Life through the looking-glass is not as we expected, is it? Our lives are a series of scenes and only occasionally written by ourselves. Presently, the scriptwriters have lost their minds. Am fully expecting to walk into my bathroom to find a dinosaur there, waiting to rip my head off. But before the inevitable chaos, there is a Blind Date to review. After recovering from what may or may not have been the coronavirus – looking forward to not knowing that for certain for some time to come – and isolating for a couple of weeks, I have injured my back and cannot sit at my desk for very long, so the keyword for today shall be ‘brisk’.
This week we’re skewing young, with Lucjan, a 23-year-old civil servant, and youth worker Laura, 24. Here they are in full, with their choice quotes selected by the Guardian. “We will never drink wine this expensive again” is beautifully nihilistic and almost prophetic.
Read the full date in the Guardian, before I wash my hands for twenty seconds, moisturise them, and then get stuck in, all without touching my face (I just touched my face as I wrote that).
Lucjan on Laura | Laura on Lucjan
What were you hoping for?
Someone sparky and able to take the conversation anywhere.
I misread this as “something sparkly” and thought Lucjan was a tinsel fetishist. Does such a fetish exist? I guess it’s only a matter of time. I’m not kink-shaming but tinsel is so… abrasive. It’s a festive, elongated Brillo pad. Or perhaps that is the point.
“Someone able to take the conversation anywhere” – God do you remember when everyone talked about nothing but Brexit? What I wouldn’t have given to have the conversation go anywhere other than that – I wasn’t counting on a horrific pandemic that would transform life as we know it though, know what I mean? I fear we went a bit too far on that one.
What were you hoping for?
Good food, good wine, good conversation and, hopefully, to meet someone I’d like to see again.
Three goods and a hopefully. Saving the superlatives for later, I imagine.
Dressed far better than me. I realised halfway through that I had not ironed my shirt properly. Sorry, Mum.
I have been doing my own ironing for a very long time now. In fact, I also stopped doing almost any ironing quite a long time ago too. In my twenties, I used to spend one night a week ironing all my clean clothes – let’s just say the pages of my social dairy were blanker than a Kardashian’s stare – but when I got older, I thought, what am I actually doing? Who cares? Well, it turns out mothers care, no matter how far away you live. I don’t talk about my mother much because she is quite a private person – although I will say she is still having to go out to work during the coronavirus crisis btw, despite being in her mid-60s, because bills still have to be paid, and yes I worry about this for around 95% of my waking day, thanks – but she is a dedicated ironer. She irons everything. Bed sheets! We debate this constantly.
“Who sees them?” I cry.
“I do!” she replies.
When I am back in my hometown and lumbering awkwardly around the house I grew up in because everything is smaller than I remember it, she will ask if I need anything ironing, to which I used to reply of course not, I can do it myself. But it turns out that my mother is concerned that were I (or my sister) to be seen in badly ironed or – GASP – unironed clothes, it would reflect badly on her, and people – no idea who these people are, I know nobody in my hometown anymore – would think that my mother had “sent you out looking like a tramp”. Anyway, so what I’m saying here is I know why Lucjan is apologising to his mother.
Friendly, well-dressed and very much my type!
“Very much my type!” Well, that’s exciting. I would need to look at Laura’s previous paramours to decide whether this was a good or a bad thing, though.
What did you talk about?
Our love for our godchildren, nieces and nephews, her decision to get ordained as a minister next year, how she loves war films “because of the male-on-male bonding”, hot priests.
Identity, hopes for the future and the fact that we would probably never drink wine this expensive again.
Godchildren. I have four of these. Two boys, two girls. I have been told the benefit of being a godfather is you can buy the child really noisy toys and spoil them, and not have to listen to the fallout once you go back to your “luxury” apartment above a branch of Gail’s in a soon-to-be-desirable postcode. I don’t know why you would want to give your parent friends a nervous breakdown, so I would suggest buying godchildren books, or magazines. Oh, and sweets. My eldest godson is 19 and, yes, I still turn up at the house with sweets for him, and his 12-year-old brother. How weird life is, to one minute be carrying a tiny, gurgling heap of flesh and bones that you inexplicably adore round Topshop in a papoose while his mother wanders on ahead looking at clothes and then, the very next minute, mere eye-blinks in time, be standing in a kitchen listening to him tell you what he got up to at a festival. I think that’s why I still buy the sweets – it’s as close to time travel as I can get.
Getting ordained as a minister. I’m assuming this is an actual vocation and not just that soap opera thing where someone is getting married so a character who’s not had a storyline for a while can suddenly announce they’re officially ordained in the Church of the Rabid Troll of the Internet and perform the ceremony.
“Male-on-male bonding.” Is Laura one of those women who likes watching gay porn and writes Larry Stylinson fanfic (Google it), or has she got her words jumbled up? Lucjan putting it in quotes suggests the latter, but then…
Hot priests. Andrew Scott is probably going to have to change his name by deed poll to Hot Priest if we carry on like this, isn’t he? He was good in other things, you know!
Good table manners?
Yes. He wasn’t afraid to share finger food with me.
I mean, the idea of “finger food” makes me want to heave anyway. And it’s usually all fingers and no food. But they went to Barrafina, which is tapas, so I guess we have to let this one go. I mean, we are all three water droplets away from oblivion so in the scheme of things, arm-wrestling over the last croquette doesn’t seem to matter anymore, does it?
Best thing about Laura?
She loves It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, too – she compared me to Mac, even though I’m definitely Charlie.
I’ve used gifs from this show many times, but watched only one or two episodes, so I don’t know how to react specifically to this. (I just can’t be bothered catching up now, tbh, I hate there being so much telly out there, servers groaning with content I will never see. I can’t be arsed with Parks and Recreation either. I feel the gifs are enough for me. Enjoy, though.)
Best thing about Lucjan?
He’s super easy to talk to – there was never a quiet moment.
This is nice. My tip, by the way, if you find yourself in an awkward silence and stuck for something to say, is to talk about that. “Oh my God, an awkward silence, the worst, right? What was the most awkward silence you’ve ever had? Well, that sounds boring, let me tell you mine, anyway…” I don’t mind silence sometimes, though; it’s better than talking yourself into the noose.
Would you introduce her to your friends?
Yes. I would also like to introduce her to the ghosts in my house for an exorcism.
Sure! He seems like he’d be fun at a party.
They are like two audience members from a recording of QI who got chatting in the queue for Alan Davies’ autograph afterward and I am very here for it! (Skip the autograph, and just go to the pub.)
Inviting someone into your house to exorcise ghosts is at least more original than being invited in for lukewarm Nescafé (ironically pronounced Nescaff to demonstrate working class roots in case it’s an advantage) served in a chipped mug and it is, somehow, less creepy too.
I can imagine Lucjan and Laura at one of these parties Laura mentions, talking very earnestly about a TV show they’d both recently seen on a streaming service, sipping the premium vodka they found in the kitchen – their own supermarket-label vodka still unopened in a bag in said kitchen. They seem very sweet. If it turns out by the end that one of them is really into talking about vivisection and the other has some interesting opinions on single mums (both things I have terminated a date for) then I will be crushed.
Describe Laura in three words?
Genuine, kind, sparkly.
GENUINE, like a question asked by a man on the internet who has 47 followers and a tiny little UK flag emoji after his username who, for some inexplicable reason, people with over 147K followers feel compelled to amplify.
KIND, which is the buzzword of the moment, although it seems to have been swept aside very quickly by that other buzzword. “Be kind” is not the worst motto in the world, but I have trouble extending kindness to everybody. I prefer “Try not to be horrible for no reason”. Still working on it. Aren’t we all?
SPARKLY. Oh he did say sparkly in the end! He said “sparky” in the first question. So he’s gone from wanting to date an electrician to appreciating Laura’s glittery, effervescent nature. Lovely.
Describe Lucjan in three words?
Honest, lively, attractive.
HONEST. What happened to honesty, I wonder. Will we ever see its like again?
LIVELY, like absolutely nowhere is at the moment. When I went out for the first time after my “do I have coronavirus or not?” panic-breathing isolation, I was quite weirded out. Just that short walk on streets I trudge along all the time was so eerie. Still people about, life hasn’t stopped completely, but the main thing missing was the hum of London, the constant, low whirr of life happening not in your eyeline, but all around you. Outside is now stuck in a time loop, where it’s only ever very early on a Saturday morning in spring, everything almost coming to life, but never quite managing it.
What do you think she made of you?
Probably high on his own supply of nonsense.
Well, I mean, probably not.
What do you think he made of you?
He probably thought I was funny, talkative, maybe a little eccentric.
I can’t comment on Laura here and I don’t think this applies to her in the slightest but quite a lot of people who describe themselves as “eccentric” come from a “comfortable” background – I mean wealthy-ish, but with no title – are rude, and don’t wash their ass-crack every day. An alternative “eccentric” is a supposedly no-nonsense former working-class person who made a lot of money, runs a large company and behaves like an absolute cunt to their staff. They usually have crimson, bloated faces with Tube maps of splintered blood vessels across them, untamed greying hair and the cold, unforgiving eyes of a serial killer.
The other type of “eccentric” is along Laura’s lines. Generally very kind and chatty, wears stripey tights and bumble-bee earrings, dips their McDonald’s (RIP) fries in hot chocolate, chats with a god every now and again. I know which one I’d rather was running a chain of pubs or sport shops.
Did you go on somewhere?
No, we both scuttled home because of Covid-19. This must be what dating in 1939 was like.
I am not massively “here” for comparing coronavirus to wartime, to be honest with you. Perhaps the only useful analogy is that “blackout” was like the “stay at home” message – it only really worked if everybody did it, and was vigilant. I won’t go on about this because who needs it, frankly, but this is not a war, and I get irked when I see politicians and commentators and others getting a mini hard-on doing their Winston Churchill motivational cosplay. We cannot negotiate with the coronavirus, we cannot battle it, there will be no victories. We just have to say out of its way for as long as possible. We also cannot bang hot American soldiers in alleyways, so it’s definitely nowhere near as fun as a war. Perhaps the main similarity between the pandemic and a war is that those who die of it do so frightened, and often alone, away from those who loved them. Please stay at home if you can.
And… did you kiss?
Nah, I’m a second date kinda gal.
Do you think they regret this now? Depends how symptomatic they are at the moment, I guess. Did they have the second date, or did we go to lockdown before they could lock lips?
If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
I wished we’d talked more about hot priests. Laura clearly had a lot to say on this topic.
Nothing comes to mind.
Marks out of 10?
7 (would be 8, but she ate my bit of lamb chop).
Do I have to? Maybe a 9?
I suppose now we have to queue outside supermarkets, Lucjan’s concern over the stolen lamb chop is well placed. Who knows when we will be able to eat lamb chops again? (In my case, never; they are horrible.)
A seven in the dying days of civilisation might seem like a harsh score but remember Lucjan is young and did mention the number 8, which means it is an 8. And, Laura, of course you have to. As dehumanising as scoring people may seem, reducing them to nothing but numbers is something we may have to get accustomed to. I hope we try to remember the people behind every statistic though. Every record broken is a heart broken too.
Would you meet again?
Too wonderful not to.
I really hope they managed to squeeze in that kiss before lockdown and are excitedly Housepartying one another from their respective isolations.
See you on the other side.
(Next week is the last regular Guardian Blind Date, before they go virtual.)
My second book is coming out in the middle of a pandemic and I’m not sure of the etiquette around this but I do I’m going to need all the readers I can get. Preorder links here, or by clicking the image of the beautiful cover below. Shifting a book featuring LGBTQ characters is hard enough under normal circumstances, God knows what’s going to happen now. It is a story about two brothers trying to work out what tf is going on, and it’s out May 28.
About the review and the daters: The comments I make are based on the answers given by the participants. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits answers to make the column work better on the page. Most of the things I say are merely riffing on the answers given and not judgements about the daters themselves, so please be kind to them in comments and replies. Please do not tweet horrible things about them. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story; I’ll happily publish whatever you say. Tell me how your lockdowns are going.
• Laura and Lucjan ate at Barrafina in London. This date took place before the UK government’s latest advice on physical distancing. Self-isolation doesn’t mean you have to stop looking for love, and Blind Date will continue with online video dates. If you’re single and would like to be set up (with a takeaway on us), email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re looking to meet someone like‑minded, visit soulmates.theguardian.com.