Well, we’re still here and still trying to get it on over FaceTime, everyone. We can do this – well, so long as there are willing victims we can, anyway.
This week, we say an awkward pixellated hello to Robyn, 32, who is a credit controller, and 36-year-old Danny, a radio presenter and DJ. Here they are in full in prime position in Weekend magazine:
Read what happened on the date on the Guardian website, before we return here and ask Danny if he can please, please, please play the Almighty mix of ‘Agatha All Along’*.
Robyn on Danny | Danny on Robyn
What were you hoping for?
Another way to meet someone. Failing that, another way to spend my Saturday night.
For anyone who hasn’t had to leave the house regularly to go to work, the pandemic has ruined Saturday nights. What’s a weekend anymore anyway? If it hadn’t been for shiny floor shows like Masked Singer and Ant & Dec’s Apparently it’s Saturday Night But Is it Really Takeaway, would we even notice? One of my very close friends used to laugh herself silly at the fact that I would quite often go into central London during the day on a Saturday – ‘going into town’ on a Saturday afternoon is a bit of a parochial hangover of mine, I guess, something a teenager would be expected to do. Bomb up to the Virgin megastore, nip into Burger King for a Chicken Royale and then smoke 10 Regals in quick succession before the bus came. But I used to love it, at any age. Town. And once I moved here, not just any town, but London Town, the place I’d dreamt of as I curled up in my ancient bed that sagged in the middle and whose springs groaned like a thousand goats every time I moved. To be in the middle of it, even at the busiest time of the week, at the most hectic hour of the day, was the entire point – what a feeling, what an honour. I didn’t move here to sit in a Starbucks in a zone 25 suburb making swirly patterns on the table in the rapidly crusting sugar spilled from soggy sachets. No, darling, I came here to live. Now, of course, the pandemic has made the city a charmless death zone with only wilfully plain straight couples wandering around hand in hand like contestants searching for the green room backstage at Pointless, with the crown of Oxford Circus, beloved Topshop, now just a void. Instead I spend Saturdays cycling umpteen times round Hyde Park on a Boris bike trying to feel something other than bizarre covid-related rage at strangers I perceive not to be adhering to the version of the rules nailed to the inside of my head.
As for what Danny is ‘hoping for’, nobody seems to give a shit, as his answer is unrecorded. I wonder what he said that had to be edited out when much more mundane answers were left in – was he hoping for someone into cannibalism? A Theresa May lookalike? A contortionist with a port wine birthmark and an acid perm? We shall never know.
He probably hears this a lot, but very tall.
Dying to know how she could work this out over video. Did she ask Danny to stand up and give her a twirl, like he was a hostess on the Generation Game?
Robyn was welcoming, nicely dressed and looked lovely.
Well, this a good start.
What did you talk about?
The basics, like work and home cities, how we both prefer cats to dogs, gardening, health hacks, duck in plum sauce, Britney Spears, how it’s best not to talk about the weather (I’m unsure if this counts as talking about the weather), Gibraltar, radio presenting, cider vinegar and music.
We touched on our careers, and talked a little about food, film and travel.
What didn’t they talk about? Robyn is basically ten Gogglebox contestants in one. Her conversation topics are like a longlist of my specialist subjects for Mastermind, should I ever go on. (I would never go on Mastermind – the questions are too long. Unlike Robyn, who reels off these categories like she’s in the world championships of the Tray Memory Game, I have all the recall of a bluebottle whose arse has just zonked right into the windscreen of your Vauxhall Viva as you power up the M1.)
Any awkward moments?
His food arrived in about 10 minutes, and mine came half an hour after the call ended.
We both ordered a Chinese takeaway. Mine was delivered within 20 minutes (we couldn’t believe it), so I was eating my meal while Robyn was still waiting for hers.
Danny, you need to drop us the details of this amazing takeaway that delivers in 20 minutes, because sometimes the evening can’t go on without emergency special fried rice. I have a pathological fear of not answering the front door quickly enough, so I find the moments between ordering the takeaway and its arrival the tensest I’ve experienced since I sat in front of EastEnders in December 1998 and anxiously waited for Frank Butcher’s car to plough into Tiffany Mitchell. I hover over the tracker, wondering if I should race down to the front door to meet the driver or wait for him to ring the doorbell. Which do they prefer? Sometimes I stand there at the open door waiting for them – they must turn up wondering who on earth is is this crazed, lonely madman in the Cookie Monster slippers.
Good table manners?
He did feel bad that his food came before mine, but given how long takeaways take to arrive where I live, I wouldn’t have expected him to wait.
Robyn lives… in Gibraltar? The north face of the Eiger? At the top of a booby-trapped 5G phone mast? I need to know why the takeaway places in her area are taking so long!
Best thing about Danny?
His shirt? That’s like going to a wedding and saying your favourite part of the day was the way the napkins were folded into swans, or asking someone what they think of your new haircut and them complimenting the scent of your hairspray in return before quickly leaving the room and booking a steerage ticket on the Titanic to avoid any more questions.
Best thing about Robyn?
Her positivity and good energy.
I quite like the modern definition of ‘energy’ but it does also remind me of lightbulbs, so I imagine Robyn emitting a lovely firelight glow as she sat patiently waiting for the internet connection to come back up so Danny could finish his story about duck in plum sauce.
Would you introduce them to your friends?
I’m not sure they would have anything in common.
I prefer to keep my love life and friends separate.
I wouldn’t dream of casting aspersions on Danny, as I’m sure he has his reasons for saying this, but I’d say wanting to keep your ‘love life’ and friends separate is a considerable red flag generally. Like, why? Are you worried your friends are going to embarrass you? Or that your girlfriend is? Are you frightened that if the two worlds meet, they might start comparing notes, and things don’t match up? Might it be very revealing and… not very good PR? As nice as it is to be coupled up, and lock yourself away from the world, a relationship that exists only in the context of the pair of you, and doesn’t involve any other areas of your life, or allow for intersection of people, isn’t actually a relationship in the first place – it’s a one-act play, uncomfortable for anyone watching, and you won’t like how it ends. It’s not healthy, it skews your perception of yourself and others. If your friends can’t be trusted to behave in front of your other half, or might judge them, then you need to get better friends. If your partner can’t mix with your friends, it’s never going to work.
I’d be extremely suspicious of anyone who wouldn’t introduce me to his friends – your ‘love life’ (yuk at this expression, what year is it) is not a separate existence, it’s part of the package. Ask yourself why someone might want to keep you away from all that, what’s in it for them.
Also, Robyn, would they really not have anything in common? Not even a favourite variety of Club biscuit?
What do you think he made of you?
Probably that I’m a chatterbox.
Argh.🚨🚨🚨 CHATTY KLAXON 🚨🚨🚨 If you are not a regular reader – if not, why not, what else are you doing ffs – you may be unaware that often, very often, TOO often, a woman on the GBD will answer this way. The one question where you get to put yourself in the head of someone else and appraise yourself as others might see you usually results in a woman assuming people think she talks too much. Maybe women do talk more than men, but they’re generally more interesting, aren’t they? I have met men who can talk for hours and hours, but it’s usually about bottlenecks on roundabouts I’ve never heard of, sports teams, or something that happened 17 years ago that you don’t remember because while that was happening to them, you were off your box in a cubicle with a stranger doing your very best to see if rubbing two pairs of jockey shorts together worked as well as sticks at creating fire.
What do you think she made of you?
I hope Robyn got to see my personality shine through, and I think she liked my good nature and sense of humour.
Well, Danny, we’re all fighting a losing battle trying to convince the world we have a personality over a Zoom call, but at least your shirt showed up great on the screen.
If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
To have done something more creative than just chat, drinks and food. Maybe a fun quiz or even a karaoke sing-song.
A fun quiz? Over video? In 2021? No, please, not again. We did this, back in lockdown 1, back when we were still willing to scrunch our eyes up a bit and say, ooh yes, maybe this is a bit like the Blitz, and were seconds away from drawing fake stocking lines up the backs of our legs with Bisto. But not now, now we are hardened warriors a whole year into this thing, with cynicism dripping from every pore, and optimism just a distant memory. As for karaoke, I think you should only let people see you sing once you’ve had sex with them and managed to ensnare them with your dexterity while hurling them round a room – unless you are a very good singer and are certain that your ability to hit the high notes in Elkie Brooks’ seminal work ‘No More the Fool’ will help lure them into bed.
Marks out of 10?
We both agreed on a 7.
Agreed? Agreed?!? You can’t agree beforehand! And if you do, agreeing on a seven is very ‘Look, we both know this date was duller than the first seventy pages of Dulux’s “Every shade of white or cream you would find on the walls of a rented house that hasn’t been decorated since the last series of This Life was broadcast” brochure, but we can’t score each other a 1, so let’s go for 7.’ Removing the element of surprise feels a bit of a cheat AND a cheek. Agreeing on a 10, I can understand, but in an era when spontaneity is a dead duck, plumping for a safe, emotionless 7, decided by committee, is robbing us of the tiny traces of schadenfreude we need to help us get through the day. ZEROES or go home.
Would you meet again?
No plans to, but if I ever see him out DJing, I will be sure to say hello.
You never know, our paths may cross again if Robyn is out one evening in the city where she lives and I’m DJing there.
‘The city where she lives’ – this mystery is killing me. Why won’t he say? We need to know the identity of this hallowed banlieue where Deliveroo takes forever. Or is Danny worried that if he identifies the city, his friends will turn up at the gig and tell all the women there that his favourite film is Shanghai Surprise? Unless Robyn hasn’t actually told him?! ‘Oh yeah I live in… oh look, what was that behind you? Looked like a ghost!’
Whatever music Danny’s playing, it looks like this particular Robyn will definitely be dancing on her own.
*(Credit for the original version of this joke goes to @oureric on Twitter.)
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About the review and the daters: 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. Most of the things I say are merely 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. 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. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story. And please do feel free to reveal this nameless city so I know never to order a takeaway there.
• Fancy a blind date? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.