Impeccable Table Manners

Henry and Chloe

According to a long-forgotten duet between Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera, ‘nobody wants to be lonely’. I dare say Ricky and Christina may not have been aware of the joy of dropping £9.99 on an ‘any pizza, any size’ deal in Domino’s and tanking the lot, solo, in front of a C-list Netflix comedy, nor had they fired off an email to the Guardan’s in-house cupids and demanded a free dinner at a semi-swanky ‘eatery’. If they had, perhaps they might have bene willing to give loneliness another go.

This week we have Henry, 24, according to my sheet, and 30-year-old Chloe. Henry, named after ONE of the eight kings by that name – fingers crossed it wasn’t the syphilitic wife-killer, eh? – is a consultant and semi-professional poker player (I assume not at the same time, unless Deloitte & Touche have installed a casino behind the staff snacketeria) and Chloe is a doctor. Look, at least they don’t work in PR.

Here they are:

Read the Guardian’s version of events and then let’s reconvene to see if we can, somehow, make things more exciting!

Henry on ChloeChloe on Henry

What were you hoping for?
Exhilarating beauty and memorable energy.

I must say, I like the surge in popularity for using the word ‘energy’ in this way. Up until a few years ago, it would only have been yoga instructors, THC dealers, and blond trustafarians who kept crystals in their glove compartment who would use ‘energy’ like this, and to those not keeping up to date with linguistic trends it must sound like the rest of the world is in a Duracell commercial. But I like it when language evolves. It can be hard to see words and expressions you love fade into obsolescence but there is no need for your mind to follow them there.

What were you hoping for?
Laughter and attraction in equal measures.

A deconstructed ‘we want plates‘ kind of Blind Date, perhaps, with laughter in a conical flask, attraction served in a beechwood goblet, and a side order of ‘spark’, which comes as a greasy smear on a reclaimed dustbin lid.

First impressions?
Bingo.

BINGO. Love this as an expression too, but… do people still say it? Henry is three grandmothers standing on each other’s shoulders beneath a taupe rain-mac, en route to the local Mecca Bingo.

First impressions?
Intimidation. He was reading Ovid.

Meryl Streep looking pensive

Sorry, but I had to google. A lot of the space in my brain is taken up by Eldorado storylines, the lyrics of Rachel Stevens album tracks and Pauline Mole quotes. Poor Ovid got evicted long ago. Anyway well done everyone on being very clever.

What did you talk about?
Beloved news outlet the Guardian, public schools, wine (we know nothing), the rest of the clientele, energy, olive farms, A&E, Martin Amis.
Nationality envy, climate doom, energy, expat life, poker, cougar logistics, what was free on the menu.

Olive Farms would be a good drag name.
So would Martine Aimless.
Energy gets another mention and is a double ✅✅. Is Henry a car battery on his mother’s side?
A&E, the Goldfrapp track I presume oh no hang on Chloe is a doctor.
Nationality envy/expat life – I am sensing an Australian may be in the vicinity?
Cougar logistics – a six-year age gap may not seem much, but if one of you is reading Ovid and the other one struggles to follow a 15-second segment on Love Island, it may as well be six millennia.
What was free on the menu – I’m always amazed by how much of a grift the Blind Daters think they’re pulling off. Hello guys you literally agreed to be in a magazine in a national paper, waived the right to edit your words and don’t even get to choose the pictures – you are not the con artist, you’re the mark,

Any awkward moments?
I told the waiter that he had ruined salad for ever, since the one he gave me was so good. He thought I was just accusing him of ruining the salad.

Jose Mourinho revving headphones in disgust

Forrest Gump’s ‘momma’ was wrong when she said life was like a box of chocolates. It would appear life is actually a deleted scene from an episode of Frasier.

Any awkward moments?
My disbelief when I realised that the Guardian had set me up with a 24-year-old.

It’s not like he turned up in a school uniform and asked if you needed a spare battery for your hearing aid, Chloe.

Good table manners?
We were both clumsy, but the only person to spill a whole glass – sherry – was me.
I was pleased he is as clumsy as me. I think we spilt more wine than we drank.

The Earth is dying, please do not waste its natural resources. GOD.

A man drinking wine

Although this exchange is kind of cute.

Best thing about Chloe?
Tall, funny, attracted to me.

The best thing about Chloe is that she is tall? Okay. The best thing. Perhaps Henry has been looking for someone tall enough to fetch down the Cointreau from the top shelf of the local off licence, I don’t know.

‘Funny’ and ‘attracted to me’, however, are very good things to say and this is great and despite their disrespect for wine and the fact they talked about far too many topics – seriously I refuse to believe they did anything other than shout tweets at each other – this is looking very encouraging and what could possibly go wrong?

Best thing about Henry?
He is generous with his laughter, which is louder than mine.

I think this is a very nice thing to say but imagine you were at the next table, or even three tables away, and trying to have a lovely quiet resentful argument with your partner, or perhaps read a PowerPoint presentation down the phone to someone (we all have our kinks) and these two strangers were dashing wine everywhere and laughing like hyenas? Horrible! I’ll wager that sinister, wispy-bearded French dude who hovers around the First Dates restaurant like a ghost who carries NDAs in his back pockets and looks like he wears speedos to funerals wouldn’t put up with that.

Would you introduce her to your friends?
She has already met the waiter.
Yes. I know he would hold his own.

It’s like they were knitted by a Radio 4 listener and sent into the BBC and now have their own ‘digital-only’ sitcom.

Describe Chloe in three words?
Spicy healthcare professional.

Again, we are watching language evolve here, so for anyone over… oh, say, 45 (I am 44 and still ‘young’ hahahahaha… sigh), who still says ‘cheeky Nando’s’ without a tinge of irony, spicy here does not mean what you think it does. Pick your favourite reinterpretation here.

Anyway, in a word, this is exciting.

Describe Henry in three words?
Confident, charming, charismatic.

Three Cs.

Confident, like Gwyneth Paltrow adding a nought or two onto the end of the price of a jade face-roller on Goop, knowing it will sell out in seconds.
Charming, like the host of a dinner party who has yet to work out it was you who brought a) Liebfraumilch and b) dog poo in, on their shoe.
Charismatic, like the man who called you and somehow managed to get you to tell him your PIN (which he called a PIN number, which blindsided you because you wanted to correct him but felt unable to as he sounded so nice and… charismatic)

What do you think she made of you?
Young gun.

Leo di Caprio thinking 'okay sure'

Henry you are SERIOUSLY Boris Johnson’s dad after spending two weeks straight face-down in a huge vat of Crème de la Mer.

Unless this is a direct quote from Chloe, of course.

What do you think he made of you?
According to his follow-up text, “very attractive and an excellent kisser”.

Dr Who saying 'spoilers'

(However: Yay!!)

And… did you kiss?
Enthusiastically.
No comment.

Cher in Clueless being coy

Scores, then. Seems to have gone well. Kissing. ‘Banter.’ Lots of ‘energy’. We’re heading for 20, right?

Marks out of 10?
10.
9.

Sharon from EastEnders saying wtf did you just say

Sorry, hang on, some kind of technical error. Let’s check again.

Marks out of 10?
10.
9.

Ben Mitchell smashing up a room

It is worth remembering that we cannot live our lives vicariously through two photogenic strangers and also that Chloe’s 9 is fair enough because, let’s face it, we all need somewhere to go. If you give a 10 on the first date, you’re saying it can never get better. This is Chloe saying that next time, don’t spill the sherry, and please a pop a quick Airwaves before you head in for the snog, it’s only polite.

Would you meet again?
I’m game for anything.
We have exchanged numbers, but I think likely only to meet for book club.

Perhaps something by Ovid! Wasn’t Hollywood Wives one of his? Don’t play it too cool for too long, though, you two.

And with that, I’m out.

Angie Watts pouring a large gin


My blog and my kisses are free, but… if you liked this, you can make a contribution on Ko-fi with no subscription, obligation, or procrastination.

My second novel THE MAGNIFICENT SONS is out May 28 and available to preorder. Please do so, as it makes a huge difference to book charts and algorithms and all sorts of stuff. I will be revealing the cover on WEDNESDAY on my social channels. This is exciting for me, please let me live.

Otherwise, share the blog far and wide so people will commission me or send me face cream.


About the review and the daters: The comments I make are based on the answers given by the participants. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits answers to make the column work better on the page. Most of the things I say are merely riffing on the answers given and not judgements about the daters themselves, so please be kind to them in comments or replies. Please do not tweet horrible things about them. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story; I’ll happily publish whatever you say. Henry, I will need to see your birth certificate.

Chloe and Henry ate at Quo Vadis London W1. Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com. If you’re looking to meet someone like‑minded, visit soulmates.theguardian.com

13 Comments

  1. Thanks for another fun review! I’m confused by Chloe’s book club comment at the end. When I read that I assumed she’s not actually that into him. But you think that’s being too literal – that she’s just being a bit cautious?

    1. I, too, am confused. If I had to guess, I’d say she’s doing this idiotic thing that straight women do where they will simply not go out with a man younger than them, regardless of compatibility or attraction.

      1. I agree with you, Childfree African. I think that’s it (many straight men do the opposite – never even so much as consider a woman a year younger than them, the same age or a single year older). Or she’s trying to play it cool.

  2. I wasn’t there and I don’t know the principals so I’m not commenting on these individuals specifically, but I can imagine that there could conceivably be quite a large life experience/attitude/values gap between a thirty-year-old doctor and a twenty-four-year old semi-pro poker player which might prompt one to say ‘he was great fun, but not what I’m looking for in a partner.’ Equally there might be no such gap.

    I do know that, as a man in my early thirties, I’d be unlikely to consider a woman of 24 a potential romantic partner and would be very surprised indeed if a woman of that age expressed interest in me rather than pitying me for my attachment to the original meaning of the word ‘spicy’. The thought ‘she’s younger than your youngest sister’ would be an ever-present niggle and I’d feel like a creep. Maybe Chloe feels the same way.

    1. Yes, more than likely. My reviews are quick, first reactions. I try now not to speculate too much on why people may not want to see each other again – I just go in what they’ve said in the date.

      1. And very funny first reactions, they are too, Justin. At the moment I can’t spare anything for the retiring collection, but when I can, I’ll chip in. Thanks for all the amusement on dull winter days.

    2. My now wife was 24 when we first met and I was 40. We’ve been together 12 years, married for 3.
      She already had a wealth of life experiences which were very different to mine and we have had a wonderful time introducing each other to those things and sharing them. We have both done things that we wouldn’t have dreamed of doing if it wasn’t for the other. Sometimes scary, always exhilarating.
      Don’t dismiss an age gap, it might be the making of you.

      1. Yes, but you acted exactly as is standard for a straight man. All my mum’s friends’ husbands and my own dad left their respective first wives in the mid 40s for a woman in her early 20s… The interesting (as in: not standard and normalised in society through age gaps between actors in films etc) case would be you being 24 and your wife being 40.

        1. Just to clear things up I didn’t end a relationship to be with my wife and don’t understand why you would assume I had. My first wife was older than myself 🤷‍♂️ She’s now married to someone older.
          My comment was purely to say that no matter what the age gap no matter what the gender then go for it. Who cares what anyone else thinks

          1. My apologies, Pedro! I was not implying that you, Pedro, left your first wife to be with your current wife. Sorry if it came across that way. I was just saying that an age gap in which the man is older than the woman, with the woman ideally being in her early 20s as that is what straight men of any age deem most attractive (source: OKCupid’s big data on dating blog) isn’t outside of the norm – it is the heteronormative norm. I was saying that your current marriage and the age gap in it, is in that norm. But the opposite (Henry and Chloe or you and your first wife) are against that norm. That’s what I’m saying. Regarding “who cares what anyone else thinks”: as a disabled bi woman in her late 30s, I find analysing societal attitudes very interesting. I’ve been told all bi women are promiscuous and into threesomes, that I’m way too old (he was one and a half years younger) and that my disability makes me unlovable. There’s a difference between analysing societal norms, attitudes and messages on dating and doing what they dictate. 😉 I was trying to do the former. If you’re saying: Chloe should free herself from that – yup, you and me agree there!

  3. Could the book club comment be a lovely private joke indicating some level of camaraderie, fun and naughty conspiracy? We may not know what “book club” means to them and it might be very different to our understanding….. And absolutely you can have a blast on a date- have a snog or go the whole hog- and still want to be friends afterwards- there’s no rules or fixed ways to be. Relationships are complicated and messy. At the very least it’s always about consent, listening and respecting your own and each other’s choices- you can’t go far wrong if you do that.

    1. I tend not to go too in-depth with the analysis otherwise it would take me hours. So instead, I write quick reactions based on taking their responses at face value.

Leave a Reply to TJH Cancel reply

%d bloggers like this: