Impeccable Table Manners

Martin and Rosie

I’ve always said politics should be avoided on a first date, and have often been told I am wrong. In today’s hyper-political climate, where celebrity gossip is no longer about Kim Kardashian’s latest selfies but whether the president of the USA is going to get us all blown up, I guess it’s inevitable the topic will come up. Politics has now become a dealbreaker, a slogan on a T-shirt that immediately says who and what you are, whereas back in the day (a day not too long ago that I still remember fondly) it was just a very small part of your complicated, multi-faceted being. Now, nobody wants to be on the wrong side of history, and, unfortunately, everyone is convinced they won’t be.

On first glance at Martin and Rosie, you probably wouldn’t have them down as political opposites. They’re both young – 27 and 30 respectively – and they’re both dressed in the inoffensive floor-drobe chic of most people their age (I almost said our but then felt an arthritic twinge and remembered myself) but then you see that Martin is an economist, and Rosie is an artist, and you think “ah”, which is very likely what the pair of them thought when they saw each other.

Photograph: Sarah Lee; Graeme Robertson, both for the Guardian

Read what happened on the date – which is actually quite sweet and not as monstrous as you might imagine – and then below I shall spit it out all back out like a mama bird puking pellets of sustenance into the mouths of her squawking young.

Try these.

Martin is a 27-year-old economist but seems to have the world-weary suspicion of dating of a 48-year-old divorced insurance salesman whose ex-wife got everything in the settlement and is now married to her tennis coach. The children never phone. The dog’s forgotten him.

Late. Oh Martin. You can’t do that. Don’t be late. Better to be massively early and freeze your cookies off while you do interminable circuits around the block than arrive late. The acceptable, sexy amount of time to be late is three minutes and no more.

I don’t watch that show and I am in no mood to Google but I’ll assume this is a compliment of some kind.

Is there anything worse than being on a date and having to listen to someone wang on about their dating experiences? Or the awkwardness of dating? Or dating in London? Well, yes, there are plenty of things worse than that but “ooh crivvens isn’t dating in 2017 a bind” conversations are just DIRE. If you want to whinge about your dating dramas, get a blog – I hear it can be very lucrative.

OK, so they both mention politics which means it was a “thing”. Usually the couples flag up different topics because, in all honesty, nobody can ever remember what the other person said unless it made quite a startling impression.

Also: what do you mean “(don’t ask)” Martin?! What do you think we’re reading the column for? You can’t tease us with the promise of a bit of meat and then close the lid of the casserole dish.

See? Its not over yet btw.

What do you reckon? Brexit? Still? God that FUCKING referendum – I wish I’d never laid eyes on it. It’s the ex that won’t fuck off out of your life, isn’t it? Still liking all your pics on Insta, or sending you photos of the cat saying “She misses you lol”, and still phones your mum. Brexit has turned us all, whichever side we were on, into single-issue bores, obsessing over something we didn’t even feel that strongly about two years ago. Beyond the odd LOL-free reference to bendy bananas and the Daily Mail having a thrombo about energy saving lightbulbs, did we ever think of the EU at all?

Say Brussels to someone in a kind of word association situation and what would people have said in 2015? Sprouts. Muscles, as in Jean Claude Van Damme. Maybe that ugly dog. Manneken pis for someone who’s been there, maybe. Now? Endless frothing about bureaucrats, mythical £350 million payments/savings AND bendy bananas. I hate everyone.

CHOPSTICKS. No no no no no. Not on a date. Luckily Rosie was good with them but in a show of solidarity, for those of us less blessed when it comes to dexterity, you should always ask for a fork when on a date. Please. Firstly, we don’t want to watch you chase that last mushroom round the bowl for half an hour. Second, if you’re really good at chopsticks, it makes us feel inferior and I have enough hangups as it is, thanks. I once wrote at length about chopsticks and how much I hate them. Read it and feel my pain.

“Sweet” is the magic word that gets you free, and permanent, entry into the friendzone.

Whenever I see the term “free spirit” I think of someone who laughs too loud at parties and has always has the telltale stain of red wine on their lips. I’m not saying this is a bad thing but it is a thing.


I would have paid actual cash-money to see Martin try to suppress the widening of his innocent eyes as he watched Rosie’s friends performing. I don’t know what they we’re doing, and I think perhaps it’s best the mystery stays unsolved, but I am willing to bet it’s not something Martin has seen before.

Anyway, this is a very good thing to do – why not? There’s an old saying that you should expect to be judged by the company you keep, and it’s almost always used negatively, but in fact it’s very true. If you’re proud of your mates and want to give someone you just met an idea of who you are, why not throw them in at the deep end and introduce them to your cohorts? We don’t take enough risks, or expose ourselves to different situations. This is why the world is standing in its various corners, shouting across an increasingly depressing wasteland (centrist dads aside, of course) – we live only in extremes, reluctant to question ourselves, open up to other possibilities. It’s sad. Well done Rosie and Martin.

Martin! Nooooo. Don’t do this. Your friend isn’t “better company” than you – maybe he’d have more in common with Rosie, but that doesn’t make him better, just more suitable. And who ever wanted to be suitable? Sure there’s a satisfaction in a perfect fit but also there’s something about rubbing each other up slightly the wrong way, having to work at it a little more. There’s a challenge. Maybe you’re not right for Rosie, but it doesn’t mean you’re wrong. I’ve done this on dates, wished I could be someone else just for a moment, so that it would go more smoothly or to make them like me better. Maybe if I spoke like this, or changed my opinion on that, they’d be interested. It’s a fool’s errand.

Hahaha. We all think we’re a little bit wilder and overbearing than we actually are, don’t we? I remember years ago a friend apologising to another friend for being so drunk at their party.
“I hope I didn’t make an exhibition of myself,” she said, meekly.
The other friend looked off to the right as if trying to dig something out of the depths of her mind. Then, finally: “Were you there? I don’t remember seeing you at all.”
Basically, we are all extras in someone else’s storyline.


Rosie seems like a good egg. It would’ve been very easy here to drag Martin into the middle of next week, but Rosie senses he’s a good egg too, and in troubled times, good eggs have to look after one another – there are so many rotten ones out there.



This is actually very sweet – rather than wish Rosie were different, he wishes it on himself, so that Rosie would have had a better time. I think we should all club together and take Martin out for a few pints and convince him he is actually a COOL GUY, despite voting for Trump or murdering his family or whatever it is he did that he regrets.

Usually I’d be applying burn cream to the affected areas (everywhere) but this actually seems fair.





Disclaimer: The comments I make about the couples are meant to be playful and humorous and are based on the answers the Guardian chooses to publish, which have usually been edited for space, brevity and drama. Get in touch if you want to give us your side of the story.

Note: If you’ve liked this, do think about sharing it on your “socials” so someone might commission me to write something for money. I’d be very grateful. Oh and if you want to preorder my novel – which I wrote all by myself – then Google “The Last Romeo Justin Myers” and purchase from your preferred retailer.


  1. I kind of felt… as if this one was a missed opportunity? I’m maybe seeing something that wasn’t there because I thought they were both nice young people, and in that sort of patronising, avuncular way which seems to come surprisingly naturally to me at this age I just assume that nice young people should get on with each other. But stick these two in the same workplace for a few months, let them get to know each other, wait for someone’s leaving drinks, and I’d risk a modest bet that there would be something happening.

  2. “I don’t watch that show and I am in no mood to Google but I’ll assume this is a compliment of some kind.”

    It might have helped if the Guardian had managed to spell the actor’s name correctly. I was baffled until I Googled and I’ve watched every episode of the bloody show.

  3. I zoomed straight from the Guardian to here, praying you’d be back on deck for Martin and Rosie, and my prayer was answered.

    Thank you for offering genuine insight and mercy as well as snark. You are a lovely human being.

  4. I like the new look of the site!

    You were offering to take Martin for a few pints, I was thinking of getting one of my very lovely young friends to fuck him.

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