Dining across the divide: ‘When I got home, I Googled “bromance”’

Two Labour voters with an equal loathing of the Tories lock horns over retirement age and religion

• Fancy dining across the divide? Find out how to take part

Marius, 57, Plymouth


Occupation Computer developer and minister of religion

Voting record Voted Labour last time; would normally vote Lib Dem

Amuse bouche Is a pastor for two churches, including a Romanian one

Peter, 76, Plymouth


Occupation Retired headteacher

Voting record Has never voted Conservative. Would usually vote Labour, but couldn’t bring himself to while they were against the EU, or under Corbyn

Amuse bouche With his wife, set up Plymouth’s twinning with a city in Ghana, and has hosted the Ghanaian Olympic team

For starters

Peter Because Marius has a very unusual name, I Googled him and was expecting a computer specialist or a psychologist.

Marius I thought: he looks just like me. And when we started talking, we found we think in similar ways.

Peter I had something smoked, then a cinnamon brûlée with chocolate sorbet.

Marius I really think it was the best restaurant meal I’ve ever had. It was a tasting menu – they wouldn’t even tell us what it was until we’d tried it.

Peter and Marius

The big beef

Peter We disagreed on retirement age. It’s pretty rich me saying this, because I got early retirement as a teacher and have been retired for over 20 years, but the right thing to do as a nation is ask: what is a reasonable number of years that people can expect to be retired for? We should base it on life expectancy, which means women are going to have to work longer than men. Whatever the figure is, people like me will have got a lot more than that.

Marius He was saying he doesn’t think it’s fair for someone to receive a pension for maybe 45 years. He was worried that somebody could be working maybe 30 years, then spend longer receiving a pension than they spent contributing to that pension.

Peter I don’t pay enough tax. The silly thing about inheritance tax is that people hold on to the principle that you must be able to leave your home to your children. When people die at 91 or, like my mother, 95, all of their children have pretty well bought their houses and it’s windfall money.

Marius He sees it in terms of money: how much did you put in, how much do you take out? My view is that everybody’s life contributes something to society, so rather than looking at how much we put in, in terms of money or work, we need to look at how much someone’s life contributed. A mother who stays at home and raises children isn’t less important than someone in a full-time job. We need the next generation.

Peter and Marius

Sharing plate

Marius We agreed we don’t like the Tories – we’re very much against anything to do with the present government.

Peter I’m embarrassed by our government. Every time a conversation starts about Boris Johnson, I say: “I’m Irish.”

Marius People don’t think before they vote. Or they vote about a few issues they care about, and they don’t think about what’s good for the country overall. Peter is more optimistic.

Peter You shouldn’t start me on Boris Johnson – I’ll never stop. I picked up on this stuff long before he was foreign secretary. To make him prime minister was incredible, and I didn’t think it would last.

Peter and Marius

For afters

Peter When I was at school, I wanted to be a missionary, but now I’m not religious in any way. Marius said he didn’t think God was an old man with a beard, but he believed there was a universal intelligence in the universe. A universal intelligence that invented Vladimir Putin? I didn’t say that to him, though. Religion is an identity, not an opinion.

Marius He is very involved in the Rotary club and various charities. Seeing that in somebody who is outside faith is quite encouraging. Because my purpose is to influence people towards being good and nice to each other. Peter is just the kind of person I admire and like.

Peter and Marius


Peter When I got home, I Googled “bromance”.

Marius I probably will try to go out with him again. We could meet and talk about stories and life. He’s a very interesting man.

Peter and Marius

Additional reporting: Sarah Hooper

• Marius and Peter ate at The Fig Tree at 36, Plymouth.

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


Zoe Williams

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘I’d love to see her again. I’ve got her in my phone as Lefty Lucy’
She’s a Labour supporter; he’s politically aligned with Boris Johnson. Can they find common ground on trans rights and tax?

Sam Wollaston

29, Sep, 2022 @11:30 AM

Article image
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?

Sam Wollaston

22, Dec, 2022 @12:30 PM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘I smashed a plate - I must have been passionate’
He’s a small-c conservative Labour voter, she votes Labour but dislikes Keir Starmer and the police – can they find common ground over dinner?

Sam Wollaston

10, Nov, 2022 @12:30 PM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘He talked about his hatred of communism a lot’
A Brexit-voting diplomat and a remainer NHS worker lock horns over social justice – but will they agree on the ills of social media?

Sam Wollaston

13, Oct, 2022 @11:30 AM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘I don’t think we fully agreed on a definition of woke’
One is from a leftwing family but moved right; the other from a conservative background and moved left. Did that help them understand the other’s perspective?

Sam Wollaston

02, Feb, 2023 @12:30 PM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘He’s picked up a lot of misconceptions from the rightwing press’
They might agree that the current government’s a mess – but will they see eye to eye on cancel culture?

Zoe Williams

24, Nov, 2022 @12:30 PM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘His views are in opposition to everything I believe’
They disagreed on Brexit, immigration, eugenics. Could they find anything in common?

Zoe Williams

15, Dec, 2022 @12:30 PM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘Some of her generation view everything through a catastrophic lens’
Could a leftwing economics student find common ground with a business owner ‘from the blue side of town’ over colonial reparations, climate and the monarchy?

Zoe Williams

16, Mar, 2023 @12:30 PM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘To be out-niced, as a Canadian, is very upsetting’
An archaeologist and an environmental engineer disagree on lockdown and borders. Can they find common ground over the climate crisis?

Zoe Williams

15, Sep, 2022 @11:30 AM

Article image
Dining across the divide: ‘I don’t agree with his overblown fears about what Brexit would unleash’
They both think Brexit has been economically bad – but can they agree on the problems faced by young people?

Sam Wollaston

27, Apr, 2023 @11:30 AM