August! The cigarette-end of summer! Last chance to find a regular ride before magazines start banging on about cuffing season and making you feel like a hideous walrus for still being single! Brilliant.
Today stepping up for the scrutiny of the nation in what fans of initials like to call the GBD are Jayne, 57, a costume designer, and Mark, a 55-year-old IT manager. It’s not often the worlds of IT and theatre collide in the public eye, apart from terrible ticketing systems that collapse under the weight of eager revellers trying to book an end row seat for Jersey Boys. Will they make a strong connection today or will the system crash?
Read the full account on the Guardian website then return here for a selection of barbs, critiques, tired jokes, and memes of Aunt Sarah from Derry Girls.
Jayne on Mark | Mark on Jayne
What were you hoping for?
To have an experience outside my comfort zone, which it was.
Most people jump out of a plane or enter a talent contest at a Haven holiday camp to experience something out of their comfort zone but I guess dinner with a random can be just as nerve-wracking.
What were you hoping for?
A fun and happy night out with some nice food.
I looked ahead and saw tofu mentioned so bonne chance with that, Mark.
What did you talk about?
Van conversions. Parenting. Veganism v plant-based diets.
Being on the blind date. The amazing restaurant menu. Family. Work. Festivals. Holidays.
Van conversions – Converting a van into something, or converting something into a van? Is Jayne… a Transformer?
Parenting/family ✅ – Well, if you must. Better than house prices, I suppose.
Veganism v plant-based diets – Ooh, is there a difference? I look forward to hearing more about this, never.
Being on the blind date – All the best conversations are live commentaries of exactly what you’re doing at that moment, like Hazel Irvine and Trevor Nelson desperately vamping during all the incomprehensible bits of the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.
Festivals – Can we guess which ones? How about… that Ben & Jerry’s one in Regents Park where you have to queue half an hour to be served falafel out the side of a spray-pained winnebago, or one on a large ‘recreation ground’ of scorched grass in a satellite town that’s like a big hen and stag night, with acts performing including someone who sang backup vocals for Belouis Some, an unidentified Thompson Twin, and half of Runrig.
Good table manners?
Yes – we shared food, which I think was very pleasant.
Any awkward moments?
The conversation showed signs of drying up occasionally, so I leapt in a bit too enthusiastically to save us from the void.
Dried up occasionally? You mean the intricate, fascinating world of van conversions didn’t keep you going through all three courses? NO WAY.
Any awkward moments?
Nothing springs to mind.
‘Well, I like van conversions.’
Best thing about Mark?
He let me have a cube of his tofu.
The best thing?! The highlight of his entire being was that he donated a cube of soya protein* to you? Nothing else? At all? I think I’d rather someone say I had lovely thumbs.
*If this is not what tofu is, please don’t write in to correct me. And I don’t mind tofu actually, in small chunks, in miso or something.
Best thing about Jayne?
She was welcoming and easy to talk with. I felt comfortable the moment we met.
We are basically on a Sliding Doors date, with Jayne as long-haired Gwyneth and Mark as the ‘very of its time 90s crop’ one. And we all know what happened to her.
Would you introduce them to your friends?
No I wouldn’t. He seems quite reserved so I think it would be difficult.
Only the nice ones.
I don’t need to run this one through Google Translate to know this means they both have terrible friends. I would actually quite like to see load of fashion and theatre people having a mix and mingle with the IT crowd. It could be a themed evening, held in a basement – you could restrict access to the toilets except for one fifteen-minute interval, make everyone pour bottles of beer into tiny thimble plastic cups or, glasses of wine into huge pint-sized tumblers, and every half an hour or so, we could turn the lights off and then on again, and have the IT managers do some choreography round a big flipchart –scratching their chin, sitting on your desk, or ignoring a ringing phone.
Describe Mark in three words.
A chip lover.
A – like the grade I knew I would never find inside the cheap white envelope that contained my A-level results.
Chip – like the granite on the shoulder of anyone huffing and puffing behind you because your self-checkout machine has the sensitivity trigger of the funny bone gap in a game of Operation.
Lover – like these two will never be, I think I can confidently say.
Describe Jayne in three words.
Chilled, grounded and upbeat.
Chilled – like a bottle of rosé being drunk by a couple having a much better time two tables away.
Grounded – like your flight to Ibiza.
Upbeat – like an episode of Cracker.
What do you think Mark made of you?
Maybe he thought I was too chatty, just not his type.
Not this. Not the ‘chatty’. Not today. Come on. As regular readers will know, women say this a lot in answer to this question and I’m starting to wonder whether it’s being used diplomatically rather than self-deprecatingly. The stereotype is not that women talk too much – although they are often called upon to fill dead air because men have read somewhere, once, that ‘the strong and silent’ type is preferable to a man who can hold a conversation. The cliché is actually that it’s MEN who are supposed to think that women talk too much. Men are conditioned to believe that any woman managing to get to the end of a sentence without being interrupted is actually hogging the conversation. They did a study on it, and while I can’t be bothered googling the exact figures because this is a blog not a paid feature, it was something like, researchers measured the actual share of conversation between men and women, like how much they talked, and then, after, asked the participants who they thought had talked the most. The men would always say the women, I believe, even if the official measurement was something like the women had spoken for barely 30% of the conversation. So the problem is not, it seems, that women *are* too chatty, or even that they actually think they are, it’s that men have been taught that any woman speaking up is too much, at any level. Like, ever. And we are ALL paying service to this patriarchal bullshit. So the conversation – ha! – about this has to start with men, I’m afraid.
What do you think Jayne made of you?
You will have to ask her.
Although perhaps this would actually be a good opportunity for you to speak, Marky.
Did you go on somewhere?
No, Jayne had a long journey home and was worried about missing her last train.
If you could change one thing about the evening what would it be?
To have eaten something that day so the cocktail didn’t hit me so hard!
Nothing, it was perfect.
Marks out of 10?
To look at this positively, Mark clearly had a lovely time and Jayne was also there.
If I can be very very serious for a moment, there could be lots of reasons these accounts sound so different and let’s not ignore the possibility, after a very tough two years, that one of the daters might just be glad to be out there on a date again, while the other might be rather disappointed that it wasn’t exactly the experience they’d been hoping for. On any date we go on, it is never just about the exact time we spend on the date, however well or badly it goes. It’s about everything that comes before it too – our life experiences, our expectations, our outlook on life, our personalities, all kinds of stuff. We bring our personal histories, baggage, unfulfilled dreams to everything we do, especially as we get older.
Let’s not judge either of them too harshly for not being on the same page tonight – when you think about, it the probabilities are always going to be prohibitive.
Would you meet again?
Definitely not – no offence, Mark. He’s a nice guy but we were not a match.
Sure, as friends – but I suspect the distance between our homes might be a blocker.
I can’t decide how I feel about someone employing a ‘no offence’ – the textual bird-flipping alternative favoured by the internet – in the GBD. There was sugar on hand to coat this with but Jayne said a firm ‘no thanks’. And as for Mark… oh sweet summer child, yes, it’s the distance that’s keeping you apart.
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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. I was really disappointed and kind of horrified tbh about the level of vitriol after the last Blind Date I reviewed. I’m not here for that. And, look, van conversions – fine, tell me more. I’m a van conversion convert.