Impeccable Table Manners

Emma and Kenny


We all have that friend who is a little bland. That pal whose opinions are always pretty much on the fence, doesn’t play favourites and whose outlook is a little safe. Beige. Flavoured Volvic.

Sometimes, on dark nights when the vodka in the bottle is at perilously low levels, we stare deep into our soul and realise that we ourselves are actually that friend and we resolve to be more exciting, more daring, a renegade. Maybe we even decide to apply to be on the Guardian Blind Date column. Because this week…

Anyway, read what happened on the date between 24-year-old Emma, an advertising executive and Kenny, 25, an assistant editor and then I’ll throw red wine on a white carpet to get things moving.

Emma | Kenny
What were you hoping for?
To meet someone fun.

You know I get up kind of early on a Saturday to read this, right, Emma? And this is the best you’ve got? You have basically turned up to my wedding in a grey cardigan. Thanks.

What were you hoping for?
To meet my future wife (I’m very optimistic).

Yay for Kenny. A good start. However, I met an optimist once and he’s dead now, so think on.

First impressions?
He was really friendly and seemed to find the whole thing as bizarre as I did.

“Hey, guys, ever since I waded into this swimming pool that was absolutely full of water, I’m all wet. Weird. Anyone know why?”

I like the suggestion here that participating in the Guardian Blind Date is not actually voluntary. “It’s so bizarre; what am I doing here?” Maybe it’s like that Michael Douglas film The Game, where he is suddenly, unwillingly propelled into a living nightmare as part of some extreme virtual reality hell. Reading it certainly feels that way sometimes.

Kenny. Honey. What you got?

First impressions?
Chatty, friendly, intelligent.

Is “intelligent” a valid first impression? How long does it take to make a first impression? Is it about how they seem as soon as you lay eyes on them? I have no idea.

Anyway, Kenny’s first thought was that Emma was intelligent so maybe she was wearing glasses or carrying some heavy textbooks about science or had a lab coat on the back of her chair.

What did you talk about?
Films, music, Ipswich Town football club, family, our jobs, the complexities of editing film footage.

The. Complexities. Of. Editing. Film. Footage.

I can semi-relate to this as I used to edit video for a job and wow you have to be really into it and love it because it’s kind of soul-destroying but I would rather talk about my favourite way to be disembowelled than editing video but hey ho.

TL;DR: “He bored me about his job.”

Siblings, music, London, films, the blind date.

“The blind date.” They talked about what was happening to them right that minute, like Sky News desperately filling while waiting for an update on something that’s just happened. I miss my bed.

Any awkward moments?
When I told him the last gig I went to was McBusted.

A 25-year-old who is so out of options he’s appearing in a magazine column that sends you out on date with strangers has no place belittling you for going to a McBusted gig, Emma. Unless, it’s you who are embarrassed, of course. In which case, stop doing things ironically if you don’t want to blush every time you have to tell a normal person about your day.

Any awkward moments?
She ordered the wine literally five minutes after arriving. I think she was nervous.

Five minutes? What was she doing the rest of the time? If she were really as intelligent as you say, Kenny, she’d have edited that down to about five seconds.

I don’t know. Is ordering wine quickly something to feel awkward about? I don’t think so.


Good table manners?

I need some wine. I don’t care that it’s 9 in the morning.

I don’t pay too much attention to table manners.

King Kenny. This is the first time I have seen anyone answer this question like a normal person. As long as you don’t put one foot on the table to give yourself some purchase when you’re tearing a leg off a chicken, or have sex with a waiter between courses, nobody cares about your table manners.

Would you introduce him to your friends?
Probably to my friends with cooler taste in music.

Believe me, in ten years’ time, you will not give the slightest bronze fart what anyone thinks of your music taste. Take it from someone who’s endured years of eye-rolling from friends over my “pop” sensibilities.

Never trust anyone who doesn’t like a band with at least one member you’d bang until their brains melted. McBusted has Harry, so there. you. go.

Would you introduce her to your friends?
No. Different social group.

Kenny, they’re people, not the ingredients for an atomic bomb. What do you think is going to happen? This guy has all the derring-do of a cookery teacher weighing out flour. And wholemeal flour at that.

Describe him in three words
Clever, chatty, interesting.

My three words: Are. You. Sure?

Describe her in three words
Not the one.

Watch out, everyone, Kenny has lit a cigarette on a packed dancefloor and nylon is gonna get burned!

Did you go on somewhere?
Nope – early start next day.

Kenny is 25.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
To make the date later in the week. Mondays are the worst.

Emma is 24.

Imagine being so burned out by your mid-twenties that “an early start” would put the fear of God into you.

It doesn’t last for ever, you know. And when you’re in your 70s and carefully negotiating your way out of the shower and hoping this isn’t the day the bath mat gives way, landing you in A&E and at the mercy of a sad-eyed social worker, you’ll wish you hadn’t been so uptight about Mondays and early starts.

Just a tip from halfway down the abyss, here.

Replace the wine with beer.

Oh hashtag-fucking-lad, you boring old pair of rolled-up socks that cries about having to get up early the next day. Shut up.

Scores. Emma:



6. Lovely girl but there wasn’t much chemistry.

“Lovely girl.” I bet if you reached inside Kenny’s pocket, you wouldn’t find the remotest hint of an erection, but there would be a packet of Werther’s Original or some balsam-infused tissues in there.

Would you meet again?
We didn’t exchange numbers but I wouldn’t mind meeting again as friends.

Emma, you win this. But only because I know what’s coming next. You seem like a good egg. I’d trust you with a chihuahua.

Unlikely. I’d prefer someone with a bit more edge to them.

Hahaha. This is like being called boring by John Major or camp by Louie Spence.

Edge? Kenny, you’re in an uber middle-class newspaper, going on a date for a magazine column, in a dull, frigid, snoot restaurant in the Saatchi Gallery.

You’re so far from the edge, you’d need a compass, industrial-strength satnav and an enthusiastic Scout troop who really want to hear about editing film footage just to find it.

Get out.

If it’s long drinks of water in their twenties again next week I am taking it off.

Note: All the comments I make are based on the answers the participants give, which they know will appear in the public arena. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people. 

Photograph: James Drew Turner; David Levene, both for the Guardian

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  1. When I read the date this morning I was dying for your reaction.

    His finding the ordering of wine “literally five minutes after arriving” awkward … BLEUGH. Unless she was frantic and panicking trying to get the waiter’s attention, what’s his bloody problem? Dick!

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