skull and being ignored by attractive people on public transport would surely not need to brag about it.

Anyway, I mention the age gap today because it’s eight years wide – a veritable maturity cavern – and it’s in what patriarchal thinking might term the “other” direction. She is older. This cheers me a little because so many couples seem to be thrown together only because they’ll both be in the same ballpark when it comes to memories of TV ads and how problematic they consider Chandler’s dad-heavy episodes of Friends, so this must either be a meeting of minds, common interests, or, even more excitingly, maybe it’s based on their “preferences”. It could also be an administrative error – but we can dream.

Anyway, here are Amy, 36, a chartered surveyor, and 28-year-old Chris, a marketing manager. So she sits in Land Rovers with a clipboard and he tries to get people to buy dragon fruit-flavoured milkshake. Possibly. I have no idea.

Amy on Chris | Chris on Amy
What were you hoping for?
Love at first sight. Failing that, good chat.

Love at first sight. Does it exist? Can it exist? I guess it rather depends on what you consider to be love. If wanting to immediately screw someone counts as love then, yeah, fine. I think you can have very strong feelings about wanting to know a person – and not just carnally – within a short space of time, but love at first sight is no more a thing than #nofilter selfies are for someone my age with my amount of late nights had.

What were you hoping for?
A fun night out with an interesting person.

[insert “not a regular reader obviously” joke here and take 10 minutes off]

First impressions?
Somehow we immediately got talking about football, so we had common ground.
Image created by

I mean. Fine. This is good. When two football fans find each other, it means that another conversation out there isn’t being spoiled by feigning interest in literally the most boring thing in the world save for my annual bank statements from an account I always forget I have.

But football. Oh wow. I loathe it so much. Everything about it – the whole “kit and caboodle”. I don’t even have time to go into it here.

Also: is this an actual first impression? I think not.

First impressions?
Stylish and confident.

Chris has been possessed by the spirit of Gok Wan this evening.

What did you talk about?
Films, travel, being picky eaters, queueing for restaurants, architecture.
Places we’ve travelled, architecture, the food we don’t like.

Mmmm. Kind of a match there. Picky eaters, eh? I know this is 2018 and we’re supposed to die on a hill every other weekend over some absolute nonsense argument devoid of nuance, perspective, heart, and critical thought, BUT here are some observations:

1. Picky eaters make going out for dinner in a group quite difficult. Not just because they have special “requirements” or whatever but because you have to endure the reaction of those around them – friends, apparently – whose kind cannot cease to be blown by someone really not liking celery that much and also having an aversion to breadcrumbed fish. “Oh God, what are you like?” they will bellow across the table, “I’ll eat anything me!” Oh yeah? Check their fucking plates at the end of the meal, and then everybody else’s, and get that bastard to clear the lot – half-chewed steak, weird gloopy jizz-esque sauce that came with the fish, black pudding and spam fritters, chicken bones, the last cold shiitake mushroom. GO ON THEN.

2. Your taste in food is not a personality, an excuse to pretend you’re allergic to something, or a way of trying to be healthimonious (healthier-than-thou) toward other people who just want to sit and eat their chips in peace.

I’m glad we could clear that up.

Any awkward moments?
I told him the amazing dessert seemed to be made of goat’s cheese. Chris doesn’t eat cheese.
I accidentally ate goat’s cheese thinking it was ice-cream. I don’t like cheese in any form.

Oh wow those bullish omnivores at table 6 are going to have a field day with this one, aren’t they? “But did you like it?!”

Why are people so keen to foist their own tastes in food on others? No, I don’t want to try any of your starter. Because I don’t. If I’d wanted whatever *that* is – chosen by you with all the discerning eye for cuisine as a trolley dash in the Keighley branch of Jack Fulton’s – I would have ordered it. I’m sure it is to die for, yes. But why don’t you prove it?

When you find yourself with either a fussy eater or someone who has a bizarre intolerance to them, you need to work out whether it’s something you can get over or that will define your relationship and be the overture to any number of stand-up rows in your local high street’s very worst hostelries.

Good table manners?
Aside from taking photos of the meal for Instagram, yes.

OK, so we need to remember the 21st century is now 18 years old and we cannot pretend to be surprised people want to be “digital”. However, I would say taking the photo is fine, but pausing to post it on Instagram during the date is not fine. Do it on the bus home; it’s not like you’ll be going back to theirs for a shag, is it? Not if you stopped to take a photo of your calamari.

Good table manners?

Would you introduce him to your friends?

“If it was in my contract.”

Would you introduce her to your friends?
I don’t see why not.

“But maybe I’ll think of something later.”

Describe Chris in three words
Engaging, easy-going, ambitious.

Engaging, like watching someone across a diner as they try fit a too-wide hot dog (and bun) into their mouth, ketchup smeared across their cheek and the sausage itself ending up in one of their nostrils. And they don’t have any napkins.
Easy-going, like you cannot possibly know about someone until you have spent three hours delayed in a departure lounge with chronic sunburn, a leaking paper cup filled with Diet Pepsi (“Is that OK?” said the server) and a tinny PA system playing the hits of Eamon and Frankee on repeat.
Ambitious, like Tess in Working Girl.

Describe Amy in three words
Genuine, passionate, sophisticated.

Genuine, like a wet fiver.
Passionate, like the Argentine tango as performed anyone except BLANK McBLANK.
Sophisticated, like someone who waits until the Tube carriage is empty before they scratch their arse.

What do you think he made of you?
Probably that I talked too much.

Like clockwork. The woman thinks she talks too much, based on no evidence other than we seem to think anything other than brutal unflinching silence is too “girlie” or feminine and thus framed as wrong and annoying, because girliness and femininity is never a positive unless it involves keeping a woman in her supposed place or at a point where she is sexually available.

I love talking. Talk to me. Please. Unless you ask boring questions. But let’s talk about anything at all. I love to dissect even the most apparently pointless of topics – HELLO HAVE YOU SEEN THIS WEBSITE I OWN FOR EXAMPLE – and when talking is dismissed as “chatter” or insignificant, it makes me sad, because talking can help you navigate your way out of lonely, confusing situations. Vocalising your thoughts acts as a kind of a filter, or quality checker. With only your own head to bounce ideas off, they can seem stupid, or unworkable, or toxic – and indeed some of them might be – but getting things out in the open is the most productive thing you can do.

What do you think she made of you?
Hopefully my five-year-old’s taste in food wasn’t too embarrassing to be around.

You brought a five-year-old with you? Was it yours? Unless you mean you like eating the same things as a five-year-old, which would mean Skittles sucked for hours until the colour comes off, bogies, a biscuit that’s been in your pocket all day, crisps mashed up and mixed with Minstrels in a bowl, chips of all descriptions, and tomato ketchup sandwiches. I can’t wait for your wedding buffet.

Did you go on somewhere?
No. It was 11pm on a Monday.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
I can’t think of a thing.

Not, “make it for 4pm on a Saturday”? No?

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
Less goat’s cheese, more ice-cream.

Marks out of 10?

Two eights. Home straightaway. No kisses. No problems save for Cheesegate. But two eights. These are sevens that have popped out without the rest of the numbers knowing, clambering out of the bedroom window in 8-suits so they can have a secret night out. Which will end at 11pm, at a Tube station, as passionlessly as possible.

Would you meet again?
I wouldn’t say no.

Would you meet again?
Definitely – but only as friends.

Disclaimer: The comments I make are based on the answers given by the participants. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits it to suit the column. Get in touch if you want to give us your side of the story; we can work this out. I’m not that into cheese either

VERY IMPORTANT INFO: My debut novel THE LAST ROMEO is out NOW on ebook and audiobook. (Paperback follows in spring.) It’s only 99p on Amazon at the moment, and I think that’s a bargain – especially if you have enjoyed my writing here today which cost 0p! You can get it at Thank you!
















  1. Heroic effort this week, making something out of the nothingness of this blind date.
    Huge thanks, also, for the gif of the dog lying in the doorway with the door trying to close. I actually laughed when I saw it, and I will seize any opportunity to insert it in an e-mail, a forum post, or a twitter message to Trump.

  2. Solid post again, super effort. This week’s blind date is extremely infuriating.

    She thinks “Probably that I talked too much.” — Almost tempted to label her as a self-loathing misogynist.

    He declares “I don’t like cheese in any form.” — Well, he ate some of it thinking it was ice-cream; so either he does like cheese in *some* forms or he is proudly ignorant (in other words, thick as fuck).

    “What did you talk about? … the food we don’t like.” — Was that before or after the cheesecident?

    This pair of reprobates deserves each other.

  3. What a strange pair. They seemed to get on well and gave each other 8s but then also seem entirely indifferent to the other when it came down to it. Perhaps neither found the other sexually attractive so decided to just be thoroughly polite about it all.

  4. I suppose there are reasons all of these dates take place on weeknights. Restaurants are a bit less crowded, maybe the Graun gets a discount. “Just a peck, work the next day, ho hum” is so drearily predictable.

    What I’d like to see is two irrepressible libertines, madcaps who decide to order everything and polish off two or three bottles of good wine on the G’s tab, who don’t have to work the next day because inheritance/benefits, enjoy each other and cab it to one of them’s newly-refurbished sex dungeon, and tell the Guardian it was just the shag odyssey with a stranger they’d been craving and that they regret nothing.

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