Photograph: Sarah Lee; Jill Mead/The Guardian
Impeccable Table Manners

Tom and Ciera

I have to be honest, I’m not really here for rebranding Easter as a kind of sexy, sun-kissed Christmas. Christmas is Christmas – exciting, exuberant, extravagant – and Easter is supposed to be just some boring old ugly long weekend with unpredictable weather. Sure, when you get older, the plus is you can drink/smoke/eat/boxset binge your way through it, but the only exciting thing about Easter should be the eggs – arguably the best way to eat chocolate ever – and not endless bunting, Easter wreaths (?!?!?!),tree decorations and balloons and what-not. Christmas is the gaudy, bawdy beauty of the family, while Easter is supposed to be the more refined, winsome, plain-Jane-superbrain sibling. I mean, Easter Sunday is possibly the worst day ever as a child. Nothing is open and you don’t even have the box that your Scalextric came in to play with.

Anyway, our two Easter bunnies searching for a nibble of the carrot (other desperate innuendoes are available at a fee) are Tom, a 25-year-old actor – OMG I wonder how many times in his life he’s been asked “WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN IN WOULD I HAVE YOU SEEN YOU IN ANYTHING?!?” – and Ciera, 23, and a teaching assistant. Wow, jobs I have actually heard of and understand – truly this is like Christmas.

before we do the record-scratch and give it a poppers o’clock remix.

Tom on Ciera | Ciera on Tom
What were you hoping for?
Someone I had a genuine connection with and would enjoy spending time with.

A genuine connection – I assume he’s not talking about wifi.

What were you hoping for?
A really relaxed evening with someone who has shared interests.

Alexa, show me the dating hopes of a thrice-divorcée in her seventies who has really had enough of men’s inescapable bullshit.

First impressions?
Very easy to chat to, with a warm, inviting personality to match. She instantly put me at ease.

This is a lovely thing to say but it does also sound like feedback on a “How was your experience with your GP today?” questionnaire.

First impressions?
I saw two men sitting alone and had to try to guess which one was Tom – thankfully, I got it right first time. He was confident, with nice eyes.

Interesting fact: on the three or four times I have been into the Guardian offices, and I have waited in reception to be collected, there has always been a different, much better-looking (usually younger but hey) man also in reception and every. single. time. the person coming to collect me has approached the other man first and said, not overly confidently to be fair, “Justin?”. And then I have to say it is, in fact, me, and those three milliseconds of power-awkwardness are quite energising and are scientifically proven to minimise pores and clear skin. What it tells me is my writing is way hotter than I am.

Anyway, confident with nice eyes is good. Well done everyone.

What did you talk about?
A bunch of different things ranging from family, tattoos, music and theatre tastes. Oh, and her pet lizard. We left no stone unturned.
A better question would be what didn’t we talk about? He acts and I have a drama degree, so we bonded over musicals and stage shows. We also talked about films and music.

Two dramatic types! Oh this is a bonus because, and I say this in a very loving way – one of my best friends is an actor please don’t kill me I love you – but actors like to be actory around each other and it is basically their natural state of being, so when you have an actor who is NOT dating a fellow actor it is a little like watching a beautiful exotic bird sit, pissed off, in a slightly too small, and not ornate enough, theatre filled with pigeons. We are the pigeons FYI. Anyway this is all great so let’s carry on.

Any awkward moments?
We were initially seated at different tables and there was a bit of awkwardness finding out we were actually there to meet each other.

I hate it when this happens. How does it happen? Can’t they give them codenames? “The table is booked under the name ‘Madame X’ (get that Madonna album promo) and is for two people.” How hard can it be?! I know it’s a Blind Date but it doesn’t have to be escape room-levels of difficult to get going.

Good table manners?
Finger food was ordered and we both did a good job of keeping everything clean and tidy.
Yeah, definitely.

Finger food on a date. Holy shit these two are heroic; I’d have needed beta blockers to get through it.

Best thing about Ciera?
When she told me her favourite Shakespeare play was Much Ado About Nothing, I did melt a little inside. I also loved her honesty. She ticked a lot of my boxes.

I’m afraid A-level English Literature ruined Shakespeare for me. I didn’t want to do it at all: I wanted to do Media Studies to follow up on the GCSE I’d done, but it “clashed” with Spanish and I would also have to go to a different school to do it – yes welcome to being educated in a comprehensive in the nineties where nobody gave a fuck what you actually wanted to do. Anyway, we didn’t study Much Ado – as I am 100% sure actors would call it – but I did see the movie version with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh and Keanu Reeves (actually did I dream this?) and others carousing round Tuscany with epic suntans. It was quite good.

Best thing about Tom?
He made me laugh. A lot.

There’s something in the air here.

Describe Ciera in three words
Intelligent, charming, interesting.

Intelligent is good, isn’t it? Not the same as being clever, is it? Clever has connotations – it is cold, distant, impenetrable. Intelligence is something you warm to; it draws you in with its charm. The “warm bath with candles” of compliments.
Charming, well I love being called this and – as I just said above without even realising this word was next – it’s often a bedfellow of intelligence so I guess now I am, like, a scientist or something?
Interesting is better than engaging so let’s all at least get on our knees and thank whichever is your favourite religious entity – Madonna in my case, I guess – that he didn’t say that.

Describe Tom in three words
Confident, kind, funny.

Confident is always nice to see, especially first. That way, it feels like it’s genuine rather than “I have to pick a third word and I’ve already said ‘engaging’ and ‘chatty’ wtf do I do now?!?” But was Tom acting or is he actually confident? If I were in a more philosophical mood I’d say that we are all acting at some point or another but it’s *checks watch* 08:02 and my whimsy doesn’t fully kick in until the Going Live! theme tune.
Kind is an interesting one and I decode this as meaning they talked about either unpleasant people or events and he reacted to them with kindness.
Funny is great because men loved being called this and it’s even greater here because I believe it to be true.

What do you think she made of you?
Hopefully, she thought I was a good laugh. I tried my best to make sure that she had an enjoyable time.
I think he likes me!

Here we go.

Did you go on somewhere?
We went for a drink in a quiet pub round the corner.
We went to a pub.


And… did you kiss?
I’ll leave that one for the readers to decide.
And… did you kiss?


(What I love about this is the Guardian refused to actually publish an emoji on its site and actually printed the words “angel emoji”. Screaming. I know why: the readers would’ve gone spare. A piece I wrote for them was the first ever to include gifs and BOY the readers were unhappy about it. Stay mad, huns.)

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
I don’t think I’d have changed a thing. Fantastic company, great food – what more could you ask for?
The day of the week. Getting up for work was a struggle in the morning.

This is going well. Too well. I… I don’t think I’ll be able to stomach my Easter egg (giant Golden Eggs one, £8, sharing it with my partner) if these scores are shit.

Marks out of 10?


Marks out of 10?

Two tens here but we both know it’s a pair of ?  right? RIGHT.

Would you meet again?
We’ve got another date scheduled next week…
Yes! We’ve got each other’s numbers and are planning to meet again soon.

Brilliant. Easter, you’re kind of all right.


Ciera and Tom ate at Soho Wala, London W1, 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. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits answers to make the column work better on the page. I do not feature or comment on all questions asked and answered in the original column so make sure you read the Guardian’s version if you want the full picture. If you are the couple in this date, do get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story; I’ll happily publish whatever you say. 

PLEASE buy my sodding book; I want to buy another Easter egg. Doesn’t feel right not to have a Cadbury’s Double Decker one sitting right there in my fridge. Actual Jill Mansell said she loved it and she is brilliant. Come on. Anyway, link below:


  1. Dancing in joy for these two lovebirds! I always love it when these dates go well. Maybe even more than when they’re total disasters.

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