Impeccable Lite: Sometimes there just isn’t time for a full analysis of the Guardian Blind Date, so here, I pick just THREE questions not remotely at random, for further discussion. There will be no commentary on the daters’ specific personalities (or lack thereof), nor judgements on whether they were a nice person or not, for reasons I might explain below (but I almost might not, because ‘lite’ is as ‘lite’ does.
At the mercy of the relentless gnashing of teeth and Ottolenghi recipes that is the Guardian-reading universe this week were Julia and Dean. Julia is 28 and an arts and learning manager and Dean is 34 and an actor AND a writer, so a multi-hyphenate! How exciting for us all.
You can read the full version of the date here and make your own mind up about whether one or both of them is in fact Satan in ASOS drag, but once you’ve done that, come back to this page in your dear old email and read my responses to… er, their responses just three of the questions they’re always asked once they’ve been on the date.
Julia on Dean | Dean on Julia
What did you talk about?
Creative careers. Holidaying vs travelling. Family. Climate dread. His chocolate addiction and screenwriting ventures.
The workings of Guardian Blind Date. Galleries. Julia’s cheesemaking. She asked a lot of questions, which made me conscious that the conversation was a little one-way at times, but she seemed genuinely interested in my life as a freelancer.
Workings of Guardian Blind Date – If only someone mildly handsome in a lovely suit had once written a shocking tell-all exposé of EXACTLY how the Guardian Blind Date works. Oh, hang on, I did, in 2019 – I even got my face at the top of it. People often assume that the matchmaking process is some super-computer, or an algorithm, or a team of hyper-stressed interns in lab coats staring at a wall of polaroids – ‘Steve works in IT and has a phobia of jam, teaspoons and chequered tablecloths; can we really put him with Liz, who lists her hobbies as “diving head first into a jar of Bonne Maman Framboise every chance I get”?’. But really, it’s just one person, working very hard to make sure people don’t kill each other.
Creative careers/my life as a freelancer – what can you possibly say about a life spent at a laptop in seasons-old Uniqlo, trying to conjure up artistic brilliance to the sound of a pair of helicopter parents arguing about Steiner schools while ordering their offspring a babycino in a crowded Chiswick Starbucks?
His chocolate addiction and screenwriting ventures/her cheesemaking – They sound very ‘hobbies’ and ‘side hustle’, don’t they? I’m not sure we’d get on. I imagine their friends spend a lot of time pretending to enjoy the fruits of their endeavours.
‘No, Jules, this totally doesn’t taste like the goat died while you were milking it.’
‘Sure, Dean, I absolutely got that the ten-minute shot of the empty coffee cup save for the fag-ash inside it was a metaphor for the emptiness of the invoice-chasing process.’
What do you think they made of you?
Hard to tell – he didn’t ask a lot of questions so I felt like the one doing all the interrogating. Although he did look disappointed when I said Dune was an average film …
It had been a long day and she said I perked up when dessert arrived, so maybe I was a tad lacklustre.
I should point out here that earlier, in the ‘first impressions’ question, Dean said, ‘I wasn’t attracted to her and knew that wouldn’t change’, which is absolutely his right. When I awoke this morning and read his answers, I was not surprised to then go on social media to find messages from regular readers asking me to relieve him of his head. Someone even joked about bringing back hanging – I think we could perhaps locate a little chill. It seemed a little ironic to me, when we’re often preached to about the importance of kindness and joy, that people were very keen to watch me eviscerate someone. (However if this does bring you joy, then… I’m oddly flattered.) Anyway, it made me a little uncomfortable, and not the kind of charge I would like to lead; I’m guessing that Dean is more than a little embarrassed today at how cold he sounded, although perhaps he is unrepentant. Whatever.
So what I will say is that if you have decided you definitely don’t fancy someone and this is not subject to change – how do you know, btw? Might they not grow on you? – then it can be a tricky situation because unless you are a massive p.o.s. you don’t want to ruin their night, but you don’t want to lead them on either. But you should at least be present, and polite, and friendly, and you should show an interest in their life. Going on a date is, in our troubled times, something of a commitment; it’s a big step now. People have genuinely forgotten how to be around others. And meeting someone for the first time is a unique opportunity to briefly spend a couple of hours or two seeing the world from a fresh perspective. Who could honestly say, after two years of isolation, vaccination, and ceaseless hand sanitising, that this wouldn’t be a welcome proposition? Horizons just waiting to be broadened. Asking someone about their life – even if they are deathly dull and live to a level of excitement that would make a kitchen tea towel try to find a number for a coke guy just to feel something – is a way to make someone feel valued. Their anecdotes might be silly, or lame, or even much better than your own whimsical ‘what I done on my holidays’ banter, but all you need to do is ask, listen, feed back on relevant points, share your own experiences, then say you had a lovely evening and part company, exchanging two or three non-committal texts before fading out of their consciousness for ever. It isn’t HARD.
If it’s been a long day, it’s been a long day, but as Molly-Mae so wisely said, we all have the same number of hours, so at least spend the three you were on this date acknowledging the other person’s existence. Babes.
I haven’t seen Dune, but as much as I love Zendaya and that delightful Vuitton-clad toothpick who’s in every single film that calls for a mildly troubled young lad, it looks like a bit of a drag.
If you could change one thing about the evening what would it be?
A more suitable match.
I think Dean would have liked a drink, because he looked lovingly at, and sniffed, my glass of wine.
Jeez, well done on the Dry January or whatever, Dean, but if you currently rely on booze to turn you into an interesting person, do not plan to go on a date, especially one in a national newspaper that will have the internet asking for your throat as a pizza topping.
Julia, I hope you savoured every drop of the free wine. May many more glasses of it come your way. Dean, enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Thanks for reading. I genuinely appreciate it, and am very flattered by how much people seem to love these reviews. My reviews are having a mini break because I’m trying to write another novel (and promote THE FAKE-UP, i.e. the one that’s coming out on 7 April, i.e. really soon).
If you want, and have the means, you can support my work by chucking me a small tip and buying me a coffee via the lovely micropayment site Ko-fi. I was into oat lattes for a while but apparently oat milk is bad for acne so… I’m back on the black americanos.
Again, please, for the love of GOD, preorder my novel.
About the review and the daters: 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. Life’s hard enough.
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Date originally published in the Guardian on Sat 26 February and this Lite review was sent to subscribers of my newsletter The truth about everything* – to subscribe go to newsletter.theguyliner.com