Philip and Tom
Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian
Impeccable Table Manners

Philip and Tom

The Blind Date has had a bit of a makeover in the new Saturday magazine, which launched today. Don’t worry, the questions are still on a level with a polite job interview for an internship at an insurance company but we have new content: a selfie from the date! An alternative take from the photo in the magazine! And it seems that they now actually photograph the daters at the same time, i.e. together, as they see each other for the first time. Please do go over to the Guardian website to check that out – and remember I miss out a few questions so you get the full experience ‘over there’, and also why not check out the short piece I’ve written in today’s magazine, about the confidence I get from clothes. It’s very good.

I’m on holiday, so I wasn’t going to do the Blind Date today, but oh LOOK, a bat signal:

Screenshot of a dater saying: What were you hoping for? To break my lockdown dating drought, free food and drinks, and to get rinsed by the Guyliner.

Bollocks. So, to be polite, I suppose I should throw myself at the mercy of the hotel wifi (shaky) and try to get something done before my breakfast reservation in… oh, exactly an hour. And I’m still in my pyjamas. I’m going to try to these in ONE LINE OR LESS. The one consolation: look, it’s a RAINBOW date. Here’s Philip, 29, legal assistant, and Tom, 30, an assistant talent agent. A double assistant! I hope their bosses give them big pay rises after this.

Tom and Philip. Phil is in v skinny jeans and a light blazer. Tom is wearing a black T and some very cool houndstooth trousers
Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian

Right, you ready for a roasting. Let’s go.

Philip on Tom | Tom on Philip

What were you hoping for?
A date story I could tell my friends that didn’t end in complete disaster or me finding out he has a secret wife.

Looking at those (very lovely) trousers Tom is wearing, I don’t think any kind of wife is lurking, other than a ‘work wife’ who he confesses all his troubles to over a rosé in that All Bar One in Covent Garden.

What were you hoping for?
To break my lockdown dating drought, free food and drinks, and to get rinsed by the Guyliner.

Rinsed! Ha! There isn’t enough water in the world for the rinsing I could give you on a good day. These days, however, I rinse salad and silk separates, not people. I don’t usually do requests, I’m not DJing your school disco. Anyway, ‘free food and drink’ is code for Tom has spent this month’s salary on candles and Sugababes merchandise.

First impressions?
Stylish and cute. He has the same trousers as me … luckily, I wasn’t wearing the same ones.

I really like these trousers and in return for this supposed ‘rinsing’, I would like Tom to drop the retailer’s details, thank you very much. Also: ‘stylish and cute’ – a compliment I would die for. (Well, the stylish bit,  cute is a bit… ooh I don’t know, what you’d say about a dog wearing a tux.)

First impressions?
The photographer captured our “first reactions” which was a bit awkward. Nice shoes, very smiley.

Will agree, Phil’s shoes are good. And it appears that, as I say, the snapper is not photographing the daters together, as they meet, which could make for some HILARIOUS, ‘Oh I thought this was wine, but it’s vinegar’ faces as they arrive and can’t hide their disappointment that they’ve been matched up with a charmless dodo. Blind Date gas suddenly been transformed into a Channel 5 dating show.

What did you talk about
Our interest in theatre: I studied performing arts and he works with a casting agency. Coming out to families, online dating during lockdown, and how Kelly Clarkson’s Underneath the Tree is the best Christmas song ever. I don’t think there was a silent moment.
Dating in the pandemic; how Underneath the Tree is the greatest Christmas song of all time; his frequent holidays to Disneyland.

Dating in the pandemic/during lockdown ✅ a match! I don’t really know how single people managed. I know rules are rules, but you can’t expect singletons to stand at opposite ends of a room, swathed in PPE save for one or two holes depending on whether it’s a weekend or not, prodding each other with the hooked end of a Vileda super-mop.

Kelly Clarkson’s Underneath the Tree ✅. I didn’t know I lived in a world where anyone thought this was the best Christmas song ever and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s like finding out your dad was actually Lord Lucan all along. Mariah is right here. Darlene Love! I could go on.

Coming out to families/his frequent holidays to Disneyland – Hmm, were they shocked? (JOKE, I know lots of straight people like Disneyland; I’ve seen them in the virtual audience of Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway on their brown sofas. I also know that coming out is a v serious business and speculating about someone’s sexuality is BAD.)

Good table manners?
He ate an Indian buffet without making a mess, so I was pretty impressed.
I think so. I was so hungry I was more focused on my own plate. We did joke about how messy the food was, but he left with his white T-shirt unstained. He encouraged me to take the leftovers, which was nice.

I am literally terrified of wearing anything white or cream or whatever because I attract stains like model agencies attract phone calls from Leonardo DiCaprio’s management team. I am, however, planning to wear something cream to an Italian restaurant this weekend so please pray for me.

Best thing about him?
Incredibly easy to talk to: it felt like a catchup with a friend more than a date.
He was very easy to talk to, very open.

I like the idea of someone being easy to talk to. But so is a dog. It doesn’t mean they’re listening; it just means nobody’s opened a can of Tyne brand stewing steak in a five-mile radius yet.

Would you introduce him to your friends?
Yes, he’d fit right in.

Ah this is lovely.

Would you introduce him to your friends?
If we bumped into each other.

Ah this is… a bit of a spoiler. (Btw, I have to say that although romance is GREAT, there is something to be said for being friend-zoned. Is there a greater honour than someone telling you ‘I want you in my life, and don’t even want to see you naked’? Probably not. I wrote about this recently.)

Describe Tom in three words?
Funny, cute, friendly.

Funny, like a Christmas cracker joke almost never is, unless you’re five. (THREE MONTHS TODAY UNTIL THE BIG DAY, SCROOGES.)
Cute, like a puppy that tumbles adorably down the last step – and has left something for you in your favourite pair of mules.
Friendly, like a doctor’s receptionist still drunk from last night’s practice festive party.

Describe Philip in three words?
Kind, smiley, generous.

Kind, like the guest at your wedding who is the only person not to tell you that your gift registry was rather overambitious, and that it’s inappropriate to put things like ‘full body spray tan’ and ‘Formula 1 racing experience and meet and greet with Lewis Hamilton’ on it.
Smiley, like a hotel receptionist in Basingstoke spelling Carol Smillie’s name over the phone to a taxi company.
Generous, like your rich, acerbic lesbian aunt who visits once a year, on your birthday as a child, and smokes Gitanes in the garden and slips you a £50 note and tells your father, as she leaves, that ‘Pam could’ve done so much better’, before winking at your mother and leaving in a cloud of Mitsouko.

Did you go on somewhere?
The train home. I had work the next day.

EVERYBODY HAS WORK THE NEXT DAY. I would say unless you are operating heavy machinery, flying a plane, or running the changing rooms at the Oxford Street Zara, you can probably manage to go into work a bit tired the next day. Especially when you’re 29. TWENTY SODDING NINE. You should be cartwheeling into work with the faint buzz of a wineover.

Did you go on somewhere?
We didn’t, I’m afraid – there wasn’t really a spark.
No.

No spark! Life is not a Zippo lighter, sometimes there will not be a spark. You do tend to find that accelerant (petrol, wine, the lack of any other options on Tinder other than that neighbour who scratches themselves on their balcony) can do wonders.

And… did you kiss?
No – and if we had, it would have been a garlicky one!

Nothing wrong with a garlicky kiss – they’re at it like rabbits in Paris, after all. (Bit of a Brexit-esque joke there for any mildly xenophobic readers who have stumbled into this blog by mistake on their way to file a noise report on their local council website because one of their neighbours coughed too loudly during the Today Programme.)

If you could change one thing about the evening what would it be?
The screaming babies on the table next to us weren’t exactly mood-matching, but it also made for conversation on whether we wanted babies ourselves, so their presence wasn’t entirely irrelevant.
The screaming babies sitting next to us – even the manager made a comment.

I’m not one of those gay men who likes to say ‘I can’t stand children’ as if it’s some kind of personality trait – like being into flavoured gin or telling the same drug story twenties year after your last line – as I *do* actually like children and I remember being one very clearly. I didn’t like being a child, and my theory with screaming babies is that they are FURIOUS at being babies and don’t want to be babies and are trying to tell you what they want to do instead. Screaming babies want to stand around talking about basement conversions with someone vaguely related to a former director-general of the BBC; they want to holiday in the south of France ALONE and send postcards back to family containing lies that they’ve ‘met someone very special’; they want to drive ten miles in a convertible just to break up with somebody. What they don’t want to do is sit in a restaurant being swaddled by a parent who INSISTS you say their name over and over and keep waving toys at you, watching everyone else eat fun stuff while they only have rusks to look forward to. This is why babies are really sick on you: they want you to shut up. Anyway, my sympathies to anyone caught up in the baby’s expert power play here, but most of all to the baby, because… oh baby, life gets so much worse.

Marks out of 10?
7.5.
7.

No spark! Friendzoning before even the fifth question was out of the way! If these marks seem harsh it’s because gay/bi/Q men mark down quite severely if there is no kissing. Who wants to go out on a date and go home unkissed? Snow White and Sleeping Beauty with pretended to be DEAD to get a snog and their spirit lives on in each of us.

Would you meet again?
I don’t think there was a romantic spark for either of us, but as a person he’s great and I would meet again as friends.
Probably not.
Moira Dingle in Emmerdale pouring a large glass of wine
ITV

Back to the drawing board then, boys.

Right, my hotel breakfast awaits. BYE. x


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About the review and the daters: 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, 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 and will report any abusive tweets. If you reply to my tweets about the date, please don’t embarrass yourself or assume I agree with you. 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. Tom, I am serious about the trousers. Where?

Tom and Philip ate at Farzi Cafe, London SW1

9 Comments

  1. Overdogging the cake?
    “Well, the stylish bit, cute is a bit… ooh I don’t know, what you’d say about a dog wearing a tux.”

    “I like the idea of someone being easy to talk to. But so is a dog. It doesn’t mean they’re listening; it just means nobody’s opened a can of Tyne brand stewing steak in a five-mile radius yet.”

    “Cute, like a puppy that tumbles adorably down the last step – and has left something for you in your favourite pair of mules.”

  2. You’ve given us an unexpected treat by writing this week. And you’re on holiday! I can’t believe there are no other comments, if only to say thank you. Well here’s a sincere thank you from me.

  3. This is my first visit to your blog. I feel like I’m about to fall down the rabbit hole of the last however many years of reviews!

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