Photographs: Linda Nylind and David Levene, both for the Guardian
Impeccable Table Manners

Sascha and Nick

It is my birthday today. I am 43. In order not to have to think about this too closely, here’s a Guardian Blind Date review. If there is one thing I have learned in all these years on the planet, it is that dealing with your ageing body is like staving off vertigo when you’re on top of a tall building: don’t look down.

Today’s willing participants in the gladiatorial arena of middle-class niceties and misunderstandings are Sascha, a 29-year-old producer, and Nick, 31, who is a journalist – unfortunately it doesn’t say whether he’s an “enemy of the people” journalist or a “22 reasons why Mary Berry is an icon to the leather community” journalist, but perhaps his answers will give him away.

Read what happened on the date – pop a couple of cans of Red Bull just in case – before I launch into my usual.

Nick on Sascha | Sascha on Nick
What were you hoping for?
Someone with a big smile who didn’t take themselves, or the night, too seriously.

Someone with a big smile, eh? I guess you want, generally, to go on a date with someone who is happy and likes to show it but thank heavens surly and moody is also a kink for some, otherwise I would still be a virgin. Justice for those who think smiling is dull.

What were you hoping for?
Good meal, great conversation – and at the very least a fun story for Christmas parties.

Well, I suppose it’s a whole lot easier than doing a sponsored swim.

First impressions?
She sat next to, rather than opposite, me which was good for two reasons: it’s punchy, plus I could hear her because the restaurant was noisy.


I don’t understand the use of that word. Is it slang? Anyway, I am quite here for sitting alongside each other on a date, especially when the acoustics are terrible. I went through a hard of hearing phase a couple of years ago – still in it tbh but I’m in denial – and it is so frustrating getting people to repeat everything so you just end up agreeing with whatever they’ve said. Quite awkward when they’ve just said Cardiff should be tarmaced over and turned into a roller rink.

Another good thing about sitting next to one another is you can, should the date go well, immediately progress to mutual masturbation under your napkins.

Oh, and btw, Nick “the journalist” – this is not what a first impression is. Sort it out.

First impressions?
Handsome and well-dressed.

What did you talk about?
Sex education. Potatoes. And things that irrationally annoy us.
The importance of befriending people who work in your work cafe,, our karaoke songs.

No matches at all. ❌ Unless “things that irrationally annoy us” is related to their karaoke songs.

Any awkward moments?
The waitress’s voice was at the same pitch as the background noise, so I kept answering “yes” to her open-ended questions. “How is your food?” “Yes.” “Red or white wine?” “Yes.”

Oh, relatable. See above. ⬆️⬆️

Any awkward moments?
He thought there was a lid on the sauce for our salmon and put his whole finger in the pot.

Quite the metaphor for life there. Have we not all, at one point or another, assumed there would be lids to protect us from the unknown and the unpleasant? Lids hold down the things that can harm us, keep them at bay until we are ready to deal. As Coronation Street’s chief animal pelt enthusiast Bet Lynch once said, “This isn’t a smile; it’s a lid on a scream”.

And yet, especially now, in the dying embers of 2018, there is no lid, just a slip of the finger, a splat. and an unpleasantly fishy digit.

Good table manners?
She ate with her mouth shut, and didn’t lick her fingers or burp in my face. So, yes.

Interesting fact: many years ago I had a summer job when I was at uni and had the misfortune to be working with two of the most awful, noxious, masc straight bros ever. They smelled of Lynx and rejection and were relentlessly difficult to be around. Anyway, FOR?? SOME?? REASON?? they took a dislike to me and, when their contracts ended and they decided not to renew them (spoiler: they were very bad at their jobs and couldn’t hack it but somehow this was my  fault), they cited one of their reasons for leaving as “Justin burped in my face”. Can you Adam-and-Eve it? I’m not saying I was a particularly nice person back then but I certainly didn’t burp in their faces. I’m assuming they’re married now and have families. I hope their children grow up to be reality TV contestants and have sex on television.

Good table manners?

Would you introduce her to your friends?
Sure. She’s the kind of person everyone would like.
Yeah, I think they’d like him.

There can be no other answer to this question now. Unless all your friends are jailed serial killers and you communicate only through letters and awkward visits where he says the word “conjugal” over and over until you have to leave, there is no reason not to introduce your friends to anyone you are interested in romantically.

Describe her in three words
Really good fun.

So, Nick, not sure if you have read my blog but what I like to do with this question is take each adjective and add, like, a vaguely amusing definition or simile or whatever. However you have ruined this with “really good fun”, so I’m going to name a few things that you could describe as “really good fun”, which sounds like the kind of compliment you would give at gunpoint when you really didn’t want to give away how bad a time you had. Ready? OK.  A memorial service for a clown; the second loop on a rickety rollercoaster moments before the person in front puked on you; being towel-whipped by a tea towel with Ricky Gervais’s face on it; a Gary Barlow solo album; a night spent listening to your grandfather’s racist limericks; Harrogate.

Describe him in three words
Interesting, confident, comfortable with himself.

JFC what is the problem with these two. That’s five words, Sascha. You don’t deserve me. I’m moving on.

What do you think she made of you?
That my shirt was too tight, which it was – because of a hot wash, not muscle.

The definition of “clean-shirt”. Perhaps the truth here is Nick didn’t want to dwell too hard on what Sascha made of his personality, but even an old cynic would venture that Nick has slightly more to offer than “tight shirt” as a character trait.

Plus, there’s no such thing as “too tight”, unless you are trying to get someone to pay an outstanding invoice. Yes, this is a subtweet.

What do you think he made of you?
I hope that I had a good sense of humour and was fun.

✅ Really good fun! You did it, Sascha, congrats.

Did you go on somewhere?
To a bar where we observed some horrendous flirting by a bloke in jeans and shoes.

I am assuming they meant “jeans and shoes” as in “jeans and sheux“, the grim phenomenon of men buying those awful square-toed shoes and wearing overlong jeans with them so their feet look like two tiny hooves. Simon Cowell is a great advocate.

May 2019 bless me with the confidence of Simon Cowell nipping down to the Tesco Express in bootcuts and cuban heels.

Anyway, there was no kissing so let’s thrust by.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
I’d have vetoed the beetroot.

I can’t remember the last time a Blind Date was this wilfully un-fascinating. It glistens with lost opportunity.

Marks out of 10?

Ah. Right. OK, I see. Don’t you? Nick has under marked because he has read this column before and knows that if nothing controversial happens on a date – and as dates go this has been the one episode of Last of the Summer Wine where nobody rolls down a hill in a tin bathtub – that the woman dater usually pulls a friend zone move to make it clear they had a nice time but aren’t interested. In an effort, perhaps, to claw back the male pride he assumes will be taking a dent, Nick has marked Sascha with there equivalent of a shrug. Don’t believe me? Here’s his “meet again” answer:

Would you meet again?
Yes, as friends.

Like, men hardly ever say this. As for Sascha, she went in there with a 9, which is a HIGH score to say there was no snogging, and was removed with the shapely hips of an 8. Nick. Nicholas. Nickyyyyyyy. It didn’t have to be this way. Because, look:

Would you meet again?
We swapped numbers, so we’ll see.

Sascha and Nick ate at Farmer J, London EC4, Fancy a blind date? Email If you’re looking to meet someone like-minded, visit

NOTE: The comments I make are based on the answers given by the participants. Basically, you played yourself. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits answers to make the column work better on the page. Get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story; I’ll happily publish whatever you say. But, remember, it’s my birthday so no swearing.

AND FINALLY: I write these reviews because I enjoy it and ask you for no payment other that deathless adulation. However, if you would like to thank me ON MY BIRTHDAY then please do consider . It is, according to many people, good. And even if it isn’t, you can always throw it at someone’s head. Please, my bank account, he’s sick. Buy.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say that the new WordPress editor is awful and really awkward to use, so thanks for that.


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