Impeccable Table Manners

Emma and Eddie

“It’s just like riding a bike,” people say, don’t they? Often. Annoyingly. “You never forget.” But as anyone who’s ever seen me trying to clamber onto a Boris bike will tell you, you can forget even the simplest of things, sometimes within an hour of last doing it. How to ride a bike, how to be polite, how to behave on a date. Let’s hope I can remember how to do this.

Gamely stepping forward with a huge target on their T-shirts this week are 29-year-old festival booker Emma – just imagining the amount of band T-shirts strewn across her floordrobe is making me heave a little – and Eddie, also 29, who is a plumber. A plumber is one of those professions that always makes slightly older female relatives purse their lips in approval and say things like “Well, that’s a good trade; you’ll never be short of money with a plumber in the family”. The date takes place in Manchester this week, which is very exciting for it not be in London. It’s like when someone from my hometown would phone in to the Gary Davies show on Radio 1. How odd it used to feel to hear a famous person say it out loud.


Read what happened on the date (spoiler: nothing except a vague movement of air in the room) before I deconstruct almost everything they’ve said, out of sheer spite,  like your mother-in-law undoubtedly will on your wedding day.



I know this is a JOKE but I doubt very much any court would convict Emma if she were to lose her mind temporarily and tip a bowl of custard over her dad’s head. I know there is this thing about biological clocks etc but “nearly 30” is quite depressing here.

Getting married looks and sounds very boring indeed – it’s just government-approved arguing that starts with a huge party and descends hellward at breakneck speed. Why waste your 30s on that? Wait until you’re, oh I don’t know, 47 and too old to row.


I know what you’re thinking: this is a good answer. But if I wanted to learn something new, I’d take up an evening class at a former polytechnic or read a thesaurus cover to cover. I would not go on a date with a stranger and appear in a magazine.



I know this is Emma’s personal 1997 rom-com and we’re all merely living in it, but making the first impression question all about you says at least one of the following:
– It was a bad first impression.
– I have forgotten what I thought at this moment.
– I think the camera’s on me during that line isn’t it? Yes? Good.


I tried to find a gif of Shanice doing I Love Your Smile but to no avail so let’s just imagine it here.



OK, so you may be rolling your eyes very far in the back of your head re the conversation topics, but at least they seem to match up, so they were listening to each other. And they got to talk about their jobs, which people really seem to like.

I can’t go to festivals. I’ve been to day festivals, and I believe I have slept in a tent at least three times in my life, but I would never stay over at a weekend festival. Oh, I’m not afraid of the cold or the rain, and I wouldn’t be one of those people who claims they can’t go anywhere without a plug socket for my straighteners, or wifi. No, the main reason I don’t want to go to a festival is because many of my friends have, and they’ve all come back irreparably scarred in some way. One friend still talks in haunted tones, her eyes planet-sized in horror at the memory, about a Glastonbury she went to about eight years ago.

Also, I hear that once you start going to festivals you become addicted, and you also begin another obsession, which is talking about them all the time. I’m sure they’re a great experience and perhaps I’m low-key envious that I don’t have it in me, but they seem like a really weird way to shed £500 and do lots of standing up. Near Muse.



Sharing food. Some people see this as a bonding exercise, while I think it’s only fated to set you apart for ever. It’s almost worth doing, because you really get the measure of what a person is like when you watch how they behave around a food sharing scenario.

I met a friend at a very nice restaurant the other day and it was one of those ones where the waiting staff repeatedly tell you that their dishes are “to share” even though you have no intention of doing so. In the end I had to say I was an only child and wouldn’t be sharing and they immediately understood.



Hahahahahahaha. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo.

The date would’ve been over for me right there. First of all, what kind of absolute try-hard irono-nightmare of a restaurant is serving you a fried egg, and secondly, why would you try to split it? I am perhaps one of a small majority who thinks the “best” part of an egg – which in itself is a bit of a reach – is the white. I hate yolks. They cause me a lot of problems in restaurants because I have to ask for the eggs “not runny” – I am a waiter’s ideal customer – solely because I don’t want to accidentally “interrupt” one while I’m eating my eggs benedict or whatever. I can just about cope with boiled eggs but the window for the yolk to go from disgusting to acceptable and back to disgusting again is a very tiny porthole indeed.

I would rather cut my own head in half and ask for “two spoons please” than share a fried egg, let alone one with a runny yolk. I’d have to burn the restaurant down. I feel ill. No. Nooooo.


Haha. I wonder how impressive your table manners have to be to get a “top drawer”? I mean, this implies a skill set, something to admire. Was she doing magic tricks as she twirled a rubbery fried egg, split crudely in two, around her fork? Oh well, at least he didn’t say… oh, lookit.





I think this is great that they find each other so interesting, and I’m sure they had a lot to talk about, because music people always tend to, but if you think the best thing about someone is their job, then you’re fucked romantically.

To me, someone calling out my job, the way I make my money – be it something I do just to pay the bills or a true vocation – would make me feel my personality was failing. Sure, it might make my chat more interesting (mine doesn’t btw) and I may get to do loads of cool stuff, but one you’re not at work, which most of us aren’t a lot of the time, then what. I’d always thought the phrase “married to the job” applied to the person doing the job only – to attract a partner based on it is another thing entirely.

My interesting stories, my taste in clothes, my filthy language, the shape of my shoulders, the glint in my eye,  my attitude to life, my HAIR – love me for anything, anything other than what I do for a living.

That said, someone who is genuinely passionate about what they do and makes you love it too is quite attractive, so ignore everything I said before. I’d delete it but it’s written now, isn’t it?


Genuine, like I don’t really fancy him, to be perfectly candid.
Honest, like no, not even a little bit, although he’s a nice guy I’ll just say things like this until the question’s over and done with.
Open, like no seriously that’s all I’m saying and I think I’ve got away with it.


Fun, like a FESTIVAL I would like free tickets for (VIP bit with full showers and actual seating only, hit me up)
Hot, like a fried egg is for only about 13 seconds after it comes out of the pan, before congealing into a woeful play-doh memorial to good taste.
Sharp, like an Ariana Grande high-note.

(I am actually a VERY big fan of Eddie’s use of “sharp” here – what a great thing to be described as. I would love that. Sharp. You bet your fucking arse I am. Bring bandages.)




Actually, here’s a hot tip for you: northerners don’t think southerners are soft and poncey, because we literally never think about you at all.


Some people actively crave lunatics, don’t they? They like a bit of spice, and say things like “it keeps me on my toes” – yeah, well, so does the floor being on fire.



Oh, she brought a bike. Bikes on dates. Boner death. Sex destroyers. Mood killers. Mojo suppressants. Passion assassins.

Whenever I’d turn up on a date and see the guy had brought a bike, I would hear a heavy, metallic clunk and look down at both our crotches to see that huge padlocks had suddenly appeared from nowhere, over each. There are no keys.




Using this question to talk about food is a very, very boring old tactic and a waste of an answer, but it is also handy code for a nuclear-strength friendzoning, with the wind power of your breath after 10 packs of Trebor Extra Strong, so hang on to your hat. Although  these will not be wedding hats, more like festival flower-crowns that you stop to adjust in between snogs with some guy from Fulham (Toby, Dan, Tom, Felix, whoever) during Coldplay’s set.




Seven. A 7 is a 1 with a backstage pass and a cool-box full of beer. But the beer is Miller Lite.


I always wonder what people mean when they say a score is “solid” – it’s going in a magazine, you’re not holding it up on a paddle like a Strictly judge. It is already solid, printed, right there, look.

Anyway, 8 – a hopeful, realistic 9 I imagine. An off-chance 9. A 9 who’s just come off shift and doesn’t stop to get milk on the way home because there’s bound to be some in the fridge. There isn’t any.





Photograph: Christopher Thomond; Christian Sinibaldi, both for the Guardian

Note: I am away next weekend, so no blog – but there will be something else instead. 

Note 2: 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 editing of answers may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena.  This isn’t about me thinking these two people are bad people – I don’t know them. I am sure, in real life, they’re great. I’m critiquing the answers, not the people themselves. If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally; I don’t see the date in advance so my reactions are my first ones. I do this live on a Saturday morning. Imagine that. If you want to give your side of the story,  get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal or comments you might have.

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  1. When she mentioned her “freezing cycle” I automatically assumed she was referring to her Dad’s egg-freezing comments…

  2. Hah, I had misread her answer as ‘ready to begin my freezing cycle AT home’, i.e. she was off back to freeze her eggs, in accordance with her dad’s advice. Which I thought was terrifying but admirably honest if true, and a withering take on the date, or quite funny and sharp if a joke. I was a bit sad when I realised she was just biking back in the cold.

  3. I cannot wait to read this week’s recap/commentary cause this blind date is… something. Something else: did you mention/discuss somewhere that only a single (!) of the over 52 blind dates in 2016 let to anything resembling a relationship and that one was only like two months (cause date was in October)? That was in The Guardian’s Year in Review feature.

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