Dining across the divide: ‘I can get quite French Revolutionary about the monarchy’

He thinks the monarchy has value, she finds attributing privilege by birth offensive. Can they agree on nurses striking?

Nick, 62, Manchester

Occupation Chief executive of a housing association

Voting record Generally Labour. Describes himself as centre left, the Tony Blair variant of Labour. Finds Starmer a bit insipid

Amuse bouche Nick, a Manchester United fan, met George Best on a train. They chatted from Cheshire to London over breakfast. “I was on cooked breakfast and coffee. He was on cooked breakfast and something stronger”

Teresa, 66, Stockport

Occupation Retired health visitor and university lecturer

Voting record Mainly Lib Dem for tactical reasons, but recently joined the Labour party. Describes herself as a centrist

Amuse bouche Teresa tweeted about comments made by Liz Truss during her leadership campaign about lockdown … and was banned from Twitter: “Me and Donald Trump!”

For starters

Teresa People are presented with binary arguments: you are in one camp or the other. You’re not taught to analyse issues.

Nick When you end up with strong opinions on either side dominating the debating chamber, I don’t think that is healthy. You also need the don’t-knows. I need to understand, and I need to be convinced.

The big beef

Teresa I can get quite French revolutionary about the monarchy. It’s not the people – I don’t know the characters in the pantomime. It’s that it maintains a sort of feudal system of deference. I cannot get my head around the fact that we still attribute privilege to people just because of their birth. I find that really offensive.

Nick I think as an institution they have a certain amount of value. There is the tourism factor, and I think the Queen did a brilliant job of providing consistency over decades. There are all kinds of dynasties in all kinds of areas – famous radio presenters’ children end up becoming famous radio presenters, it’s just how the system is.

Teresa I got particularly angry about it when the Queen died. It was a contagion of grief. People get infected by the zeitgeist. I found it an insult to people that we should spend so long grieving over a 96-year-old lady who had a very nice death. She wasn’t sitting on a trolley in A&E for 72 hours.

Nick I would want to know what a republican solution looked like and how it is better than what we’ve got. If you look at the calibre of the current leadership, I’d be interested in who would put themselves forward to be el Presidente. The last time we took a punt on something was Brexit, and look how that turned out.

Sharing plate

Teresa Woke is a word that is weaponised. But if you were to unpick it, it means being sensitive to the fact the world has changed. I would like to think I am woke.

Nick To me, if someone is woke it means they have applied a level of critical analysis to understand the issues in a way that is possibly helpful. I see it as a positive thing but people say, “They’re just a woke, lefty, tofu-eating vegan.”

For afters

Teresa I don’t see what alternative there is left for public sector workers other than to have the right to withdraw their labour. I trained as a nurse. When I was asked in the early 80s if I would go on strike, I said no. If I was asked now, I would vote for it.

Nick My view is that we need to not just bang the drum for nurses and say, “Yeah it’s great – they can go on strike”, we need to understand the circumstances that have given rise to these hugely important, compassionate, brilliant public sector workers feeling this is the only way they can get the recognition they deserve. They absolutely have a case; the only caveat would be assuming there is a safety net.


Teresa It’s a really worthwhile experience to talk to someone you’ve never met before. We carry on in our own compartmentalised little lives, mix with people we share views with.

Nick We are both relatively open-minded. So many people aren’t – they just think they’re right and everyone else, by default, is wrong.

Teresa The other diners could see the photography taking place, and assumed we were some sort of celebrities. At the end some guys came up and asked for a selfie!

Additional reporting: Kitty Drake

• Nick and Teresa ate at Dimitri’s in Manchester

Want to meet someone from across the divide? Find out how to take part


Sam Wollaston

The GuardianTramp

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