Jayson is a young Black man with a shaved head and wearing a red hoodie. Eleanor is a young white woman with a black T and a cardigan. her hair is scraped back and she is also wearing a necklace.
Composite: Jill Mead/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Jayson and Eleanor

Now that 2024 has woken up, had its first ciggie, and finally chucked the Christmas tree out onto the pavement, let’s delve back into the broken hearts and dashed dreams factory that is the Guardian Blind Date. This week cybersecurity engineer Jayson, 26, meets fundraising and events manager Eleanor, also 26, in one of those small, local restaurants in a loft-conversion/double-basement heavy neighbourhood where main courses are inexplicably £28.

Read the full version of the date (nothing happens, really) on the Guardian website so that they get the clicks and the advertising revenue and then return here to my blissful, ad-free pages where I’ll give their answers several blows to the head with a blunt instrument.

Jayson | Eleanor
First impressions?
A very nice and easygoing person. She was welcoming and a pleasure to talk to.
He was tall and had a really kind face.

The two definitions of ‘first impressions’ here. Jayson’s is an overall, end-of-date first impression, and Eleanor’s is the instant reaction. Which version of a first impression you find more useful can depend. Jayson’s round-up, like he’s just reviewed Toy Story 4 on Letterboxd, is informative, but a bit of a spoiler, in many ways. If the date had been more romantic, perhaps he wouldn’t compliment her as if she was the ‘nice lady on the mobility scooter desk at Asda’. However, there are worst reviews to read about yourself.

Eleanor’s first impression is my preferred one, the first thing that pops into your mind, because there’s generally more opportunity to say something borderline insane. However, Eleanor’s first impression is more akin to what a toddler would say about their teacher on their first day at nursery or wherever it is you send your children when you’ve had enough of them. No idea.

What did you talk about?
Eleanor’s work at a local charity and her passion for fundraising. I was very impressed with how she travelled across Asia on her own at a young age. Travelling. Food. Horror films/TV shows. Family.
Work. Holidays. TV we watched as kids. Jayson’s passion for streetwear. Our shared love of horror films.

Work ✅
TV ✅
Horror films ✅
Travel/holidays

Okay, so they are both very good at remembering what they talked about.

I was very impressed with how she travelled across Asia on her own at a young age – I am impressed too, if she was seven.
Jayson’s passion for streetwear – I think we might have a sneakerhead here! Is that good? I don’t know, I have never collected anything other than enemies and dust.

Most awkward moment?
I didn’t drink any alcohol or eat a full meal. I’d had a very late breakfast and I’m in training – so perhaps that mismatch was a bit awkward.
Me dining solo. He wasn’t hungry because he’d had breakfast at 3pm!
Fred Elliott from Corrie looking perplexed
ITV

Before we go all in on this, from the other answers it seems that Jayson is probably marathon training, which I’m sure we can all agree is very admirable and it might be for charity so… you know.

However, there is ‘very late breakfast’ and… having breakfast at 3pm. I think even a freshly awoken Dracula might consider 3pm a bit late for yoghurt and blueberries. I’m not comfortable speculating about the eating habits of others because this stuff is very personal but a meal you eat at 3pm is lunch, I feel, and a fairly late one at that. I mean, I would even accept ‘brunch’ at a push – but maybe straight men don’t say that? Can they say it? Does it stick in their throats, like ‘sorry’ or ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I’ll leave you to it’?

Did he have bacon and a dippy egg? Coco Pops? Maybe he’d just got up. Working nights? I don’t know, I really don’t.We’ll need Jayson to write in.

I can’t speak for this date because I wasn’t on it, but I never really enjoyed the ‘no, you go ahead, I’m not hungry’ kind of date. In fact, I hated them. Like, why are you here? Is this your kink? To watch a stranger demolish a burrito? It’s no fun having an audience while you tussle with your Singapore noodles, your chewing motion scrutinised, all those minor filthy eating habits you were vaguely aware of suddenly magnified to surround-sound IMAX levels. Did you know you gently lick your lips after every bite? WELL NOW YOU DO.

Good table manners?
He didn’t eat much or drink anything, so I’m unsure about his table manners.

Lucille Bluth winking

Would you introduce Eleanor to your friends?
Yes. She is a funny person with a great personality.

But Jayson seems lovely so perhaps we can forgive him not wanting to eat. I actually lowkey love it – I’m just imaging the histrionics in the kitchen. ‘He doesn’t want ANYTHING?’ 

Describe Eleanor in three words.
Open-minded, family-oriented, positive.

OPEN-MINDED, like someone who’d pop a finger in.
FAMILY-ORIENTED, like someone who’s looked up Granny’s house on Zoopla.
POSITIVE, like your coworker trying to make the best of that post-Christmas coldsore.

What do you think Jayson made of you?
I think he found me rather unserious and wild, especially when I had my third solo spicy margarita.

In her ‘three words’ Eleanor calls Jayson ‘serious’ which I now translate as ‘sober’. Drinking three margaritas isn’t unserious, and it certainly isn’t wild. It’s just drinking as a coping mechanism because the man opposite you hasn’t eaten a thing. And who can blame her. Wild, though?! Quick, somebody take Eleanor to Fire in Vauxhall on a Sunday morning.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
Perhaps I would have had breakfast earlier, so I could have eaten a meal with Eleanor.

Jayson, love, yes, I think that might have been a good idea. This is the one time I will accept food regret as a valid answer to this question.

If you could change one thing about the evening what would it be?
That we could have shared a few small plates and sampled more of the menu.

A food sharer! Maybe Jayson had a lucky escape! Only joking, I feel for Eleanor here. I mean… how can you bond if not over how nice (or horrible) the food is? I bet by the end Eleanor was holding out a breadstick saying, ‘please, for me, please’

Marks out of 10?
7.
7.

Or, as I call it, ‘thanks for coming, bye’

Would you meet again?
Unfortunately, no. We had a great time but I don’t think there was a spark.
I don’t think so. We are very different people, with different priorities in life.

These answers are so unintentionally hilarious, I don’t feel I need to write anything, other than: no shit!

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

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. Jayson, we need to talk. What did you have for breakfast?

Eleanor and Jayson ate at Brooke, London SW4. Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dearest, oldest friend in the world (in time we’ve known each other, not age), Nina. ❤️

33 Comments

  1. Welcome back Justin. This reads like my idea of the worst date I could imagine -yes, yes, within normal social parameters, I’m not talking Nancy Travis covered in blood. I’m very weird about being the only person eating at the table. Don’t mind dining out solo, but that’s because nobody knows me, so I don’t project onto them the idea they care. The other day I felt irritated, when a dog watched me eating a sandwich at a bus stop.

    Yes, the more I think about it, the more unacceptable this feels to me. When I turned up at the place, I wouldn’t have eaten at all that day, to save room for all the marvellous free food. When he revealed this bombshell, I would have probably gone to the loo for a cry, then ordered for two and asked for a doggy bag. Drunk an entire bottle of wine and a flaming margarita. Shoes off, Uber home and sat in my fluffy blanket, watching Prime Suspect, while bitching about him on WhatsApp and eating the whole thing of lukewarm leftovers with a wooden fork. Actually, that seems fine.

    ‘These answers are so unintentionally hilarious, I don’t feel I need to write anything, other than: no shit!’

    Hahaha – indeed.

    1. I’m glad it didn’t hold her back. And there is something so unnerving about a dog or a cat watching you eat, isn’t there?

      1. Thank you – there really is. I think maybe it’s the neediness. In Hove Actually, we also get it with adolescent herring gulls, who shouldn’t even like cheese sandwiches. You want to give their little (massive,) beaks a wobble and tell them to go and catch a fish.

        Yes, well done to Eleanor for holding her nerve and just ‘doing her’. She made a much better date than I would have, in the same scenario.

  2. I was enraged at this week’s blind date – he knew that dinner was happening, he applied for blind date knowing that the date was restaurant and food-based. None of this was sprung on him. Having food before going out on blind date isn’t just madness, it’s rude!
    Eleanor deserves to be matched again to have a proper date. #justiceforeleanor!

    1. I feel of love were ever on the cards no about of abstention from eating would’ve got in its way. But she did well to carry on regardless

      1. I think you’ve hit on it Gina – it’s the apparent inability to cope with forward planning that’s the most stressful element. Since there isn’t much going on in the news at the moment, I’m absolutely behind devoting my energies into #justiceforeleanor

      2. Either he wilfully decided he’d make Eleanor feel uncomfortable by not eating with her, or he’s so self-involved it didn’t occur to him that it would be awkward for her. Whatever, I rather wish she’d poured a Margarita over his smug head a la Insane Housewives of Wherever, and sashayed away as the waiting staff applauded.

        1. Or maybe he has a different values system and didn’t think it would be a problem?

          I agree it’s odd but it doesn’t mean it’s malevolent.

  3. Glad to see you are better now Justin
    As for this date – its only fair that Guardian gets her on another “proper” blind date

    1. I’m sorry you were so sick, Justin, and happy I have a place to share my indignation at the idea of going on a date with someone who has left me on my own with eating and drinking!

      1. Justin – your first sentence had me cracking up. I knew I was in for a great read. Didn’t disappoint, unlike the date. I’m looking forward to reading your next postmortem.

  4. Justin – i’m shocked!

    “maybe straight men don’t say that? Can they say it? Does it stick in their throats, like ‘sorry’ or ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I’ll leave you to it’?”

    Im happy to say all three of those – particularly the last one if it relates to any form of housework / diy.

    I think many folk have a problem with the words “I’ve had a think and I was wrong” – the world would be a better place were it not so.

    Good luck with the new opus.

  5. OMG he didn’t EAT! This is rude rude RUDE.

    I cannot understand why a meal at 3pm means you aren’t hungry at supper time. And he knew he was going out, so why didn’t he just eat lightly then?

    It’s a first date and this is one of the worst impressions you can make on a girl, it’s up there with spending the evening talking about your ex(es).

    I can’t imagine how awful I would feel attempting to eat in front of a food-averse runner who I’ve only just met. Well done her for limiting herself to only 3 margaritas. This goes 200% if the girl isn’t skinny (I am not) – trust me, you always feel like people are judging what and how you eat and feel self-conscious about what you order.

  6. As soon as I read the date, I knew it would be perfect for your dissection, dear GL. Ok, so the lad is “training”, but how weirdly passive aggressive is it to go out on a blind dinner date and eat nothing? I’m Team #justiceforEleanor.
    (PS: pleased you’re feeling better!)

  7. Thank you! I check GBD and your website. This was one not to be reviewed, I hoped. But in the morning nothing there. Then I saw your insta post, and you made my day.

    1. I don’t see the Blind Date columns before they’re published so it will always be late morning by the time I’ve reviewed it. Glad you enjoyed. Thanks for reading.

  8. Lovely to have an impeccable guyliner review again, happy new year Justin! We are indeed in the future. 2024 – crazy! I thought they still managed to have a nice time, despite their differences. Sometimes I wish I could be friends with the daters, and I felt that especially with Eleanor! I’d be happy to share a platter of food and have a chat with her (I don’t like horror movies, but we can talk about other things!). Blind Date could have a sequel, so we can make friends even if no luck with the dating!

    1. They did have a nice time, it seems. I wonder if people are going in a little hard on Jayson. Much worse crimes have been committed on the Blind Date!

          1. I’ve been reading your blog for years now. Checked out some of the archives and enjoyed reading them again. But I still have to say this is not polite….it’s downright rude and right up there in the inglorious list of top 10 rudest dates ever
            #justiceforeleanir

          2. I’m not disputing that it was very poor form to have Eleanor eating on her own, but we’ve had dates where participants have been very cruel or awkward or indifferent. And Jayson does say he regrets not eating. Anyway, thank you for reading!

        1. I remember one GBD where one participant said of the lovely (but unfortunately mismatched) lady she had met, in answer to the question:
          ‘Would you meet again?’, replied
          ‘Not intentionally.’
          This was soooo rude and unkind, I have never forgotten it, and this was years ago!

      1. Fair enough. Eleanor seems to have had a good enough time and they found things in common during their conversation. Food or lack of it wasn’t going to make a difference to the absence of romance. 😁

  9. I’m going to be a bit controversial and say that I think life is made more interesting by the absolutely bizarre dating experiences and Eleanor is lucky to have a fun story to tell in future. I (a man) once had a date where someone (woman) really wanted to photograph my feet ‘for a project they were working on’. All good fun, and I’m at least 80% sure those photos never ended up on a kink website.

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