Impeccable Table Manners

Gemma and Dean


The Guardian Blind Date column has felt recently like a parade of Tobys and Jessicas jostling for elbow room on the 07:59 from Putney into Waterloo – all “I was hoping for a pleasant evening” this and “oh he knew nothing about wine” that but no substance.

It’s been fun ripping into them but even Alexis Carrington had a day off from sinking her ex’s oil tankers so today’s is a welcome relief.

Today we have Gemma, 29, a healthcare manager (no idea) and Dean, 28, a public affairs manager (again, not a clue). Yes, they sound like an unmarked trapdoor in LinkedIn but don’t worry – these two know they’re going in a magazine and they’re not afraid to show it.

Read what happened on the date before I start sprinkling petrol everywhere and arranging flimsy alibis.

Gemma | Dean
What were you hoping for?
I had low expectations. I was preparing for it to be boring.

This is a brilliant answer. This is what it feels like to go on a date. You imagine champagne, hot confessions and a Hollywood ending but really in your heart you know that the evening is going to end with you snapping the round bit off the end of your cocktail stirrer in sheer boredom.

What were you hoping for?
Beyoncé, telling me it wasn’t working out with Jay Z.

Let’s be real. Straight, gay, bi, curious, not really sure, frigid, rampant, virginal – it doesn’t matter. We are all secretly hoping Beyoncé is going to turn up on a date and tell us she wants a fresh start.

What did you talk about?
Politics, terrorism, feminism, family. Dean is like a friendly Jeremy Paxman – I disclosed more than I intended!

“We printed out 100 pages from Comment Is Free and pretended we were having a rap battle in the reader comments underneath.” Just kidding – I love these guys.

Our mad families. Gemma’s volunteer work abroad.

I’m not really into in-depth family chat on a first date.
Like the films they show in arthouse cinemas at 10.30 in the morning, families are weird and boring and hard to understand.

But if you’ve got a good story, you’ve got a good story. Dean again:

Any awkward moments?
I didn’t fall over. Always a plus.

The art of not falling over on a date is underrated. On one of the first dates I ever went on, my date tripped up and dropped a bike on me. The scar outlasted our relationship – a whirlwind tour through everything you can possibly hate about a human in a tornado-filled two months.

Table manners! Is this where my golden couple lose my approval?!

Good table manners?
Dean is a natural gent.

This is a good answer, but I do hate being called a “gent”. Ugh. “Evening, gents” is what borderline homophobic but desperate to be right-on waiters say to me and my boyfriend when we walk into gastropubs. Gents are toilets, not people.

Good table manners?

I know an “impeccable” when I see one Dean; don’t think your iPhone’s thesaurus can catch me out.

Best thing about Dean?
His great questioning manner, from, “What do you like for breakfast?” to, “Who did you vote for?”

Although you should do it in a more covert way than our wannabe Dimbleby, you should, if possible, try to find out your date’s favoured breakfast. There’s a whole code and you can pretty much map your entire future based on whether your suitor likes bagels or bran flakes.

I’ll go into more detail one day but basically anyone who makes poached eggs on a weekday will probably be a show off at parties and may beat you in secret.

Best thing about Gemma?
Her brain. Straight up, this is one erudite individual.

You can tell these answers are typed in an email because nobody says the word “erudite” out loud, apart from Brian Sewell and that guy at work who was off sick the other day and saw it on Countdown. And don’t be afraid to say someone is good-looking, Dean – it doesn’t make you a monster.

Would you introduce her to your friends?
To quote a great man, “Hell yes.”

Look this is cheesy but at least he’s not face-saving and trying to look cool because man.

Did you go on somewhere?
To the club downstairs. The music was right up my street but I didn’t feel I could crack out my wild dance moves yet.

They went clubbing! So…

And… did you kiss?
A lady never tells.

Get out. I don’t need the Enigma code machine to crack this one. That’s a yes. Dean?


Haha. Yay! Finally two normal people who go to a club, get drunk and snog. Readers, we are home.

The “change one thing” answers are boring so let’s not kill the buzz and order another martini and slink to the scores.

We agreed to give at least 7, but I had a good time, so 8.5.

Pre-agreed scores that admit to being pre-agreed scores but then pretend they are NOT pre-agreed scores are my new jam and I don’t care how hugely set-up this is.

Would you meet again?
He has my number – let’s see.

Cautious. Hopeful. Optimistic. Exactly the way I feel before I read this column. Today was a good day.

Would you meet again?
Yes. Although if she says no, please change my answer.

This is exactly what I’d say.

They were funny, they weren’t too try-hard and they bagged off with each other in a club.

It feels like the end of days in a way, but the burning fires of hell make such pretty colours.

I enjoyed the respite, but next week I want the two usual arseholes in bad clothes, who’ve never met hair conditioner and have the social skills of a broken toilet in a Parisian snack bar.

Don’t let me down.

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: Frantzesco Kangaris; James Drew Turner, both for the Guardian

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