How soon into a date can you tell it’s going to be a disaster? Usually, I’d know by the second creak of their ‘vintage’ loafers that a guy wasn’t going to be a keeper. When the repulsion is so instantaneous, you have two choices: you can either make a break for it and call and end to the date there and then, or you sit back and think, “Well, I might as well enjoy myself, even though there’s no attraction”. Option 2 is the best way to spend an evening, but be warned: sometimes you end up going back home with them anyway out of sheer boredom, or morbid curiosity for how bad you can make an evening for yourself without being murdered or in prison.
On other occasions, however, you don’t know you’re on a bad date until it’s nearly over, if at all. And even then, you’re puzzled. You will never know what you’ve done, what you’ve said, but for whatever reason, your fellow dater has taken agin you and there can be no going back. It’s not until you get home, maybe – or in this case read it back in a magazine column – that you realise that joke about Prince George maybe wasn’t quite appropriate.
Read what happened on the date between architecture recruitment specialist, and I’m guessing prolific LinkedIn updater, Thomas, 30, and 31-year-old April, who works in – yes you’ve guessed it – PR, before I wade in and dish out of a whole can of “Oh mate, really?” to the unsuspecting duo.
Thomas starts us off and, like his speech bubble in the pic, is in blue. April, therefore, is in pink.
I’m just going to throw this out there, but I dare say if someone isn’t interested enough in you to want to take something past the first date, they’re hardly likely to want to be confronted on a daily basis by your #eatclean avo-toast breakfasts, sweaty marathon training close-ups, jauntily-angled pictures of St Paul’s cathedral or grainy, over-compressed screenshots of a meme you saw on Facebook.
People are very discriminating with their follows these days, Thomas. Take the gays, for example – if that tops stays on for more than five selfies in a row, they unfollow you faster than a dessert trolley could whiz across a crowded restaurant.
“If nothing else” – it sounds like April walked into this date with all the enthusiasm of a toilet brush looking at itself in a mirror and realising what its role in the world actually is.
Pretty is a good first impression to make when you walk in somewhere, I guess. Accent fetishes, though – oh, wow, I really don’t get this. “Phwoar, I just love your accent.” Piss off.
A South American man I used to date told me, on breaking up with me, some rubbish about being sweet or whatever, but also that I’d been like his “very own Hugh Grant”, with my English accent. There are a couple of problems with this, the first being that I don’t sound anything like Hugh Grant. The second? I suddenly realised I had been, all this time, merely a talking dildo. He wasn’t interested in my chat or my hopes and dreams or even my strange fascination with the way dogs drag their ass on their ground – it was just the accent, the idea. I could’ve been anyone so long as I talked the talk.
I can count on precisely zero fingers the number of times a date has ever come back from the woman participant commenting on the height of the guy within the first two answers. Height is a big bugbear for some. It has never bothered me, really. Pocket rockets, string beans and everything else in between – I’ve no hangups.
Short, friendly and wearing a nice shirt. Hmmm.
Great, an Official The North Is Amazing Tourist Board stan.
I am from the north. I don’t have a particularly northern accent though – see above – so when I went on dates, my northern heritage would usually go undetected. You’ve no idea how many hours I spent being lectured on why the north is the best place, like, ever by some floppy-haired Toby from Surrey who went to university for one term in Manchester and smoked a rollup outside Affleck’s Palace once.
“Couldn’t live there, though,” they would always finish, sweeping that expertly GHD’ed fringe our of their eyes. “I’d miss London too much – you can’t even get decent sushi up there”.
In my experience, aside from oily faced local councillors with bellies cultivated from fact-finding lunches and kickbacks, the north does not need you to sell it to the masses, believe me. It wants you to stay the hell away.
“Where we went to uni” – April is 31.
Box sets. I sometimes think box sets are God’s way of telling you that you should take up alcoholism or murder.
Getting someone’s name wrong on a date is the most supreme of disses, the ultimate “fuck you”. On your way to a date, you need to repeat their name over and over and over again until it takes up so much space in your brain, there’s no room left to remember your home address. And, if the evening goes well, there’s every chance you won’t need to know where you live.
Have you ever noticed that when you want to have a good old whinge about your age, someone will be along in a matter of seconds to remind you they are three days older than you and you’ve nothing to complain about. Social media makes this much easier now, of course – in the old days, you’d have to fling yourself bodily onto tables and into other people’s conversations to let them know. Now you just slide into their mentions like a turd coming back up to the surface, post-flush.
Fat days, bad hair days, feeling old days, having no money days – there will always be someone in earshot out to trump your misery, the most bizarre form of oneupmanship known to man. “My life is worse than yours. Pity me.” JUST LET ME FEEL OLD. This isn’t about you.
It’s table manners now. I’m smoothing down my tie and pushing my chair back slightly – I have a feeling I’ve got an Oscar winner coming up.
GO YOU, THOMAS. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t instantly want to shag a guy who did this. I can only assume by this point, Thomas had realised the prospect of pudding turning into anything else was about as likely as David Cameron remembering which football team he supports two days in a row.
I mean, nobody has said the dreaded “chatty” here, but put these last two answers together and it’s as good as.
Oh no, hang on, here it is:
Nice. Friendly. Chatty. Something you’d overhear in the staff room of a care home, as the assistants describe the latest resident to peg it in the middle of the night.
Yaaaaas I bet Tom and his mates really carve it up on a Saturday night with the spirit of ‘Beefa – nonstop bantosaurus-rexing and giving it full gangsta as they polish off their third boozy mochaccino spritzer in whichever brass-rail, clean-shirt, “all the bar staff wear floor-length black aprons and moustache-shaped lapel pins”, lads-lads-lads duff watering hole they pick on a Saturday evening.
She’s not too nice for your friends. Nobody is, unless you went to school with Maleficent and Ian Brady.
Only joking, Tom. I’m sure you’re a delight to have a pint with.
I’d leave the “chic” plaudits to the ghost of Coco Chanel, if I were you, Thomas.
I wonder how hasty we’re talking here? Although April has been delivering her answers with all the brio of a rubberised plug, and Thomas did rather overzealously boast about his dessert, the date hasn’t sounded too dreadful – what could possibly have led April to make like the roadrunner and scram?
Oh. Um. Well. It rather depends on how Thomas did this, of course, but it’s not the best of form to ask someone if they’d like to do it again before you’ve left the table.
Maybe he was just too keen or perhaps the wine had gone to his head and he thought “fuck it” – thinking “fuck it” isn’t done nearly enough and should be encouraged, but the trouble is nobody ever thinks it at the right time. I digress.
The best way to ask if someone would like to see you again is over the cold, hard reality of texting, or WhatsApp, or whatever. A brisk knockback is much easier to take on a screen – nobody wants to be left sitting watching the table decoration wilt, even if they do have friends close-by for a debrief.
That said, she could’ve at least said “maybe”. You’re on telly, you know.
Says who?! Anyway, her loss, Thomas.
Not just no, but absolutely not. There’s more to this than meets the eye.
Ooh, Thomas. Harsh, but fair. I wonder if this will be enough face-saving to counteract whatever score April’s going to conjure from her rapidly draining goodwill for you?
Oh. Nope. Bad luck, T-man.
So, with the crushing inevitability of asking a child whether it enjoyed its school dinner, we must ask the killer question. He got her name wrong, asked her out again mid-dinner, banged on about the north, got rebuffed. She picked the wrong dessert, has ageing issues and raced out of the restaurant. Will they see each other again? Will they BUFFALO.
But let’s ask it anyway.
There’s better storylines out there for you somewhere, Thomas.
Then hang up, April. It’s for the best.
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 editing of answers may happen, I assume, and know these answers will appear in the public arena. This isn’t about me thinking these two people are bad people – I don’t know them. I am sure, in real life, they’re lovely. I’m critiquing the answers, not the people themselves. If you are the couple in this date, please do not take this personally; I don’t see the date in advance so my reactions are my first ones. Sometimes appearing in the Blind Date column is God’s way of telling you to give Tinder another go. If you want to give your side of the story, get in touch and I will happily publish any rebuttal or comments you might have.
For Victoria Wood. Thank you.
Photograph: Alicia Canter; James Drew Turner, both for the Guardian