Week 7,004 of the dystopian present lurches to an end, with another two days of pretending brisk walks round the perimeter of an adventure playground are still all the stimulation we need. I’m not sure there is anything left to say about anything, but we must try mustn’t we? So in an attempt to wring some kind of normality out of the fusty dishcloth that is 2021, I present to you Lucy and Luke, who despite their cutesy matching names are not a set of ill-fated twins from a Virginia Andrews paperback but are two single people looking for love. But before they go searching for that, they’ve decided to subject themselves to the unforgiving photography and naked misery of the Guardian Blind Date column.
Lucy is 42, and works as a drama therapist, and Luke is 36 and an education data manager. Here they are in their pixellated, Zoom close-up glory:
I’ll be skipping through this one in a very ‘ten items or fewer, baskets only’ checkout manner today so for the full details of the date, cast your eyes over toward the Guardian website.
Lucy on Luke | Luke on Lucy
What were you hoping for?
A Frenchman or Londoner with the face of Jeremy Meeks, a campaigner with a passion like Marcus Rashford and the wit of Kevin Hart.
What could possibly go wrong? (For people who can’t be bothered to Google, Jeremy Meeks is the so-called ‘hot felon’ whose mugshot led to a modelling contract, Marcus Rashford is Marcus Rashford, and Kevin Hart is a comedian whose historic homophobic comments came back to haunt him – yet despite his protests he was not remotely ‘cancelled’.)
Anyway from this answer it’s clear Lucy has literally never read this column before. Maybe she think she’s answering a questionnaire about her ideal Drag Race contestant?
What were you hoping for?
For some light relief; to maybe meet a partner; to talk to someone outside my existing virtual friend set (no offence to them).
I’ve not really been talking to my friends on Zoom or FaceTime or whatever. Is this unusual? Tbh, they were all so busy before the pandemic with jobs, children, or not living in London anymore, and I was always working at home or whatever, that I got used to not seeing them. This is how things can get in your 40s. There is always that sliver of imposter syndrome mixed with social anxiety that comes from being on your own a lot, where you don’t want to ‘disturb’ them or assume they have more important things to do than talk or meet up. Funny old thing, isn’t it? Plus, some of my friends don’t really like the Zoom thing. Some conversations you can only really have in the same room, gauging their reactions, the natural flow of conversation taking it to places a video screen and an echoey voice piping out of a speaker cannot.
Any awkward moments?
When he changed from his laptop to his phone we had a good chuckle about his steamy screen making it look as if he was in a sauna.
Trying to get remote dinners ordered on apps neither of us were regulars at, tech running out of battery and my sound not working, briefly.
In a way it’s good to know that in our supposedly digital-first times, there are still people who run out of laptop battery midway through a video call. Although I do find it wild there are people who don’t hawkishly check their remaining charge; I won’t leave a room without taking a charger with me. I definitely make more typos the further past 45% battery I get.
Best thing about Luke?
His patience: it took ages for me to work out how to order on the Just Eat app and he guided me through the process.
Ordinarily I would rant and rage here about the ridiculousness of anyone under the age of 95 not being able to use a takeaway app. It seems to come up every week, I even started to wonder if it was one of those ‘I’ve never seen Star Wars’ or ‘I’ve never read a book’ personality replacements that people are so fond of wheeling out to make themselves look like individuals. Is it embarrassing to have the ability to order three courses of Wagamama for four people on Deliveroo in 75 seconds? Not for me; I only wish I could fit the achievement on a T-shirt. Anyway, then I saw it was Just Eat, which I’ve only used a couple of times but is indeed a terrible interface and awful experience altogether. So all is forgiven, Lucy.
And patience is important, isn’t it? Sometimes I have lots, sometimes I have absolutely none, but I know which me I prefer. Patience and kindness so often go together, and while kindness is very important, I feel sometimes that it’s the wrong quality to have its own hashtag. First of all, scattering #bekind over everything is kind of meaningless, and secondly, there are times when we shouldn’t be kind. I’m not suggesting being unkind, but there are people whose actions don’t deserve our kindness. Demanding kindness in some blanket decree seems to benefit horrible people more. People who are kind will always be kind they don’t need a T-shirt to remind them. Patience is much more useful. You don’t have to like someone, but maybe being patient with them – which can include taking them to task for being a dickhead – is a better way to get them to change. Not that they will, tbh, but hey ho.
Best thing about Lucy?
Her obvious passion for everything she does. Her dedication. Her laugh (if I’m allowed several?) Her genuine and down-to-earth nature.
If this were a physical date, I would say Luke sounds super keen and that he’s very much into Lucy. But somehow, listed like this after a 90-minute video date, it strikes me that while these compliments are undoubtedly sincere and deserved, Luke is just bored and glad to see a different face on his laptop/phone. I reckon if I lived alone and only saw the same old faces – and virtually at that – I’d even be glad to see Michael Gove.
Would you introduce him to your friends?
Maybe to my friend Karen (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
It’s hard to look at the name Karen now because it has so many different meanings – I have spent far too much of my life on the internet. But ignoring that, I think Lucy is using the column to set Luke up with her friend, and also handily letting us know – with the subtlety of ten dairy cows falling on their arses while doing the Bolero in the Dancing on Ice live final – that her interest in Luke as a romantic partner is nonexistent.
Would you introduce her to your friends?
100%. Without a second’s hesitation.
Luke is just desperate to patch someone else – ANYONE – into his pal catchup Zooms or group WhatsApps. He doesn’t know how much more he can take of Pete’s funny stories about his unruly toddler, or Dave’s midlife crisis head-shave, or Jack’s trial separation, or Other Dave’s weekly unboxing of his post-divorce tech haul, or Anna’s forays into veganism, or Chris’s breakdown about his possibly gay son, or Mike’s new passion for gardening, or Other Other Dave’s breakneck slide into far-right extremism. Please, Lucy, he seems to be saying, just join us, I’ll send you a link, talk about anything, anything.
Describe Luke in three words
Kind, distant, caring.
Kind, like the sequinned lettering etched on a scatter cushion bought for you by the most unkind person you know.
Distant, like the chances of this donkey-led government ever being held accountable for their actions.
Caring, like you are during the first twenty minutes of a friend telling you their problems, before your sympathy begins to dwindle until, by the hour mark, you’re siding with the surly customer services rep who refused to give them that 10% discount.
Describe Lucy in three words
Warm, genuine, hilarious.
Warm, like your face when you were seven, as you sat so close to Grandma’s gas fire that you started to barbecue yourself and got a brief taste of what it might be like to do MDMA in a low-ceilinged nightclub. (Great.)
Genuine, like ‘kind regards’ at the bottom of an email never is.
Hilarious, like very few hour-long Netflix specials are. Why are they all so bad? Is it nerves? The audiences? The set dressing?
What do you think he made of you?
Hopefully someone who is kind, funny and extremely passionate about the mental health of children. But who is also very cheeky and would get you into lots of trouble.
What I am learning here is that Lucy is big on specifics, from her ‘hoping for’ criteria to this exhaustive list of qualities she wants to get across. And she’s obviously very good at it, because Luke is definitely a stan.
What do you think she made of you?
I don’t think there was any mutual attraction. I think I find it a tiny bit more troublesome than most to fully engage virtually, especially in a personal/ private capacity.
It’s interesting that Lucy’s answer to this question was based on characteristics and achievements whereas Luke took a shard to his own jugular straightaway and confessed that the jig was up and that he knew she didn’t fancy him.
How did the call end?
He was politely not eating his food. I suggested that he settle down with his takeaway for the evening.
Another thing that comes up nearly every week now – one or both of them refusing to eat on camera. Can someone please explain how this is any worse than actually being on a date in a restaurant with someone and watching them try to cough hard enough to dislodge sticky toffee pudding from their uvula? Why are you guys sitting there and not eating? EAT. Is it any wonder these dates are failing to get off the ground if the daters are sitting there like they’re being interviewed for a graduate trainee scheme at Standard Life Bank? Pop the wine open, dig into your tortellini. There’s no risk of accidentally spraying your date with crab bisque as you laugh at their jokes, or them noticing you spilled gravy down your front, or being transfixed by the way you’re shelling a king prawn – just do it out of shot! You can get away with all the things that make eating in front of a stranger gross! I know it can be quite a horror show to see yourself eating for the first time, so just turn off the option to see yourself on screen. Hungry people are not sexy, you can’t turn on the charm with a grumbling stomach.
If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
To meet a Frenchman or Londoner with the face of Jeremy Meeks, a campaigner with a passion like Marcus Rashford and the wit of Kevin Hart.
If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
Not meeting in the relative stress and peculiarity of lockdown.
Poor Luke. All he wants is a conversation with someone that doesn’t involve a sourdough starter or speculation on when the government is going to let everyone go to Benidorm.
Marks out of 10?
10. Luke was lovely, but there was no online chemistry from either of us.
10 for Lucy, and 10 for the general company she offers.
Don’t wound me with these last-minute attempts to salvage something passionate from this conference. These are not true tens. Double-10s come from tender embraces, aggressive snogging, or ties being torn off with teeth, discarded underwear at gatecrashed parties, tube rides home hand in hand because you just know. This is a double-six evening – or perhaps a 6-7. I will not have this amicable amble through ten PowerPoint slides added to the Double-10 canon.
Would you meet again?
Sadly, it’s a no from me. But I know that there is someone very special out there for our Luke.
Absolutely. Although I sense this sentiment is not likely reciprocated. Regardless, I am firmly of the view that she is a total catch.
I mean, seriously, Double-10s for a ‘never again’? Don’t fuck with me, guys. But I wish you both well! x
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I was interviewed about it by Wandsworth Libraries too. Watch below!
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, they seem very nice, so please be kind to them in comments, replies, and generally on social media. I will not approve nasty below-the-line comments. 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. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story. And seriously, for me, eat something on camera. You’ll love it.
• Fancy a blind date? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.