Ah, chemistry, who needs it? Today’s Blind Date unfortunates are Yvette, 64, an archaeologist and curator, and 72-year-old Ian, a retired firefighter. It’s never too late to fall in love, but it’s also never too late to have a really dry date that is going absolutely nowhere.
Here they are from head to tail. Only posting this really because I think Yvette’s skirt should be celebrated.
Read what happened on the date in full on the Guardian website and then return here for what I suppose you could call the best bits if you were feeling generous. Very much ‘best bits’ as in someone getting surprise-evicted on Big Brother. The date is in Reading, btw. Is this a first?
Yvette | Ian
What were you hoping for?
A lovely meal with great company. I met my wife of 41 years on a blind date, so I thought it unlikely lightning would strike twice!
Well, Ian, now that Mystic Meg has left us, there’s a vacancy for someone who can make similarly accurate predictions and I reckon you’re up to the job because this is nailed on.
(Disclaimer: this is very sweet, and kind of sad. Imagine being with someone for 41 years and then finding yourself hurled back into the jousting tournament that is dating. Rather puts into perspective all those ‘I just CAN’T go back out there, it’s murder, I can’t be single again’ conversations that your dullest friends make you listen to in a tatty branch of Be@1 about their devastatingly undramatic 18-month-long situationships with someone who once gave them gonorrhoea, doesn’t it?)
He stood up and immediately gave me a bar of chocolate from Costa Rica. Nice gesture. However, I felt no instant spark and our age gap felt apparent.
Haha. Yvette has two words for this match, and both of them are ‘nope’.
It’s been fascinating to watch the conversation around age gaps bubble up over the last few years. I think it’s probably the first time I’ve felt somewhat unmoored from the generation below me. Not because I think they’re necessarily wrong – although there’s a distinct lack of nuance in this conversation, I find – but because growing up in the 80s, 90s, and 00s totally desensitised me to relationships with huge age gaps, especially in the celebrity world. I’ve known couples with huge age haps who have been deliriously happy, and others where there was a creepy power dynamic. Age is perhaps the most obvious mark of a lack of equality in a relationship, but there are many others that are much more toxic than numbers on a birth certificate. But, obviously, the vulnerable, whatever their age, should be protected.
Anyway, while we might think of a glaring age gap to be a wide-eyed, knock-need starlet on the arm of a cigar-smoking Uncle Disgusting, there are also ones like this, in today’s Blind Date. It seems to be something of an emotional age gap too. You might look at them and think, ‘but there’s only eight years between them’, but it’s the years they’ve lived up to that point that make all the difference. There are also other things you have to consider about potential partners when you’re older and dating but I don’t want to bang on about it or put words in either date’s mouth.
Most awkward moment?
Probably the greeting. I wasn’t expecting a full-on cheek kiss on each side. It felt a bit forward.
Now, looking at Yvette, I’d have had her down as a double cheek-kisser. Almost certainly. She looks fairly liberal, this is the Guardian, she looks like she knows her way round a quinoa recipe or two. Does she not know many ridiculous yet fabulous gay men who air-kiss everything they see? I mean, I’m a gay man, so double cheek-kissing is standard. And in Paris, well, they’re there all day doing it, this is why they need so much time off work. But we should respect boundaries and I do notice, actually, how women are expected, even when greeting or seeing off someone they don’t know that well, to offer up a cheek to men, while men merely stick out their hand. It was most jarring when I once had a meeting with a man and a woman and there was that second of awkwardness between me, a gay man, and her, a woman, where we somehow felt obliged to kiss each other on the cheek. (I never make contact with my lips, by the way, not with anyone, I just graze cheekbones and make the noise.)
I actually hate shaking hands even more than air-kissing. Especially with men who want to assert their masculinity by crushing your fingers, or the guys who shake your hand as if they’re pulling a Kleenex out of a box. Ugh. Bumping knuckles is better, or giving a cheery wave and saying HIYA like Ellie and Izzi off Gogglebox.
Best thing about Yvette?
Easy to chat to, with a lovely West Country burr to her voice.
Accents. A burr. I don’t get the horn for accents, really. I like the way some words sound in a different accent, I suppose. What always, always makes me laugh is when someone claims ‘I don’t have an accent’. They are usually English and having a stab at RP or talking like a Radio 2 presenter, that kind of eager, Labrador tone with flurries of Kensington and Thamesmead. Weird. You DO have an accent, it’s just not an interesting one.
I keep wondering: can you ever go back to an accent, once you’ve lost it? I chucked my Yorkshire accent out of the car window somewhere on the M1 on the way to university so I could ‘reinvent’ myself, but I regret it now, sometimes. The word ‘bastard’ sounds so much better in northern. Perhaps it’s time to for an univention.
What do you think Ian made of you?
Probably a bit OTT. I tend to gush when I meet new people. He told me twice that he liked my “punky” hair!
Oh sweet Ian. She’s not exactly Mary the Punk from EastEnders (another of my very up-to-date cultural references.)
Did you go on somewhere?
No. I had a train to catch and I think we’d had enough of each other by then.
No, she had a train to catch. I hope she caught it!
‘We’d had enough of each other by then.’ I have a limit, I think, when I just can’t socialise anymore. It’s reached even sooner now I don’t drink. It doesn’t come from being bored of the company or anything like that, it’s more a quirky little anxiety that I myself will become boring the more I’m exposed to the elements. I consider myself a very unfascinating person unless I am with people I know very well or I’m turning myself up to eleven for whatever reason – a book event, meeting strangers etc. Surely two hours of me is all people can stand? There’s a danger, the longer you’re out, that you’ll start becoming yourself again and nobody wants to see that.
Marks out of 10?
You’ll insist on this, so 9½. (I never give anything 10.)
Given Yvette was serving extreme ‘Family Fortunes “and our survey said… ZERO”‘ energy quite early on, the 7 is remarkably generous. Ian’s ‘I never give anything 10’ is… why not, Ian? Nothing, ever, in your life has been a 10? Or do you never score anything a 10 in principle, assuming your life has yet to see perfection, so you need somewhere for your score to go once you do? I have a tip: just score it eleven. You make the rules.
Would you meet again?
As we are separated by 240 or so miles and didn’t swap numbers, so it would be unlikely … but I would like to continue the conversation.
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The latest edition was a tribute to the wonderful Paul O’Grady.
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. Tell me how firm you like your handshakes.