Impeccable Table Manners

Grace and Richard


It has been a fraught few weeks for this blog. Week after week, an array of thundering arseholes, or people who should know better, or those who should have been meaner, or kinder, or less stupid or whatever. And now, as if, thinking of the blood pressure of anyone who reads the Guardian’s various dating columns, we have a couple who, on first glance, don’t seem like two people aiming to be The World’s Worst. Read the date before I go in for the thrill.

Ages and professions are back this week – Grace is 29 and an actor, while Richard is 30 and a TV development producer. Job titles, eh? Sound OK in the office, on business cards, as they trip off your tongue at awful networking events as you cradle a plastic flute of flat fizz. Written down, in a magazine, they sound made up or plain wanky. I’d have just gone for “works in TV” and be done with it, but this is Richard’s life, not mine.

Here’s Grace:

grace_lovely looking

“Lovely looking.” I like this. Even though I am a fully paid-up member of the gay community – whatever that may be – there is no greater compliment than being told you are “lovely looking” by a woman. Gay men will just say it to me because they want something – it used to be get into my knickers, but now it’s usually freelance work  – whereas women are just saying because, hopefully, they think it’s true.

Anyway, Grace’s “lovely looking” (note the “lovely” and not just bog-standard old “good”, thus a much bigger compliment) sets the tone for the rest of the date, so if you’re seeking venom, you may be in for disappointment.

Richard now:

richard_first impressions

This is a bit of a safe, tame response, but I suppose it’s better than saying: “Cracking tits. Passable teeth.”

The pair talked about travel (one of my least exciting date conversation topics ever, I have to admit) among other things and Grace says “we had loads in common”. Milliners, stand by. Further evidence of hearts a-flutter from Grace here:


Gosh. Let’s see if their table manners’ answers can wrench them from their dreamlike state. Come on, Grace, help a brother out; my claws need a workout.

grace_table manners

I was a bit startled by this, so had a glance at where the pair were sent by the Guardian. They went to Busaba Eathai, possibly one of the most overrated places to eat on Earth. It’s Wagamama if it were run by Hyacinth Bucket.

How come all the horrors they have in this column get to go to nice places, while two very pleasant people like Grace and Richard have to settle for death by rubbery thai calamari and joss sticks? I briefly dated a man who would take me there like he were showing Mowgli a knife and fork for the first time.

Richard, go:

richard_table manners

Hmmm. I don’t suppose you can be anything else at Busaba. I mean, they automatically bring you a fork with your noodles, as well as chopsticks – you don’t even get to look like a pleb for asking. I never used chopsticks on a date; ain’t nobody going to want to bonk you once they’ve seen you grapple with a giant prawn and some glass noodles.

grace_thought of you

I wonder what this means. That he agreed with everything she said? I suppose it’s a compliment because… well, I don’t know. Is it?

richard_thought of you

You can’t really “bumble” until you’re pushing 70, although many of the men I met on Guardian Soulmates gave a good go of it. The Englishman bit suggests Grace might not be English? No idea. Basically, Richard’s got his ‘1994 Hugh Grant’ groove on and it appears to be working a treat.

And, Richard, don’t ever think that mixing champagne and cocktails is a negative – it’s way cooler and manlier than building an entire row of houses with your bare hands before breakfast.

Richard uses his three words to describe Grace as a “warm, thoughtful pixie” (short?) and Grace plumps for “gentlemanly, fun, interesting”. See? Hugh Grant 1994 – works like a charm.

Scoring is “sex imminent” high – nines both – and the next meeting is already planned. They kissed (yay!) and Richard asserts their next date will be a “sober coffee”. £10 says that turns into an espresso martini and the kisses get longer and the first of this particular Hugh Grant’s weddings won’t be far away.

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

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