Today is the end of an era. After decades of bulking out the Saturday’s edition of the Guardian with recipes I will never try and interviews with people who have more than three reception rooms in their house, my beloved Weekend magazine has reached its final issue. Even though I am as much its target audience as I am for a yacht salesman, I have enjoyed reading Weekend for around the last twenty years, ever since I was old enough and sufficiently ‘clever’ (snooty and aspirational) enough to buy broadsheets. (I am not one of those working-class people who claim they used to sneak out of their tiny mill cottage as a child and go to the library to read the ‘proper papers’ with soot-covered fingers by candlelight; the only paper I read as a child was Bradford’s Telegraph & Argus – we had it delivered, very la-di-da – along with occasional copies of the Sun at my nana’s, and whichever hefty Sunday editions my dad would pick up when I went to visit him. I preferred books and Ceefax to newspapers, you see.) Despite its obsession with Yoram Ottolenghi and columnists who seem to actively, yet amiably, dislike their wives, Weekend has always been my sophisticated favourite and I have been thrilled even to write for them a few times since 2016, and once even appear on the actual sodding cover, I mean seriously. The Blind Date, as far as I know, is continuing in some form, so all is not lost, but it will have a new home. So, Weekend, it’s a definite 10 for the experience, with very few awkward moments, and a thank you for some impeccable commissioning decisions when you had me in the mag. Would I be who I was today were it not for my bizarre mix of adoration and hatred for the Blind Date column? Very probably not. As for whether we’ll meet again… well, never say never. Melissa, Ruth, Nina, Joe, and everyone else: thank you.
Onward! The last couple to grace the Weekend‘s version of the Blind Date are Tom, 34, a TV editor, and Katharyn a 32-year-old recruitment operations manager. TV editor – does this mean Tom is a journalist who wangs on about TV – sorry if you are and I don’t recognise you but I couldn’t pick Nancy Banks-Smith out of a lineup and yet I’d walk over Lego for her – or someone who edits TV shows? Maybe we’ll find out below. Katharyn’s job is fairly self-explanatory I suppose. Anyway, here they are, sponsored by the colour blue:
Will the very last Weekend date inspire a sextacular supernova, or will it be about as hot and heavy as that cloudy cheese-water that forms on the top of yoghurt if it’s been open a couple of days? Only one way to find out: go read the thing on the Guardian’s website, and then reconvene here for some light refreshment by way of a quart of drinking vinegar.
Tom on Katharyn | Katharyn on Tom
What were you hoping for?
Ideally, to meet the person I could move to the country and adopt huskies with. But generally, just to have nice chats with someone fun.
I’d love to know the huskies’ view on this. I was thinking the other day how strange it must be to be a dog and wrenched away from your family and made to live with some human who decided when you eat and where you go for the rest of your life. Cats retain a sense of independence, but poor, dumb, beautiful dogs are sentenced to life imprisonment. Sometimes they luck out, of course, but usually they’re stuck with a married couple who bicker over things like leaving the bathroom light on, or whose turn it was to buy a very mundane household item, who will then probably have children that pull its tail constantly. Anyway ‘nice chats with someone fun’ – sounds great, if not the kind of thing you might hear a TV presenter say when visiting a leukaemia ward for a live Christmas morning show.
What were you hoping for?
Good food with pleasant company. I love meeting new people and Tom sounded really interesting.
If Katharyn ‘loves meeting new people’, then commuting on public transport must be a daily joy.
Beautiful eyes, big smile, super friendly.
Okay, it’s acknowledged that I am a very strange person and spend far too much on my own, but I was *also* thinking the other say how odd it is that we find certain body parts attractive. I can’t remember what brought it on – worrying about that vein on my left calf in the full-length mirror again, probably – but when we say that we like e.g. ‘a man with nice arms’, or are attracted to things like the nape of someone’s neck or even something obvious like boobs, or bums, or squished lunchboxes in denim cutoffs, that we’re reducing someone to their bits and bobs. Just flesh, that we want to get hold of and slobber over. As for eyes, well, most of us have got at least one, so it makes you think about what makes a nice eye? Colour of the iris and the brightness and clarity of the white bit, yes, maybe the lashes too, but are there other attributes to the eye that might get you going? The way it blinks? How it spins to the back of their cranium when you make a sexist joke without irony? The way it looks for someone more interesting to talk to? What I’m saying is: we’re all just parts, and some people like them and some people don’t.
I arrived promptly and spotted him loitering outside the venue. I thought he looked friendly and cool.
LOITERING. I get the distinct feeling Katharyn has more often than not peeked through a net curtain to check the refuse collectors have taken all her recycling away. Anyway, he looks ‘friendly and cool’, and sounds ‘interesting’, so it’s all going in the right direction.
What did you talk about?
Cats, dogs, family, how all our friends are having babies or moving out of London, talented sisters, work, board games, the festival she’s going to, my ukulele group – everything.
Spending time with family now lockdown has lifted, ridiculous animal names, cladding, getting to the stage in life where everyone is starting to settle down, how excited I was to be on a Guardian Blind Date.
This is just a ridiculous number of topics to cover on a blind date – when did they stop to eat? Was everything administered by IV?
Family – ✅ I can’t honestly imagine talking about my family on a first date.
Everyone is settling down/having babies or moving out of London – ✅ Ah, this happened to me. What can I say? It just isn’t the same. Catchups are nice, of course, but when your friends move away, conversations become less about who you are and how you feel and more just… news bulletins. A crash course in each others’ lives during your absence from one another. Last month, a group of friends and I made our first post-lockdown group meet-up halfway between Scotland and London in York and it was lovely to see everyone and be together, and slip into our old personalities for a night – and also a pleasure to watch them all get drunk while I sipped a range of truly horrible alcohol-free lagers – but when it was over, it felt doubly over. It felt like a paper cut in the same place where an old scar used to be. I’d always imagined being around all my friends’ children as they grew up, having them climb onto my knee while I impatiently read them a story in a withering voice for, like, the seventh time, sighing resignedly, as they left snot marks on my trousers once they disembarked, but it wasn’t to be for most of them. The means are there to see each other, of course, and ‘come and see us anytime’ is always said with sincerity, but soon the vines in your life begin to twist in the opposite direction and wrap themselves around new interests. Life goes on, the spaces you leave are filled by something else that’s harder to explain every tine you see one another. I understand why they’ve all gone, it makes sense for many reasons. But I can’t leave here; I may be lonely, but I feel safer in London than almost anywhere else. I didn’t change, I’m still here. Anyway, I love my friends so we make it work, and that’s the main thing.
How excited I was to be on a Guardian Blind Date – YES, Katharyn! It is exciting!
Ukulele – ah, fuck.
Any awkward moments?
We both managed to inhale our wine. That caused choking, coughing, etc, but also mutual back patting, which was nice. Oh, and a wasp became very interested in me when I was trying to finish my meal.
A wasp wanted some of Tom’s roast, which he wasn’t keen to share. We both managed to choke on our wine.
Inhaling wine is very much in the spirit of the Blind Date.
Why are wasps? I once had to call someone out to deal with a wasps’ nest that meant I couldn’t open a window in my ‘regularly above 40º in summer’ living room and I asked very plainly, what the point of wasps was. I had assumed that a certified wasp killer might be pretty heartless about the hapless beasts, but he was positively sanguine. He spoke of them in a low, rich voice, like he was reminiscing about a lovely bit of skirt he knew during the war – he was pushing 80, btw. Anyway, apparently wasps pollenate stuff and they do make honey too although nobody’s interested in that. They also gatecrash picnics and enjoy hiding under the rim of cans of Diet Coke, I told him, but he wasn’t interested in my anti-wasp rhetoric, so he got dressed in a weird huge suit and went out onto the flat roof and murdered every last one of the fuckers while I watched. If I’d had a cigarette to hand, I’d have smoked it in exactly three drags.
The FINAL Table Manners question of the Weekend era! Buckle in!
Good table manners?
No complaints at all.
Tom said he would give me one of his roasties, but only if they weren’t very good. He did offer me one – and I can confirm that it was very good.
Tell me you have a hotline to Satan without showing me you have a hotline to Satan. Tom had no complaints but I can practically visualise Katharyn’s manicured hands wrapped round a fork and dangling over Tom’s roast potato ready to bungee in there and take it. Anyway, he did offer, so she accepted. It’s only polite.
Would you introduce her to your friends?
Definitely, she could give them a run for their money in a game of Catan.
I don’t see why not.
I googled Catan and added a link for you because the only board games I’ve ever been interested in are Game of Life, Go For Broke!, The Neighbours Game (truly the worst board game ever to exist), and watching my sister regularly flip the Junior Monopoly board in abject fury when she was about 6.
Describe Katharyn in three words
Friendly, sweet and fun.
Friendly, like a dog who knows you have sausages in your pocket.
Sweet, like a teenager might say after a long toke on their first joint, right before they begin coughing up their pancreas.
Fun, like getting trapped in a lift with a hula-hoop salesman probably isn’t.
Describe Tom in three words
Talkative, enthusiastic, silly.
Talkative, like a parrot left to listen to Radio 4 all day, so when you come back from the supermarket it starts telling you about its problems like the depressed divorcé from the afternoon play.
Enthusiastic, as a teacher might say, on a school report, about a child who was born to place just out of podium range for the rest of their life.
Silly, like you might feel while wearing a very tight top and carrying two big plates of jelly across a room filled with 1970s comedians.
What do you think she made of you?
Probably that I talk a bit too much.
TWO WEEKS IN A ROW? A MAN SAYING HE TALKS TOO MUCH? We are not only through the looking-glass, we’re journeying to the Earth’s core. Vesuvius is about to erupt any minute, I’m telling you. Look out the window, Elvis and Diana are about to land a spaceship on your lawn.
What do you think he made of you?
Friendly and easygoing, I hope. Conversation flowed, but he didn’t ask me a huge number of questions.
Oh dear. Didn’t ask any questions. (Why is this here and not in ‘awkward moments’? The wasp isn’t that cool a story, guys.)
Did you go on somewhere?
Unfortunately, no – she was off to meet friends for a games night and I’d been invited to a ceilidh, so we went our separate ways.
So much information here that CID would immediately want to follow this up as a suss alibi.
And… did you kiss?
We did not. There was a fully masked hug.
Marks out of 10?
A solid 9.
Always good to see a SOLID, especially in the last Weekend incarnation of the date. A solid 9. Not bad to say they didn’t neck or anything. Katharyn’s 7, though, seems more appropriate to me. No spark – I’m assuming, as the entire date has been charged with about as much passion as you’d find on the underside of a chopping board – and no physical contact other than patting each other on the back in full PPE, but not an immediate hatred for the other person is very much a 7 evening. Perhaps Tom is being a gentleman, or was just genuinely glad to have someone to talk at after nearly two years of staring at his IKEA prints of downtown Manhattan, but it’s nice to go out on a high score, even if… well, the next question is coming up.
Would you meet again?
Absolutely, though probably just as mates – we exchanged numbers, so I’m hoping for an invite to one of her games nights.
Maybe, but not romantically.
Weekend, travel safe, it’s been a blast. And thank you so, so much for this, and making me look so fit:
I’ll miss you.
And I’ll also very likely miss the first new-format Blind Date, as I’m away for a while – but I will be back.
The Guyliner blog has been free to read for ELEVEN years, but does have some running costs. I am very lucky to have had some books published – thanks in part probably to reviewing the very dates, so if you’d like one of those, get them here or other places. Either that, or you can chuck me a one-off tip on Ko-fi, here.
Please buy or tip only if you have it to spare. I’m not starving – just to be clear. I will send it on something wholesome, like a box of Bran Flakes or a large gold sovereign ring with a hidden compartment for all my MDMA or whatever.
About the review and the daters: The comments I make are based on answers given by participants. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits answers to make the column work better on the page. Most things I say are riffing on the answers given and not judgements about the daters themselves, they seem very nice, so please be kind to them in comments, replies, and generally on social media. I will not approve nasty below-the-line comments and will report any abusive tweets. If you reply to my tweets about the date, please don’t embarrass yourself or assume I agree with you. Daters are under no obligation to get along for our benefit, or explain why they do, or don’t, want to see each other again, so please try not to speculate or fill our feeds with hate. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story. Tom, what do you actually do, and Katharyn, how annoying is it to have to spell out your name every time you meet someone new or give it over the phone?
Tom and Katharyn ate at The Buxton, London E1
Fancy a blind date? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s see where you end up.