Joseph is wearing an oatmeal sweatshirt and jeans, Cole is wearing a similarly pale sweatshirt and also jeans. Cole has a mop of very curly hair
Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Joseph and Cole

Lots going on this week. Let’s talk about absolutely none of it. Instead, say hello (in your head, don’t say it out loud, it would be weird) to Joseph and Cole. Joseph is 23 and a digitiser – of what, we may never know – and Cole is 22, and a postgrad student. Joseph and Cole. Joseph and Cole. Sounds like a department store, or a health food shop that sells ugly vegetables for twice the price of the uniformly perfect ones you get in Sainsbury’s – but it is neither of those things. It is our Blind Date couple!

Here they are from top to toe, as featured in the magazine:

Joseph is wearing an oatmeal sweatshirt and jeans, Cole is wearing a similarly pale sweatshirt and also jeans. Cole has a mop of very curly hair
Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian

Cole’s coat looks nice, doesn’t it, fellow large coat stans? , including a very lovely picture of the two of them actually on the date, before returning here for the aftershow.

Joseph on Cole | Cole on Joseph
What were you hoping for?
A friendly face in an unfamiliar city. I’ll also admit to hoping to meet someone special.

Cole is American. It says so later on. I suppose the name was a giveaway. We don’t get may Coles in the UK. Daves, Alans, Toms, Tims, Bens, Christophers, Joes – lots of those. But not so many Coles. It does feel like in the US, they name their children with one eye on Hollywood and that name being up in lights (or easily searchable on TikTok/Google). Anyway, ‘hoping to meet someone special’ is both lovely and an indicator that Cole has read this column precisely never.

First impressions?
He was cute – great hair – and better than I was expecting. I got lost so was a bit late and he was already there.

Cole does have GREAT hair. But as people with curly hair will tell you, with great hair comes great responsibility and possible rather more hours a month than they would like sitting under leave-in conditioner or attacking it with anti-tangle combs.

First impressions?
He walked in two minutes late, which is a respectable time to arrive.
Scene from White Lotus: a woman throws a drink in an older man's face

I mean, it is and it isn’t. Depends what a stickler for time you are. usually, I like to say that if you arrive bang on time, you’re late. (You may think this makes me a nightmare to know in real life, but, tbh, everyone I know has always ignored me about this and turns up whenever they like.) I make an exception for dates, though. For me, the optimum time to arrive is three minutes late, just so you can make sure they’ll be there and that they’ll be semi-anxiously watching the door for your arrival. Anyway, Joseph got lost, so we can excuse his lateness. Mind you, is getting lost dying out as an excuse now everyone has Google Maps on their phone? Maybe he was using the Apple maps app, which my phone sometimes defaults to and, I’m sure, will one day lead me right into the jaws of a lion instead of the nearest M&S Simply Food.

What did you talk about?
Differences between the UK and the US. Politics. Pubs. Favourite movies (Toy Story 2). University … He was really easy to talk to.
So much! Three hours talking to someone new is a long time and we made good use of it

Okay, so first of all: I love that Cole gives us NOTHING here. Luckily, Joseph was taking notes.

Differences between the UK and the US – I hope this was really mundane stuff like the way they say ‘sidewalk’ and pronounce ‘aluminium’ and nor boring stuff about culture and politics.

Politics – Oh. Next.

Favourite movies (Toy Story 2) – For Joan Cusack alone, I assume.

University – Recent history for them, I suppose. For me it would be like talking about that time I saw King Harold get shot in the eye.

Any awkward moments?
Only that all the restaurant staff knew exactly why we were there.
White Lotus Armand the manager winks

I feel for them, that must’ve been annoying. Being a waiter in one of these faceless bistros is mostly thankless and very boring, though, so you have to allow it. If a waiter ever tells you they find it ‘rewarding’, look around for their kidnapper – they are being held against their will and trying to tell you. Inform the authorities.

Any awkward moments?
My not-very-romantic questions about how to live in London, like, “Do you have a Travelcard or do you use pay-as-you-go?”. He laughed at me for those.

As a man, who is not immune from splaining, I don’t mind being asked questions like this (although I do actually wait to be asked). I even try and answer them correctly, rather than most men I’ve met, who see being asked for information as a speed challenge and not one of accuracy. I wonder what they think will happen if they say ‘I don’t know’ – that something will fall off, or they’ll go bald? Dunno. Anyway.

Good table manners?
Yeah, I basically followed his lead.
I didn’t notice anything off.

They went to a steak restaurant in that ugly horror show development of glass and credit card statements next to Tower Bridge, so I’m wondering what lead Cole took in the table manners department. I remember once going to a (different) steak restaurant in my twenties and asking for a steak knife and the waiter – who had just come from pulling the wings off several hundred butterflies judging by the look on his face – reared back in disgust and told me that I wouldn’t need one because the steaks they served were wonderfully tender. He was right, annoyingly.

Describe Cole in three words.
Smart, American, sweet.

SMART, like a waiter who just brings you a steak knife anyway, in case the customer tips you more.
AMERICAN, like those candy shops on Oxford Street that sell fake M&Ms made out of leftover chip pan oil definitely are not.
SWEET, like the tooth-destroying non-American candy definitely is.

Describe Joseph in three words.
Relaxing, smart and conversational.

RELAXING, like a nice bath, or two hours with a decent thickness copy of Vogue, or hearing that your biggest enemy (or a former Health Secretary) is in mild peril of some kind.
SMART, like that former Heath Secretary definitely isn’t.
CONVERSATIONAL, like my Spanish on holiday.

What do you think they made of you?
I hope I came across well – maybe even funny.
I like to think he enjoyed my company – it didn’t seem like he wanted the night to end, which is a good sign.

I sometimes wonder: is it more important to come across as clever, funny, or kind? Or maybe none of the above? I suppose trying to be funny or clever might make you try too hard (see my English teachers passim for evidence) and kindness is the one you can most naturally convey. On and there’s sexy, I suppose – for some that’s enough.

Anyway the important thing here is that both Joseph and Cole WANT to come across well, rather than most men, who rarely stop to consider whether they did or not.

Did you go on somewhere?
We just walked around talking until we got to a tube station – I turned into a bit of a tour guide. It was the middle of the week so we both had to get home.
A sweet night walk across Tower Bridge.
Jennifer Coolidge in the white lotus saying I think I'm going to be a little emotional
And … did you kiss?
Just a little bit.
There was a small goodnight kiss on the train home. Just enough to catch everyone’s attention, but not enough for a show.
Theo James in White Lotus taking off his sunglasses

I have said it before. I shall say it again. L G B T Q crew get it done! We just do. Go us.

Marks out of 10?
A solid 8.
A well-earned 7.
Aubrey Plaza in the White Lotus swigging champagne

For a perfect night, this does seem a little low – especially given that in regular dates, a 7 is basically a 1 with silk fringing, but maybe there’s nothing wrong with a bit of caution. At least there’s somewhere to go…

Would you meet again?
Hopefully. We talked about it and exchanged numbers.
I would.

Thank God for that.


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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. Do you BOTH love Toy Story 2? Or is it just one of you?

Joseph and Cole ate at The Coal Shed, London SE1. Fancy a blind date? Email


  1. Do you think Cole knows what the phrase “I would” actually implies in the UK? Or is he a) too young and/or b) too American?

  2. “tooth destroying non American lady”??

    I have noticed a tendency to reach for the frying pan in those tense moments, but this felt a bit jarring (as did the frying pans, admittedly)…


  3. >> I wonder what they think will happen if they say ‘I don’t know’ – that something will fall off, or they’ll go bald?>>

    That felt a bit on the nose (well, several inches above the nose) given their respective hairlines…

  4. As someone who had a formative crush on Doyle in The Professionals, Cole really does have lovely hair. And nice earrings. 7 seems a bit mean after a nice kiss.

  5. I expect Cole, being American and unfamiliar with the column, doesn’t know the rules – and so hopefully Joseph will forgive him for the 7 and they’ll enjoy many more lovely dates together 🙂

  6. I’d like to believe Cole was named after wild card racing driver Cole Trickle. He’s probably the only other person I’ve heard of with that first name.

  7. This seems like one of the most realistic and normal dates wev’ve ever had. They met, they enjoyed each other’s company, they found each other attractive enough for a quick snog on the tube, and they’d like to meet up again and see where it goes – what more can you ask for in a first date, really? I often get the impression that people expect Disney romance love at first sight, and whilst I agree with you that finding a new friend is a wonderful thing, I am often surprised by how quickly people decide that their date could only ever be a friend.

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