Impeccable Table Manners

Joe and Jamie

You wait your whole life for the gay mafia to take over, wondering where the revolution will finally begin, and here it is: in the pages of the Guardian’s Weekend magazine. This is the sixth – pardon the pun – straight column to feature a same-sex couple on a date, and of the last nine, the eighth.

Six glorious weeks without two clean-shirts from the home counties pretending their life has been anything other than a very straightforward march through the pastries aisle in Waitrose. That’s not to say the same-sex couples have been more interesting, mind you – many of them have been wonderful poster children for activists who like to insist we’re “just like straight people”. I’m all for normalising what we do, who we do it with, and how we act in public, but, well, the word “queer” doesn’t exist for nothing – let’s not fully assimilate just yet, eh?

Anyway, here and Joe, 33, an assistant sales manager (why would you mention the “assistant” here?) and 31-year-old screenwriter Jamie, the latest guys to fly what must now be a very tattered rainbow flag. Did they get on? Click the pic to find out, and then we’ll get busy with the fizzy.

Isn’t it funny how quickly we would rather present ourselves as borderline alcoholics than admit we have hopes, dreams or aspirations – that we are humans, capable of disappointment and self-doubt? This means, “I was hoping he’d turn up, because to be left sitting all by myself in a restaurant, and then have to report back that he didn’t show, would have been mortifying. I was also hoping for wine and sex.”

I know they’re joking – they have to be joking, right? – but the self-esteem levels here are Victorian-hemline low.

Height! Height is a loaded subject, isn’t it? Among men, especially. In my vast experience of going on dates with strangers, I can safely say 75% of the men I met lied about their height. The giants would shave an inch for two off, and the grasshoppers would add a couple. Even the Mr Averages would fudge it and add on an extra centimetre or just plump for “six foot” in the hope I had gone mad or blind by the time we met. It was crazy, genuinely, because, you know, then I would actually turn up on the dates and, knowing how tall I actually was – 5’9 and a half if you’re interested, which I imagine you are, because most people are – I would be able to see the blatant lie. Honestly, you’d think most men in the world had nipped off to the loo the day they did height in mathematics.

Just to be clear: no, you are not six feet tall. Unless you actually are.

Uuuuugh this date happened the week they called the election. Oh God, no, I couldn’t. I’d have had to cancel. The last thing I want to do anytime, with anyone, is talk about the haunted castle in human form that is Theresa May – let alone discussing her over a slightly too-fancy set menu that doesn’t live up to its promise in a restaurant on the south bank. Oh good heavens, no. I can’t come, sorry, there’s too much election.

I know politics has to happen and is important and everything but there has been so much of it, like, for the last forever. I kind of miss mindless celebrity news and old-fashioned sex scandals. I feel guilty sometimes writing about the kind of nothing-y things I do because everyone else is buckling down and analysing the state of the country and the contents of everybody’s heads but GOD can I just not get back to listicalising the type of people you meet at barbecues?

Brenda from Bristol is the woman who, on the day our zombie thicko PM made her announcement, spoke for all of us when she looked like she’d rather walk under a train than hear anything more about the election. Slay them, my viral queen.

Accent mimicking is right up there with “waking up next to the dead body of a stranger” for things I really don’t like. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve said where I’m from only for the other person (usually a southerner) to say it back to me in a broad, comedy northern accent, like someone given a speaking part at the last minute in a Victoria Wood sketch. I’m a big fan of sociolinguistic convergence (thank you Twitter), but out-and-out pisstaking – especially if you don’t know someone very well – is a no-no. And yet it is kind of irresistible sometimes, isn’t it? Especially with a whiny American voice because it’s so extra, and kind of endearing and horrifying at the same time. But still, no, bad Joe.

My only exception to accent mockery is listening to my Scottish boyfriend trying to get Siri to understand him. I swear I got Men’s Health-cover rock-hard abs from laughing at that. Annoyingly, it has now learned his voice and the pair of them are no doubt plotting my death. Plus, I lost the abs in a poker game.

Exes. Oh, don’t do it.


Isn’t there something so glamorous and exciting and American about being able to say you have an “ex-husband”?  Forget the waste-of-money wedding, three miserable years of sexless endurance, trips to the DIY store and harrowing divorce, once all that’s done, you have an ex-husband. It worked for Joan.

Whatever language this is, I didn’t take it at school. What the hell is a Jenga salad? (Do not write in, I am happy never to know.)

CUTE, like a baby three seconds before they vomit on you.
CHATTY, like that one person you’re stuck with in a lift who talks their way out of anxiety attacks – and you into one.
FUNNY, like the baby I just mentioned up there puking on someone else, three seconds after you hand them over.

CUTE, again, like someone would say if they were weighing up whether to shag their date.
KIND, like a saint, or an angel, or the lady in the Red Cross shop, or Princess Diana.
ERUDITE, like nobody ever says out loud ever.

Jamie, you’re not supposed to say this until the END.

Joe’s answer is better than Jamie’s, but I wish they would just. answer, the. sodding. question. I mean, I have read to the end, and you SNOGGED, so either you got him so drunk he thought he was eating a Peperami or, more likely, you know exactly what he made of you because he decided to TASTE you. Honestly, you’re in your 30s – when are you finally going to say what you mean? When they’re wheeling you into the games room at Shady Pines?


I’m rubbish at reading signals too – or I used to pretend I was, until the moment it became more convenient to suddenly become an expert switchman – so I sympathise in a way. But, seriously, just lock lips and see what happens. You’re gay. It’s what we do. Leave the rest to fate; get another ex-husband under your belt. Go full Liz Taylor. Why not?

This is sweet. But stop. Stop blaming the day. Thursday is practically Friday, anyway. In the Noughties, people called it “the new Friday”, even. Thursday is Friday with an extra button to pop open, it wears its trousers a cut tighter, its aftershave is slightly sweeter, and less oppressive. It has imperfections, it hasn’t made an effort, its smile is a bit wonky – but it is there. Waiting. Thursday is whatever you want it to be. Sex with a stranger on a Thursday is all the better because it’s Friday the next day, and you get to hit your weekend glow a day early. How could anyone not want to walk into work on a Friday morning reeking of the smug fragrance of “I got some last night”? Seriously.

Shy nines, the pair of them.

So we already know they’ve kissed AND swapped numbers – either this is going to be the most sadistic twist since it turned out Madonna marrying Guy Ritchie was not a piece of highly satirical street-theatre, or we have a definite “would bonk” situation here. Fingers crossed.

“I don’t see why not.”
“I think so.”

Boys, seriously. Shy bairns get nowt. Grab it. With both hands. Before it wilts.

Photograph: Sophia Evans, for the Guardian.

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Disclaimer: The comments I make are meant to be playful and humorous and are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy.  Get in touch if you want to give us your side of the story. 

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  1. Is claiming 5’11 3/4″ just ridiculously coy?

    And I can only assume that you have played Jenga but didn’t recognise out in this context.

    May I risk a stereotype? One of the queerest things about gays is your reputation for tidyness. Perhaps you have never experienced the kitchen where every surface is piled with dirty crockery and long congealed pools of nameless horror? These almost always feature a running, high stakes game of bin Jenga.

    Sorry. Never been able to resist giving unwanted advice.

  2. I’m 6’2 according to my driver’s license. 😉

    Thank you for not being too cruel.

    And yes. I prefer to say it worked for Nora Ephron considering my career but I rather like the Joan comparison…

  3. I feel like there’s a joke to be made about how under-represented women are becoming in the column and the advertising being served to me on this very page (urging me to “Learn More” about the “#1 Reason Men Pull Away” because of “The Biggest Mistake Women Make That Kills A Man’s Attraction” – their capitals not mine). I’m too tired and ill and frankly outraged by that ad (the joyless feminist that I am) to think what the joke is.

    Enjoyed your blog, as always. The gay mafia thing could be down to them all wanting a piece of your wit now that they know who you are. Just saying.

    1. Sadly, I don’t control that advertising – WordPress do, and I don’t make any money from that. I’m assuming as the turnaround time from the date happening to publication was so short that they’re running low on suitable applicants. As far as I know, straight men are particularly reluctant to take part, so this means there’s nobody for straight women to go on dates with. It’s a shame.

  4. Really enjoyed this, as always. The height part was funny, I’m 5′ 10″ and a half, but I realized I should let go of the half-inch part.

    Also loved the observation of Thursday as a a quasi-Friday. Not new, but it’s true that Thursday nights are great to go out when you’re young (or not). I am an unabashed fan of Pet Shop Boys, and the song “Thursday” is about exactly that. It’s Thursday night/let’s get it right/ I wanna know you’re gonna stay the weekend.

    Good video filmed in Shanghai too. Thanks Guyliner, always love your reviews.

  5. Jamie, the taller guy, looks handsome, but what the hell is he wearing?! Hopefully he didn’t wear that on the date? The idea that all gay men dress well is clearly another example of our good PR, because many of us don’t.

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