Photographs: Sophia Evans, Graeme Robertson/The Guardian
Impeccable Table Manners

Rachel and Georgia

In the Guardian’s celebration of 10 years of the Weekend Blind Date column last week, it was revealed there had been just 15 women-only dates, which was quite depressing really, but right away here is number 16 and isn’t our morning all the better for it. Why?

Well, not only does it mean we have a week off from your vanilla, woodchip-walled stranglehold of heterosexuality, it’s known in this column that when two women go on a Blind Date, they don’t hang about. Perhaps the spectre of Joanne and Morgan’s infamous knicker-evaporating date will long cast a shadow over every other all-female couple, but as blueprints go, there are worse ones to follow.

This week’s contestants are 26-year-old engineer Rachel, and Georgia, 24, a communications assistant, and here they are in all their glory:

 

Photographs: Sophia Evans, Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

Read what happened on the Guardian website while I sharpen my knives and prepare to select you the tenderest cuts which I will roast to oblivion and other metaphors.

Rachel on GeorgiaGeorgia on Rachel
What were you hoping for?
Someone who would make me laugh, and free wine.

Honesty so refreshing it was like having 10 glasses of Berocca thrown in my face at once.

What were you hoping for?
Someone to move to a small cottage in the countryside and keep chickens with.

I know this is an old joke among the LGBTQ community but certainly all the gay women I know do NOT hang about. Why would you? While there are many theories as to why lesbians or other queer women tend to move quite quickly when it comes to settling down, I have my own take and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s no man in the way to mess you about, worry about commitment, ghost you, worry what all this means etc etc.

This is why some (many) gay men are an absolute nightmare in relationships – too many men involved. (If you’re a gay man who got married within two weeks of meeting someone and lives on a farm and chants “monogamy monogamy monogamy” over and over to yourself in a bathroom mirror every morning, CONGRATS, but no need to write in and tell me, cheers.)

First impressions?
Warm, friendly, great outfit.

This is a GOOD first impression. I doubt anyone has thought me “warm” when first meeting me. If I were a radiator in your house, I’d always be the last one to come on and I would make plenty of grinding and clanking noises before I did.

First impressions?
Not my usual type, but super pretty and really friendly.

“Not my usual type” drives me mad because I know we all have a “type” or whatever but it is so restrictive because I do believe a barrier can go up straightaway and once you get to know someone, you can find your narrow criteria expanding like… oh I don’t know, a balloon (??) so let’s not get too hung up on types. I notice that Georgia followed this “not my type” with “super pretty and really friendly” which I hope is a subtle dig at all her exes.

What did you talk about?
Background, university, best London nights out, Fleabag, coming out, books, Glastonbury, Love Island.
Accidental bike thievery, lesbian parenting, meeting people “organically”, Berlin, getting off social media, the wild west that is the London rental market.

Ooh, there’s a lot.

Fleabag – you know, there are loads of people who have never seen it, or don’t know what it is, or have watched the first episode but couldn’t stand it. The amount of blank looks I get sometimes when I bring it up in impolite conversation. I think Fleabag may have taken on that weird mythical quality some shows do when hardly anyone watches them, but among their few viewers are people who work in the media or talk a lot on Twitter, so they start to feel like they’re soap opera-popular. Mad Men was another such show (I liked it, but more people were queuing in front of me in Starbucks than actually watched that programme, considering its death-grip on men’s magazines and broadsheet op-eds for seven years), and Breaking Bad another. (I know Fleabag has more viewers and fans than either of these shows in the UK, please don’t write in, again.) Anyway I went to see Fleabag at the theatre last week and most of it was good. I do wish I’d seen it at the Fringe years ago, though, because it was SUCH a Fringe-y show and not quite the same in a big, busy theatre. I have seen so many shows just like it at 2pm in a room the size of my conscience in the Pleasance courtyard. But not performed anywhere near as well, obviously. Phoebe Waller-Bridge really is brilliant. (Thank you to Mandy for getting me tickets btw. HI!)

Accidental bike thievery – I don’t know what this is, but I really want to know.
Meeting people “organically” – growing alongside them in the same manure-smeared allotment?
Berlin – but of course.
Getting off social media – always a fascinating conversation to have just kidding never talk to me about this I read all the pieces you retweeted in 2014 I don’t need to know any more.
The Wild West that is the London rental market – I really want to move house next year but just the thought of trudging round yet another alleged “luxury apartment” above an M&S Simply Food in zone 7 or an old Victorian house that’s been converted into flats using pinking shears and a roll of anaglypta, fills me with dread. The rental market isn’t like the Wild West; in the Wild West, your mortal enemy would get killed by an angry mob. Here, it shows you round the 10 flats it’s been trying to get off its list since Christmas, telling you the blood “should wash off” and that no, you can’t get rid of the haunted furniture.

Any awkward moments?
A couple of scuffles with lairy men, sadly.

I’ll come to this later on.

Any awkward moments?
When she said she was hoping for someone “not too Guardian” and didn’t want to be set up with someone “sandal-wearing”. I was glad I hadn’t worn my Birkenstocks.

I LOVE this outdated idea that Guardian readers are all socks-n-sandals, quinoa-loving Islington residents who wince every time someone says the word “poor” in their immediate vicinity. Have you never read the online comments under an article? Safe to say the average Guardian reader is now basically Nigel Farage, but with a ten-step skincare regime and a subscription to Abel & Cole.

Good table manners?
Some of the best I’ve seen.
Impeccable.

Best thing about Georgia?
I really like how chilled she is. Also excellent that she was up for cocktails afterwards, despite having a dissertation to write.

Sometimes I sit and wonder what I would have to do to be described as “chilled” by someone – I always come to the conclusion that the answer is “never meet them”.

Anyway, good to go for cocktails afterwards because as we all know alcohol, especially large quantities of it mixed up in a pretty glass that means you just knock them back like your nighttime Tixylix, helps loosen lips and… well it won’t be ships that are sinking, can I just say?

Best thing about Rachel?
She nearly got into a fight defending my seat from a drunk guy who chucked my bag on the floor in order to sit down.

There are too many men in this date. I don’t want them here. This sounds pretty scary tbh.

A while ago I wrote about why, sometimes, straight people scare me and there was lots of support but also some people who complained I was being prejudiced against straight people. In fact, I do get people still saying it to me sometimes if I make an offhand comment about the inarguable truth that pretty much everything we do is with an eye to making straight people feel comfortable. Straight men in particular. The thing is, we are only too aware that many, many straight people do not have a problem with us, and that many men don’t have an issue with women, but we usually never know which way things are going to until it’s too late. And it is straight people who hold that power; we just have to wait and see how things turn out.

It is, of course, entirely possible that this was not a straight man who chucked her bag on the floor, but a gay or bi one. But it’s the same principle: women are never quite sure who’s going to be a good guy or a bad guy, so you can’t blame them for being suspicious. So, if this is you – if you are a straight person, or a man, or both, or indeed anyone in an undisputed majority or position of control – then don’t rant at the people conditioned to be wary of you; blame the ones who’ve made it that way. Call your peers out. Don’t let racism, antisemitism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, sexism, or misogyny slide. Make it clear it’s not acceptable in your company. That is how things change, not shouting at or dismissing the fears of those cowering under the boot. This is still happening, everywhere, all the time. Only you can make it stop.

Sadly, this is not the last time in this post I will have to discuss something like this. I have read ahead.

Describe Georgia in three words?
Outgoing, friendly, relaxed.

Outgoing, like a certain mop-headed politician, soon, I hope.
Friendly, like your landlord is until the cheque has cleared.
Relaxed, like a boss always says a chat is going to be around ten minutes before he either fires you or puts his hand on your knee and tells you he think you’re special.

Describe Rachel in three words?
Beautiful, honest, clever.

Beautiful, like a precious stone, an ocean at sunset, or seeing someone who bullied you at school slowly turning into a Rose West lookalike with every ensuing Facebook profile picture update.
Honest, like that film starring three of All Saints OMG remember?
Clever, like everyone thinks they are until they meet that person at a party and then, they realise, they are dumb.

Did you go on somewhere?
Round the corner to get drunk on martinis.
Yes, to a cocktail bar round the corner.

MARTINIS. I know the answer to the next question without even looking.

And… did you kiss?
Hmm. Maybe.
A little bit.

Say it one more time for the dullards at the back: THE LGBTQ CREW GET. IT. DONE.

I love to see people thriving.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
That I would not have worn all black like a goth on a hot summer evening.

Just werk it, honey.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
I’d prefer not to have been homophobically harassed by a group of drunk men while I was walking her to the station.

Oh look here we are again. So soon! I’m sure many of you remember the recent story that went viral about the two women on a date who were beaten by a group of LADS on a bus because they wouldn’t kiss for them as some kind of spectator sport. It is hard for me to say to the young LGBTQ people I know that everything kind of works out and that the world is changing because while I know those things are true, the witnesses for the prosecution never take a day off.

I can much pretty guarantee that this group of drunk men had nothing to fear from these two women. They have nothing to fear from gay guys, or bi people, or trans people, or anyone non-binary. Zero. They rule the world and they don’t even know it. Or perhaps they do, and are so frightened of giving up even the slightest bit of ground that the only way they know to defend it is to remind us, at all times, that we are mere lodgers, and any allegiance or tolerance casually chucked our way can, and will, be revoked at any time. It is ironic, too, that the only thing a straight man actually has to fear – their natural predator – is other straight men. They’re the ones who kill you, stab you, shoot you, attack you for looking at them funny, for looking at their girlfriend. Go peek at any violent crime stats you fancy. As much as I’d love them to be peppered with armed leather-clad lesbian biker gangs pulling off multimillion-pound jewel heists, and drag queen assassins sticking stilettos into the necks of canyon-mouthed bigots, they are not. Just straight dudes kicking the shit out of each other. Kings fighting over a crown glued to their own head.

Marks out of 10?
A solid 8.
9.

I am always a little worried to see a “solid” in the scores because it feels like it’s trying to tell me something, the Blind Date equivalent of Lassie tugging at my raglan sleeve to alert me that some old man has fallen down a well. Does it mean the 8 is really a 7? Or that it would’ve been a 9 had some unforgivable misdemeanour not revealed itself?

Georgia’s 9 is an absolute nine. We kissed, it’s a nine.

Would you meet again?
I imagine so, as friends.

This is the curse of “solid”. I am going to be watching out for that from now on.

Would you meet again?
We’ll see.

Rachel. Georgia. Please. Make an old man happy. Try another martini somewhere the straight guys can’t get you.

Georgia and Rachel ate at Hoi Polloi, London E1. Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com If you’re looking to meet someone like-minded, visit soulmates.theguardian.com

NOTE: The comments I make are based on the answers given by the participants. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits answers to make the column work better on the page, but get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story; I’ll happily publish whatever you say. 

NEW BOOK! My second novel THE MAGNIFICENT SONS is out May 28, 2020 on hardback and ebook and you can preorder it now at the usual places, including Amazon. I’m so excited. It’s really great. I think. And no this isn’t the final cover. And my jawline doesn’t look like that anymore either. Its been a rough couple of years.

3 Comments

  1. Thank you for my weekly lightness. My good friend just died – it was expected, but still ridiculous not to have him with us. Nice to have an amusing distraction. This blog is no less than a goddamn public service. x

  2. Wow your wording is just so spot on. How do you do that? Whats the inspiration-transpiration ratio? I have to laugh a lot… Like why is something supposedly simple such as ‘Come on, “Ben”‘ so funny?! Well thank you for the best of distractions and your brilliant insights.
    Please keep the independent thinking going and have a magical day x

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