Impeccable Table Manners

Thom and Grace

Is this the longest January ever? Did they add some days in? It must be, like, the 700th of January by now. What we need is a couple to take us away from it all, don’t we? We need, as ever, the Guardian Blind Date.

This week, it’s Thom and Grace! They’re both 25! Thom is an auditor and Grace is a learning coordinator.

Photograph: Graeme Roberts, Alicia Canter, both for the Guardian

Thom has overcome some serious adversity – he’s managed to live the first 25 years of his life with his right hand superglued to his head – and Grace looks like she’d be easy to embarrass at a marrow-growing competition, so let’s see what delights are in store. Read the full date on the Guardian website before I pick a few select questions to tear to shreds.Thom on Grace| Grace on Thom

What were you hoping for?
Interesting conversation.

I think the only way you could aim lower is by hoping someone alive turns up.

What were you hoping for?
A fun evening. And if not, at least a funny story.

OK, so we get this answer a lot now. And I am sounding the copout alarm. 🚨🚨🚨 I don’t want to hear this answer anymore. Of course you were hoping for a fun evening. What’s the alternative?
“I was hoping Prince Harry would be there on bended knee saying Meghan Markle had gone off to do another series of Suits and he simply HAD to get married this May and did I fancy stepping in.”?!

First impressions? She had lovely eyes, was well dressed and had been thoughtful enough to wear a necklace with her name on, so there was no chance of forgetting it.

Jeez, Thom sure as hell drank it all in, didn’t he? Well, he is an auditor I suppose.

First impressions? Phew! Tall, handsome and polite.

Hahaha. PHEW. We’ve all been there.

What did you talk about? Stranger Things, her Jamaican family, India, the guilt that comes with working for a large corporation.
What did you talk about? Thom had some good stories about travelling around America, including attending a Trump rally (not as a supporter, luckily) and spending a week with a Mormon family. I tried to impress with my “breaking into Glastonbury” story.

OK so we have a “travel story” duo here. Y’know, I can’t really say this kind of chat is for me – although some of it does sound interesting, the family and the rally and stuff, but ;lastonbury no never never never nobody cares – but what I will say is, it’s good when these kind of people find each other. At least that way two other people aren’t being bored half to death across a filthy pub table.

Any awkward moments? None that stood out. Maybe that we both struggled with the wine list.

Struggled? Was it, uh, a particularly big or cumbersome wine list? You know, like those giant cheques they hand over on Children In Need? All you need to remember about picking wine is that if you’re stuck you can ask a waiter to recommend something in your price range – seriously get over yourself; you’re never going to see these people again so what do you care what they think – or do the old faithful giveaway that you have zero clue and choose the second cheapest. No restaurant that wants you to have a good time is going to give you any grief because you’re not a sommelier. In fact, they like to be asked. Being a waiter is so boring – they’ve got dreams, you know – so why not let them show off and share their expertise. Apologies in advance if this goes wrong and you get the one waiter in the restaurant who doesn’t want to recommend wine for you, he just wants you to die before pudding so he can leave early and finish off that coke from his bedside drawer.

Any awkward moments? Maybe an awkward silence or two at the beginning. But otherwise, none.

Oh no, not SILENCE! A perfectly natural silence when you’re with a stranger shouldn’t be awkward – it’s expected. Here are five actual awkward silences.
looks. 2. Walking into a room filled with people and you realise you have shagged absolutely everyone in it, and/or their spouses. And the free wine ran out ten seconds before you walked in.
Good table manners? Faultless.

Good table manners? I didn’t even notice – must have been good!

Best thing about Grace? She spoke passionately about her interests, most of which seemed to align with mine.

This is a lovely thing to say and I am glad they are getting on. And you might think it odd, that nobody would ever go on a date and talk dispassionately about their interests, but you would be wrong. People do also quite like to talk passionately about things they hate, too, which can be fun for a while, but on a date, it becomes exhausting fast.

Best thing about Thom? Totally down to earth.

So is soil, Grace.

Describe Grace in three words Adventurous, warm, stylish.

Adventurous, like someone who goes along with calamari as a sharing plate when out with people they don’t know that well, tries it and “to my surprise, Margaret, I really liked it… not that I would ever have it again”.
Warm, like my friend Olivia.
Stylish, like that one mannequin in the window wearing your ideal outfit, the components of which are nowhere to be found within the shop itself.

Describe Thom in three words Unassuming, adventurous, cool.

Umassuming, like the word boring but with a chilli kick.
Adventurous… OMG a double adventurous! Has this ever happened before? Is Bear Grylls about to abseil from the ceiling and give our contestants some kind of challenge or prize?
Cool, like your mug of tea you never got to drink because a man selling recipe boxes (“No, not Hello Fresh, we’re the other one”) kept you talking at the front door for exactly 17 minutes.

What do you think she made of you? Seemingly an interesting enough individual to share a couple of Aperol spritzes with.

Aperol spritz. When did this date happen? Last August? Do people ever drink those outside the summer months? As regular readers will know, Aperol spritzes and negronis and that entire family of drinks that taste like bird flu are NOT for me. But I kind of understand why people drink them in summer. It’s hot, bright, all the fashion loses its mind temporarily and you find yourself wearing clothes that look like your mum’s dining room curtains over a period of three months. You eat things you’d never eat, endure uncomfortable hours sitting cross legged on someone else’s not-very-clean-looking blanket talking shit with someone who “works in branding”, nursing a tepid alcoholic drink in some kind of plastic glass or ironic kitsch cardboard beaker. In short: summer turns you into a tit. So it’s only natural you’d want an Aperol spritz – it’s the summer tit’s signature drink. Talk too loudly in bars, waggling your card at the staff for attention? Pause between every syllable to reapply Carmex to your lips? Still persevering with cargo shorts? A round of Aperol spritzes please, barkeep!

What do you think he made of you? I was a bit nervous, so I’m hoping I didn’t dominate the conversation.

Oh it’s back, our first for 2018, I think. Woman participant worries she’s talked too much. Don’t worry about dominating the conversation, honestly. Nerves are a terrible thing and don’t believe in nuance, so they either make you talk incessantly or clam up entirely. So if you talked a bit too much, maybe Thom was nervous too and wasn’t saying as much. It all balances itself out eventually. Never apologise for talking; it’s literally what you’re supposed to do on a date. If you at least paused a couple of times to let him speak and he didn’t take you up on it, tough shit.

Did you go on somewhere? We did. I knew a nice rooftop bar next door.
Did you go on somewhere? For a couple of drinks at a rooftop bar with a cool view.

Rooftop?! Aperol spritzes? Has January gone on so sodding long that it’s actually just a really cold July and nobody has noticed? Or are Thom and Grace in Australia?!

And… did you kiss? A little…
And… did you kiss? Maybe…

Well thank God for that. Although the thought of exchanging tongue/saliva with someone who’s just downed the “headache in a glass” that is Aperol spritz doesn’t appeal. But at least they both had one.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be? While the company was spot on, the restaurant was slightly lacking in atmosphere (it was a Tuesday night).

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be? Nothing, it was fab. Maybe one less Aperol spritz on my part.

“Because they taste like straight-up shit.”


Marks out of 10? 9.
Marks out of 10? 9.5.

This is looking good, guys. A nine and a nine-point-five. Usually I dismiss point-five scores because, well, I’m a heartless old queen made of bricks, ice, and old episodes of Eldorado, but here I think it fits. Grace is saying there’s room for a 10. I wonder what Thom has to do to get that.

Thom’s 9 is just men being men because men so really it’s a 9.5. Hurrah!

Would you meet again? I hope so; numbers were exchanged.
Would you meet again? We exchanged numbers, so I’d like to think so.

Disclaimer: The comments I make about the couples are for LOL jokes and are based on the answers given by the participants, which the Guardian chooses to publish and usually edits to make them less dull or fit onto the page. Get in touch if you want to give us your side of the story; I’m a reasonable human being.Note: If you’ve liked this, maybe you could share it – I’m a writer who needs to be commissioned to earn money and you should never underestimate the power of a retweet. It really helps. My novel is out dead soon. People who know a lot more about this stuff than I do have said its good, so if you’d like to buy it, then Google “The Last Romeo Justin Myers” and purchase from your preferred retailer.


  1. Ace review as always.

    I Love that she wore her name on a necklace. In the same way that, if I were desperate, I wouldn’t mind if someone gave me a fiver out of genuine empathy, or so they could tell their friends about it on social media, I wouldn’t mind whether she wore that necklace for narcissistic reasons, or because she struggles with the same (name) problem.

    I have a dear friend who is very good at names, but terrible with faces. He seems to think I’d easily remember names, if only I paid more attention. I countered this with asking him about when people come up to him in the street and start talking, as though they both know each other. He subtly finds out their name, which he seems able to do with astonishing efficiency, and then he knows who they are.

    We’ve worked out that, as a team, we would be the worst private detective agency the world has seen. He wouldn’t recognise their faces, and I wouldn’t recognise their names.

    Me: “She got away? What did she look like?”

    He: “Like a generic female human face. Have you ever met someone called Claudia?”

    Me: “How the hell would I know? I meet people with differing and interesting faces every day! Why the hell would I also remember their names?!”

    Yeah – it was funny in our heads…

    Unlike your blogs, which are funny… outside of the said heads…

  2. YAY!!! We needed one where they liked eachother! Ace as always. Also bonus points for your use of Russ Abbott.

  3. If she can look that cute in a Blind Date photo, she must be absolutely stunning in person. Not kidding. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone appear so attractive in one of the harshly lit photos Blind Date seems addicted to.

  4. I once had a pretty fantastic first date with a stunner of guy who was really obviously into me. The next few times I met him / spoke to him on the phone (basically, *every* time we conversed) he seemed to feel the need to mention “awkward silences” on this first date, particularly in such a way that made it clear that he considered it a deficiency of my character.

    In fact, I remember no such awkwardness on my part; it was surely all his. I repeatedly reminded him that it’s ok to have quiet reflective moments in a good conversation.

    In the end I stopped seeing him as, while I thought he was fantastically good looking, he was deeply insecure and felt the need to “neg” me constantly. No amount of pretty can overcome that kind of ugly.

  5. Wait wait wait what about the fact that as well as calling each other adventurous, they called each other cool and warm!

    Need confirmation stat that this was not in fact written as they lay in bed together, chuckling as they carefully co-ordinated their responses.

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