Chris and Greg
Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Chris and Greg

I can’t remember the last time I was so pleased to see two men, apart from that time there was a massive queue in H&M and both of them jumped on the tills. Yes, to kick off Pride Month, we have our first date between two men in 2021. Remember when these pages were so full of same-sex couples that readers were writing to me to blame me for this phenomenon or ask ‘genuine questions’ about ‘over-representation’? Heady days!

Anyway, the important thing is that we’re back and have two men in nice outfits ready to throw themselves to the lions. Chris, somehow managing to make a puffa jacket look good, is 35 and a civil servant, while Greg, 30, in the effortless layering, is 30 and a fashion PR editor, which feels like there’s one too many words in his job title, or that they were randomly assembled from Scrabble racks. Anyway, have a butcher’s at what happened on the date on the Guardian website before coming back ‘ere so we can dissect some choice cuts.

Chris and Greg
Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian
Chris on Greg | Greg on Chris

What were you hoping for?
Nice food and good conversation. It was my first meal out in 2021, so I was quite excited.

What other firsts might we see for 2021 tonight, eh, viewers? 🍆

(Look, it’s just standard behaviour that reviews of LGBTQ couples are slightly more salacious; please don’t write in.)

What were you hoping for?
Excellent company and some shelter from the rain; I got one of those.

Simpsons class waiting for Bart to say the line

First impressions?
There was no cover…

Simpsons class cheering after Bart says the line

First impressions?
Stylish – I really liked what Greg was wearing.

So do I. I often want to stop people in the street and ask where they got something, or tell a stranger they look great – and I don’t just mean men, women too. I pretty much never do this, of course, because even though in my head I am a lithe, graceful, handsome, youthful London sophisticate, the visual image I present to the world is quite different and I don’t think anyone wants to be stopped in the street and complimented on their couture by the middle-aged Big Brother contestant who’d always get voted out in week two.

What did you talk about?
All sorts. TV we’d watched during lockdown, our jobs, writing, running, singing, politics, gay bars we miss going to.
I wrote a list in my taxi home that included Drag Race, limoncello and elite gay choir singing (listed twice). The rest is pretty incomprehensible.

TV we’d watched/Drag Race ✅ – I don’t like the US version of Drag Race but found the UK one quite endearing and loved all the top 3 on series 2. I did want Lawrence to win – I think he needed it more, and Bimini and Tayce have been thriving since anyway. I do hate the bit where the production team insist on making someone cry to give the show some depth, though, especially when it’s usually come after some snappy editing that’s made the contestant look like a monster and is serving as a redemption arc. Obviously it’s important to hear these stories, as it can be a comfort to viewers going through similar situations and make them feel heard or recognised – but when it’s done for entertainment, and sometimes under duress, under the beady eye and expressionless face of a multimillionaire, I feel less comforted and more exploited. As for the Australian version… good lord.

Gay bars we miss going to – How weird it is to live long enough to see the life that seemed so familiar to you just a few years ago become an anachronism. You make a choice here, I think. You either go with it, and acknowledge and respect your past while celebrating that you still have a future, or you become embittered and dismissive of the generation that come after you. Keep pushing forward is my philosophy, but try to bring as many along with you as you can.

Elite gay choir singing – I wonder what makes it elite? Are the choristers sipping Ottolenghi oat milk flat-whites while they run through their scales? Do they own upscale townhouses or apartments with ugly-fabulous art in the lobbies?

Writing a list in the taxi – I would have done this, terrified forgetting everything. I can’t decide whether I actually have a bad memory, or have just convinced myself I do – know what I mean?

Any awkward moments?
After an initial “How do we greet each other in a Covid-secure manner?” awkward wave, it was plain sailing.

I wonder how many people have sustained neck injuries by going in for the hug and then remembering the whole covid thing and springing back quickly. We should have an internationally recognised covid greeting. I quite favour a mutual bow hello and, depending on how it’s gone, thumbing your nose in goodbye or, even better, a quick bump of bums as you part – life is a disco, after all.

Good table manners?

Harry Styles winks

Good table manners?
We bartered over the last portion of Devonshire crab… I settled for the caponata.

Greg’s answers are a bit like Carrie Bradshaw (thankfully now an up-to-date cultural reference once again thanks to the reboot) but if she had a Guardian column – just a slender one down the right-hand side of the recipe page in G2 midweek – about her on-off relationship with a man who owns a coffee and cake stall on Columbia Road.

Best thing about Greg?
He’s a natural conversationalist; we talked for hours.

I like people who can hold a conversation, but I do hate to linger at a table after the meal is finished – uneaten food rapidly drying and crusting and welding itself to the plates while you speak, your glass so empty empty empty and because you told the waiter you needed ‘two more minutes’ they have taken that to mean they should only interrupt you again in the event of the five-minute warning sounding. Sometimes, I think successful dates need a mix of sitting and standing – you’ll naturally wander to topics you might not have covered before, like… well, how desperate you are for a seat, I guess.

Best thing about Chris?
He didn’t cancel on me like my original Guardian Blind Date did (his loss). It worked out for the best, as Chris is a charming guy.

And you couldn’t help but wonder, am I right Greg, that maybe cancel culture is sometimes… a good thing after all?

Carrie Bradshaw at her laptop

Describe Greg in three words
Funny, friendly, engaging.

Funny, like the sight of a Foxtons estate agent arriving on an electric scooter to show you a flat you can’t afford in a Vauxhall residential tower that is obviously a front for a factory that consumes the souls of its inhabitants to bring Mussolini back to life.

Friendly, like a barista who’s just come on shift and has yet to have their day ruined by someone destroying the toilets.

Engaging, like a doctor who tries to take your mind off your colonoscopy by singing songs from Rent (Remixed) while he inserts the camera.

Describe Chris in three words
Happy, creative and kind.

Happy, like a dog on the very first day it discovers it can lick its own balls.

Creative, like the PR department at Kensington Palace thinking of new ways for a future monarch to look relatable, with a mood board consisting of B&Q barbecue displays and three pages of menswear from the Next Directory.

Kind, like a friend who tells you your hair looks ‘different’, when in fact you look like you had a gateau dropped on your head.

What do you think he made of you?
I hope he didn’t notice quite how much of my starter I ended up wearing. Attempting to eat a dainty salad in gale-force winds is not ideal.
Hopefully, a gentleman. Otherwise, I took the rainy seat for nothing.

Just imagine the movie adaptation, where Sandra Bullock looks up from her own dainty salad – three asparagus tips, a cherry tomato, and six Rennie – to lean over and wipe brown sauce off Ryan Reynolds’ chin from whatever man-burger he’s just eaten to further the plot.

Very lovely of Greg to take the rainy seat – let’s hope his arse isn’t the only thing getting wet tonight ETC ETC. *Julian Clary sips water*

Did you go on somewhere?
Yes, we had a little nightcap at a nearby pub.
Yes, for wine(s) round the corner.

One man’s ‘little nightcap’ is another man’s ‘wine(s)’. What actually is a nightcap? It sounds like it should be a demure tiny glass of sherry, doesn’t it? Or perhaps a shot of sambuca? Maybe for you, it’s six pints of Kestrel and kebab with chips in an onion bap on the side.

If it weren’t for social distancing, would you have kissed?
I don’t usually kiss on a first date.

Sharon and Shirley from EastEnders looking disgusted

Oh. Okay. What, never? No matter who it is? No matter the connection, or the thunderbolt, or the… whatever else? No judgement for anyone who doesn’t want to go for it, but having an arbitrary rule about something does close off opportunities, I suppose. Mind you, we’ve had a year or so of many people letting usual standards slide. Joggers are big again, people have started saying things like, ‘After a while your hair cleans itself’, and I suppose dental hygiene will have taken a knocking. Chris is probably right to avoid coming into contact with lockdown gingivitis and insufficient flossing until he’s seen their teeth in a better light.

If it weren’t for social distancing, would you have kissed?
I think we would make a cracking support bubble.
man chokes slightly on hot dog

Filthy mind aside, I think this is a lovely thing to say.

Marks out of 10?
A solid 8.
Who’s Mark? I prefer Chris (7/10).

Brushing past Greg’s joke, which shouldn’t have made it past the first draft, these scores are perhaps the best we can hope for in a world where an unseen biological assassin means the only necking that will be happening will be two paracetamol before bed because it’s a ‘school night’. Chris’s 8 feels about right, I suppose, but Greg’s 7 feels slightly measly – maybe they didn’t agree on Drag Race winners or something.

But will they be back together one day? Might Chris will be up for an inspection of Greg’s dentistry one day.

Would you meet again?
We swapped numbers, so maybe we will.
We discussed going clubbing. I’d be up for a dance.

two middle aged people disco humping dancing

Don’t forget to bump asses as you leave.

If you want to support my work and help the website keep running, you can either buy my books, or send me a one-off tip on Ko-fi. No subscription or obligation, the blog remains free.

The Magnificent Sons cover on an orange background

About the review and the daters: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, they seem very nice, so please be kind to them in comments, replies, and generally on social media. I will not approve nasty below-the-line comments. If you reply to my tweets about the date, please don’t embarrass yourself. 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. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story. Let me know if you ever manage to prick that support bubble.

Chris and Greg ate at Tavolino, London SE1.

Fancy a blind date? Email com



  1. I just want to tell you how much I love The Guyliner. There’s always at least one bit that makes me snort-laugh so much that someone in my family asks what’s so funny. Thank you for making me snort-laugh today 🙂

  2. This date was absolutely gorgeous, and it was the bright spot I needed in a bit amid a dark day. I am sorry that they had to eat dinner in a gale force wind, but it DOES give them a sweet meet-cute! I thought they both looked very handsome. But when I try to tie my scarf like Chris, I look like I have broken my neck and am wearing a multi-coloured brace, alas. He makes it look fabulous! And I love Greg’s boots and jacket. I would absolutely wear those! This date made me smile SO MUCH and I quite liked the “who’s Mark?” joke! Funny, friendly, engaging, happy, friendly, kind…. can I be your friend? They sound lovely, and I hope they enjoy a support bubble together! Thanks Justin for your fabulous review! IMPECCABLE!!!

  3. I love it when people compliment my sartorial choices, especially a stranger because they have no obligation to say something nice out of politeness. It gives me a lift for hours.

    A few years ago, I threw caution (and my intense shyness) to the wind and started doing the same. I’ve genuinely never met someone who hasn’t looked delighted. So give it a shot! You’ll make someone’s day, I promise.

  4. Wonderfully witty as always. And that picture of Shirley and Sharon; may many good things happen to you for given us that alone.

  5. “ Funny, like the sight of a Foxtons estate agent arriving on an electric scooter to show you a flat you can’t afford in a Vauxhall residential tower that is obviously a front for a factory that consumes the souls of its inhabitants to bring Mussolini back to life.” God this is everything, I honked laughed whilst out on a bus 😂

  6. So now then. I am yet to read the entirety of your witty wossname. Never miss an episode. Seriously though, I agree man wears a puffa well, which is a difficult art, but it looks like he’s made the mad decision, of storing his phone in the pocket of his jeans.

    Now, I’m not a silhouette snob. I shove my phone, keys, mask, etc, into my pockets every day. I’ve two coats – one summer, one winter, which I always have to take to the shop at the end of the season, to get the pockets repaired and buttons replaced – precisely because of this shit. But, one would think, one of the benefits of a lovely, massive jacket, is you can hide your paraphernalia within its cloudy depth, without anyone noticing. Maybe he just wanted to text someone, when he was on the loo and knew, (TBF, as I would,) he’d forget to take it, if it was hung over the back of a chair. Or his date might ask why he was taking his phone. I’m old, so maybe that’s no longer a thing – maybe taking a phone to the loo is standard.

    OMG guys. Did you see the football? OMG! I liked that the team made a square around the guy. It’s absolutely devastating. It’s horrible for the family, and it means, people who had some path to feeling okay, are now left blowin’ in the wind. Those people can become dangerous very quickly. Stupid chance. Hope everyone comes out of this okay. xx

Leave a Response

%d bloggers like this: