Mash Blind Date: a lifelong Londoner meets a man from the distant land known as 'the North'

CAN Highgate resident Francesca, tired of dating men who open with what school they went to, connect with Nathan from the tiny, backward hamlet of Manchester?

Francesca on Nathan

First impression?

I was floored by how… normal he looked. He must have done some serious research into our culture and fashion because, despite his origins, he almost looked like he could be from Clapham.

How was the conversation?

The translator I requested apparently ‘isn’t a thing’ so I only got ten per cent of it. The accent of ‘Man-chest-ah’ is extremely thick and distorted. But he was fascinated by my gap year stories. He hung on my every word, even when I was just describing business class.

Memorable moments?

Watching his eyes light up when I taught him things about our world. It’s a special privilege to be there the first time someone hears about burrata.

Favourite thing about Nathan?

His bravery. He must have been so ashamed of his background but he didn’t let it show once.

A capsule description?

Deep, deep down, just like an actual person. Like two hounds of very different breed.

Was there a spark?

Nathan fell for me the moment he first set eyes on me, like Aladdin for Princess Jasmine, but there’s no foundation for a relationship. But he now has a dream to aspire to.

What happened afterwards?

I tried to explain the Underground to him, but the poor thing just wandered off grunting into the night to walk all the way home, like a horse.

What would you change about the evening?

I would have chosen somewhere he was more comfortable, like a heap of bones. A restaurant with cutlery and napkins? It was too much too fast.

Will you see him again?

He’s returning to the north so no, never. Though I suppose if I’m going through Manchester on the way to an August grouse shoot I could knock on one of the houses and find out which is his. I wonder if it has a roof?

Nathan on Francesca

First impressions?

From across the road I could hear her screeching ‘I know! Manchester! Such a bit of rough!’ into her phone. I’m not sure she’ll get that from me. My mum and dad are both surgeons.

How was the conversation?

She wouldn’t shut up about her bloody gap year, even though she only went to Thailand for three months. Spent 20 minutes describing the plane.

Memorable moments?

She tried to tell me that burrata is deep fried squid. It’s a type of cheese.

Favourite thing about Francesca?

Her absolute obliviousness to the real world. It must be so nice to live like that.

A capsule description?

She’s the reason why this country is the way it is.

Was there a spark? 

You could get off on a woman applauding you for knowing how to use a fork, I guess, but I didn’t. Her little claps when she’d understood what I’d said were annoying as fuck. And every time she spoke to me, she sounded it out at three times normal volume. People stared.

What happened afterwards?

No kiss, thanks. She gestured at the tube but I’m in Soho at the moment so I don’t need to get on rancid trains. I left quickly before she set me up a GoFundMe for my cab fare.

What would you change about the evening?

The company. And the restaurant. Franco Manca’s alright, but to be honest once you’ve been to Rudy’s nothing else compares.

Will you see her again?

Not willingly. But by 2032 I expect she’ll show up in the next decade as a member of the Cabinet.

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