Olivia has long hair and is wearong a black top and blue jeans. Shawn is wearing a red/orange shirt and black jeans. They're both white
Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Olivia and Shawn

December! The Christmas lights are on (for only two hours a day now you’ve got a smart meter), your winter coat is back from its stint in the wardrobe as a moth hotel, and all your usual anxieties now have tinsel on them and even your sleep paralysis demons wish you a merry Christmas before crouching on your chest for an eight-hour shift. Yes, Christmas is just around the corner and you’re never farther than five minutes away from hearing an f-slur pipe over the speakers in Morrisons (09:30am for me on Wednesday) or a terrible version of Santa Baby.

Will the festive cheer reach the hopeful twosome in our Guardian Blind Date today, or will the whole evening be a big letdown, like the last two wrinkly balloons dangling from the false ceiling in the office on January 3rd, like fluorescent scrotums?

Stepping forward onto the plank of romance this week are Olivia, 29, a political consultant, and Shawn, 32, who’s an engineer and YouTuber. I did a double-take then that there was a 32-year-old YouTuber – in my head they’re all still about 17, but I suppose as a phenomenon it’s reached maturity – I suppose Zoella will be in her fifties by now, and that weird gaming racist will be knocking on a bit too. Anyway, here are they, liking and subscribing below:


Olivia has long hair and is wearong a black top and blue jeans. Shawn is wearing a red/orange shirt and black jeans. They're both white
Photograph: Jill Mead/The Guardian

I mean, did they not know they were going to be photographed? I get more dressed up than this when I’m nipping to the Co-Op for an emergency Nissin Cup Noodles. Anyway, I wish them well. Get all the details of what happened on the date on the Guardian website (including a delightful selfie taken on the date) then return here for a supercut of the best answers, under which I’ll be leaving comments – although unlike most YouTube comments, it won’t be repeated requests for ‘feet pix’, screaming at teenagers, or telling long boring drug-addled stories about how ‘this tune takes me back’.

Olivia on Shawn | Shawn on Olivia

What were you hoping for?
A nice evening with good conversation, or at least a good story.

‘Nice’, ‘good’, ‘good’ – all adjectives that were taught to be seen but never heard as children.

What were you hoping for?
The chance to meet someone lovely and then casually write about it for 35.6 million people to read.

35.6 million people – I’ll wager (if he’s a successful YouTuber and not one with thrumming divorced energy who posts 20-minute rants about lumpy mashed potatoes) that Shawn has more subscribers than most newspapers have readers.

First impressions?
Tall, warm and easy to talk to. He was late, but in his defence, I had said I was going to be late and then I wasn’t.

Tall and warm! Like a patio heater! And late! Because you… said you were going to be late, but weren’t. What a strange thing to do. Quite an amazing mind game, though. ‘I should tell him I’m going to be late and see whether he’ll just sit and wait there for me.’ I don’t know whose side I’m on here. My own, probably.

First impressions?
Friendly, playful and open-minded.

That was your FIRST impression when you saw her? That she was playful (wearing a clown’s nose, perhaps, or juggling, or pulling the wings off a mosquito) and open-minded (wearing a rainbow pin badge, or a ‘MORE IMMIGRATION’ t-shirt, or a harness?)

What did you talk about?
Sorting recycling at Glastonbury. The moral dilemmas of our respective jobs. Dogs. Reasons to avoid the sea. The value of good storytelling.
What to wear to a Tory party conference. Heat pumps. The life-changing properties of aubergines.

Sorting recycling at Glastonbury. Bet they called it ‘Glasto’

The moral dilemmas of our respective jobs. Oh to be a fly on the wall for this Junior Common Room debate (I would dive headfirst into the soup)

Reasons to avoid the sea. There are loads. I could be there all day. Fish. Sand. Swimmers. Water. Salt. Boats. Corpses. Shells. That seaweed stuff. Me.

The value of good storytelling. Ha. Buy my books and see if I have any idea about that.

What to wear to a Tory party conference:

Scarlett Johansson pepper spraying a man

The skin of the poor? Something your great grandmother left you in her will, like Gloucestershire? I hear shame bells are very big this season.

Most awkward moment?
Shawn assumed I was over 30, so I had fun watching him try to dig his way out of that hole.

Well, I suppose if you’re going to Tory party conferences, it’s a natural assumption to make.

Most awkward moment?
I said it was unfortunate she’d had a dog called Cosby because of Bill, only for Olivia to point it was called Crosby.

man saying "straight people be crazy"

Good table manners?
Impeccable, naturally.


Good table manners?
A green bean did escape my fork while we were discussing what Harry Kane and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s love child would look like and whether they’d have a monocle.

Shawn is maybe trying a bit too hard here to wring entertainment out of this. It’s like watching Geri Halliwell try to unfold a stepladder. Also: why tf are you talking about boner-destroying death-eater JRM on a date? You may as well produce a copy of the Bristol stool chart and compare your most recent turds. I mean, I got out of BED on a SATURDAY to analyse this, and you’re giving me this dusty, sexless riff on the ‘marketplace of ideas’ or something.

Best thing about Olivia?
She embraced the most obscure conversational nonsense.

INTERESTINGLY – or maybe not, their idea of flirty banter is talking about Tory MPs – but Olivia was either not asked this question, or didn’t answer it, or (more likely) it fell down the back of the Guardian’s server. Anyway, I suppose the best way to approach a first date is to just chuck anything at it and see how they react, although perhaps I would draw the line at imagining the offspring of a sexual liaison between an England player and the ghost of a packet of Murray Mints in human form.

Would you introduce Shawn to your friends?
He seems like the type of person who can get on with anyone, so why not?

Oh, so Shawn is maybe a lib-dem? Are they still going? Like finding out the Steve Miller Band are still together.

Describe Shawn in three words.
Good-humoured, creative, curious.

GOOD-HUMOURED, like Tory MPs insist we should be while they slowly eroto-choke the country for their own kicks.
CREATIVE, like a pack of ‘aides’ trying to rustle up a statement that explains why the Prime Minster (who I’ve just remembered is Rishi Sunk, I swear I totally forgot) drinks blood and it’s totally fine.
CURIOUS, like Harriet Jones was in the ‘Aliens of London’ episode of Doctor Who and look where it got her.

Describe Olivia in three words.
Warm, genuine, self-assured.

WARM, like most of us (who didn’t cream off public money during a pandemic) will not be this winter.
GENUINE, like the one heirloom (sentimental value, really) that your gran will be taking down the pawn shop so she can feed her at for another month.
SELF-ASSURED, like a Loose Women panellist taking a deep breath before saying somethig bigoted.

What do you think Shawn made of you?
Considering the conversation topics I come up with, I’m hoping he just thinks I’m quirky and not an evil lobbyist who doesn’t appreciate podcasts (I use them to fall asleep).

Andy Warhol once said that in the future, everyone will be world famous for fifteen minutes. They will also have a podcast (I don’t), a Substack (mine’s here), have released one single as a Sugababe (one day, I hope), and will have played the lead in 2:22 A Ghost Story in the West End.

‘Evil lobbyist.’ I don’t know what to say. I absolutely loathe the idea of politics on a first date, but the trouble is everything is politics. We can’t escape and perhaps we shouldn’t anyway. It’s a common complaint of people who ‘just want to watch football’ or ‘can’t say anything these days’ that politics should be kept out of day-to-day life – usually they’re confusing common decency and basic human rights with politics but that’s by the by – but the fact is it affects almost everything we do, especially if you’re a minority, or not well off, or come from anywhere that isn’t the southeast of England, or don’t have parents whose names are blue on Wikipedia. I don’t know whether Olivia is an evil lobbyist or a good one (I’m not sure what the difference is), and I’m not speaking about her directly now, but I suppose whatever your political affiliation, if you work in politics in some way, you have to be honest with yourself about the part you’ve played in getting us to where we are now. So many of us sit at home and watch the TV, or read the papers, or see you all on the socials, treating it like it’s a gameshow, or some kind of moral Jenga, with consequences that maybe happen somewhere, out of sight, to people you will never meet. Shame. Literally. What a f*cking shame.

What do you think Olivia made of you?
I’m battling long Covid, so I mostly tried not to come across as bored or sleepy.

I am sorry to hear this – I was very ill with covid in August and am still not back to my old self, whatever THAT means. Exercise regime in tatters, vocabulary threadbare, energy levels akin to an iPhone on the third day of Coachella, tolerance levels for whatever this is absolutely snake’s-belly low. Luckily, I am still a massive bitch.

And … did you kiss?
We didn’t.
No, but she nearly took up my offer of being licked to death by my labrador.

The Labrador on reading this:

labrador bares his teeth

If you could change one thing about the evening what would it be?
I’m regretting more and more my wine-induced blabber about Jacob Rees-Mogg, Harry Kane and … parasites. (I’m a great date really.)
I could probably have teased her less about good and evil lobbyists.


Marks out of 10?
A strong 7.9, points docked because he was late.
A solid 8. She’s a sweetheart.


Would you meet again?
John Bercow the former speaker of the house of commons saying he's not interested 1

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Something to remember about the review and the daters that I put at the end of every review

The comments I make are based on answers given by participants. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits answers to make the column work better on the page. Most things I say are riffing on the answers given and not judgements about the daters themselves, so please be kind to them in comments, replies, and generally on social media. 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 or fill our feeds with hate. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story. It’s nothing personal, I’m sure you’re both lovely.

Shawn and Olivia ate at Rosa’s Thai, London SE1. Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com


    1. It’s called Kids Invent Stuff & we build primary school kids’ ideas for inventions – A decidedly unTory endeavor!

        1. Ha. So each month me & fellow engineer/inventor pal Ruth invite 4-11 year olds to send us their ideas for inventions, and then we look through them all & pick one to build & test on camera – with typically amusing results. Inventions to date include a giant robot mouse that poops cat treats & the World’s first sneeze-activated flamethrower. And the littlies never fail to deliver stacks of great ideas, unrestricted by the baggage/cynicism of grown up thinking. It’s good fun.

  1. TGL: I love you and I loved this, but were you too bored by the whole endeavour by the end to muster some outrage that she docked him points for being late, *when she told him she was going to be late*?

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