Deborah is in her 60s and has blond hair and is wearing a black top, black miniskirt and thigh high boots. She's v glamorous and is posing with her hands under her chin. Graham is in his 70s, wearing a light scarf round his neck and a navy suit with black shoes. No tie.
Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Deborah and Graham

Saturday morning and where else would we be but here, poring over the romantic lives of strangers? There’s been an increase in older couples recently which can be good and bad news. Older people tend to know what they want – and are vocal about what they don’t want – which can make for awkward reading, but often they also just think ‘what the hell’ and let go of all inhibitions. When you’ve seen a few more sunrises than everybody else, it’s not uncommon to care a lot less about being in bed before sunset.

Today we have two daters who clearly thought ‘f•ck it’ – Deborah, 65, an international property consultant, and Graham, 71, a musician. It’s a boomer takeover, but will it be a banger?

Deborah is in her 60s and has blond hair and is wearing a black top, black miniskirt and thigh high boots. She's v glamorous and is posing with her hands under her chin. Graham is in his 70s, wearing a light scarf round his neck and a navy suit with black shoes. No tie.
Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian

and return here as I wield my poison pen/scalpel hybrid to dissect a few of the highlights.

Deborah | Graham

What were you hoping for?
It was impossible not to speculate about a musical man whose loving daughter felt inclined to submit his profile to Blind Date.

Ah, do you remember the heady days of The X Factor – which sadly ended in 2008 what the victory of Alexandra Burke and never returned – when there would be at least one secret application by a relative per series. Extra points if the relative was dead and had left a completed application form taped to the lid of their coffin, or had, seconds form gasping their last, called the contestants’ hotline and put their lovely niece or nephew forward for auditions. If someone I knew submitted my profile to a national newspaper without my knowledge, I would sprinkle every carpet in their house with Lego and hide all their shoes.

What were you hoping for?
That’s a difficult one, because I’ve learned that setting one’s expectations too high simply leads to disappointment. So I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to make an excuse to leave early.

Been a while since that’s happened on a GBD. My excuse was always ‘I have a deadline’ or the devastatingly original, ‘I’m tired’. Imagine going on a date with a 34-year-old who claimed to run 10 miles four days a week (this is a long time ago) only to have them tell you they’re ‘tired’. Saying ‘you’re ugly and I’d rather sit in porridge than listen to you’ is almost kinder, less of an insult to the intelligence.

First impressions?
I was 15 minutes late but Graham smiled and made up for lost time with rapid-fire questions and great listening skills.

Y’know, just by looking at the photos, I could tell Deborah had lateness energy about her. I can imagine her barrelling in, a whirlwind of apologies in a cloud of Quelques Fleurs, signalling to the waiter for a Salamandre Rouge with one hand, extending the other for Graham to peck. And good for her.

Graham’s ‘wow’ is great too, isn’t it? Wow in-fucking-deed. What else do we want from life – other than food, a stable income, and a new government – than for someone to think WOW when we walk into a room?

What did you talk about?
We started at the beginning and told each other how we both came to be sitting at that table – I’m afraid my stories went on for too long.
Conversation was extremely easy, mainly because for the first 60 minutes Deborah talked without taking a breath. I learned about Canada, Italy and Norfolk. The steel industry. The Famous Five. The journey to Provence. Her family. Her career. Her misdemeanours. Her friendships. Her romances. Her attitude to life. But above all we talked about music, ranging from Beethoven to Bacharach to the blues… and beyond.

My stories went on too long/all those subjects Graham lists ✅ – Blimey. I suppose there’s a lot to get through wen you’ve got some extra decades behind you. Rather puts my ‘So what have you been up to? Oh me? Yeah, same, nothing really’ that I say whenever I haven’t seen anyone for a while. Makes me realise, I *should* be getting up to something, before it’s too late.

Not particularly easy to fill conversations when you… can’t really afford to do anything that might create topics for them, though, plus everyone knows their friends’ movements from socials. This is why everyone keeps banging on about Succession or Ted Lasso – must-see television is the new ‘stultifying holiday snaps of Mike and Judith scowling suspiciously into the heart of a plate of tortelloni’.

Most awkward moment?
Graham drove me home, leaned across the back seat to get me my bag, and the contents spilled everywhere.

I was VERY nervous about where this sentence was going to end up, but I should’ve known someone wearing such an AMAZING scarf – I am very into scarves – would be a perfect gentleman, if a clumsy one. If I had more time, I would list all the things I imagine Deborah had in her bag, but I don’t. At least three different bottles of perfume, and a couple of whisky miniatures, I hope.

Most awkward moment?
We tried to make one up, and couldn’t … unless, of course, Deborah was just being polite.

I smell COLLABORATION on these answers. I suppose, if you got on, which they obviously did, you would do that. Seems obvious really. Make it as entertaining as possible, get a bit of attention, make sure everyone is on the same page spiritually as well as physically.

Good table manners?
We shared almost every course. Subsequently, it was more a matter of who was more masterly at taking their fair share – but Graham politely allowed me seconds of everything.
I didn’t notice anything, which suggests they were impeccable.
Janine Butcher in EastEnders licking her lips

Impeccable? I see. Oh, the sharing. As Deborah says, ‘it was more a matter of who was more masterly at taking their fair share’. Truly the worst thing about sharing food is the faux politesse of taking, for example, the leftover meatball. ‘Oh no, I insist’ on and on and on like you’re two knobheads on Bridgerton.

What do you think he made of you?
That I’m a handful.

Deborah is, I think, exactly what men a generation up from me would call ‘a handful’. Like Holly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or Lorelei in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, or Gigi in, er, Gigi. A handful is like the hot mess or the manic pixie dream girl of her day, but with much less baggage and also a greater grounding in reality. A handful is that sweet spot between the mythical cool girl and the absolute fucking nightmare. You overlook some of the bad behaviour because ultimately they have fun and always get served first at the bar. They are also gay icons.

Handfuls like Deborah are the glamorous middle-class aunties that little working-class gays like me used to dream about, who gives you your first taste of a cigarette (a green Sobranie), your first alcoholic drink (a gin martini), sings ‘The Greatest Love of All’ at you whenever you walk in the room, calls you handsome even though you’re 13 and you look like a freshly regurgitated barn owl pellet, and tries – in vain but half-heartedly in the first place – to set you up with equally disinterested, tall and attractive nieces of their rambunctious gal pals, before, once they’ve realised that *you* have now realised exactly what you are, introducing you to the ‘lovely lad with the devastating cheekbones’ who washes their golden-blond hair at their favoured salon, which they visit weekly. If these women do not actually exist then they should.

What do you think she made of you?
Somewhere between thinking I was a complete idiot and believing me to be the answer to her dreams.

It’s the best most straight men can hope for, tbh, Graham.

Did you go on somewhere?
Yes, to a club in Soho with a wonderful pianist.
We went to the Groucho Club and stayed until they threw us out. I have a vague recollection of Deborah standing on the stairs, overlooking the pianist and launching into a Whitney Houston – or was it a Dionne Warwick – song? She’s got a great voice.

See? God bless the handfuls of the world. (Although I would love to have seen the faces of everybody else in the Groucho when this wanton display of LOOK AT ME was in progress. I like reading about this, but I wouldn’t like to have experienced it.)

And … did you kiss?
Not this time.
No …

Bet Lynch in leopard print Coronation Street

Well, there’s always next time. Right? Right.

If you could change one thing about the evening what would it be?
Having to get up so early the next morning to go to the airport.
Move it to Provence.

God, as much as I am happy for Deborah and Graham, reading this date has been like opening my favourite book only to find every word has been replaced by ‘You’re poor, did you know?’

Marks out of 10?
A solid 8, but I’m a tough taskmistress.

I don’t think Deborah – Deb? Debs? I’m guessing NEVER Debbie – meant to say ‘taskmistress’ there but isn’t it exciting to see that word out in the wild? Graham’s 9.5 seems like the more emotionally authentic score, whereas Deborah’s is very much a rulebook 8. Nothing more than kissing, it can never be higher than an 8. She did add the qualifier ‘solid’, though, which helps.

Would you meet again?
Yes. I believe it was discussed before the evening was over. I live between Provence and the UK, and we are already planning Graham’s trip to visit me in France.

Deborah’s answer has such Daily Telegraph energy here I feel like it’s asking to see my passport. However, good luck to both of them, and here’s to being a handful.

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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. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story.  What was the song? And what’s your favourite fragrance? Thanks.

Graham and Deborah ate at Ottolenghi, London, N1. Fancy a blind date? Email


  1. I had that aunt – although her hair was a sharp red bob, not golden blonde. Impossibly glamorous to me as a teenager. The gilt goes off the gingerbread eventually though.

    If you’d asked me to imagine what this whirlwind was wearing, I would have been exactly correct, down to the turquoise cocktail ring. Amazing. I hope the second date needs condoms.

  2. Well, I thought that was delightful, although Graham’s “vague recollection” of the Groucho followed by driving her home was a bit “suss”. “Handfuls” are great, as you say, I hope Graham has the energy to keep up as I think he’s going to need it ! It would be wonderful to know what happened next, I imagine as this date was some ago, the next date has occurred, wouldn’t it be great if either of them came on here and gave us an update ?

  3. You are golden, Justin. “…freshly regurgitated barn owl pellet” made me snort out loud and give away the fact that I am not tidying up AT ALL.

    1. Re-reading, I think that I grabbed the wrong end of that stick… maybe a cultural misunderstanding. I now realise that he must have meant that she was unique.

      1. Oh yes, I believe that’s what he meant. What did you take from it? That he meant ‘one night only’?

  4. Luxuriating in a HUGE bed (alone) this morning at The Standard, hotel-of-preference for « the handful » when she needs to feel pampered ( in a thoroughly modern, yet old fashioned way. Mini bar includes french bamboo toothbrush, Skyn « 3 (THREE!) feel everything «  condoms, sliquid natural « intimate » lubricant and TRIP cbd oil…. where to start ? Except to head straight over Amazon to see if they deliver to France (toothbrush excepting)

    Spent the entire day (but not yet a night ) with Graham yesterday. The National to soak up the Impressionists, the Wollesley to soak up the atmosphere (lunch lingered on to tea) and finally once more to favoured Soho for a spot of live blues.

    There is still so much to say to each other. Words like a balm to each other’s soul. A lot of laughter. Joy. Gratitude.

    And yes Justin, I am the handful who will get that drink at the bar and who feels an immediate connection to gay men.
    That woman
    affectionately known as  The Stirstick amongst her oldest friends (you girls make a great cocktail but Deborah is The Stirstick ) and Auntie Gaga by same friends grown up kids.
    Debbie in Canada, Debs in GB by friendly Brits thinking it’s cool to be casual. But my besties call me simply Bellini.
    What else would you expect as a surname.

    Loving this connection and happy to provide ongoing content. …. Off to the airport ! LCY ➡️ NCE

    1. Absolutely obsessed with you! Keep living life in your irrepressible fashion.

      And, are you in need of any more honorary neices?!

  5. Any Bellini follow ups?

    I needed a Saturday morning boost so headed here and saw the delightful update.

    Not since the knickers losing lesbians have I felt so invested in a couple.

    Both Bellini and Graham seemed a great pair (Graham’s restraint belying I think a devastating wit, kindness and willingness to be swept away).

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