Impeccable Table Manners

Andrew and Ruby

In the absence of anything else to say other than “they look like siblings poising awkwardly at Grandma’s 90th”, let’s spend two minutes imagining them as Disney princesses before we get stuck in.

OK. So Andrew is 27 and a PhD student – literally cannot figure out what job to do yet – and Ruby is 23 and marketing account manager, so she knows where all the good pens are in the stationery cupboard.

Photograph: Antonio Olmos; Jill Mead, both for The Guardian

Read what happened on the date (which you should do every week because I always leave at least one question out), before I dig in.

Andrew on Ruby | Ruby on Andrew
What were you hoping for?
An evening of interesting conversation. I’ve never been on a blind date before but was pretty optimistic.

Does anyone go on blind dates anymore, except the tens of people taking part in columns like this in newspapers and magazines all over the world, every single week? How can you possibly go into these things blind, when social media cannot wait to tell you everything about everyone, ever? From Zuckerberg’s blue and white data hellmouth, to Twitter’s nest of vipers, via Instagram’s floaty dress of vague thoughts and salad, it’s practically impossible not to know at least one thing about someone before you meet.

One of the perils of family members following you on social media is when you speak to them on the phone – the only people I speak to on the phone, in fact, please never call me unless you fed me a as a baby – they recount to you everything you said online in the last 72 hours, meaning once you’ve checked nobody important, beloved, or rich hasn’t died, the conversation is pretty much over.

What were you hoping for?
Just to meet the love of my life.

At 23? Really? The love of your life? Don’t you want to have a few rides of your life first?

First impressions?
Smiley, confident and outgoing.
Friendly and a little nervous.

Confident vs nervous. I guess if you are nervous, anyone can seem confident. I remember years and years ago, when talking about a fellow friend who was going through a bad patch, a pal said to me, “It’s so sad; I mean… they seemed so together and sorted“. But this pal regularly heated MDMA and Red Bull together in a microwave at 7 in the morning and drank it just to get out of the door, so it’s all relative, really.

What did you talk about?
The failings of the English language, the awesome lighting installation she’s building and the benefits of shaved heads.
Music festivals and how he feels about the fact that he is balding (he is OK with it).

Only ONE vague match here – baldness/shaving heads. A half-hearted ☑ , then.

The failings of the English language: time to give up the battle of “less vs fewer”, I feel. I have tried, but it’s not a hill worth perishing on. As long as the other person can understand, does it matter? (Self-appointed grammar trustees, this is a rhetorical question, please put your red pen away.) I will never surrender my stance on “stood vs standing” however. No.

Any awkward moments?
Not really, although when we left the restaurant she seemed in a hurry to head off.

“Not really, except no sooner had the restaurant door closed behind us than she exclaimed ‘¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! ¡Epa! ¡Epa! ¡Epa! Yeehaw!’, made a noise like a Dyson getting snagged on a valance sheet, and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.”

Any awkward moments?
I got some hair in my mouth which wrapped itself around my food.

“I just need to say absoutely anything other than what I really want to say.”

Good table manners?
Great. I appreciated trying each other’s desserts.

Good table manners?
I told him I was going to say they were terrible, but now I feel bad. They were good!

This is so puzzling and out of context, I don’t really know what to say about it. It’s like overhearing an in-joke between a couple on the Tube. You’ll maybe try to work out what it was, and before you know it you have imagined their entire lives, right down to the wallpaper they have in their inevitable “downstairs loo”, because they look the type that would’ve put one in, thanks to that bit of extra money Mum and Dad gave them. And just as you’re fantasising about their divorce – you timetable it for around 2024, after he spends all summer watching the Olympics with the curtains closed and she’s reached perilous levels of flirtation with the 19-year-old barista in her local cafe – you realise they got off four stops ago and you are, inexplicably, in High Barnet.

Best thing about Ruby?
She seemed really motivated to get out into the world and see/learn new things.

Well she certainly seemed motivated to get out into the world and see/learn new things that didn’t involve continuing any kind of conversation with you, yes.

And, to be honest, I would expect nothing less at 23. Twenty-three. You should want to learn and see new things, shouldn’t you? Everything is still new – you’re barely hatched and still waddling through straw with bits of shell in your fluff. You haven’t lived long enough to see the same political situations play out a generation apart but with different hairdos, you don’t recognise the recycled plots of pretty much every drama on TV and, even more fortunately, you have yet to live through two revivals of bootcut jeans. Motivated to get out into the world? You damn better.

Best thing about Andrew?
He was really easy to talk to and had good stories to tell.

And yet he was interesting to talk to! So maybe we have got this wrong. Actually, spoiler, the real reason why she dashes off at the end is perfectly valid, but we’ll come to that.

Describe her in three words
Happy, interesting, energetic.

Happy, like Pharrell Williams moisturising his sockless ankles while counting his royalties from that song. Can’t remember its name.
Interesting, like the story of a dream someone had last night, that they very kindly keep all to themselves and let you get on with your day.
Energetic, like Davina doing squats on the pile of money she made from the fitness video before this one.

Describe him in three words
Kind, interesting and honest.

Kind, like a mass-murdering white terrorist being described by his neighbour, who only saw him once, when he was bringing home a bag of shopping and not murdering anyone.
Interesting, like… God, again?! OK. Hang on.
Interesting, like someone telling you they’re writing a novel too and you go “oh really, what’s it about” and they say something like “well it’s kind of more literary fiction, I know you’re erring on the commercial side, which is understandable but this is more of an artistic expression than trying to make a quick buck” and you reply, “that sounds great” and stare down into your Coke Zero watching it go flat while they tell you the plot, which is basically Gone Girl but set in space, with bigger breasted women.
Honest, like an Amazon review of said book, when it comes out.

What do you think she made of you?
More confident than I really felt. Hopefully, she enjoyed talking to me.

She did! Well, she said she did.

We all put on a bit of a front on a date – at all times, actually, I refuse to believe that these “I’m just me, I’m real” morons who squat in the Big Brother house every summer are like that all the time.

What do you think he made of you?
I think I was younger than he expected.

Did you go on somewhere?
No, she had other plans.

Oh yeah? What were they?

Did you go on somewhere?
I went home – it was freezing and I really wanted a cup of tea.

I mean, this is amazing. But fair enough. It was absolutely freezing the other week and being outdoors was not the one. I can’t stand being unnecessarily cold. If I’m out with friends and there’s a draught in the pub or restaurant I can’t escape from, I will GO HOME as soon as is polite. Or before, if it’s a really strong draught plus the aircon is set to “Paris in August”.

And… did you kiss?

What is it about “nope” that feel so… I don’t know… so, “no multiplied by a million, then vulcanised”? It’s not just a no, it’s not even a NO, or a HELL NO. Sometimes it’s more like a “HAAAAAAAA YOU WHAT? DID I? DID WE? NAAAAAAAAAAAAH. HAHAHAHAHA. HOO BOY. NOOOOOOOOOOOOPE.” Although I don’t think this is the case here.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
I wish I’d stopped eating sooner – by the end I was far too full.
I would have suggested sharing two pizzas.

Honestly, stop it with this mess. That’s all you would’ve changed? How can you start the night with “I wanted to meet the love of my life”, NOT meet the love of your life, and then close things off with “I wouldn’t have changed a thing except suggested we spent all night passive-aggressively refusing to take the last slice of pizza”?

Surely if you could make any changes, it would’ve been something like:
I would haveactually met the love of my life.
I’d have liked to have shagged in the toilets.
I wish I’d turned up and it had been Kathleen Turner sitting there, smoking in a diamond-encrusted onesie, and telling me I was in grave danger.

You know, anything other than, “boohoo I ate a carb” or “I shall forever dream of the quattro stagioni that never was”. Get a GRIP.

Ugh, this is awful I’ve had it. This is too dull. I have things to do. These two are cancelled. I don’t care.

Marks out of 10?

Would you meet again?
If she wants to.

Would you meet again?
Probably not, but he’s a nice guy!


Andrew and Ruby ate at Zia Lucia, London N7, Fancy a blind date? Email

NOTE: The comments I make are based on the answers given by the participants and not what they may actually be like in real life. 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; I’ll publish whatever you say. I hope one day you have the perfect pizza and it doesn’t fill you up too much.





  1. Took me way too long to get around to reading this and it’s a classic! – I hate you for making me laugh on a crowded train and now people think I’m a bit of a loon…

  2. Love the videos…you obviously do a lot of research (ahem…watch a lot of great crap)!

    I’m jealous of your lightness of touch. See, even that’s ponderous!

    Keep up the great work; it’s even better than the real thing.

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