Chris is wearing a blue jacket, Kate is wearing a patterned dress
Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Chris and Kate

A mere two weeks ago I told the story of how my Nana would rise from her armchair in disgust if the contestants on Cilla’s Saturday night desperado showcase Blind Date were over 50, and now we have two Guardian Blind Daters in their 70s. Nana, I’m almost glad you’re not alive to see this.

But of course age is just a number – until someone wants to remind you it isn’t. I won’t patronise this week’s couple by doing the usual ‘aw bless’ reaction the internet reserves for older people going about their daily lives being ‘cute’. It’s strange, isn’t it, how we look to older people bath for heartwarming, ‘wholesome’ moments and also as someone to blame for everything that’s wrong with the world, sitting in their four-bedroom detached mansion that they bought in 1875 for three bobbins and a bottle of brandy. It’s almost as if the world isn’t quite as simple as that, and that older people are just like everybody else with their own complexities and nuances – except there’s also BACK PAIN and Warfarin and pretending to like your grandchildren. [Every time I hear someone talk about boomers or millennials I think of the people of those generations living on the council estate I grew up on, just getting by. Funny how all the hand-wringing broadsheet pieces and accusations of ‘wokery’ from the frothing tabloids never talk about them, isn’t it?]

Anyway, it’s great to see some age representation in the Blind Date. One thing older people have over younger generations is they tend to know what they want – or rather don’t want – because they’ve spent decades misreading their own signals and doing things they thought they wanted, and spending precious time unravelling those mistakes and uncoupling from useless partners or waiting for them to die so they can turn the spare room into a dungeon, or buy a jetski. They have been there, and done that, and they are ready to make even more mistakes. Better ones. With tequila, and dancing.

So! Meet Chris! and Kate! Chris, is 72 and a poet. Kate, is also 72, and a writer. Ah shit, two creatives. Here we go. Read what happened in full on the Guardian website, before coming back here for my review. Only a Lite version today, I’m afraid; I’ve spent the morning loading a large sofa into a van so I am short on time and energy and fuse. So, three answers each

Chris on Kate | Kate on Chris

What did you talk about?
Mutual liking for Anne Tyler’s novels. Mutual disbelief that Boris Johnson is still prime minister. Kate’s children in Paris and New York. My niece’s cat in Nice. How writing is not “fun”. What a nice person Elizabeth Taylor was when Kate met her on a film set. How people in person often contradict their public image.
Novels. Poetry. Film. Family. How we both like seeing several films in one day.

Novels ✅ – I write those. You can buy them off Waterstones or from an independent bookshop or from the big website nobody is supposed to mention even though its algorithms are used everywhere to gauge a book’s bankability. (Please buy one if you like my work.) I’m afraid I don’t know Anne Tyler – tip: never say you ‘haven’t heard’ of someone or something, it sounds rude and thick. Be like Mariah:

Mariah saying I don't know her

It’s just classier. We’re not here to make judgements. Anyway, I will check out Anne Tyler.

Mutual disbelief that Boris Johnson is still prime minister – ALREADY this date is an anachronism. Kind of, because he’s still there but… you know. How exciting. I know what’s coming next is probably going to be even worse, but I do believe toppling ‘Porridge in a Wig’ man was important because he really, really needed to fail so badly and hopefully we can pick off the next one much more easily.

Kate’s children in Paris and New York/ Family ✅ – Oh God this sounds so glamorous. I am so provincial, I’m sorry, I don’t care. My best friend used to live in Paris and I used to love saying it. ‘She’s living in Paris.’ It doesn’t matter that she wasn’t that keen on it and lived about twenty minutes out on the RER; it was impossibly exciting to me and I loved going to visit. When I was a little boy, living in the hometown that I never thought of as home, because it certainly didn’t give me that warm feeling of familiarity and security, I dreamed of living in a huge city somewhere, totally anonymous and able to be myself among dazzling lights and elegant people and important architecture. Eventually my dream came true and after 20 years here, I never get tired of saying I live in London.

How writing is not “fun”. Meh. I don’t love subscribing to this tortured artist trope. Writing can certainly be hard sometimes – take it from someone who has spent EIGHT years staring at the Guardian Blind Date column trying to spin shit into gold every Saturday morning. What I think Chris is saying here is that when you write for a job, it is your job, and not ‘fun’ in the sense that it’s just some frivolity that doesn’t matter or barely needs thinking about. I can say with some authority, and having read (and written) some absolute shite over the years that it isn’t as easy as it looks, and often writers are overlooked or dismissed because pretty much any of us can pick up a pen or hammer away at a keyboard, and indeed have to do that every day to answer emails or whatever. But if writing isn’t ‘fun’ on some level, as in you do it for a living but don’t like doing it, you should stop. I think about it daily. It can be hard to get work (I don’t really pitch much as it makes me anxious and I never think my ideas are good enough even though I usually see them appear eventually, pitched by someone else) and making decent money is tricky but I love it and also I don’t know how to do anything else, so maybe my ‘just stop’ advice is actually very stupid? (My only writerly advice is: ignore all writing advice.)

Films/film sets/Elizabeth Taylor ✅ – Elizabeth Taylor was so fascinating. Both a wonderful and terrible actress, both amazing and awful taste in men, beyond beautiful in any shape or size, a pioneer when it came to AIDS awareness and a poor judge of character on many counts. A one-off, I think. Proper Hollywood. Anyway, here’s a great gif or two of Liz just because:

Elizabeth in a white dress

I like to think the Elizabeth line is named after her and not the other one with the nonce son.

How we both like seeing several films in one day – Retirement is basically freelancing but you don’t have to chase David in Accounts for an invoice every two days.

How people in person often contradict their public image – 🤐

What do you think they made of you?
It takes a long time before I know how other people see me. I have often got this completely wrong.
Somewhat overbearing with the potential to become boring.

This is like reading my diary. See, if you thought that getting older is an automatic swipe card into the the VIP area of confidence and peak self-esteem, I’m afraid that older people are just as unsure as you about how they come across, or whether they’re on the right track. Your anxieties, insecurities and youthful idiosyncrasies don’t evaporate once you pass 40. They might change shape, or fade into the background a little; they may even morph into something more disastrous. As always, it helps if you remember, nine times out of ten, absolutely nobody knows what they are doing and we are all just winging it. We moan about fakery on social media but if anything those bright Istanbul-veneer smiles and wobbly panning shots around apparently idyllic holiday destinations are the realest manifestations of the human condition you can find. Nothing. Is. Real. You want more evidence? Westminster! Not one of those pricks has a clue what’s going on. They’re teenagers fretting over an accidentally Snapchatted nude! They’re trusting morons buying a cut-and-shut Peugeot off a man with a nicotine-coloured moustache! They’re Michael Gove!

Marks out of 10?
Romance wasn’t in the air, but it was a pleasure to spend an evening with Kate, who couldn’t be less than a 10.
Would you meet again?
Maybe for a second round of “books we have read or might like to read”. And Chris would make a great writing buddy, if he’d like that too.

Kate scored an 8, Chris was a diplomatic 10. You might think that because they’re older, they might be less fussy, but if there’s one thing you realise as you age, it’s that romances come and go. Friendships are golden, solid, here for the long haul. Good luck to them both.

Jodie Comer as Villanelle saying 'oh, lovely'

Did you love this? Cool. Why not support my work and slip me a very small tip on my Ko-fi page? Thank you!

I have written three comedies and you might like them. They’re quite gay and snarky but have nice heartwarming bits in too with the odd bit of darkness. Like any normal Saturday in the big Tesco. See them on Waterstones website

I am trying out that Twitter Notes thing as part of a select testing group (woo) and was interviewed about my writing and I even gave some tips even though I really, really have no business doing that. You can read the interview with me (and three other cool writers) here, or by clicking on this huge graphic that Twitter made which I find absolutely hilarious.

A graphic of me saying 'Being able to make people laugh and think is an honour I do not take lightly
Twitter
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. Chris, Kate, I want to join your writing group! Let’s slag off each other’s over use of n-dashes!

Chris and Kate ate at M Victoria Street , London SW1. Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com

 

8 Comments

  1. I like a straightforward “I haven’t read” – puts the onus on me being an uncultured swine (or ridiculously stubborn to the point of self-sabotage on not reading the thing everyone’s reading).

    1. Oh I meant about anything, not just reading. ‘I’ve never heard of Beyoncé’ etc is just so… ‘I am the entire universe’ and quite closed off. For me, anyway.

  2. Justin, I think you might like Anne Tyler – I‘ve every book of hers and she offers always amazing ‚insight‘ in her writings. I wish I still had the pleasure of reading her for the first time ahead of me.,
    These two seemed truly generous and a great friendship might result. I wish them well.

    1. I will definitely seek her books out, thank you. Where do you think is the best place to start?

      1. I think Anne Tyler is magnificent. She’s bafflingly underrated, possibly because of her lightness of touch and because she’s an older woman.

        1. I say go basic. Accidental Tourist. It’s charming and witty. Obviously also hold out for a more sophisticated reply. 🙂

  3. I’ve been reading Anne Tyler since the late 70s – I went to college in Baltimore and found it an eccentric and interesting city – rather like the people in her books. Suggestions: The Accidental Tourist, Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant (I know- it sounds twee, but press on) and The Amateur Marriage.

  4. Bought it! I have to read something comparatively dull first, but Monday night is date night. Book, booze, bhuna (okay, rogan josh – I didn’t want to ruin the alliteration. I might not even eat. On past behaviour, I might just get through half a book and an entire bottle of wine.) Thanks for entertaining me honey. x

Leave a Response

%d bloggers like this: