Impeccable Table Manners

Eleanor and Charlie


After last week’s brief, and mildly disastrous, foray into mature dating, we’re back to the young this week. The really young.

I don’t understand what young people are doing in this column. Have you really already exhausted every avenue available to you? Surely you don’t need to appear in a magazine? You’re young. Opportunities for sex, love and romance must be hurling themselves at you.

Run some product through your hair, squirt on a bit of Tom Ford – or Chanel if you’re on a graduate trainee scheme – do some shots, stand around in a bar long enough and you’ll be scraping them off you. Seriously.

Anyway, for whatever reason Eleanor, 26, and Charlie, 23, have decided to be in the Blind Date column this week. Perhaps they are doing it “for a laugh” – I hear that is very popular with the youth these days. Read what happened before I cast my arthritic eye over it.

Charlie | Eleanor

Charlie, on his awkward moment:

Any awkward moments?
If anything, that I wasn’t important enough to have a business card to give.

I didn’t really get this, so glanced down to Eleanor:

Any awkward moments?
When I tried to give him my card but didn’t have any.

There is nothing sexier than two people on a date acting like estate agents. “Hey, here’s my card.”

You’re already on the date with each other, I assume you know how to programme a telephone number into your mobile, so what do you need to swap cards for? All out of conversation topics? Wanted to show off the embossing? Got a ‘funky’ job title you want to impress each other with, like ‘GIF Guru’ or ‘Social Media Cosmonaut’?

I don’t get it. Business cards sit in wallets and purses and the bottom of handbags, only to be transferred to worktops or bookshelves or desks, where they sit again for untold millennia, either totally unnoticed or menacingly in the way. And then, during a ‘clear-out’, they’re flung into the bin and never thought of again. What a waste of embossing.

Anyway, these two are clearly ridiculous, but we’ve started now, so let’s carry on. Table manners! Charlie:

Good table manners?
I can’t say I noticed either way, so I suppose good.

Charlie is clearly being a gentleman here, readers, as we will now see. Spoiler: if you are on medication for any kind of heart condition, please look away now, because the next screenshot contains scenes of a distressing nature.

Good table manners?
He ordered better and I stole his food.

Keep. Your. Hands. Out. Of. My. Dinner. This seems to be on the increase in the Blind Date column. Why do they do it? Why do we allow them to do it?

When somebody “orders better” than you, the protocol is to sulk a bit, maybe look at their plate wistfully – perhaps compose a short blog or Instagram post for later, lamenting your bad decision – and then get on with eating your own dinner.

When your date, who has noticed your bottom lip scraping the edge of your plate, asks if you would like some of their food, you smile brightly, like you’ve just seen all your family killed in the Blitz but have been handed an ice cream to make it all better, and refuse. You say no. They are only being polite. You have to live with the consequences of your actions. You ordered badly. Your fault.

The rest of their answers are dull and awkward and safe, in a way that I imagine some people would find cute and endearing, but only made my heart of ice dip a few more degrees. They only really come alive when food is being discussed.


Did you go on somewhere?
No. We had puddings they had to cook specially instead.

I don’t ever want to go for dinner with these people. I would have to be stretchered out. “Shall we go on for a drink somewhere else so we can be dead young and exciting, or shall we sit here and wait for the chef – who probably really wants to go home – to steam us a plum sponge?”

Last word goes to Eleanor, who I think still has valuable lessons to learn when it comes to ordering in a restaurant.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
Béarnaise instead of peppercorn.

Here’s a tip for you, Eleanor: in life, when you do eventually order béarnaise, you’ll realise you should have stuck with peppercorn all along.

Now get your bloody fork out of my plate.

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

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