Impeccable Table Manners

Martin and Ola


When you first come out as gay, one of the worst things is not worrying what people will think, or that you’ll get beaten up by a skinhead wielding a Staffordshire bull terrier or that you’ll have to listen to Madonna songs every waking hour. Oh no.

It’s the grim inevitability that once everyone you know has painstakingly assured you they’re “cool” with it, they will turn to you with the dead-eyed brightness of a TV-AM weathergirl and say, “Ooh I know a gay guy. He’d be perfect for you!!”

He may have the wrong colour hair, skin like a snake, terrible taste in music and a face like a Pink Floyd album cover, but it doesn’t matter. He’s gay, so you’re bound to like him.

A theme of recent Guardian Blind Dates is the hapless pair hoovering up the free meal have similar jobs. The Guardian is that well-meaning auntie pairing you up with that acidic gay who works two floors down from her.

Martin and Ola

This week, two people who both work in finance. Those working in finance will be eager to tell you “Actually it is not boring and it’s very important, and without people like us, you lot would be…” and other things that usually send me to sleep before they get to the end. So let’s see if they’re right!

Read what happened between finance director Martin, 40, and 32-year-old Ola, who gets her kicks being a financial auditor. Ooh, it’s like LinkedIn has got New Look vouchers for Christmas and is clumsily trying on sexy outfits in the changing room, isn’t it?

Martin | Ola
What were you hoping for?
Someone I wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to meet.

Well, you’re fresh out of luck there, Mart. Coal, meet Newcastle.

What were you hoping for?
Chemistry with a tall, smart guy who makes me laugh.

Is Ola tall? I can’t tell from the magazine. It does look like Martin is not, so perhaps this is one of those hilarious setups for a reaction shot that Khloe Kardashian is so good at, every time one of her family speaks.

Tall. It’s a fetish, right? Like being into bears or ‘silver foxes’ or big knockers or dicks, or MILFs or people of certain races. “I like tall men.” Will any tall man do?

First impressions?
Attractive, interesting, great shoes and a very cool scarf.

“Great shoes.” “A very cool scarf.” We are fortunate Martin took time out of his busy schedule watching E! and reading OK! to be with us today.

On a serious note, it’s good when men take an interest in what women wear because we all, do we not, dress in the hope someone will say, “Ooh, that’s nice”.

First impressions?
Not the night I’ll fall in love.

alexis looks up and down

As Destiny’s Child would say, Martin: “Here’s your papers, baby, you are dismissed”.

You can learn to fall in love with someone who doesn’t quite match up to whatever ridiculous ideal you have in your head, but sometimes it’s easier to solve that troublesome zit on the nose by sawing your head off.

What did you talk about?
The vagaries of online dating, accountancy exams (an under-rated dinner topic), hen dos in the UK and Czech Republic.

In a scientific study I have just conducted in my head, based on past experience and years and years reading this column and others like it, I can exclusively reveal that talking about dating while you’re actually on a date is one of the most boring things you can do and a pastime beloved of fuckboys, dolts, drones and arseholes.

It’s up there with making a vegetarian pal explain to you why they don’t eat meat, or chewing a pregnant woman’s ear off about motherhood, the birth canal and Mumsnet, or talking through your extreme vertigo with everyone else in your death-capsule on the London Eye.

I won’t even get on to the accountancy sexy talk and their amazing opinions on hen dos because I’ve got crumpets in the toaster, and I assume the Czech Republic has come up because Ola is from there?No idea.

What did you talk about?
Work, OCD, my plans to go to Australia, a friend in common.

“My plans to go to Australia.” By the sound of it, Ola plans to make her escape Down Under before we get to the pudding.

I’m not sure why OCD came up in conversation. Maybe they’re both those kind of awful people who think  cleaning your kitchen more than twice a week means you have OCD.

Any awkward moments?
She was late – I thought I was being stood up and the restaurant staff were giving me sympathetic looks.

Mrs White doing the flames speech in Clue

Unless Martin reveals halfway through the date that he was actually the Yorkshire Ripper all along, I can’t see how I’d be anything other than on his side.

Lateness. People who are always late for everything laugh it off, call you uptight for expecting punctuality and say things like, “X was late for their flight and then it crashed without them on it so it just goes to show lateness can save your life”.

Don’t accept this. Don’t let someone tell you your time isn’t worth anything and you need to “loosen up” and accept that being on time isn’t important. If we’re meeting at 7:00pm and you arrive at 6:59pm you are bang on time. Well done. Any later than that, and we’ll be eating our romantic dinner in silence and I’ll be dreaming up ways to poison your tortellini while you’re at the loo. Don’t be late: it’s what garbage people do.

Any awkward moments?
When we realised I’d been on a date with his friend.

Oh, who cares? Worst attempt at a bit of drama since they brought back Crossroads. I am quite comfortable here on the edge of my seat and don’t think I’ll be falling off any time soon.

We have arrived at the table manners question and I am concerned we are in some unpalatable answers.

Good table manners?
The epitome of elegance.

I don’t know why, but I have a funny feeling Martin is one of those guys who pronounces ‘epitome’ to rhyme with ‘roam’. Don’t ask me why. Just a hunch. Anyway, it’s better than an impeccable. Let’s see what men-on-stilts enthusiast Ola has to say.

Good table manners?

Marlon Brando looking bashful

I think if my feelings toward this date get any chillier, I’m going to need Lemsip, blankie, and a crowbar to override the thermostat.

Best thing about Ola?
She knows what she wants.

Here we have a stock Guardian Blind Date answer. Men say it a lot. Crybaby men. Men who fart in lifts and then sail out one floor down from where they’re supposed to get off. Men who ask for an extra two shots in Starbucks (nobody needs that much caffeine; go fuck yourself). “She knows what she wants” means “she didn’t want me, so here’s a passive-aggressive mallet to smash your walnut”.

She knows what she wants. So do I. It’s for my ceiling to fall in so I don’t have to write about you two any more.

Ola cops out with “A good man with a good heart”, which is code for “Not even with a barge pole, but I wouldn’t mind him being uncle to my spoiled children”.

Would you introduce her to your friends?
It turns out she met one of my very good friends on an online date. But, yes, happily.

Oh dear. This again. Our pitbull has a throat in its jaws and it’s not letting go.

The online dating world is minuscule. All the same people are on all the same sites and apps. Log in after six months away from a dating site – perhaps after a rather boring yet sexually adequate fling with one of Martin’s friends – and you will see the same old faces, each bio more depressing and lame than the last.

They should clear out all that meaningless text, all the “I like going out and staying in” and the erroneous colons and double spaces after fullstops and wittering and replace it with “Yes, I am still here. You may as well date me now to save time later”.

Anyway, who gives a shit whether Ola dated Martin’s friend? I hope she screwed him on Martin’s desk.

Would you introduce him to your friends?
I don’t see why not.

Maybe he could bang one of your pals in return, Ola? Then you’ll be even.

What do you think she made of you?
She stayed for dessert and we walked to the tube together, so I figure I wasn’t repulsive. Either that, or she was hungry and didn’t know the way.

I’m going to go with “hungry and lost”, I’m afraid, Martin.

I’m rubbish at reading signals from men.

“I don’t care what he thought of me, but at least I still have his friend’s number.”

Did you go on somewhere?
No, we both had important things to do in the morning.

Apart from remembering your mother’s birthday, show me one thing more important than waking up on a weekday on the wrong side of town, your mouth dry and groin tender, absolutely dripping in last night’s sex with a perfect stranger. Impossible. Il n’y a rien.

And… did you kiss?
No, other than the welcome/ farewell-on-the-cheek type.
We agreed not to comment.

If you’re going to go on the date, wolf down the free meal, have a journalist badger you for your answers and take up valuable space both in the magazine and my Saturday morning, I am going to want to know every single place your tongue went on this date, complete with map coordinates and links to any liveblogging.

Does this mean Martin is fibbing and they full-on pashed? Either way, he broke the agreement and went rogue so I imagine Ola is fuming now. It’s like hearing the dullest secret in the world and then being asked not to tell anyone. I couldn’t shrug hard enough. No1curr.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
I wouldn’t have been late and I’d have had two desserts.

See? Ola was just hungry. Poor Mart.

Can you believe we’re onto the scores, already? I know this has been like a particularly exhilarating salsa in the arms of the hot one from Strictly Come Dancing and you don’t want it to end, but sadly, it must. Let’s hear what these two mathematical whizzes can cook up in the numbers department, then.


Ola comes in a point lower than Martin, knocking one off for his lack of stature, perhaps. Martin’s 8 is optimistic, friendly, hopeful. Ola’s 7 is a fire door, swinging shut on your fingers.

Would you meet again?
Yes. Unless she slams me, in which case absolutely not.

Someone slams a door

Ola? Fancy doing this again?

For professional mentoring. He’s not my type.

*hollow laugh*

Absolutely no comment. None. Except:

Woman waves bye bye

If next week we could have two people with different jobs and slightly sexier hangups, that would be great. Until then…

Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian.

Note: All the comments I make are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which may have been changed by a journalist to make for better copy. The participants in the date are aware this may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena. I am sure, in real life, they are cool people. I am critiquing the answers, not the people themselves. If you are the couple in this date and want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal. 


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