Impeccable Table Manners

Lucy and Bruno


Already incredible scenes here in this week’s Guardian Blind Date. Bruno is a 20-year-old medical student (20! What are you doing here?!) and is wearing a Fila jumper. Are they back? Is it ironic? No idea.

He has been paired with Lucy, a 24-year-old media PA. Hmmm, a 24-year-old woman and a 20-year-old manchild having a bash at irono-fashion. What could possibly go wrong?

Read it and weep before I make myself useful with the cut and paste and look a little more closely.

Lucy | Bruno
First impressions?
He’s ginger.

Not even a “hot ginge”, Lucy? That lairy, condescending compliment that is supposed to make anyone with red hair dissolve into paroxysms of ecstasy because you deigned to find them attractive? No. Just ginger. Oh. Bruno?

Age mismatch.

Innit. Bruno may look like he’s just got out of detention for writing graffiti in the Year 9 bogs, but he shows wisdom beyond his years by, quite rightly, noting that there is no way on Earth he should be on a date with a 24-year-old.

Lucy is obviously very young and very pretty, but she looks like one of those magic people who could be anything between 16 and 41, depending on how their hair sits at any given time and what the light is like.

Bruno will look 14 until two days before his 38th birthday, when it will all catch up and he will turn into Chris Evans (not the Captain America version) overnight.

What did you talk about?
Cycling, finding previous owners’ scribbles in secondhand books, Sean Bean and pig farms.

Sean Bean. Game Of Thrones, then, unless they were reminiscing about When Saturday Comes, his O2 ad voiceovers, or when he was married to the second Aveline from Bread – yes, my cultural references do smell slightly of mothballs, don’t they? Bruno:

Matlock, her younger sister and my older brothers, films I hadn’t seen and books I hadn’t read.

Aw Bruno. Somebody throw this man a lifejacket. I know that age is relative and all that and it’s not Bruno’s fault he is young, nor Lucy’s that she is older, but this was never going to go any other way.
“What, you haven’t even read the Time Traveler’s Wife?”
“No, but I did like River Song in Doctor Who. Is it like that?”

Any awkward moments?
When we were asked which white wine we wanted, and he replied “house”.

Hahahahaha. Oh, Bruno. I would have said this at 20. In fact, I probably didn’t even know what house wine was at 20 – all my eating out was confined to dreadful American burger joints and cheap breakfasts in BHS cafe.

I would be disappointed with anyone his age giving even the slightest fuck about wine. Until I was about 26, it came in “colours” and that was as much as I knew about it. Oh, and “fizzy” too.

When she got out her phone to show me a picture of her dog.

“I am too young to give a shit about your dog.”

I feel for Lucy here. Cute pets are usually an easy win, unless you find yourself up against one of those rabid cat and dog haters. I would only show a 20-year-old heterosexual male a picture of a dog if it was a GIF of it falling off a chair or it had a huge pair of Page 3 knockers Photoshopped onto it.

Table manners next. What’s that coming over the hill? Is it a monster?

Good table manners?

No, it’s an “impeccable”. I suppose on this date, which reads like the  collision of a swan and a terrier, to the soundtrack of two radio playing at once – one’s got Radio 2 on and the other is blasting out 1 Xtra – you would have to reach for a positive and Lucy has found comfort in an “impeccable” here so I shan’t deny her that.

Can’t fault them.

Good, good. Next.

Describe him in three words
Well-read, interesting, tall.

Well-read? Remember Bruno’s answer to the “What did you talk about?” question. Either Bruno is super-convincing at fudging his way through plots of novels he has never even seen in Bargain Books, or Lucy is faking it as well. The nation demands to know: what books have you two actually read?

Describe her in three words
Not for me.

If there’s one book Bruno has read, it’s Simon Cowell’s biography.

What do you think he made of you?
I’m not sure. He seemed quite shy initially and I felt I was interviewing him.

I imagine the conversation on this date to be on an awkwardness scale somewhere between “Grandma is on the phone and your mum has wet hands so can’t take the handset from you for the moment so you have to tell her about university and your coursework and she doesn’t understand” and “Caught lying about whether you used a large, chargeable carrier bag at an M&S self-checkout”.

What do you think she made of you?
Probably not what she was hoping for on a Friday night.

And to think they wasted a Friday on these two. How many of these columns have we read where one or the other uses “It was a school night” as an excuse for not having a wild night of exciting hedonism, unbridled passion and, crucially, readable content the next day?

Did you go on somewhere?
No (it wasn’t a school night).

See? Poor Bruno. (Although don’t say things like “school night” when you still have the scent of your last school meal clinging to you.)

There’s a bit of nonsense about an awkward handshake that I’m ignoring because it feels like a lazy plot device thrown in to make this seem like less of a bore, so let’s move on to marks. Lucy:

Marks out of 10?

“Zero. But with point-five on it so he doesn’t get a complex. Although make no mistake, this was terrible.”

10 (because I don’t agree with rating people).

Is this that congratulation culture I am always hearing about? How nobody can fail, everybody gets a “well done” and all that?

It is a nice idea, but, Bruno, this date was not a 10. And in life you need to feel the fives and the sixes to ever appreciate how good a ten can be. Don’t reward mediocrity; don’t say it was “amazing” when it was “mortifying”.

Lucy’s scored you a nothing, which you probably deserve – you need to hit back. Oh well.

Would you meet again?
Yes, as friends.

First an “impeccable”, now a “yes, as friends”. Lucy’s answers feel media trained to within an inch of their life. This is a woman who was determined not to look stupid – or be made to look stupid – in a magazine.

She may well pull it off, but for Bruno bounding in like a labrador and breaking all the best china.

Only by accident.


Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

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