Owen and Will
Photograph: Sophia Evans/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Will and Owen

How’s your summer? You enjoying being drenched for days at a time with a brief break for a 30º frazzling? Yes, fabulous, isn’t it? While social distancing – and the plants on my balcony – may be a thing of the past, one thing that soldiers on is the Guardian Blind Date, and this week we see two fine young men step up to the plate to fulfil our slightly unrealistic, idealised fantasies about romance.

On the left we have Will, a 27-year-old A&E doctor who is very likely tired of hearing the word ‘frontline’, and Owen, 26, a stage manager. Here they are in their first date outfits:

Owen and Will
Photograph: Sophia Evans/The Guardian

Yes, they do look a bit like a This Morning fashion makeover spot where the brief was ‘day to night librarian’ and the buzzword was ‘funky’, but on the whole it’s a sartorial success. Read what happened in full on the Guardian website before coming back here so we can dig in.

Will on Owen | Owen on Will

What were you hoping for?
To meet the love of my life, or at least go viral.

Well, covid aside, you could come away with herpes if he’s got a cold sore I guess. That’s pretty viral.

What were you hoping for?
I was just looking to do something fun and different. And if the food was good and the company nice, then that would be a plus.

Fun and different. Good food, nice company. But will your tongue be going for the full lateral flow?

First impressions?
Very straight teeth.

Let’s hope the rest of him isn’t, am I right?

First impressions?
Ridiculously handsome. He brought me flowers, which was so kind. I was also very impressed by/jealous of his hair.

Flowers. Always a nice touch, unless they’re headless or dead – that tends to mean something else.

What did you talk about?
Ballet dancers, bad dates and Bimini Bon-Boulash.
We had a good ramble about drag queens, which turned into a nice conversation about gender politics/identity. We spoke about our jobs, and our drastically different experiences of the last year.

Ooh Will was that schoolboy who used lots of alliteration and got ‘good effort’ in the margin. Same!

Bimini/drag queens/gender politics – ✅ The impact of RuPaul’s Drag Race shouldn’t be underestimated, but of course it’s all down to the casting. It’s genuinely uplifting to see the top 3 (and beyond) thrive and also to see people with influence portray sexual and gender identities so positively. Opening a newspaper you could be forgiven for thinking it was the ’80s again, with all this high-pitched hatred of the LGBTQ community rubbing shoulders with regular content like world news, business bulletins and recipes for vegan tray bakes. Lawrence, Bimini, Tayce and the other contestants, though, show a glimmer of hope. We’re not going anywhere. We hear a lot about the ‘debate’, but it all seems very one-sided – it’s almost like they’re afraid that if they offer column space for rebuttals from supportive lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and non-binary people that people will see through the whole charade. For a culture so obsessed by ‘balance’, there isn’t much on show.

Drastically different experiences of the last year – I went to my first proper party last night since ‘the unpleasantness’ and it was interesting to hear how different everyone’s years have been. God knows what we’re all going to talk about once ‘how was your lockdown’ is out of the way. The weather?!

Any awkward moments?
He kept name-dropping celebrities he’s worked with and told me not to mention it here.

Hmmm. If his job is working with celebrities and you’re talking about this work, what do you expect him to say? ‘Mr X’? Nobody’s too good for a bit of celeb gossip, Will. You telling me if Ariana Grande or Bernice from Emmerdale came into A&E with a shattered coccyx you wouldn’t be dining out on it for years? COME ON. Those names would be dropped with a hearty clang and you know it.

Any awkward moments?
Nothing really stood out.

Paris Hilton saying OK

Good table manners?
I was a whole hour late, so I really don’t think I can comment on manners.

An hour late? An HOUR? I’m going to assume this was work-related and let you off but tbh I would rather you considered me and my punctuality obsession over some piffling medical emergency. Their head is hanging off? Sad story, just chuck them a needle and thread and get a cab as quick as you can before I have to order a second solo Sauvingnon.

Good table manners?
Totally fine. We had a laugh about how we could totally embarrass each other with this question.

‘Hey Siri, show me “you had to be there”.’

Best thing about Owen?
His fresh fade – he must have had his hair cut that day.

Fades? In 2021? We still doing those? Okay. Lovely. Tbh if someone said the best thing about me was the fact I had had my haircut that very day I am… not sure I would be keeping any dates free in my phone calendar for coffee. (Also, don’t ever get your hair cut on the same day as a date – very risky!)

Best thing about Will?
His confidence and self-expression. He’s very easy to listen to and is a great storyteller.

Radio 2 is ‘easy to listen to’ but I’m not sure I’d want to go on a date with it.

Would you introduce him to your friends?
Probably, but they’d eat him alive. They are awful.

‘They’d eat him alive.’ Three meek surrounding-counties gay men in Uniqlo x Keith Haring sweatshirts sit in a Wetherspoons’ beer garden, rolling their eyes and saying ‘whatever BISH’ over the top of their can of Lilt at a bewildered Owen. 

(Yes, I know Will is very likely joking about the cliché answer always given here; please don’t write in.)

Would you introduce him to your friends?
For sure.

All your FAMOUS friends, I hope, Owen.

Describe Owen in three words
Funny, nerdy, handsome.

Funny like a practical joke can never truly be.

Nerdy like people pretend they are when all it means is they can perfectly lip sync the bits where Padmé says ‘Luke!” and  ‘Leia!’ just before she croaks in the third Star Wars prequel.

Handsome like a stranger you see on the Tube. Hang on why isn’t this bastard wearing a mask? You alight at the next station, fuming.

Describe Will in three words
Intelligent, kind, handsome.

Intelligent, a word you could never use to describe someone who stands in Trafakgar Square on a Saturday and listens to that weird screechy anti-lockdown woman who looks like she’s asking for directions for Tiger Tiger, the son of David Icke, and that former Apprentice contestant whose entire rhetoric is that of a seven-year-old who pulls their pants down onstage at the nativity for attention – all in front of a big cheaply printed banner that has an overly long URL telling you where you can donate to this ceaseless grift.

Kind like someone who puts the ‘next customer please’ thing on the checkout conveyer belt as soon as they’ve finished unpacking their shopping. (Two cucumbers, whipped cream, and Vaseline – long night ahead, hey?)

Handsome, like Will also said! Double-handsome! I can’t help but think were it not for covid, we’d be seeing it go in.

What do you think he made of you?
He said he liked my jacket, which is a win in my eyes.

Well he wouldn’t lose you in an Ikea, always a bonus.

What do you think he made of you?
I hope he thought I was nice and friendly. He probably thought I was a bit silly/goofy.

Well, he thought you were nerdy, so almost. I don’t know, I feel there might be a bit more room for some silliness and goofiness out there at the moment. We’ve been through a lot this last few decades, and it’s not over yet, and so many people are having a terrible time for reasons out of their control – I long for even a tiny bit of lightness, sometimes. if you have the space to be silly, I say go for it.

If it weren’t for social distancing, would you have kissed?
Maybe…

A late start, but hopefully 2021 will shape up to be the Year of the Snog. (I originally said ‘slut’ there, but thought better of it. Every year is the Year of the Slut if you do it right.)

Marks out of 10?
6.5.

Jake Gyllenhaal saying what the fuck

Six-point-five? Is that it? What was it? Bad kisser? Clumsy groping of the balls? Wine breath? 6.5 is the Blind Date equivalent of fending off Dracula with a crucifix dipped in aioli. The HELL? Well, I’m sure you have your reasons.

Owen?

8.

That seems fairer.

Would you meet again?
Probably as pals.

Julie Goodyear as Bet Lynch saying PALS

Would you meet again?
I don’t think there was really a romantic connection, but he’s a great guy and certainly someone I could spend more time with.

Y’know, a romantic connection isn’t everything, and if these two guys have each made a new friend, then it’s definitely worth it, right? Lord knows we could all do with as many friends as we can get – the world isn’t getting a nicer place anytime soon. And at least they’ve got the drunken snogging out of the way so there’ll be none of that two years down the line when they’re both mashed at the afters looking at each other thinking, ‘Maybe…’ Friends with benefits is a misleading term – perhaps friends with complications might be a better description.

Good luck to them both.


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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. I do actually like both your outfits – drop the links.

Will and Owen ate at Grand Trunk Road, London E18

Fancy a blind date? Email blind.date@theguardian.com

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