Impeccable Table Manners

Edina and Jonathan


September. The dying days of summer. The brilliant colours of autumn. Grey skies. Too-big school uniforms. Darker evenings. The knowledge, thanks to that prick in the office who can’t help but announce it, that the next bank holiday is Christmas Day.

While for some, autumn is romantic and beautiful, for others it is a three-month long day without weather, porridge with no sugar, a weak cup of tea, Basingstoke.

This week’s Guardian Blind Date is the greyest of skies – so grey even Farrow & Ball would struggle to come up with a name for it any jauntier than “Your Drains Are Blocked and, Yes, That Might be a Bit of Poo Floating There”.

Read what happened on the white-knuckle ride that was the meeting between 46-year-old librarian Edina and Jonathan, 55, a research manager before I go in for the kill. Warning: today may see a high level of “Sssssh! NO talking!” jokes because librarian.

Edina and Jonathan

Edina kicks us off:

What were you hoping for?
To have a nice evening with someone who wants to meet me again.

Do you think there have been many evenings where the “someone” hasn’t wanted to meet Edina again? That’s quite sad, isn’t it? Poor Edina.

Good company, someone to laugh with, and good food.

Good food and good company. The Ford Mondeo (with broken sunroof) of Guardian Blind Date answers.

First impressions?
Relaxed and jolly.

“Jolly” = not as thin as I was expecting. “Relaxed” = he was on his third glass of wine by the time I got there.

First impressions?
Friendly, not overly familiar.

I am fascinated by this “not overly familiar” because… well. I don’t know what it means. Was Jonathan expecting some hyper-sexed divorcée who’d devoted her life to looking after three strapping sons but was now ready for some “me time” and would spend the entire evening dragging her Louboutin-shod trotters up and down his distressed denim leg?

What did you talk about?
Travel, love, his activities, my lack of activities, his career changes, my passion for my job (I wanted to be a librarian since the age of 17).

“His activities, my lack of activities.” Nothing worse when you’re the kind of person who considers switching over to something else in the half-hour gap between Corrie episodes on a Monday to be quite adventurous and find yourself on a date with Surbiton’s answer to Bear Grylls.

It would be easy to mock Edina’s passion for being a librarian, a job many would probably imagine to be very boring. But if you think about, Edina has been dying to tell people to shut up AND GET PAID FOR IT since she was 17. That’s a burning ambition I can truly get behind.

What did you talk about?
Our common work-related interest in libraries, immigration, applying for jobs, surviving at work.

“Immigration.” How romantic.

“Surviving at work.” Jonathan is that guy you see at the watercooler in the office and out of politeness you ask him how he’s doing and he’ll shrug over-dramatically and say “Nearly Friday!!”

And then when Friday comes, no matter what task he has to do that day or whatever you ask him, he’ll roll his eyes and say “At least it’s Friday, eh?” but he won’t actually do anything.

Any awkward moments?
I didn’t notice any.
None at all.

No awkward moments. Apart from all of us, sitting at home and reading this all-too-thrilling tale of two Ryvita crackers glaring at each other for three hours.

"Somebody punch someone"

Table manners. Let’s have it then.

I guess so, but I paid more attention to our conversation.

I’d normally applaud this as I don’t believe anyone really notices table manners except when they’re really bad, but Edina’s insistence that it was the scintillating conversation that distracted her… well.

Yes, impeccable.

Well, well, well. An impeccable. Figures.

Best thing about Edina?
She is very determined.

The men on Guardian Blind Dates have often been known to trot out the D word. Determined. Hmmm. Determined about what? Determined not to fuck you, perhaps.

Would you introduce him to your friends?
Sure! Why not?

Well, exactly. Why keep all that juicy nectar to yourself?

Probably not – they might scare her.

Oh yeah? Friends with a pack of werewolves are we? Close pals with everyone on the serial killer wing at Broadmoor? Did you go to school with a rare strain of small pox?

I doubt very much, Jonathan, that Edina would be scared of any of your golfing, “just the one, I’m driving”, cheese-and-biscuits pals.

Edina is a librarian. Do you know what kind of people you find in a library? All kinds. All fucking kinds. People who hide sandwiches in books or talk loudly on their phone RIGHT NEXT to signs telling you to be quiet. She has caught people fucking in the toilets, smoking weed in the agriculture section and has almost certainly read unflattering graffiti written about her in the study room. Edina has met every soulless, thankless, rude, gross human you could ever even think of. She could handle your mates. Trust me.

What do you think he made of you?
That I am not the one he is looking for. We didn’t have anything in common.

Edina, I’m sure I saw up there that you both talked about libraries. Nothing in common? I didn’t realise there could be different strands of library chat, that it had genres. Anyway, if the Dewey system and mutual appreciation of someone underlining all the rude bits in Judy Blume’s Forever can’t bring you together over dinner, nothing can.

I would imagine she was aghast at my appreciation of the wines (she’s teetotal).

There is no greater way you can cockblock yourself than to get absolutely riotously hammered on free wine while a teetotal date sits opposite you hoping you get murdered on the way home.

Notice he says “appreciation” of the wines. This means Jonathan couldn’t just sit there and quietly get wrecked while Edina told him about the complex photocopying credit system she’d introduced, he had to wang on about the wine each time he sipped it.

I like my wine in three types: Under £9.99; Over £9.99; Champagne. Any other amateur sommelier bleatings are utterly wasted on me.

Both of them say they wouldn’t change a thing about the evening, which says to me both of them are used to settling somewhat in life and probably don’t complain very much in restaurants, and then we move on to scores. Come on, Edina, give him a Dewey score.



Sigh. Never has a 7 said so much and meant so little. They had nothing in common but wouldn’t change a thing; table manners were generally good or ignored. This date feels like it was automatically generated by two self-checkout machines left out in the rain too long.

And yet no unexpected items going in any bagging areas today.

Let’s kick the chair away, shall we?

Would you meet again?
We didn’t exchange numbers, so I guess no.

Oh, Edina.

Most unlikely. We inhabit different planets.

And it is the very depths of winter on both of them.


Chris Pratt drawing hand across his throat

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian.

Note: All the comments I make are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy. The participants in the date are aware this may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people. I am critiquing the answers, not the people themselves. If you are the couple in this date and want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 

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