Impeccable Table Manners

Sanjive and Jane

We live in a terrifyingly ironic world. We hate-follow, we roll our eyes, we sneer at things other people enjoy. We are eternally in the playground, desperate for the cooler kids to notice us, not even realising that nobody is cool, on any level.

We go to parties and events primed to hate them. We steel ourselves for the disappointment, consoled only by the fact that we’ll get loads of online material out of our miserable experience. You can dine out on a rubbish night at a gig or the cinema for months, years. Very few of us beg someone to repeat the story of how wonderful something was.

And when we actually enjoy a thing, it turns out to be even more disappointing. All those clean-shirts who were simply dying to hate Star Wars or Mrs Brown’s Boys or EastEnders or Madonna in concert, and yet, when they get there, they found themselves loving it.

This week’s Guardian Blind Date is exactly that. We tune in wanting two people to shred each other like the final scenes of the War of the Roses – we know it’s all we want. However. This week brings us Jane, 61, a carer, and 46-year-old estate agent Sanjive. Read what happened on the date before I wade in.

Sanjive | Jane
What were you hoping for?
Some nice chit-chat and company.

I’ve never seen the word “chit-chat” used so positively before. It’s usually a dismissive word, isn’t it, said with all the sincerity of a drag queen asking David Gest who does his hair.

What were you hoping for?
An exciting evening, probably a new friend, possibly more.

I don’t know why, but Jane’s “possibly more” reminded me of Grindr bios from way back when: “Just want drinks or chat if I’m online – if horny, possibly more. No booze, no chems. No fat, no fems.”

Possibly more. Believe me, it always meant you were getting definitely less.

First impressions?
Nice smile, and she’d made the effort to look great – I loved her white fluffy coat. 🧥 

Where have they been all our lives, ladies? Gays? The men like Sanjive who notice when we’ve gone to a little bit of effort? The ones who notice what we’re wearing, and how we smile and – if we’re lucky – what we look like underneath.

Say what you want about being old-fashioned and the modern world going to shit, but I haven’t ever seen one of those tattooed airing cupboards from Geordie Shore compliment what a lady was wearing.

First impressions?
Nice eyes and a great smile. I felt immediately at ease.

two rabbits

“This bus is on diversion to Cute Overload. Please listen for further announcements.”

As if this January fairytale wasn’t enough, something very unusual is about to happen:

What did you talk about?
Meditation, yoga, plant-based diet, India, our children, the civil service, the tax office.
Yoga, families, work past and present, India, happiness.

Leaving aside some of the stone-cold boner murdering subjects like “the tax office”, it seems that both Jane and Sanjive were listening to each other. Almost never do both daters agree on even one conversation topic, let alone three. India? Tick! Yoga? Tick!

It’s a tick for families/children, too. Although I’d rather talk about my favourite mass-murderers than wang on about my offspring, all of whom no doubt have “moved back home to save money” for a mortgage on a luxury flat-shaped coffin above an M&S Simply Food on a B-road in Penge.

Any awkward moments?
No, she was posh but nice.

Victoria Beckham rolls eyes

Nothing wrong with a bit of posh.

Not all posh people want to hunt foxes in your front garden and make you hand in your satellite dish and Sky subscription if you’re on benefits.

Any awkward moments?
A menu briefly caught fire on a candle.

This feels like a dramatic storyline flung in by a producer desperate to improve the ratings. Let’s be honest, things have been a bit gentle so far. This is up there with ‘scarf getting caught in leg of chair’ and ‘I had to ask for a fork – they’d given me two knives’ when it comes to dating disasters, but I’ll let it go.

Table manners!

Good table manners?
Yes, we were both relaxed.

I can’t bear the word “relaxed”. It always reminds me of this exercise video from gays’ favourite, Angela Lansbury, the Mary Berry of Beverly Hills. If you’ve never watched this before, you need to immediately.

Do you need a minute after that? Thought so. Best not to dwell too long, though.

Good table manners?
Impeccable.

Maleficent

Describe her in three words
Fragrant like mango.

Sanjive has inexplicably turned into a wellness blogger, and thinks he’s captioning sunsets with a chipotle chicken and ‘avo’ salad in the foreground. Nonsense.

Describe him in three words
Open, unaffected, adventurous. 

“Open like door.”
“Unaffected like Nando’s.”
“Adventurous like Gaga.”

Play the game, Jane.

What do you think she made of you?
Hopefully kind. I listened to her, on a human level, and we connected. The evening did not last long enough.

You are kind, Sanjive. You are nice. A good guy. Although I’m not sure I’m going to be rolling out the bunting because you listened “on a human level” because I’m not even sure what that means.

I think/hope he found me interesting and nice.

Like MANGO!

Did you go on somewhere?
I had tickets to The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House.

This is oddly specific. Boast post? And did he have a ticket for Jane to see The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House (see ROH website for times, ticketing and merchandise)? At this point it isn’t clear. Until…

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
More time. And maybe a chance for me to teach her a bit of meditation and yoga during the interval at the ballet.

Oh he did! I’m not sure how I’d feel about someone turning up to a first date with pre-arranged tickets for something that they expected me to go to and, I assume, hadn’t consulted me about first. In a way, it’s a sweet gesture, and it *is* the Royal Opera House. I imagine Sanjive wanted to make a lasting impression.

“Teach her a bit of meditation.” No word on whether Jane was interested in the date turning into her very own Educating Rita, but this is all getting a bit… I dunno. I feel like I’ve got in the wrong lift and got out on the floor marked ‘Stealthy Mansplaining’.

sherlock: thank you for your input

I am going to give Sanjive the benefit of the doubt and assume he just wanted to spend more time with her, talking. Jane offers no feedback on the ballet, save for:

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
More time in the restaurant.

I see.

The kissing question is odd.

And… did you kiss?
Of course – an Indian smooch (I’m too shy to elaborate).
A kiss on the cheek

I don’t know what an Indian smooch is, and is Jane is telling the truth about it being a kiss on the cheek, why is Sanjive “too shy to elaborate”? Hmmm.

Scores!

8.
Has to be a 10.

Surprised by Sanjive’s 8 – a little bit of vanity creeping in there fir our mango-loving yoga fan?

And will they do it again? Will they meet up to talk yoga, or reminisce about the lovely time they had at The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House (see ROH website for times, ticketing and merchandise)? Will they once again lock horns and spraff on about their children?

Would you meet again?
Yes, I have invited her to dinner at my place.
Definitely. We live in different cities and are planning a visit.

Larger naked Arkansas fan

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 this may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena.  I am sure, in real life, they are cool people – fragrant like mango, even. I am 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. 

Photograph: Graeme Robertson, James Drew Turner, both for the Guardian

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