Tyla has a dark brown bob and is wearing a scream top and brown trousers. Toby has wavy hair and is wearing a black sweater vest over a white T, with black trousers
Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Tyla and Toby

Oh cool, Monica and Chandler are still together. Oh actually, hang on, it’s not one of situation comedy’s laziest character pairings, it’s Tyla, a 28-year-old furniture restorer, and Toby, 29, a sales manager.

Tyla has a dark brown bob and is wearing a scream top and brown trousers. Toby has wavy hair and is wearing a black sweater vest over a white T, with black trousers
Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

– and see that exclusive mildly awkward selfie they make them take now – then return here as I sweep up a few loose chippings.

Tyla on Toby | Toby on Tyla

What were you hoping for?
Someone who I wouldn’t need to prise their life story out of, with a bit of fire in their belly.

At 29, Tyla has the jaded patter of someone who’s sat opposite all the worst men Tinder has to offer (spoiler: all of them) trying to work out if she could endure a decent-ish ten years with them before the inevitable divorce and year-long WhatsApp arguments about ‘The car was in MY name Tyla; I should be able to use the Montego this weekend. Carmen and I are going to a biplane rally and simulator in Broadstairs’.

What were you hoping for?
Someone who’d studied the menu and was up for sharing either the tomahawk or porterhouse.

Checking the menu before you go somewhere, where do you stand on it? I don’t really care, but I know it really frosts up some people’s knickers. Sometimes if I’ve never heard of the restaurant and someone else has arranged it, I’ll have a quick look – I don’t feel the need to be constantly surprised like a toddler on its birthday as many others do. Especially if the person arranging the meal has famously bad taste in food, or is one of those people who orders everything, watches you nibble your way through your sole Ryvita ‘n’ Vitalite and says ‘Shall we split it the bill?’ Sometimes you need to know what you’re dealing with. Anyway, très grand spoiler: Tyla will not be up for sharing any of this damn meat.

First impressions?
Very polite and cool as a cucumber.

Very polite! A lovely quality but also… you appear to have brought your grandmother on the date. What next? Lovely clean nails. A perfect gentleman. Very good to his mother. He ate all his rice pudding.

First impressions?
She looked great and instantly made me feel at ease.

This is a first impression you want. Call me shallow and old-fashioned – but make sure you have pithier comebacks than that if you want to survive – but I would quite like the first impression when I meet anyone to be ‘they look great’, or at least ‘I can see what they’re trying to do here’ or perhaps even ‘I can tell they were maybe a catch when they were younger, around the time Kylie had her last Number 1 single’.

What did you talk about?
How well dressed he was. Hot yoga. Decent kebab vans. Houseshares. People-watching. Launderette stories. Boats.
Living on a boat – I had a million questions that I managed to slip in during the course of the evening.

How well dressed he was – Are these nice clothes in the room with us right now? (JOKE Toby you look fine.)

Boats/living on a boat ✅ – Those who remember sitcoms in the 80s might recall there was almost always one character – usually a winsome lady who didn’t comb her hair and wore loud jumpers – who lived on a boat of some description.

Hot yoga – It may surprise you to learn I do yoga. It certainly surprises my body when I try to do anything more strenuous than the corpse pose. Let’s just say I’m not quite folding myself into a pretzel yet; it’s like trying to fold concrete. But I do it at home, not in a studio or anything like that. Life is hard enough without sitting barefoot in a fart stew for 45 minutes.


Neighbours Mrs Mangel looks very stern

Launderette stories – I’ve never spoken to anyone while using a launderette because I don’t live in a Richard Curtis movie or Albert Square, but I do one day hope to be photographed in a launderette in ugly designer clothes, perhaps smooshing a chip into my mouth (featuring Videodrome-red ketchup) or stubbing a Superkings out into a steak and kidney pie – much like every other photo shoot in The Face or Sky magazine in the 1990s.

Most awkward moment?
When I told him I didn’t eat meat while sitting in a steakhouse (although there were veggie options).
Discovering Tyla is a vegetarian while we were in a steakhouse.

I understand this would’ve been awkward in, say, 1987, when the veggie option would’ve been to stand outside and hope a pigeon drops a broccoli floret into your mouth, but it’s not really awks to be a vegetarian is it? This weirdness usually comes from meat eaters who feel some strange guilt over tucking into meat when dining with a vegetarian. I suppose, however, that if you actually want a snog, you have a better chance if you avoid meat too. I wonder what Toby ordered.

Good table manners?
Yes. We shared the starter – how romantic.

Depends what the starter was. Sloppy Mac and cheese with aubergine filings maybe not, eh? Let’s look at the menu! Bear with me. The vegetarian options are… well, they are there. One is ‘chopped lettuce’. Crikey. I’m assuming they share the burrata, as everything else is meaty or dull. Well duller than £21 burrata anyway. Is burrata romantic? Wet cheese? With some tomatoes (so rare! so chic!), some pesto drizzled over it like gangrenous cystitis, and a bit of sourdough? I now realise I have actually been to this restaurant and had the most stressful Sunday roast of my life, oh my God. There was macaroni cheese and half a cow in my (giant) Yorkshire pudding. Ugh.

Best thing about Toby?
The conversation was very balanced, no awkward voids to fill, and he was quite inquisitive. Sometimes with dates it’s like squeezing blood out of a stone.

Haha god all these USEless men Tyla has been on dates with. Why do they even bother? (I know why they bother.) Every woman I speak to who is on a dating app talks about it with as much fondness as you might an ongoing issue with an ingrown toenail, or a Shane Richie Christmas album. Men, please just… try to grow a personality.

Best thing about Tyla?
She’s fun to hang out with and a good conversationalist.

This is nice. Toby is a nice young man. Well done.

What do you think Tyla made of you?
Overall positive. At one point she said I looked like Paul Mescal but I think that was the cocktails talking.

It was the cocktails talking. Tim Vincent, maybe? Brian Dowling circa 2002? Matthew Perry series 1 of Friends? I dunno, I’m very much not a big fan of ‘Oh you look like [insert name of celebrity here] even since a drunk guy I have never met before came up to me at a party and said, quite loudly, by way of hello, that I looked like David Coulthard. A: No I don’t. B: What you telling me that for? What do you want me to do with that? Tell you who you look like in return? Believe me, you DON’T.

And … did you kiss?
Yes just a lickle one.

No tongues.

If you could change one thing about the evening what would it be?
Everywhere was closing so we had to just take any pub we could get.
My trousers. I managed to rip them cycling to the restaurant.

David Nicholls wrote these answers. That’s v sweet that they didn’t want the date to end so had to quickly bundle into any pub that would have them (there’s not much around where that restaurant is, off Horseferry Road, ugh). And as for the cycling/trousers drama: cycling to a date is quite brave but maybe not everyone is like me and starts to sweat like a thoroughbred clearing Becher’s Brook within seconds of climbing on a wonky Santander cycle.

Marks out of 10?

As I said, no tongues. So the 8 is very appropriate.

Would you meet again?
Yes, Toby was a good date.


Would you meet again?
I’d definitely like to see her again, and check out her houseboat at some point.

Haha, I bet you would Toby. Nothing like setting out your intentions nice and early.


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Something to remember about the review and the daters that I put at the end of every review

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, so please be kind to them in comments, replies, and generally on social media. 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. Welcome aboard.

Tyla and Toby ate at SK Steakhouse, London SW1. Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com

This one is for Andy. Goodnight, darling.


  1. Lovely photo of Mrs Mangle. It was only when I grew up that I realised how horrible that name is and of course her name was horrible because she was supposed to be! The visual reference to ‘mangle’ just above the discussion of laundrettes…. masterful.
    80’s sitcoms about women on houseboats was definitely a thing here’s a whole show about simply that: The River.

  2. I never understood the thing of pubs and restaurants serving a roast dinner in a giant Yorkshire pudding. Especially when they also insist on adding the gravy for you rather than serving it in a gravy boat on the side. I don’t want a roast dinner soup, thanks.

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