Impeccable Table Manners

Peigí and Jamie


Lying awake, delirious, at 6am, as light streamed in through an unfamiliar window, it occurred to me that the premise of the Guardian Blind Date was actually invented in 1987 by the Eurythmics, in the first verse of their weirdest (and most amazing) single ever,  Beethoven (I Love To Listen To).


“Take a girl like that
And put her in a natural setting
Like a cafe for example.
Along comes the boy
And he’s looking for trouble
With a girl like that.
Who knows what they’ll decide to do?
Who knows what they’ll get up to?
I’d love to know.
Wouldn’t you?”

Well, yes, we would. And that’s why we pore over the column week after week. But we are not in our “natural setting” today. In the latest Blind Date, we leave behind our miserable trot through three courses of rustic gimmick in a London restaurant and instead make haste to Dublin. Ireland may be the dons of Eurovision but when it comes to the Blind Date, they are woefully underrepresented.

jamie Peigi large

Hoping to turn blarney into a pot of gold today are Peigí, a 24-year-old human rights intern and Jamie, 25, a multimedia student. Millennials! Human rights! Multimedia! It’s like a Telegraph whinging op-ed headline generator. Read what happened on the date before I make like a leprechaun and sprinkle magic, yet strangely choking, dust over the whole thing. And I promise not a single further Irish cliché shall pass these lips.

Peigí is first and is in blue. Jamie’s the rather fetching neon green.

peigi hoping

Irish people really do say this; it’s not merely something O’Neill’s stencils on its walls to make you forget just how much that last pint of Guinness cost you and do they clean the pipes properly, because this old Irish guy once told you that was really important etc.

jamie hoping

Grub. I don’t think I’ve seen a more desperate attempt to afford masculinity to food since Henry from Neighbours unbuckled his dungarees, brushed back his golden curls and asked Madge if she had any decent ‘tucker’. If you must mention your gastronomical aspirations on the Guardian Blind Date, you can at least say ‘dinner’ or ‘a bite to eat’, or something. Nobody’s going to assume you love show-tunes.

peigi first

Congratulations to Peigí for understanding what a first impression is, and thus listing what she actually made of him as soon as she laid eyes on him.

What a shame we never got to see this shirt in person, given it made more of an impression on Peigí than Jamie’s looks, smile, walk or indeed anything other than how many candles he blew out on his last birthday cake.

jamie first

Perhaps a record early appearance for ‘chatty’ here, usually dredged up in the “Describe X in three words” question when they can’t think of anything else to say other than they talked them to death. What I like here is the ‘crucially’. It was crucial that Jamie’s date be chatty. Of the utmost importance. Critical. She must be a talker – said absolutely no heterosexual man ever. For that alone, Jamie has to be a keeper.

peigi talk


“Mostly about him.” We can see now that Jamie’s keenness for his date to be chatty was so she could ask more questions about him. “I struggled to concentrate on some of the multimedia chat” is the politest way Peigí could possibly say: “Fuck, man, he bored the tights right off me, and then back onto me – he was that dull.”

I don’t believe in rules for dating, as such. There are too many things that can go wrong – or right – for a set formula to be of any use to you. But if rules were a thing, high up there – along with wash behind your ears, brush your teeth and don’t mention your exes – would be to avoid talking about yourself too much. Don’t broadcast, interact. Even if the most interesting thing about them is the spinach caught between their front teeth: act surprised, be curious, dig a little deeper. You’re bound to unearth some nugget or another, even if it is the fact they murdered their father.

jamie talk

“Living in Ireland.” Do people talk about this? Aren’t most people just getting on with the fact they live in Ireland? Maybe they’re not locals.

What an eclectic absolute nightmare of a thought-tombola these conversation topics are. I don’t know where to start. “Electronic dance-type music” – congratulations on talking about music in the same curious, horrified way your grandmother would pick up dirty knickers from behind your sofa.

Jeremy Corbyn, I’m going to pass on, and as for the hand-wringing over foie gras – spare me. You’re not paying for the meal, you’re both low earners/students and you don’t get brownie points for worrying about the ethics of something and then doing it anyway. Which I assume you did.

Peigi awkward


Well. I’m conflicted here. Getting a name right is so important. Why? Because getting a name wrong can be the most spectacular, powerful diss you will ever have at your disposal and you should use this magic wisely.

Somebody getting on your tits at work, or at a party, or online? Don’t run screaming to HR, or leave the party, or start typing in caps. No, just start getting their name wrong. What does using the incorrect name do? Why, it tells the person on the receiving end they’re insignificant, a vague idea of a person, who could be called anything or recast at any moment – like the myriad Lucy Robinsons in Neighbours – and nobody would notice or care.

Your name is your label, your packaging. It conjures up the image of you in people’s minds when you’re not around. Someone forgetting it hobbles you, strips you of your individuality. You become chocolate mis-shapes, bruised veg, a dented tin, a ‘secret’ hotel on It’s a vengeful, nasty diss. Try it on your worst enemy sometime.

That said, I probably wouldn’t have corrected her halfway through eating. How do you recover from that?

Jamie awkward


YES the best thing to do when a woman asks you to guess her age is to venture a number, rather than pretend you have something stuck in your throat – your moral code concerning foie gras, perhaps – and rendering yourself unable to answer.

I hate age-guessing in general. It’s a very temporary confidence boost that can go awry in a matter of minutes. Next time somebody asks your age, just fling your passport across the table and order another round of whatever makes your vision go blurry quickest.

And so we move on to table manners. Hats, hold on to them.

peigi table


Imagine ordering prawns – those big ass ones with eyes and tentacles and claws or whatever all over the place – on a date. Imagine then having to get your hands right in there and rip them apart, on a date. Then, still on a date, you shove the gungey, unsatisfying flesh – along with loads of shell you missed – into your mouth. Arousal ratings are at Victorian hemline levels.

jamie table


peigi best thing

Off the wall is better than being on the wall, I guess, like Blu-Tack, wood-chip, a yellowing poster of Depeche Mode, or dry rot.

peigi friends

Who, I imagine, will be getting a phone call straight after the date for a bitching session that would put the Kardashians out of business.

jamie three

He really does love a talker, eh? I know I tend to bang on about this, but is talking a lot really a compliment? Would you be happy to read it in your obituary, or in a birthday card, or have it said to you at the point of climax? I’m guessing not.

peigi three words

I wonder if she means the new-school definition of cheeky, like a cheeky Nando’s or a Vimto or a cheeky little gin and tonic – in other words, best in small doses and let’s not tell anyone – or the old-school version. Impudent, likely to riffle through your wallet, etc.

peigi made of you

This garbage again. You have “absolutely no idea”. Not an inkling. You sat opposite the guy exchanging inane musings about EDM and the Labour Party, enduring a dead-eyed wander through his multimedia CV and yet, after all that, you have no idea what he thought of you?

If the truth of what he might have thought of you is too terrifying to face, or you simply couldn’t give a bronze fuck what some prawn-mangling student thought, then just say.

jamie mad eof you


Jamie, speaking for all of us who ever went on a blind date before. At least he was honest.

peigi go on

Haha, “haunt” – like Dorothy Parker throwing her hat into the air in the Algonquin and ordering another round of Tia Maria and Lucozades.

You can tell they’re young, can’t you? Listing all the drinks they had like they’re movies they’ve seen, or gigs they’ve been to. A half a pint of shandy booze, please, barkeep!

peigi kiss

jamie kiss

dominque dynasty its burned

Did you ever see such obvious distancing and reluctance to admit that maybe they liked each other a bit and that’s why they kissed? I haven’t seen this much pent-up, pointless, sexless frustration since I last listened to a Carly Rae Jepsen album track.


peigi score

This 7 is a 1 that signs petitions against foie gras and can’t tell anybody it’s secretly hoping the shop they’re doing up on the high street is going to be a Starbucks.

jamie score

This 8 is a cautious 9 with a full-to-bursting Sky+ box and a subscription to Men’s Health it keeps forgetting to cancel.

A 7 and an 8. And yet they kissed. I’m assuming the snog wasn’t all that, then. I’ve felt more of a sexual frisson getting trapped in a Tube barrier at Elephant and Castle station in rush hour.

So, we’ve watched the last two tin cans on the supermarket conveyor belt jostle against each other, but will we buy one and get one free, or is this product not currently available as part of the offer?


peigi meet again




jamie meet again

Oh, mate.


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 editing of answers may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena.  This isn’t about me thinking these two people are bad people – I don’t know them. I am sure, in real life, they’re lovely. Seriously! They seem nice. I’m critiquing the answers, not the people themselves.  If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally. If you want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal or comments you might have. 

Photograph: Johnny Savage, for the Guardian


  1. Who, I imagine, will be getting a phone call straight after the date for a bitching session that would put the Kardashians out of busines

    This made me laugh so hard

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