Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

John and Sam

As Dina Carroll famously once trilled, ‘It’s New Year’s Eve and hopes are high’ – what better way to dash them entirely than a quick peek at the Guardian Blind Date?! I’m not really one for looking back at the year as an entity separate from any other – this was not ‘the year everything changed’ etc – but it’s quite nice to notice that we’re ending the Blind Date column in 2022 just as we started it back on Saturday 1 January – with a rainbow date.

John, 39, is a doctor, and Sam, 34, is a school teacher – two very traditional professions, the kind of thing you would say you wanted to be when you were older if a (boring) adult asked. (Note to boring adults: unless you’re their parent, stop asking children how school is. It’s school, somewhere you’re made to go every day, learning facts against your will. ‘How’s school?’ – like Rishi Sunak in that disastrous publicity stunt asking that homeless person what they were doing at the weekend. What do you *think* they’re doing, you oleaginous vole?)

Anyway, then return here for the roast.

John on Sam | Sam on John
What did you talk about?
Places we’d lived. The vastness of London. Books. RuPaul. The film Bros. Broey gay culture. The Chicks and their heartbreaking song Travelling’ Soldier. Christianity. Nigella.
Nigella recipes. Growing up Anglican. Shakespeare. The highs and lows of dating in 2022. His upcoming trip to Palm Springs.

The vastness of London – that I’ve lived here twenty years and thus totally normalised to myself the idea that going ANYWHERE takes an hour is, frankly, horrifying to me. An hour. 60 minutes. At least. Of your precious finite life. Teleportation when. Anyway, my top tip – or life hack if you’ve got tattoos and guzzle energy drinks – for getting around London faster is to… well, there’s nothing. Hop on a bike, probably. Forget the Elizabeth line. Twenty seconds from one end to the other or whatever, yes, but seven months to change lines/get out of the sodding station. Wonderful lighting for selfies, though.

Books – I write those. Three now. Please buy one while my publisher is still taking my calls.

The film Bros and broey gay culture – I still haven’t seen the film. Is that bad? Is that unsupportive of the community? I don’t know. I’m not entirely sure what ‘broey’ gay culture is – is it all that straight-acting lark? The men who adopt a masculine swagger and sucky attitude to bleach out the unhappy memories of having sand kicked in their faces by… men who looked and acted kind of like they do now? It’s none of my business what anyone does, really, but straight-acting boys should know that nobody gets to lift the Oscar – though you might be able to find someone on Grindr willing to shove one up your arse.

Christianity/Growing up Anglican ✅ – I’m not a natural theologian so religion confuses me tbh but I always thought Anglicans were those people who went ‘Oh nothing, really. We go to the midnight service on Christmas Eve and we’re having Helen christened, but we don’t have a favourite carol other than Vorderman’ when asked about their religion. The only Archbishop I recognise is the Archbishop of BANTERbury, am I right lads?! ?

The highs and lows of dating in 2022 – This answer is sponsored by the HBO Max original series And Just Like That, starring Sarah Jessica Parker but NOT Kim Cattrall, so who cares, basically.

Nigella ✅ – The gay canonisation of Nigella Lawson is a constant source of amusement – but not shock or surprise. What was it that did it, do you think? Certainly not all those carby recipes. I’m assuming it was the court appearance where she floated serenely into the glittering entrance to Isleworth Crown Court at her former assistants’ fraud trial (at which the remarkably named Grillo sisters were cleared of all charges, but nobody ever seems to remember that bit), her chin high and proud, her coat dark and expensive. Or perhaps it was the allegations at said trial that Nigella was heavily into the prang? Latecomers will perhaps cite the ‘meekrowahvey’ pronunciation of microwave as Nigella’s gay apex (gaypex?) but, honestly, where have you been? Whatever it was, there are much worse icons out there who get much more of our attention. And she has great wrist action.

Nigella Lawson usuig a cocktail shaker with great vim

Most awkward moment?
We were talking about food influencers and I said my favourite was a hot shirtless chef who plays with grapefruits in his videos. Sam was a bit taken aback, but then I showed him a video and he got it.

It’s a sign of old age I know, to be amazed how people get the attention of the wider public. The front-facing camera in particular has been possibly the most liberating and democratising (and horrifying) invention of modern times. Every time you recoil in distaste at someone gaining notoriety for doing dance routines with their 80-year-old grandmother, think of yourself as someone born in the Victorian age outraged by how Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies got famous, and realise it doesn’t matter. Fame is incalculable and strange and best left alone. Grapefruits – the natural enemy of anyone taking SSRIs for reasons I can’t remember – have never held any fascination with me. They’re just a goth orange who makes Lilt taste less interesting than it should.

Most awkward moment?
When the waiter found out I was vegetarian, he seemed disappointed, but John agreed to stick with the many aubergine options.

This seems to come up a lot – issues with vegetarian food in restaurants. It’s (nearly) 2023, ffs! It was a Turkish restaurant, which perhaps explains the aubergine-heavy menu, but can we please have more interesting non-meat options in the coming year? (However, if you’re on a date with a meat-eater, they should be allowed to order some meat, no? Unless you think you’ll snog them which… SPOILER ALERT.)

What do you think they made of you?
That I talked too much. Hopefully he felt I was friendly and interested in him.
I hope he didn’t find me too chatty.

Why are we so keen not to look like we talk too much. We live in an ear where self-invovlement isn’t exactly frowned upon, we’re encouraged to share the minutiae of our lives – I found myself BeRealing my mum’s Velvetiser the other day – and yet in person we’re eager to paint ourselves as selfless, benevolent, and not the kind of person who would Scherzinger a microphone out of someone’s hand at karaoke.

nicole scherzinger takes mic from Jahmene on X factor final

I don’t think it matters if you talk a lot, so long as you have something to actually say. Too many of us just say stuff for the sake of having the floor, and try to wring the very last feelings out of ourselves – I’m not just thinking the front-facing camera industry but it definitely plays a part. And don’t get me started on the need to debate every single thing that flashes before our eyes. That’s how you get breakfast television turning from cosy jumpers and three-minute reportages on cystitis in Kettering into full-on right-wing recruitment drives, or moronic columnists falling over themselves to be transphobic just because they have the space to fill and love an easy target. As long as conversation has curiosity, goodwill, and, crucially, is not boring as FUCK, then chat away, darlings. Just make sure you leave long enough gaps for them to squeal ‘YES I AGREE, YOU ARE VERY SEXY’ – I always do.

Speaking of talking a lot, I see many of us have been doing our INS and OUTS for 2023, like Nicky Haslam. Here are mine:

IN: Making ugly meals using stuff that’s been in the cupboard/freezer for ages
OUT: Staring open mouthed at chiller cabinets in supermarkets wondering what the hell to have for dinner

IN: Sugababes
OUT: All other popstars

IN: Miss Piggy
OUT: Percy Pig

IN: Blankets
OUT: Central heating – EDF ain’t getting my precious birthday money

IN: Glamorous crimes like jewel heists and revenge poisonings
OUT: Murder

IN: Dog-eared paperbacks
OUT: Two-hour podcasts about murderers

IN: Self-scanning in supermarkets with cool little guns
OUT: Unexpected items in the bagging area

Thank you.

Marks out of 10?
8 – John is great.

But not great enough, clearly.

Would you meet again?
Yes, probably as friends, but I would be open-minded to all as he was cool.
As friends. John seems to know lots of fun things to do in London.

I see. Well, that’s the year over with. Enjoy the next one!

One anime character closes a door on another

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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. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story. Just how many aubergine dishes did you order?

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Happy New Year!

John and Sam ate at Zahter, London W1. Fancy a blind date? Email

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