Photographs: Sarah Lee, Alicia Canter/The Guardian
Impeccable Table Manners

Lizzie and Tomas revisited

Saturday 27 May 2017 came at the end of a bad week. Just a few days earlier, there had been a terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena in which 23 people died. Many of us were feeling shocked, miserable, guarded, and pessimistic. However, offering us a brief respite from the darkness was that week’s Guardian Blind Date, which featured a pretty-good-looking-let’s-be-honest-here couple called Lizzie and Tomas. I knew as soon as I read their answers that not only was this the balm many people needed, but there was ‘something’ there. This was more than just a fantastic first date, this was the first day of the future – their future, to be exact.

Spoiler, but I predicted they would get married and… well, the reason there’s no review of the latest Blind Date today is because I am AT LIZZIE AND TOMAS’S WEDDING. I know. Amazing.

To celebrate, I’ve reproduced their original date and my analysis below, just as it was, but easier to read as it was done using screenshots back then. Any question I missed at the time get a comment now! Plus there’s a catch-up with them from this summer, when I wrote a special piece for the Guardian on the column’s 10th anniversary.

Impeccable matchmaking by the Guardian and… let’s be real: impeccable foresight by me.

Congratulations Lizzie and Tomas – a very modern love story we can all share. Can’t WAIT to raise a glass to you both!

May 2017:

Returning to the light after a period of darkness isn’t as easy as you’d think. Your body knows it too – think of that brief pain as your eyes adjust when you enter a much lighter room, or take off your sunglasses in the blazing sun. It’s the shortest of pains, it’s a warning. “Are you sure you want this?” it says. “You’ll be able to see everything here. Nothing can hide.” But at the same time it is also a wonderful pain, forgotten almost as soon as it arrives, because you are too transfixed by how bright and beautiful everything is. Any light at all is preferable to the gloom. Perhaps we should remember that more often.

So prepare for that familiar sting as we gingerly step out of the shadows that have encroached us for too long and into brilliant, beaming sunshine. Let’s bathe in it.

Lizzie, 31, is an illustrator and Tomas is 28 and a book editor. Here they are:

Read what happened on the date before I raise my lorgnette and paint another picture altogether.

Lizzie on TomasTomas on Lizzie
What were you hoping for?
A fun evening with interesting company.

Lizzie is clearly not a regular reader of the Blind Date column.

What were you hoping for?
Someone to impress with my Star Trek knowledge.

I know, I know. OK, let’s stay with this one.

First impressions?
Tall, great bone structure, warm smile.
“She looks extremely cool.”

There are two ways to answer this question. Actually, there are three, but one of them is wrong, like when somebody gives the OVERALL impression of the person rather than the very first one that came into their mind. OK, so of the proper ways to answer this question, you can either be factual or emotional.

Lizzie here has been very factual. Were it not for the “warm smile” you would think she was working on reception at a model agency and reporting Tomas missing. Tomas however had a more emotional response. “She looks extremely cool” seems like it’s about her appearance, but it isn’t at all – it’s about Tomas. It’s about him thinking she is someone he would find cool. It is, basically, a way of saying “I fancied her” two questions into the column without coming across like someone who bought a top hat in 2011 just in case they got married someday.

What did you talk about?
Family, films, books, careers.
Vomit, urinal etiquette, nude cycling.

I don’t know what it is, but I have this feeling that when Tomas proposes to Lizzie – next autumn, at a place that really meant something to her as a child, using the engagement ring of a relative or an antique bought with a legacy from a favourite godmother – he’s going to hide the ring inside a pudding or a pebble or something. Please don’t do that, Tomas.

Urinal etiquette is not the kind of thing you would expect to be brought up on a heterosexual date, and I bet the content varies considerably between gay people talking about it and straight people.

Urinal etiquette: never talk to anyone ever. If someone talks to you, look up BRIEFLY, keep your eyes HIGH, smile awkwardly and then return to your “business”. I know there are lots of people who like to peek at the meat when at urinals but seriously have a think about what you’re trying to get a look at: a floppy, boneless, pudgy, dangly finger with pee gushing out of it. Niche.

Any awkward moments?
It was really hot in the restaurant, so I kept fanning myself like a delicate Dickensian woman.

I would’ve said “like someone hearing some killer gossip at a party in Dangerous Liaisons“, but that’s because I haven’t read much Dickens. I have read Dangerous Liaisons in French, though, so I’m not intellectually barren.

Anyway, I don’t think she was fanning herself because of the temperature in the restaurant, do you readers?

Any awkward moments?
Absolutely not.

2019: OK, so I missed out this one in the original review, probably ‘cut for time’ like all the worst SNL sketches (a bit of tautology for you there, everybody). But looking at it now, there is something so assertive and emphatic about it. Not even a single awkward moment on the whole date? Nothing?! Readers, their fate was sealed. It was on.

Good table manners?
There was no shovelling, which is always a positive.

I eat super-fast. Like it’s going to be taken away from me at any moment. I don’t know why. I never starved and as an only child, I didn’t have to compete with other grasping hands for the last round of bread in the middle of the table. I mean, I still have good table manners – or at  least I would have, were that in any way a thing in 2017 – but I eat quickly. To sit and take my time over a meal makes me slightly nervous. What if it goes cold? I hate eating lukewarm food. The more its slightly scorches the back of my throat as it slides down it, the better.

“No shovelling” – I dread to think of the men Lizzie has had to endure on previous dates.

Good table manners?
I kept a keen eye out for mistakes: none to report.

DID you? Mistakes? Like what? They went to a really, really posh restaurant – the kind of place that, in a Victoria Wood sketch, would end up with an earthy waitress pouring spaghetti sauce into the crotches of two arrogant businessmen – so I imagine there was lots of silverware on the table or something.

I’m not sure it’s possible to make too many mistakes at a table in a restaurant, is it? Mouth open while chewing. Opening mouth to eat more food without fully clearing the loading bay of previous forkfuls. Using the wrong knife and fork – seriously never, ever, ever fuck anyone who gives a shit about cutlery or the order you use it in. Anyway, I assume Tomas says he “kept a keen out for mistakes” as an excuse for not being able to take his eyes off Lizzie during the meal. I didn’t just fall out of a tree, you know. Next.

Best thing about them?
He was considerate, and I liked his sense of humour.
She made me laugh a lot.

Are you, like me, afraid to look up at the sky in case there are clouds gathering? Don’t be. Look up. Up! It’s nothing but blue.

Would you introduce them to your friends?
Yes, I think they’d like him.
Yes, I would.

2019: I missed this one too. Probably because don’t say something like, “I don’t think he could handle them” or “We move in different worlds”. This question, for a while, was the big reveal, the one that gave them all away. Week after week of narcissist thinking their brood of hangers-on where in any way unique because they ordered the second-cheapest bottle of plonk off the menu and took change out of the tip jar in Putney All Bar One. Here, though: perfect.

Describe him in three words
Intelligent, kind, funny.

INTELLIGENT, like a super-computer about to destroy Earth but don’t worry it won’t because James Bond will be along in a minute to sort it all out.
KIND, like a little old lady who gives you some brandy just after you’ve been run over. What a shame you’re only 13 and still lying in the middle of the road. But at least the thought was there. (This is a true story.)
FUNNY, like someone whose jokes hit all the right spots, who know just when to ease off the mockery and the sarcasm, who changes gear effortlessly between sardonic and sentimental. Like Tomas, perhaps

Describe her in three words
Warm, creative, interesting.

WARM, like a fruit crumble that you pour too much cream onto and pretend  you’re just trying to cool it down when in fact you just want to eat all the cream.
CREATIVE, like the lies on my CV in the Nineties.
INTERESTING, like a laughter line caught in candlelight, or a look in their eye that says something.

What do you think he made of you?
I think he thought I was a bit of all right.
She must have thought I was a hunk. Guilty as charged.

When was the last time we saw this? Have we ever seen this? Two people sweeping the nonsense off the desk and clambering onto it to press their chests together? How many times have we read someone say “I haven’t the faintest idea” or “I’m not sure” or some overly toxic self-deprecating crap here? How often have we watched two grown adults – complex creatures with an ocean of insecurities in every pocket of their jeans or their handbag – do themselves a massive disservice and not say what we should ALL say when asked this question?

Finally saying what you mean, grabbing a moment with both hands, leaving nothing to chance.  How often do we do that? Too much slips through our fingers, too many things left unsaid when it’s too late, when the moment is gone. No more of this. There isn’t time.

The only answer better than these two truthful declarations on intent – and I’m sure I don’t have to draw a diagram to tell you what that intention is – would be “I don’t give a bronze fuck what they made of me”. But it’s sunny and it’s spring and we need our vitamin D  – and so do they – so let’s enjoy this positive moment. A fleck of gold in an absolute great steaming turd of a week.

Did you go on somewhere?
Yes.
To a nearby pub.

2019: Can’t think why I missed out this absolute gold, can you?

And… did you kiss?
Yes, briefly.

TOO briefly, Lizzie, am I right? Right.

And… did you kiss?
I’m delighted to announce that we did.

Well, we are delighted to read it. All together now, everyone:

“IT’S ABOUT FUCKING TIME.”

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
I had a lovely evening with a special person. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Nothing.

Marks out of 10?
10.
10, and a bonus point for her idiosyncratic taste in films.

Not just two tens but an unexpected – and totally against the rules – 11! Eleven! Lizzie’s 10 is also, if we really think about it, an eleven – it’s just a shy one. It couldn’t be anything else, could it? If you’ve read this far, you’ll know it too. Two 11s. We are in a 22-point date situation.

Let’s get wasted.

OK, so this almost feels pointless now. Do we need to ask the last one? Must we spoil it – just in case? No, we must know. 22 points or not. Let’s turn this double-11 into a 100.

Would you meet again?
We swapped numbers, so, yes, I think we will.
Yes, she is great company.

I don’t ever want to sit next to them in a restaurant while they make smoochy noises and get off with each other, but I would LOVE to cause havoc at their wedding. Like I said, Lizzie, watch out next autumn – it’s in the pudding or the pebble.

Note: 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.

This one’s for Manchester.

Lizzie and Tomas ate at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, London W1.


Further reading: Read the 10th anniversary piece on the Blind Date column in Guardian Weekend magazine, the week I appeared on the cover!


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4 Comments

  1. I was disappointed at first when I saw that Guyliner wasn’t making mincemeat of one very deserving half of this week’s Blind Date, but then — when I saw why — BLISS! Congratulations to Lizzie and Tomas!

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