We are almost two weeks deep into Pride Month and finally we have a rainbow element to the Blind Date. How long ago it seems since I was getting emails from homophobes saying there were too many LGBTQ people going on the Blind Date and that I was somehow responsible, as if, like the Pied Piper of ‘maybe, as friends’, I’d lured the brave LGBTQ folks onto the pages of the Guardian’s Saturday supplement. We have had three or four all-women dates this year, but gay and bi men, it seems, have all but abandoned the Blind Date, with nothing since JANUARY. Of course, gender and sexual orientation shouldn’t matter, but when it means weeks of adorable if colourless straight people with zero chemistry telling us ‘I wish I’d ordered the vongole’, you start to crave even the tiniest bit of representation. Come back!
Anyway, luckily this week we have Anna and Petra leading the charge. Anna, 31, is a doctor, and Petra, 34, is a project manager. A lot of clipboards going on here. This is an Impeccable Lite, which means I choose to analyse only three questions (or in this week’s case four) because we all have somewhere to be, am I right?
Read the full unabridged version of the date on the Guardian website and then return here for a brief picking over of its twitching carcass.
Anna on Petra | Petra on Anna
Calm but confident. She already had a glass of red wine in hand, which I respected.
Tiny woman with nice eyes.
Trying to work out if there could’ve been a disrespectful drink Anna might have been holding. A pint of Guinness? A cocktail called the Anal Gland with big sparklers sticking out of it? Six sambuca shots lined up on the bar? Calm but confident sounds like something a commentator at the Olympics would say when about to watch a 14-year-old gymnast wrap themselves round the parallel bars.
A tiny woman. How tiny is tiny? Did Anna arrive in a matchbox?
What did you talk about?
My drumming and love of arts and crafts. Her love of Lego, British crime dramas and recent movies. We tried to guess the relationships between the people on the other tables.
I wish I could give you some juicy stories, but it felt more like a lunch break with a colleague. We talked about the NHS as we both work there, and travel and our hobbies, as we both have a few.
Let’s go straight to the big one here: ‘It felt more like a lunch break with a colleague’ – Hahaha. Oooh. Ouch. Antiseptic cream and bandages required immediately. I have had many a pleasant lunch break with a colleague, but very few of them have involved sitting in Gaucho with a red wine on the go – or maybe I’m just doing lunch breaks wrong. I’m guessing what Petra is saying here, with all the tact of a mysterious man humping your mother from behind at your father’s funeral, is that there was literally zero physical attraction from the off and so anything more than an exchange of pleasantries was completely off the table. I suppose when you know, you know.
We tried to guess the relationships between the people on the other tables – ‘The date was so dry and devoid of sexual chemistry that we went round all the other tables trying to find someone having a worse time than us.’ People-watching, I think they call it. A popular hobby for people who don’t have 5G on their phones or are sitting having a meal or a drink with someone they don’t really want to be there with or talk to.
Her love of Lego – Some of my happiest times as a child were spent sitting or lying on the floor playing with Lego. I wasn’t allowed dolls to act out my imagination thanks to dreary old gender norms that had a vice grip on the Eighties and Nineties, but my Lego sets – laid out like the set of a soap opera – let me be exactly who I wanted to be. I lived quite deeply in my imagination as a child – endlessly reading books, or scribbling away in the blank A4 notepads I asked for every Christmas, or, when they ran out, converting old Yellow Pages directories into jotters, or playing Lego, or making up pop songs as I played (alone) in my back garden. It was much more fun than reality. If you know a quiet child, buy them a book, or a notepad, or Lego, or a doll – you might be setting them free from a trap they didn’t realise they were caught in.
They might even grow up to write books. Speaking of which:
My latest novel THE FAKE-UP is 99p on ebook for a very limited time only! Grab it on Kindle, or from AppleBooks, or from Google, or Kobo, or wherever you get your ebooks but do please buy it! It’s only 99p, you don’t even have to read it – but if you do, a quick rating or review can make all the difference to my actual career. I am serious!
Would you introduce Petra to your friends?
I don’t see why not. I don’t think they’d have much in common, but she would get along with most people.
Not as a date.
Anna’s answer is quite nice, and generally lighter and airier way of saying… exactly what Petra says two seconds later, with a sledgehammer. I can imagine Petra arranging a meet-up between Anna and her friends, and walking into the bar three seconds ahead of her, like those men in tall hats who used to wave red flags in front of oncoming cars in the olden days, to warn everyone ‘She is not a date, just to be clear’. Petra mentions this around 2,000 times on the date, btw. For the avoidance of any doubt: NOT AS A DATE.
Did you go on somewhere?
We didn’t. It was pretty late.
No, we sat in the restaurant drinking wine for a short while after. I think that was enough for us.
I love how dystopian and final this sounds. Like the pair of them sat staring into the abyss, occasionally glancing at each other, like a couple who’d been married for 40 years and had been fantasising about divorce for 39 of them.
With a 7-6 score, I think we can safely say that Anna and Petra will not be exchanging vows in the garden of a tastefully decorated country house anytime soon – at least not with each other anyway.
Buy my books, please so I can get another book deal when this one is finished. The Fake-Up is (currently) 99p on ebook and it’s definitely worth that. The Fake-Up audiobook is also on special offer at £4.99 on Apple Books and it is honestly brilliant.
Alternatively, if you liked this but have no interest my books, literally OUCH, but you can support my career by sending a small, one-off tip. I know times are hard so please don’t go overboard.
Read my recommendations of some cool ‘gay and complicated’ novels that I compiled for Apple Books.
Come and meet me
I’m doing a really cool event in Clerkenwell, London, with some LGBTQ+ authors much cooler than me – so why not join us on June 30th for Pride In Writing, to hear us chat about our books and LGBTQ+ stories in general. Get tickets to see us in person or join us online.
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. Petra: let’s do Lego sometime. But not those weird sets that are like ‘Build your own London bus’ or whatever. I want houses, post offices, ‘burger bars’, and apartment blocks where my action figures can have schlocky dramas.