harry is blond and is laughing, he's wearing glasses, a paisley shirt, a blazer, burgundy trousers and what look like some suede Grenson boots. Jessie has brown curly hair and is wearing a summer dress and very cool black boots
Photo: Graeme Robertson/Sarah Lee/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Harry and Jessie

It’s unfortunate that as soon as the calendar hits 1 September, our brains decide it’s autumn and we start to yearn for our hats and scarves and clompy seasonal shoes we bought in the sale. The planet we live on doesn’t play by our rules, which is why it’s 30º outside and, when not working, I have been rendered immobile all week, slumped in my garden furniture rolling cans of Coke across my torso trying to cool down. We can claim summer is over all we want, Earth is not picking up our calls. Anyway, I thought we might need a pick-me-up, so I’m taking a break from my break and am pumped and ready to review a Blind Date – well, until the heat gets too much for me. Let’s see how far down the list I make it.

Here are Harry, 24, and Jessie, 23, both doctors, and both still at school when I started reviewing these dates. AWESOME I’ll just be over here in my crypt, doc carry on.

harry is blond and is laughing, he's wearing glasses, a paisley shirt, a blazer, burgundy trousers and what look like some suede Grenson boots. Jessie has brown curly hair and is wearing a summer dress and very cool black boots
Photo: Graeme Robertson/Sarah Lee/The Guardian

These are the best outfits I’ve seen in ages. Top marks to each of them!

Read their full account of the date, including the all-important mid-date selfie, in the Guardian, before returning here for annotations.

Harry on Jessie | Jessie on Harry
What were you hoping for?
Free-flowing conversation and laughter.

Free-flowing, like the sewage cascading onto our beaches! Little bit of politics for you there!

What were you hoping for?
A Keanu Reeves clone genetically engineered to be in his mid-20s who would sweep me off my feet.

Hmmm, close.

harry is blond and is laughing, he's wearing glasses, a paisley shirt, a blazer, burgundy trousers and what look like some suede Grenson boots – he doesn't look much like Keanu

I have *never* understood the Keanu thing. He seems like a stand-up guy but even living through his heyday when the TV Hits would be sopping wet and dribbling away on the newsagent shelf with pictures of Keanu in a variety of linen shirts and tight Ts, he did nothing for me. Seems even stranger that someone who wasn’t even born then would like him, but I suppose there were plenty of people in the 80s and 90s wanging on about James Dean, and he was dead, which is even more accessible. Unless you’re [REDACTED].

Anyway, I think Harry is MUCH more interesting than Keanu.

What did you talk about?
Inevitably, the tribulations of being a junior doctor. Tate Modern. Cookery.
Houseplants. Moving to London. Ordering non-perishable pantry items. Classification of psychiatric conditions based on philosophical parameters …

Zero matches conversation-wise, not that it matters, really, as long as you’re talking.

The tribulations of being a junior doctor. If everything I’ve learned about being a doctor from books and TV is true, even if they see each other again, get married, and have children, this first date is probably the last time Harry and Jessie will spend longer than three hours in the same room. Unless they work at the same hospital.

Tate Modern. Actually quite depressing in there, isn’t it? All that concrete. Even if it is the sturdy, non-bubbly kind. I’ve been a couple of times this year with friends and saw some nice things but sheesh, as impressive and imposing as it is, that is not the kind of building to invoke wry smiles and carefree laughter. First thing I wanted to do after loitering in its soulless communal areas a while was buy a packet of Skittles and pour them over my eyes, just to see some COLOUR. I know it’s modern art so it’s not supposed to be chintzy and gaudy, but does it have to look like a hollowed-out Berlin piss club?

Houseplants. I have an on-off relationship with murdering my houseplants. When nobody ever tells you is that sometimes, on some random day, they just decide enough is enough. A succulent I’d had for years was furious when we moved flats and spent a good year looking like the aliens in Cocoon when the energy had been sapped from them, before dying horribly, suddenly. Yet I’ve still got a poinsettia from Christmas 2022 that has red leaves on it. Go figure.

Classification of psychiatric conditions based on philosophical parameters. Don’t threaten me with a good time. Actually, no, do. Please do.

Ordering non-perishable pantry items. I clear out my non-perishable cupboard once a year. Usually to find most of its contents have indeed perished and inexplicably, did so more than a year ago.

Most awkward moment?
I got lost and so flustered I flung myself on the mercy of an optician’s assistant. I hate being late and was rather pathetic. Thank goodness for opticians.

This is a level of detail I would expect to find a couple of minutes into a routine at a Fringe stand-up show. One of those ones in a 40-seater room two floors down at the Pleasance, accessible only by stepladder and swing rope (turn left at the replica Airstream selling pizzas and ‘shakes’).

Most awkward moment?
I’m a gigantic ball of awkward on legs but nothing particular came up.

A gigantic ball of awkward on legs! Oh same! Everything is awkward, everyone is. Confident people are a myth, except for the ones they grow in labs (Eton and Harrow). Everyone is shitting themselves about something. That’s why people are always throwing booze down their necks, nobody actually enjoys it beyond that first drink. Anyway, as much as it’s an aspirational advantage to be able to stroll into a room and command it immediately, it’s only really useful for teachers or Human Resources managers training checkout staff on new till systems. A bit of awkward is good, really.

Good table manners?
Her meal wasn’t made for graceful eating but a love for food is far more attractive than a refined manner.
I didn’t notice.

I wonder what she ate. Hang on while I go look at the menu.

[short interlude]

Oh God. Oh no. It has to be worst menu for a date ever. Ever! They serve those effing great huge sandwiches – which they are calling ‘baps’ as if they’re charging ‘Tracey’s Lite Bites’ prices and not £11.50 for fish fingers in a roll. A small brioche packed with some kind of animal and far too many garnishes and dressings, and too tall to actually pick up and eat. So you either have to press it all down and send the innards flying all over your plate/table/self or you must try to tackle it with cutlery. Mess! Hands! UGH. I have no qualms about eating a ‘dirty burger’ or whatever with a knife and fork, but I did hear that straight men are inoculated against such desires at birth, so it might cause a problem for them.

And it’s at Coal Drops Yard too, aesthetically pleasing and tasteful, but ultimately anaemic, shopping ‘experience’ that’s popped up in gentrified King’s Cross, so everyone around them will have been wearing boxy T shirts from COS and summer clothes that look like butcher’s aprons.

Describe Jessie in three words.
Vivacious, loud, joyful.

VIVACIOUS, like your auntie Cheryl after three drinks, on Christmas Eve.
LOUD, like a straight white man on a TV panel show, ten minutes after someone says ‘small boats’
JOYFUL, like someone who enjoys watching an enemy’s unlotioned back start to turn pink while they sunbathe on Clapham Common.

Describe Harry in three words.
Stylish, inspired, perspicacious.

STYLISH, like Christy Turlington sipping Sunny Delight out of a champagne coupe in a ballgown, in a launderette in Stockwell, for a photoshoot for The Face in 1998.
INSPIRED, like the decision to start shoving bits of popcorn onto the chocolate coating of Magnums and filling them with tooth-rotting, gloopy caramel. I mean, wtf? You take double raspberry Magnums out of circulation for this MONSTROSITY?
PERSPICACIOUS, like I had to right-click on this one for a definition. I may be an author but I’m not Susie Dent.

What do you think Jessie made of you?
That I looked good, despite leaving work an hour late and running for the tube. Still, I think it’s hard to dislike paisley.

I like Harry, but I don’t like paisley at all. Too many vibes of Shaggy from (original, ropey) Scooby Doo dressing up for a court appearance. Although this is probably envy on my part – you have to be careful with pattern once you slide past 45. It’s very easy to look like Alfie Moon.

What do you think Harry made of you?
I hope he appreciated that I wore nail polish for him – and had to scrape it off on the 7am bus next morning for work.

Wear it for yourself! Not SOME MAN. But also, it’s none of my business, do what you want. (Doctors are not allowed to wear nail polish or have anything interesting or individual about them at all while on duty.)

And … did you kiss?
A passing motorist suggested we get a room.
Maaaayyyyyyyyyyyyybe …
Rita in Coronation St pulling a funny face as if to say she doesn't believe you

I think it’s more than a maybe, luv.

But YAY. Well done, everyone.

If you could change one thing about the evening what would it be?
I’d order differently. The bread in my ploughman’s was so deliciously crusty that I had to either pause mid-anecdote or try to enunciate around it.

That they managed to find each other sufficiently attractive to kiss after grappling with these hellish sandwiches is remarkable in itself.

Marks out of 10?
Sarah Lancashire looking stony faced in Happy Valley

Oh. Quite low. Wouldn’t you say? Were you not just saying someone shouted “get a room”? Well, the 8 is maybe fine. But the 7? Maybe Jessie still had a bit of fish finger lodged in her molars when they went in for the kill? Or maybe they’re like those people who watch Strictly and become LIVID when someone is scored over a 6 in their first week because “the scores need somewhere to go”. (No they don’t! You are judged on each individual dance every week! Not everything can be a journey or have a narrative!)

Would you meet again?
Sure. I’d give anything a go twice. Except meningitis. That was enough once.

Harry will be appearing at Underbelly Up and Over and Under and Beyond the Pasture (by the Portakabin Toilets on George Square) from 2–23 August 2024 (not the 14th) with his show ‘You Don’t Have to be a Junior Doctor to Work Here, but it Helps’

Would you meet again?
We swapped numbers …

BRILLIANT. May your passion for his paisley and his fondness of your northern brogue carry you for a long time to come – or at least beyond the second date.

Impeccable Table Manners is still taking a break.
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The paperback of my third novel THE FAKE-UP is out now and my entire novelising career kind of depends on people buying it. Crazy, I know. Get it from Amazon, Waterstones, Bookshop.org, Bert’s Books, or indeed anywhere you like.

Something to remember about the review and the daters that I put at the end of every review

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, so please be kind to them in comments, replies, and generally on social media. 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. How much of these ‘baps’ landed down your front?

Harry and Jessie ate ‘baps’ at The Drop Bar, London N1. Fancy a blind date? Email blind-date@theguardian.com


  1. What a wonderful surprise! I was also disappointed by the low scores and had to look up that word. Reading your take feels validating.

  2. As soon as I saw the date headline this morning I was hoping you’d unbreak-your-break for this one, and you didn’t disappoint! Thank you 😊

      1. I have read your articles for years and always found you hilarious, but I can’t remember the last one that didn’t have some kind of ageist comment in it. I know you are joking about yourself, and the odd joke about it here and there is fine, but it is constant now. I am younger than you but find it hard to read these anymore as I am real trying not to buy into negative thinking around ageing. I hope you can see where I am coming from.

        1. Hi Lara. Thanks for reading all these years! Thanks for your feedback re my comments on ageing, too. As you say, the joke is always on me and while this blog is foremost a review of what happens on the dates, it’s also where I express my thoughts and feelings about the world and, in a way, my place in it. Very often it’s a throwaway comment – I’m not sure it’s constant, but I guess I’ve not noticed – and I do, on occasion, also talk about ageing in a positive way. I suppose what I’m saying is my writing is not just for the entertainment of others, it’s an outlet for myself. I’m very grateful to you for reading for so long and I totally understand if the current content isn’t to your taste anymore, and you choose not to read any longer. I’ll take what you’ve said on board.

          1. I’m around your age demographic and find your comments on ageing sometimes funny, sometimes thought provoking but never boring. Thanks for putting it out there. Knowing I’m not alone with these thoughts is not just comforting but down right entertaining and a laugh most times

  3. Your guest spot on your own blog made my morning! This was a good one :-). I also do not understand the scores. Thank you!

  4. They are on the lower side of the early 20s, doctors and have been let out for the evening, why NOT have a massive snog regardless of actual attraction to each other?

  5. Amazing recap. These two seem exhausting, but I’m happy for them. I hope that they do indeed end up in a room, if that’s what they both want.

  6. Hahahha I wrote my review of Harry a bit tipsy and looking at what I emailed the Guardian the next day I worried everyone would think I was a snob with the word perspicacious- it’s just a great word! Wish I’d got the 8 but ah well!
    Thanks for the review, Guyliner! X

    1. Oh, God, sorry, Jessie- I wasn’t meaning to diss you seriously for using it. It is indeed a good-sounding word.

  7. Thanks for the pick-me-up. I hope you enjoyed writing this one-off. I enjoyed it. I’d missed the writing, and the well chosen Corrie-related gifs. And yeah… 7? Hmmmm.

  8. A top notch recap as always!

    Re: this bit “…but I suppose there were plenty of people in the 80s and 90s wanging on about James Dean, and he was dead, which is even more accessible”. I was intrigued/tickled by this Keanu Reeves/James Dean comparison as Keanu played a version of James Dean in the Paula Abdul video for her song “Rush, Rush” in 1991. As you rightly point out, in the 90s people were harking back fondly to the 50s and hence this video was a homage to “Rebel Without a Cause”. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqyIaNWP0T0

  9. Ah I missed your column! I eagerly checked on Saturday hoping it would be the type of date that you might crack and write about but alas, it was obviously too early (being an hour ahead in Cape Town). So pleased I decided to check again on a Monday! A Monday!

    A 7 and an 8. I felt strangely let down.

  10. Thank you. I love that Jessie commented.

    Still can’t understand how a snogging date scored so low…

    Looking forward to your reactions to yesterday’s (16th September) column.

  11. I’m here because I’d been vaguely, sadly thinking we hadn’t heard from you recently, without quite clocking that you were having an actual Break as such. I do hope you’re OK?- while I recognise that you have every right to be doing other things, like writing damn’-good novels, I also adore this blog. So I’m late to this party and probably much too early for the next. (Doesn’t ‘perspicacious’ mean more or less the same as ‘perceptive’?- in which case whoever it was needs to take a lesson from drug names and not assume that more is more when it comes to syllables.)
    Another catalyst was yesterday’s Blind Date, which had me a bit cross with one of the daters. Well, bloody cross, really. I won’t post spoilers, in case you decide to give it a review. All the best, Justin. And, everyone else: DO read ‘The Fake-Up’. It is life-enhancing and agreeably unpredictable.

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