Kayleigh and Josh
Illustration: Nishant Choksi/The Guardian
Impeccable Table Manners

Kayleigh and Josh

I look terrible. My hair is a disaster, and so tall, should planes ever fly again they would have to swerve it. My skin has all but given up and is having a much delayed teenage tantrum. I am eating things I would’ve run screaming from only a few weeks ago. Bread! Chocolate biscuits! I barely know who I am anymore. Let’s just say I am not having the same Instagram-ready lockdown that almost everyone else seems to be having.

Anyway, here we are a few weeks into the new normal, and another Guardian Blind Date taking place over the wonky connections of Britain’s creaking wifi system. How wonderful it’s been to watch all manner of apparent celebrities and great minds sitting in front of hastily assembled bookshelves with all the Jackie Collins’ novels hidden out of view, and patching in to a studio, with not even a cheap clip microphone off Amazon to make them sound more human. We are regressing to low-tech times. I wonder if TV is about to have a similar moment to what happened to speakers and music consumption a few years ago, when all of a sudden, it was fine to play videos and tunes out of a tinny, horrible speaker on your phone (usually on public transport or three tables away from a revising teenager in a Costa) and not on the very expensive, huge ones we were told we all definitely needed in the 20 years before that. Our forefathers carried ghetto blasters to parks, now we sit around a wifi speaker that has all the power of an electric toothbrush. Does this mean that instead of Full HD or whatever it is, we will soon be back to watching telly on one of those dodgy old sets with a top wide enough to put a lamp, some Maths homework, and loose change to a value of £3.76 on it?

This week we have Kayleigh, who is 28 and a marketing manager, and Josh, a 28-year-old senior account executive. Will they keep their social distance for ever, will romance be furloughed, or will… well I have run out of Cilla-style links here so just imagine one. Read the date on the Guardian website before we try to reconnect.

Kayleigh and Josh
Illustration: Nishant Choksi/The Guardian
Kayleigh on JoshJosh on Kayleigh

What were you hoping for?
The One or a good anecdote.

How about…

Richard Pryor in Brewster's Millions saying "None of the above"

What were you hoping for?
Somebody with a bit of chat. I was dreading awkward silences.

You would think people would be getting more used to silence now that the streets are borderline apocalyptic and thrumming only with people carrying shopping bags everywhere they got lest they get stopped by the police.

First impressions?
He’s in a tuxedo and I’ve just about managed to brush my hair.

I’m going to take a wild guess and say that while the top half was tuxedo, the bottom half was very likely Woody Woodpecker pyjamas.

First impressions?
Very friendly and easy to talk to.

Good job really given that for the purposes of a date, she was a  disembodied voice piping out of your laptop speakers. What would you do if you were on a virtual date? Would you just sit there and let your head and shoulders do the talking, like the queen on a postage stamp, or would you get up and sashay around a bit, let the other person see ‘the goods’, as it were?

What did you talk about?
Cricket, bad chat-up lines, the fact that my friend encouraged me to do this because I’m apparently single and desperate, the accents we do when we get drunk and lie about our identities (me: scouse, him: South African). Everything but coronavirus.
Anything and everything, really. We discussed her love of Peep Show, with me pretending I knew what she was quoting, while I offered some fantastically terrible pick-up lines.

Chat-up lines is a ✅. I have never used one. My face used to be my chat-up line, with three vodkas downed in twenty minutes being its wingmen. Maybe this is a heterosexual thing, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.

Everything but coronavirus/anything and everything. We can count that as a ✅. I refuse to believe they didn’t mention it at least a few times. Hats off to anyone who can switch off from it, though. I have a theory that the amount you’re bothered by the coronavirus pandemic corresponds to how big your kitchen is and how white, clinical and pin-bright its tiles are. I think if I see one more celebrity gurning in front of a Gimble in a kitchen fitted out to NASA specifications and lit brighter than the cavity search room at Heathrow, I’m going to have some sort of ‘episode’.

Accents we do when drunk and lying about our identities: For me, Scottish, Derry, or ‘London-y’. I’ve always been an accent chameleon or whatever the term is – an assimilator, I guess. It depends on what I want and how quickly a switch of accent can help me get it. I crack out my long-lost, original Yorkshire accent only when in taxis in my hometown and want to go the quickest route possible and also not have an interminable conversation about how the cabbie ‘likes London but could never live there’. FASCinating.

Any awkward moments?
When neither of us could figure out how UberEats works (pathetic) and when it got to 8pm and people started loudly clapping for the carers. (But it was fine – we both had a clap, too.)

I’m assuming she means ‘how UberEats works’ as in they couldn’t work the app, rather than they had a long, serious think about the rather disturbing intricacies of its corporate structure, where its funding comes from, and what this means for its workers and indeed the restaurant industry as a whole. (Order direct from a restaurant if you can.)

Good table manners?
His meal arrived a few minutes before mine, and he politely asked if I wanted him to wait.

Man bows while offering a bottle of wine

A gentleman! Or perhaps a man who realised that someone was less likely to scrutinise his own table manners if they too were eating.

Good table manners?
I didn’t think much about it because if there is one thing I’m learning from this pandemic, it is that something once considered so strange has now become the norm.

Fom Parks and recreation: "just say yes or no"

You could be forgiven here for thinking that Kayleigh had slightly less than desirable table manners and Josh is being very gentlemanly about this – again. But if he were, it’s that kind of gentleman thing that you just KNOW Tom Hiddleston does, am I right? Oh come ON, we all know Tom goes back to his pied à terre – Holland Park, I’m guessing, very large kitchen, operating theatre lighting, worktops that have barely known the greased touch of a sliced avocado – and screams obscenities into a paper bag. Nobody can smile that politely for hours, listen to the dreary witterings of mere mortals, and have hair so wonderfully slicked back to Bateman-esque standards without punching a wall or strangling an insect once they get home. Come on.

Tom Hiddleston would totally wear a tux to a video date, actually, wouldn’t he?

How long did you stay on the call?
A casual four and a half hours (which is longer than about 90% of my in-person dates).
Four and a half hours. I genuinely believed it had only been a couple, so I guess the conversation was good!

Rachel in Friends in the "no you hang up" scene

I suppose being young means not having to change sitting position every 45 minutes in case something seizes up that can’t be fixed in pilates.

Anyway, four and a half hours is a long time for any date let alone one taking place over FaceTime so maybe this is encouraging.

Best thing about Josh?
His dry sense of humour.

OK.

Best thing about Kayleigh?
She was receptive to what was said.

Um. What? Maybe Kayleigh is part satellite dish on her father’s side. Perhaps there was some kind of online poll, taken every half hour, where Kayleigh had to indicate how the conversation was going. ‘Receptive’ is how a politician would describe a constituent who, when doorstepped, didn’t have the energy to shut the door in their face.

Receptive. Like a receptionist!

Did you introduce them to your housemates?
Sadly not, but he did carry me through the living room, where I got to say a brief hello to the flatmate who’d put him up to this.
I felt I had to as he’d signed me up to this without my knowledge.

A flatshare with a living room?! Is Josh a member of European royalty? We really need to see that kitchen. I assume this means the dates were carried out in the bedrooms. Quite previous, isn’t it?

What do you think he made of you?
A ridiculous individual.

the sound of music nuns singing how do you solve a problem like maria

What do you think she made of you?
I turned up late and was wearing a tuxedo, so probably that I’m a bit of a prat. I also spoke a lot about my cricket club, Jürgen Klopp and all the work I do with Excel spreadsheets, so she probably thought I was cool.

I think my last remaining pheromone just caught a taxi to Beachy Head.

And… did you swap numbers?
We went for the millennial option and are now following each other on Instagram.
Even better, we followed each other on Instagram.

Paris Hilton saying OK

Grandmothers are on Instagram so I would probably ease up on the “oOh wE aRe suCH a gENerATion!!!!!” angle. Also, is it just me, or is a mutual Instagram follow after a date not widely held to mean that the likelihood of a follow-up date is… almost zero. Like, if you first ‘meet’ and flirt on Insta then, yes, of course, a mutual follow means something might happen. But if the exchange of accounts happens after a live meeting then… it’s basically data capture and a tacit agreement that all subsequent interactions will be through three Valencia filters, saturation turned down three notches, and brightness up four?

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
I wouldn’t have put perfume on for a video call, like an absolute idiot.

Blanche from Golden Girls spraying herself

Sorry, but this is normal. Fragrance is only around 30% about other people being able to smell you. Okay, under ‘normal’ circumstances, whatever they are, closer to 50%. But really wearing fragrance is about how it makes you feel and if you smell great it is v hard to feel anything less than amazing. In fact, somehow, if you don’t, it’s even more disappointing. It can be a comfort. I remember, after disastrous dates, going home solo on public transport and wondering what I’d done wrong before that sweet, familiar smell of Neroli Portofino would briefly hit my nostrils out of nowhere and wrap itself around to me to reassure me that the answer was nothing, and that it must have been the other guy’s fault, because he didn’t smell as great as me and he knew it and he was just some prick off an app anyway. Fragrance is therapy, okay.

Also, just the other day I was on a FaceTime with my mum and I actually said, ‘Oh I forgot to put fragrance on’ and I reached for the bottle I keep on my desk and sprayed liberally. I’m going to pretend it was pride in her eyes.

Marks out of 10?
Pair of eighters, I reckon.
7.

CBeebies presenters gasping in horror

Oh dear. NEVER second guess the other person’s score.

Would you meet again in person?
If he ever makes it down to Brighton, I’ll happily buy him a shot of Tuaca.

I’m afraid I don’t have time to roast the ‘Tuaca’ reference as it’s too near the end, so just imagine it if you like.

7 Comments

  1. Sorry to be *that* person but the ‘pair of eighters’ thing is a Peep Show quote. Which is still a ridiculous answer. I spend 10 minutes trying to figure out where I’d heard the phrase so this pedantry is essentially a way of me trying to feel like I didn’t totally waste the 10 minutes. Not that that matters these days.

  2. Tbh, I thought that Josh lost any sympathy I had with “receptive”. Unless that has been edited to within an inch of its life, that just sounds jerkish. And I don’t understand how you can talk for 4.5 hours and then dole out a 7?!

  3. I know what Tuaca is because I am middle aged and married and bought it for a Nigella Christmas recipe. Children should drink Midori Illusions as the good lord intended.

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