Eva and Anita
Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Eva and Anita

Let’s round off Pride Month with what your horrible sexist uncle with broad fingernails would call ‘two birds’. This week, limbering up for a possible public shaming by the country’s leading wild swimmers are Eva, 26, a graphic designer, and Anita, a 28-year-old analyst. 26 and 28, I can’t relate. Here they are in all their glory in the Weekend magazine, Eva choosing a chunky knit, while Anita goes for ‘Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia’ vibes with her dungarees.

Eva and Anita
Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

Read what happened on the date – well, I say ‘happened’ – and then return here for a few choice cuts of witty critique or whatever.

Eva on Anita | Anita on Eva

What were you hoping for?
A petite brunette, and a fun evening.
First impressions?
A petite brunette.

LOL. Well done.

What were you hoping for?
A fun first post-lockdown date that would be funny-awkward and not just awkward.

Funny-awkward. Underrated, but it’s been responsible for much of Hugh Grant’s career, and without Hugh Grant, we wouldn’t have Elizabeth Hurley (she sends Elton John and David Furnish round with baseball bats if you call her ‘Liz’) and without Elizabeth Hurley we wouldn’t have her Instagram account, and also, but less culturally significant, the first Austin Powers movie. It’s testament to Elizabeth’s influence that literally every time I see a pair of white jeans, I think of her.

First impressions?
Spotted her on the top deck in a lovely blue sweater, and she smiled.

Top deck? Nope, they’re not on a double-decker bus eating a microwaveable Rustler’s quarter pounder between them – their date is on a barge. A barge which serves, mainly, cheese. Hmmm, some of my favourite things here, being suspended over dirty water on a fortified shoebox, with a menu made up mainly of solidified udder squirtings (I don’t eat much cheese). But each to their own and I’m sure it was hopelessly romantic to be sitting in the open air in Little Venice while people ambled past, gawking at you while they ate their Nakd nutrition bars and adjusted the strapping on their rucksacks.

What did you talk about?
Coming out, our fave Buddhist centres, cheese, books, whether we enjoyed school, our degrees, our mutual love of the sea, and both being from south-east London.
Sexuality, canal cycling, her Falmouth surfing life and, of course, the awkwardness of posing for a photo with an imaginary date (they superimpose you together).

Coming out/sexuality – ✅. The good thing, I suppose, about being on a date with someone else from the LGTBQ community is that at last you will always have one subject in common. Gayness itself isn’t such a big talking point nowadays, but we all have our little coming out tales to scare our fellow scouts around the campfire.

Our fave Buddhist centres – they say the singles and albums charts are dead; maybe we should count down the most popular Buddhist centres instead?

Whether we enjoyed school – We live in more enlightened times – in some ways more than others – and these women are, comparatively, young so maybe they… did? I don’t know. I always find it wild (and heartwarming might I add) when I meet gay or bi or trans people who said school was absolutely fine, because the ’80s and ’90s just were not like that at all. Of course now that wider society demands that people outwardly act like they can just about stand gay people, much of that loathing has transferred – rather too smoothly, I feel – onto being nasty about, or to, trans or non-binary people. Perhaps as a gay person it might be tempting to rest on your laurels, or wipe your brow and think ‘Phew’, but bigotry is bigotry and we can’t pull the ladder up after ourselves. If you think this has nothing to do with you, you’re wrong. They’ll get back to you eventually.

The awkwardness of posing for a photo with an imaginary date (they superimpose you together) – WE KNOW, but you’re not supposed to actually SAY it. Remember: nobody likes to see how the sausage is made.

Any awkward moments?
Not really. Except I chose for us to sit on the scenic and romantic top deck of the canal boat restaurant, but didn’t know about the very limited food menu up there, so we ordered six blocks of cheese for dinner (which was incredible, to be fair). I also said, “I’ll have a nipple of that one” instead of “nibble”.
The waiter asked if we’d like to see the menu for the main restaurant but also said that we couldn’t order any of it.

Be right back, just trying to shoehorn this into the latest draft of my next book. I imagine there are logistical issues with offering a ‘full menu’ on the top deck of the barge, but isn’t it just SO London to give with one hand and take with the other. ‘Yeah, if you want a nice view, I’m afraid the only things available on the menu are Cheestrings and half a Boursin, served to you on a scratched tea tray commemorating the Royal Wedding. No, Anne’s, I’m afraid.’

Good table manners?
Very good, considering I started using my last cracker as a cheese spoon.
Definitely. I haven’t seen a cracker made into a fork before.

When is a spoon not a spoon? When it’s a fork! Ooh this feels like a metaphor for the whole evening. Perhaps they should have settled on ‘spork’ and had done with it.

Best thing about Anita?
Her laugh.

I hope it wasn’t a sexy giggle or a polite titter, but a really raucous, head-back screech that sounded like ten jumbo jets landing on an air horn factory.

Best thing about Eva?
Good vibes. Easy to get on with. Looked great against pink skies.

Good vibes and pink skies. I think Anita has missed her calling as a lyricist for Girls Aloud.

Describe Anita in three words
Kind, smart, giggly.

KIND, like ’80s Ribena really wasn’t to your teeth.
SMART, like a mannequin in Moss Bros window.
GIGGLY, like… oh it was a giggle. Shame. Oh well. So, GIGGLY, like, uh, Barbara Windsor (RIP) carrying two huge jellies (complete with two blobs of cream and a glacé cheery on top) through from the kitchen.

Describe Eva in three words
Anti-cake pickler.

I like people to have fun with their answers, of course, but there are also rules. Not only was Anita’s ‘first impressions’ answer earlier on merely a statement of her exact ocular experience as she stepped onto the barge, and not a first impression at all, now she’s messing with the three words. I love hyphens a great deal, but I don’t want to see them here. I’m afraid we must move on.

What do you think she made of you?
Hopefully, cool and fun.

HOPEFULLY, like a… oh no, hang on, wrong bit. Cool and fun. Good. Same. I wonder what the world would be like if we all asked ourselves this question after we ended an encounter or interaction with someone. A first date, a business meeting, popping into the Sainsbury’s Local for a Diet Coke Sublime Lime and a yellow-stickered prefaced sandwich, dogging in a pub car park. What do you think they made of you? Sounds like the perfect way to spiral into anxiety, but also a chance to reflect on what we are really like. We should definitely do it after replying to someone’s tweets, or maybe even leaving a comment under a blog, or a news article. How does this make me look? Am I sure about this? Whatever will they think of me? It won’t prevent sociopaths explaining your jokes back to you or making a comment on your personal appearance, of course, but it might trickle down eventually.

What do you think she made of you?
Hopefully, not a terrible first date. It was a really good evening. She thought I’d be extremely short, so I hope 5ft 3in wasn’t a major letdown.

I wonder why she thought she’d be extremely short. Is Anita a smaller person’s name, generally? I suppose the ‘ita’ of ‘Anita’ suggests she might be a more diminutive version of a larger, sturdier ‘An’.

If it weren’t for social distancing, would you have kissed?
The opportunity did not arise.

YES BUT WOULD YOU HAVE

Lucille Bluth winking

If it weren’t for social distancing, would you have kissed?
We shall never know.

GOB BLUTH from Arrested Development SAYS OH COME ON

IT’S HYPOTHETICAL. WOULD YOU OR NOT? DO YOU NOT SEE HOW THIS WORKS?!

(I’m guessing no, from both. Be like Zammo guys, when someone asks you a question: just say no.)

Marks out of 10?
10.
10.

Well, never let it be said that the LGBTQ crew can’t turn nothing into something, or always look on the bright side. A snog-free date on a wobbly boat on AN algae-ridden stretch of the canal, laden with cheese and nothing but cheese = 20 points. A full 20. Imagine taking these two to a roof terrace for a shared charcuterie platter and wet, cava-tinged snogging – it would blow their minds.

Anyway, well done on being very polite about it all.

Would you meet again?
We’ve exchanged numbers, and I’d love to hang out again as friends.
Sure, as friends I think.

julianne moore closes a door


If you enjoyed this, I mean, thanks I guess for having such a low bar of amusement  The blog is free and will remain so. I support myself by writing funny-ish novels, which you can buy here or other places, or you can buy me a (virtual) coffee here.

About the review and the daters: 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, they seem very nice, so please be kind to them in comments, replies, and generally on social media. I will not approve nasty below-the-line comments and will report any abusive tweets. If you reply to my tweets about the date, please don’t embarrass yourself or assume I agree with you. 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. And tell me: did you actually enjoy school? I really hope you did!

Eva and Anita ate at The Cheese Barge, Paddington, London W2.

Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com

5 Comments

  1. ‘The Cheese Barge’ sounds like something Alan Partridge would come up with if asked for restaurant ‘concepts’. I like cheese, but I don’t think I’d go out to eat it – good cheese is my definition of ‘lazy Saturday lunch’, not something for a date. At least these two had a nice enough time. Free cheese and a new friend sounds like time well spent.

  2. I was curious about the cheese so I looked at The Cheese Barge’s website; however, instead of finding any sort of menu (top deck or otherwise) I ended up on a page inviting me to book a course of become a Level One Associate of the Academy of Cheese.

  3. As I woman I am actually truly cross at the Blind Date editor for today’s date. She would never have done that to a man.

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