Poppy and Lucy
Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Poppy and Lucy

Are we past it yet? The bit where we all talk about our pandemics? Relaying our lockdowns, sharing our jab statuses, offering fascinating musings on the dire political situation, sharing conspiracy theories? Probably not. I dare say it’ll be a while. For better or worse, over a year of living somewhat out of our own control has shaped us, hasn’t it? You only have to open a shiny supplement to find someone whose kitchen table is bigger than your bathroom trying to find some meaning in it all. One thing that hasn’t changed is people asking me if I’ve been on holiday yet or am planning to. Honestly, it’s all I get asked – I can even see people building up to saying it, like Dannii must anticipate the mention of Kylie’s name with every person she ever meets. I have learned over the years that if people ask you a question that seems random it’s because they actually want to be asked it themselves, which I dutifully do, once I’ve answered no, because the thought of being on a packed plane among the germs of strangers is a nightmare at the best of times and after a year and a half of… this, trying to decipher menus in roadside cafés and getting lost on shopping centres in hot countries is something I’d much rather not do for a while, especially with the added frisson of danger that comes from hearing someone in seat 32A cough up their pancreas during takeoff. But, sure, I get it, you had a great time on the Costa Instagramma.

So instead of going on holiday and spending 500 words on Instagram justifying it, I’m here, in my living room, at my desk, with only Poppy and Lucy for comfort. Poppy, 28, is an actor, and Lucy a 27-year-old social worker. here they are in their full ‘so how was your lockdown’ date outfit form:

Poppy and Lucy full length – Poppy is in a black vest and yellow trousers, Lucy is in a dress, carrying a bag which has PRADA scrawled on it, possibly homemade
Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

is it just me or do they both look a bit like they’re queuing for an audition to play Sheridan Smith in the story of her life? Anyway, before we reconvene here to add some spice to the cold, bland chicken fillet.

Poppy on Lucy | Lucy on Poppy
What were you hoping for?
Sexual tension.
Charlie Brooks as Janine Butcher looking menacing

Oh at the very LEAST that’s what you want, isn’t it? Some crave an instant spark, and sweeping violins, and waterfalls dancing in sync behind you as you lift up your leg and point your peep-toe sandal as you prepare for a kiss, but others prefer the prickly film of sweat that forms over your whole body as you stare at each other across a table in a backstreet boozer and wonder how appropriate it would be to dash the table out of the way and claw at each other like raccoons trying to get the last Chicken McNugget out of the box.

What were you hoping for?
To be happily married before the year is out, with several children under my arm.

A ring on the finger and a bank job on an orphanage – aspirational, I guess. At least get a cat and argue about whose turn it is to pay the milkman first.

First impressions?
Who’s wearing more silver? I must win.
She has great style and can pull off gold and silver jewellery.

A jewellery appreciation match. ✅ This question has been sponsored by the Reading branch of Beaverbrooks.

What did you talk about?
I think we covered it all: The Twits, nits and taxidermy were the most memorable topics.
Her love of taxidermy; emigrating; Poppy’s two African land snails and my recently acquired pet caterpillar; ankle-length kilts as school uniform. And it wouldn’t be a queer date without trading coming-out stories.

Taxidermy ✅ Oh Christ. Look, no kink-shaming or whatever but I’m not really into stuffed animals staring glassily at you from across the room for all eternity, and I miss my childhood dogs more than anything. That said, a well-stuffed stoat on a shelf in a country pub – yes, I kind of get it.

The Twits. Roald Dahl. Writer of many classics and also responsible for that dreary meme about people being beautiful on the inside or whatever. As someone who can look menacingly ugly in the wrong light and is rotten to the core, can I just say: buzz off. Dahl is actually quite a decent reminder that elevating authors to hero or god status is almost always a bad idea. Writing a book is a huge achievement – it says here – but it’s just a job like any other and doesn’t mean authors are more wise or correct than anybody else. A large audience is a powerful thing, a vivid imagination is an absolute gift, but not everyone uses either of these precious things for good, unfortunately, no matter how much you might like their writing.

Land snails/caterpillar. Honestly. This is the true cost of landlords being fidgety about people having dogs in rented flats – LAND SNAILS.

Coming out stories. Always good for a lull in conversation. ‘Which of your parents cried?’ ‘Who was the first person to tell you “I always knew”?’ The hours fly by. What do straight people talk about instead? Their CARS? House prices? Love Island?! Couldn’t be me.

Any awkward moments?
I did personally feel one brewing, but when that happens I chat over it and point out something I can see, eg: “The wisteria is fake.”

That is QUITE a good tactic. See? I have been doing this reviewing thing for years (seven years, seven fucking years) and I’m still learning from it. Of course, me being me, and falling slightly on the… oh how should I say it, asshole side of the first-date scale, I would probably say something negative automatically – ‘is that a freckle or a zit?’ – and thus render myself unkissable but otherwise this is a half-decent ruse.

Any awkward moments?
She asked if my handbag really was Prada. It wasn’t actually awkward, it was quite funny.

It isn’t. I zoomed in and everything. I mean, yes, it looks like a charity shop bag that someone has scrawled PRADA on in nail varnish but… well, I have been around a long time and have seen way more ridiculous handbags like that going for a few thou in the clinical, charmless mortuary that is Selfridges new accessories hall. It is ALMOST possible it’s real, but Lucy is a social worker not a socialite so we must draw out own conclusions. I can’t imagine what it might be like to buy something so expensive that isn’t a knock-off. I remember being very proud at 17 of my hooky Gio Goi sweatshirt (black, but faded rapidly to grey), bought for £3 at Gisburn market. Unfortunately, where I grew up, it was kind of expected that all brands were fake – except for trainers, they had to be real – so when I did manage to get my hands on an ACTUAL Naf Naf T-shirt (very big in 1992) everyone assumed it was a ripoff. (It was beautiful, bright purple, and cost £15 in the sale, a LOT for a T-shirt.) Everyone else had those Naff Co 54 knockoffs, remember those?

Good table manners?
I told her I wouldn’t look at her while she ate, because nobody needs that pressure, so for all I know she could have had her cutlery in the wrong hands…
Definitely. Poppy very kindly said that she wouldn’t watch me eat, so I felt at ease.

I greatly respect this. I don’t love being watched too closely while I eat either. It’s complicated, and we don’t know each other well enough for me to explain.

Best thing about her?
She’s unapologetically herself and had the audacity to skip around with that homemade Prada handbag. Yes, Lucy!
Poppy knows herself well, in a really refreshing way. She has a reserved confidence and a drive to follow what makes her happy.

It’s sweet how they both admire each other’s confidence, and it feels genuine – not to generalise, but it doesn’t always feel that way here, especially in straight dates.

Would you introduce her to your friends?
If the situation arose.

Am dying to hear what this ‘situation’ might be – imminent nuclear annihilation, perhaps?

Would you introduce her to your friends?
In a heartbeat. She has good chat.
Jodie Comer in Killing Eve saying 'oh lovely'
What do you think she made of you?
An unusual concoction of a human. Would take to a party.

Would someone take you to a party? Be honest. Are you a safe bet? Can you be trusted? Will you remain positive, even when the playlist takes a turn for the dire? Talk to strangers about their holidays? Lie that you’re having fun? Make no comment as the (expensive) wine you brought is taken out of your hand and NEVER seen again other than across the room, being drunk by someone else who definitely brought that £1.99 cornershop chardonnay that absolutely nobody is touching?

What do you think she made of you?
I’d like to think she found me affable and funny, and that she didn’t think I spoke too much.

Been a while, but ??? – it’s the ‘woman worrying they talk too much’ klaxon. I rather hoped we wouldn’t see it on a date featuring two women. In a way it’s good that we’re conscious of how much space we take up in a conversation – just the other day I overheard two people constantly interrupting each other so much, absolutely no new information was shared in the whole half hour they were speaking. It didn’t help that both of them had all the natural charm and wit of a lateral flow test. But I do worry that the root of this self-doubt is people who actually DO talk too much (and often a lot of shite) persuading those who don’t speak that much at all that it’s better they remain silent.

Did you go on somewhere?
The train, but to different destinations.

Nothing to report here other than… Lucy’s answer to this question is missing. Was it REDACTED because the sass was too hot to handle?! (Or did she say ‘no’ and it was cut for space. I choose to believe the former – she’s walking around with a handbag that has PRADA written on it in finger paint; she’s obviously not shy.)

And… did you kiss?
You’re worse than my mother!
Tracy Barlow from Coronation Street grimacing with a beer bottle in her hand

AND AS YOUR MOTHER WE HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW, LUCY. Luckily, Poppy already spilled the beans. Thankfully, not all over your bag.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
It would take place in Monaco, I’d order a douzaine huîtres and she’d notice me looking out of place and invite me to join her table.

Lucy, this is a Guardian Blind Date, not a reading of Bonjour Tristesse for Book at Bedtime.

Marks out of 10?
A solid 8.

Two eights, one given an adjective. Solid, indeed. Under what circumstances would we get a fluid 8?

Would you meet again?
We really did have a great time, but no.
Two people from Love Island looking awkward
Platonically, yes. She’s great, but I won’t be booking the wedding band quite yet.

Tobias in Arrested Development saying OH HONEY

The blog is free! Can you believe! I support myself by writing for money elsewhere, which includes writing books, which you can buy here or other places. If you’d rather not buy a book with JUSTIN on the front, but still want to support my work, you can chuck me a quick tip .

Only if you can spare it, though; I’m not starving – just to be clear.

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. Lucy, will you please make me a Tom Ford manbag? Thanks. I’ll bring the poster paint and the Pritt stick.

Poppy and Lucy ate at The Phoenix, London W12  (The old Jamie’s Italian in the Westfield by the look of it.) Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com


  1. I have a Givenchy jumper from the days when Hubert was still in charge, inherited from my grandmother. It’s too small for me now and probably destroyed by moths but as it’s the only proper designer thing I am ever likely to own I will never give it up.

  2. 99% of the time I come for your wit and wisdom, the feeling of gossiping with a friend – overhearing some shared experiences. The other 1% is seeing the literal whole picture, on the online version I read there are only cropped pictures – the whole “prada” saga makes much more sense now ?

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