And so the Guardian’s Watch Me Date, which sees two hapless souls forgo dignity in the name of romance, reaches its conclusion. The series has brought to life the paper’s popular dating column Blind Date, by giving the willing victims each a pair of Google glass, the internet’s very own Global Hypercolor T-shirt.
While Watch Me Date has offered an interesting window on to the world of dating, none of the dates have rung true to me so far. Sure, they’ve been full of disagreeable people and horrified singletons desperate to escape them, but nothing has really hit home. This week, however, we have someone who is resigned to living in a perpetual state of slight awkwardness paired up with someone who orders far too many drinks and knocks a plate on the floor. Readers, I am home.
Duncan and Rebecca – who styles herself as ‘Bec’, which is her right as a human – go on a date in what looks like a post-apocalyptic shelter, with walls of corrugated iron and seating carved out of whatever the nuclear missiles didn’t annihilate.
When asked what they were looking for, Bec has a very specific type of man in mind, namely one who probably hasn’t been seen on British streets for about ten years. One of the stipulations, hilariously, is that he wear a band T-shirt. 12-year-old girls buy band T-shirts from Forever 21 – they are no longer a thing. So, she’s after someone ‘rocky looking’, with long hair, Doc Martens etc. So far, so sixth-form cliché, but how does Duncan measure up?
Duncan is less a rocker, more a mild-mannered, thoughtful type who may well rip off his specs in the evening and rock out to, say, a Heart power ballad. The jumper he’s wearing in the post-mortem clips reminds me of Dennis the Menace’s jersey if it had been adapted for a hilarious #TheDress-based meme. Anyway. Duncan is looking for “someone who’s attracted to me, really”, which is as honest as it is heartbreaking. Sometimes, that is all we need.
“I’d say from giving you a brief, you didn’t quite get it right,” zings Bec, like she’s here for anything other than the 200 beer cocktails she’s about to devastate, all for free.
Bec, who talks like a children’s TV presenter reading out birthday messages with a hangover, says she was worried when she arrived on the date, as Duncan announced he hadn’t been drinking. Hmm. I once went on a date and tried not to get absolutely mortally drunk while my date sat opposite me sipping coffee and probably wishing I would fall down a well.
In an awkward situation like this, muses Bec, you’re going to need a drink to relax you. Duncan, however, is so used to everything being awkward, that for him “it’s just a low hum”. I hear you, Dunc.
Whether Duncan’s off the booze or not, Bec isn’t letting it stop her. The moment anyone vaguely resembling waiting staff comes within 10 miles of her, she’s ordering another round of beer cocktails – what the hell are they anyway? – while Duncan can only play along, hoping, I assume, that she isn’t a nasty drunk.
There’s a ridiculous part where Bec pretends she has totally accidentally said “blow job” instead of “blow dry” which sent my eyes spinning to the back of my skull, and then Bec knocks a plate on the floor, and you can sense the date slowly start to slide off a cliff. I feel I’m watching a camper van teeter on the edge of Beachy Head. And we have over a minute to go.
When, Duncan, for whatever reason, brings up Kristen Stewart, of Twilight and generally-being-in-the-media-a-lot fame. Bec’s never heard of her. OK. I understand there are people out there who pay no mind to the celebrity world and don’t watch TV or don’t like films etc – they’re usually pretty vocal about it, thrillingly, but come on.
“I don’t know who many people are,” she claims, in a way that immediately tells me she has, or knows someone who owns, a fixie bike.
She then goes on to say that she thought Bruce Willis was black until two weeks ago. I’m just going to shove this blatant attempt at more airtime to the side where it belongs. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Worst.
Bec’s doing most of the talking, with Duncan’s bemused, world-weary responses akin to those of a middle-aged dad taking his dickhead teenage son out for a TGI Friday’s. She goes on to say that she owns only one movie, and it is Rocky II. “People who are into films are really into their films,” says Bec in the post-date VT. “So I imagine he was quite tormented by that.” Not just by that, I’d wager, Bec.
I’m not into films. I see about one a year, maybe two. And yet I’m not so cut off from the world that I don’t know Bruce Willis’s racial heritage, or the identity of Kristen Stewart. Nor do I own only one film. And a sequel at that. Bec is a plant, a ringer. I’m sure of it. Nobody can be this much of a try-hard. Onward, the scores are in.
Both score each other a six, which in Blind Date terms is actually a polite zero. Would they meet again? There doesn’t seem to be any need to ask, but I’m glad they did, as their responses are chocolate fondant-perfect.
Duncan: “No, you’re all right. I’ve got quite a lot on.” B+
Bec: “There just wouldn’t be any point.” B
And after 4 minutes 13 seconds of watching the TV equivalent of biting into a slice of lime in front of a crowd of people and insisting “no really it’s fine” , we are done.