Artemis and Sienna: He is wearing a graphic T and rust cords, has dark, wavy hair. She is wearing a short black dress and has long blond hair
Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Artemis and Sienna

Under the terms of my general agreement with common decency, I am morally unable to savage anyone more than 25 years my junior, unless they are 21 or over, so as we have two teenagers today – so young they probably don’t even remember Theresa May, Ceefax, or BHS – I’m afraid I will be restricting my shock and horreur to what they say rather than who they are. Kind of. Before I proceed, can I say that I assume applicants are so thin on the ground that Guardian journalists are actually sending in their most loquacious children to take part. I hesitate to make a judgement, but these two definitely feel like they grew up in a bedroom with an ensuite, were allowed to graffiti their bedroom walls in the name of self-expression, went to school with cabinet ministers’ offspring and were actually listened to by their parents when they were children. Always dangerous.

Anyway, here are Artemis and Sienna in all their youthful, exuberant, none-of-this-really-matters-it-is-but-a-footnote-to-whatever-horrors-are-coming-your-way glory.


Artemis and Sienna: He is wearing a graphic T and rust cords, has dark, wavy hair. She is wearing a short black dress and has long blond hair
Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian

Artemis is 19 and a history student and Sienna is 20 and a fashion student. Nineteen. Twenty. No offence, but the stakes are pretty low here. You could argue that two crease-free angels like this could pull anywhere, even walking down the street, and so perhaps should leave the GBD column for the rest of us horse-frighteners, but I suppose in the interests of diversity we should include two people who have never seen a utility bill. (I can’t tell whether Sienna’s boots are meant to be in the shape of horse’s hooves, but if they are, well done, they are great).

before returning here for a quick dash of Nando’s peri-peri salt in the wounds while tears stream down our face as Janis Ian’s ‘Seventeen’ plays on repeat in the background.

Artemis on Sienna | Sienna on Artemis

What were you hoping for?
Honestly, to be proposed to.

Artemis is from Bridgerton.

What were you hoping for?
Fun and a departure from the everyday (and from my nascent ear woes from listening to loud music).

Perforated ear drum from browsing the rails in Abercrombie & Fitch too long, perhaps, while ear-splitting hold muzak blares at you to trick your brain into thinking their jeans are nice.

First impressions?
Terror – she claimed we had matched on a dating app before.

Imagine even going anywhere near a dating app when you’re nineteen and look like Artemis. Surely the only 19-year-olds on dating apps are serial killers and your dad giving catfishing a go.

First impressions?
He was self-assured, relaxed and a confident orderer.

Of course! I’ll wager Artemis has been making sommeliers squirm since around five minutes after he got to the last page of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. In 2003.

What did you talk about?
We spoke about a range of topics, but I can say that Sienna is not as zealous about trying grilled human meat as I am.
DNA tests. Monogamy v polyamory. Parents. Therapy. Dancing. The paradox of choice. Books. Ear health.

I’m having a few ear issues at the moment so sympathise with Sienna. The rest of the topics sound like the kind of stuff you would blurt out on your first ever night in the student union once the all-important ‘What A-levels did you get’ was out of the way.

‘Grilled Human Meat’ sounds like a boots-only piss club for divorced straight men in Vauxhall.

Any awkward moments?
Sienna didn’t finish her croquette. It wasn’t an awkward moment, but I really wanted the little leftover ham chunks and never asked for them.
I persuaded him to read his poetry aloud just as the waiter came over to set up a grill on the table. He got more of an audience than he bargained for.
Bet Lynch looking irked with a cigarette

I’m not sure I could kiss a man who asked me for a half-eaten croquette. What next? Eating a kebab you find in a phone box? I am willing to bet quite a few girls – and maybe a few boys who like a challenge – are now frantically searching the socials for Artemis in the hope of hearing his poetry first-hand.

Can I just say that I do actually like them? At least there is CONTENT here. I hate the obsession with youth as much as the next person but if it means we get a jocund duo like this then what’s the harm if we get the odd teen in here, as a treat?

Good table manners?
I’ve never seen someone wield a knife and fork like that before. Sienna is the Zoro [anime character who is a masterful swordsman] of table etiquette.

The parentheses here are the Guardian’s, alerting readers to the fact that ‘Zoro’ is not a typo – ‘proper’ Zorro now belongs with wax cylinders, Austin Maestros, and fruit juice as a starter in restaurants. History. over. Zoro now has one R and is a musclebound anime character.

Good table manners?
Yes, beautiful. His white top stayed white despite gruelling grilling.

I don’t know anything about these two or their backgrounds so am only making playful assumptions but if you want to know what I think about how certain people feel very comfortable wearing white, then get the next issue of Grazia, because I’m in it, and I will tell you. Out Tuesday. But, honestly, white! On a food date! This is famous-relative levels of confidence.

Best thing about them?
She is attentive, and incredibly fun to talk to.
He was a great listener. He showed enthusiasm for everything I said, even if I interrupted him.

They talk! They listen! You might consider this to be on a par with celebrating when a toddler doesn’t cover themselves in spaghetti but this is exciting –  the younger generation are healing. Do you know how many times one or not of the GBD couple has felt unheard, or like they talked too much, or like they sat there not saying anything ottos sheer awkwardness? This is GOOD.

Would you introduce her to your friends?
For sure.
Some of them for sure

Oooh a double ‘for sure’ – a boarding school ‘yes’.

Describe Sienna in three words
Introspective, pretty, octagonal.

Pat in eastEnders looking irked with a cigarette

Octagonal. Okay.

Describe Artemis in three words
Elegant, thoughtful, curious.

Elegant. You don’t think of men as elegant much, do you? In fact, I saw only the other day someone tweeting out a stock photo whose caption was ‘elegant man [does something or other]’ and it seems the criteria for male elegance in that case were wearing a fawn pea coat and having lovely skin. I strive for elegance in everything I do, except sitting on chairs, which, being gay, means I fold myself up into a croissant and spill snacks everywhere.

What do you think she made of you?
That I’m super-duper charming.

And I am willing to bet he is. He’s 19 and a confident orderer! When you’re nineteen, you can totally get away with having traits – and trousers – that would seem unappealing on someone over 40. Youth is a permission slip. Wealth too. Good looks another. I hope he both makes the most of them and uses his powers for good.

What do you think he made of you?
A pleasing person to sit opposite while he tried his first s’more [American-style chocolate-marshmallow-cracker snack] and drank wine we would usually not be able to afford.
Deirdre Barlow looking irked with a cigarette

The Guardian is really TESTING me with all these parentheses for ‘our viewers in the north’ or whatever. I know what a s’more is! I read all Paula Danziger’s books! I have been on the internet for two and a half decades! Honestly just link off to Wikipedia if you’re that concerned – no needs to tap us on the shoulder and remind us that we’ve had our tea and we liked it.

And … did you kiss?
No – I think it was the caramelised onions that I ate.
No, we just hugged. That felt fitting.

Ordinarily, I’d be disappointed, but this did feel more like a playdate or a deleted scene from a Made in Chelsea episode where they go to a Build-A-Bear workshop so I’ll actually concede this is the right outcome.

(If you want to hear me talk about why you should never eat onions on a date, listen to this podcast:)

Marks out of 10?
She laughed at my jokes, so 10.
A great 8.

Again, fair. Given these two probably each met someone else on their way home, the stakes are about as high as a Year 5 book review read out in class.

Would you meet again?
I would be down.
Yeah, for sure, probably as friends.
Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous looking irked with a cigarette

Artie, Sienna… you were a delight. May your futures be bright and, please, not involve running for parliament.

Cover of my book, The Fake-Up, and a quote from Adam Kay, saying, A brilliantly funny reimagining of the rom-com

My third novel THE FAKE-UP is out now on hardback, audiobook, and ebook and BOY do I love it when people buy it. Some better writers than me have claimed they like it, so what more persuasion do you need? Either click the image above to buy from Amazon or if you’re not into them, click the link below for other retailers.


I’ve been doing loads of podcasts recently to mark the release of the book, check them out over on my ‘In the media’ page. In the media! Imagine! The gall of me!


If you enjoyed this, and can’t stretch to buying a book, but have a few spare coins, you can support my work by chucking me a small tip via micropayment site Ko-fi. I genuinely appreciate every single one.


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. They both seem very sweet – apologies if you are not actually posh at all. x

Fancy a blind date? Email

Artemis and Sienna ate at Parrillan, London N1. Fancy a blind date? Email



  1. Thanks Justin, I enjoyed this date and snorted laughed at your review!! As you said, it was an absolute delight. I think you’re a fabulous writer and I’m looking forward to reading the fake up.

  2. I’m catching up having missed a few of these so can alert you to the correction added 4 days after the original publication:

    “This article was amended on 20 April 2022; Artemis was comparing Sienna’s table etiquette to Zorro, the swashbuckling masked avenger, not the anime character Zoro (who also happens to be a master swordsman), as originally stated.”

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