Toffee-nosed; seeks similar

The new dating app for the well-heeled has a fatal flaw.


You need the rough so you can find the diamonds
(Image credit: 2018 Mark Cuthbert)

The late Alan Coren once said that the good thing about Sainsbury's is that it keeps the riff-raff out of Waitrose. Coren surely got it wrong. The point of Waitrose is to keep the wannabes, name-droppers and other snobs out of both Sainsbury's and Fortnum and Mason. In that spirit, one is intrigued to learn about Toffee Dating, the dating app "exclusively for people who attended private schools", as Julia Lewellyn Smith reports in The Sunday Times.

Intrigued, Lewellyn Smith entered the fray, posting photos of herself at Henley, sipping champagne at a fashion party and "glamping". The matches soon "started rolling in". Whether out of a genuine desire to procreate with someone who had paid for their education, or for some other reason, the app is packed with lonely hearts seeking love. But the results left Lewellyn Smith unimpressed.

Swiping away during the England World Cup semi-final, she tries some football jokes: "It's coming home. Are you? I'm waiting." But her beaux are either "alarmed, immediately creepy or suggest actually meeting up the next day, as it is quite late now and they have to be up at 6am. For future reference, George from Clapham, yes, that does make you boring." The main problem seems to be, says Lewellyn Smith, that no one has a sense of humour any more.

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Reinforced velvet cocoons

As if to confirm her point, the New Statesman's Salonee Gadgil pops up to despair at "the idea that people are choosing to find love based on how much money their potential partner's parents spent on their education". Restricting membership of the app to those privately educated is just "another way of reinforcing archaic social stratification most of us want to move away from", she thinks. Robert Shrimsley of the FT is similarly unimpressed.

The app "makes explicit what people at least once had the good manners to keep implicit" and "seems to confirm every stereotype of smug, Bollinger-swilling, entitled poshos" and "fortifies the notion that elites are not only living in a velvet cocoon but reinforcing it". Ironically, this might prove to be its downfall as while many well-off people "enjoy swanking about their posh beginnings", the truly rich "tend to be rather apologetic or discreet about it".

But the bigger problem with Toffee, argues Zoe Strimpel in The Independent, is that narrowing the pool of potential talent down to only those who think they're brilliant is asking for trouble. When it comes to searching for potential partners, you actually "need the rough so that you can find the diamonds". Once you've "waded through the dross" on more mixed dating sites, it "can actually be enriching, mind expanding and very attractive to find someone from a different background".

A recent study found, for example, that dating apps have resulted in unprecedented rates of mixed-race marriages. When given the chance, the researchers say, it's difference not sameness that we crave. "Just ask Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hardly a match made in Toffee Dating heaven."

Tabloid money bring back the memorable ads

Adverts on the telly used to be memorable, says Jennifer Selway in the Daily Express. Everybody knows that happiness is a cigar called Hamlet, that Fairy Liquid gives you Fairy-soft skin and how could we forget the slapstick comedy of Leonard Rossiter spilling Cinzano over Joan Collins? Now ads are locked into the "ghastly business of promoting values'".

Banks have become "sob-fests of sentimentality" to give the impression they actually give a damn or that they are more like "a branch of social services than rapacious profit sharks". Companies are desperate not to offend anyone. Can you imagine the Cadbury's Milk Tray Man climbing into a woman's bedroom in the #MeToo era? The perfect housewife? The comically inept husband? Forget it. In the rush to be as anodyne and safe as possible, adverts have become what they should never be. "Boring."

Linda Jackson has achieved remarkable things at Citron, says Ruth Sutherland in The Mail on Sunday. For a Briton to become the global chief executive of a quintessentially French car maker is a big deal. For a woman to do it, even more so. Yet her views on women in the workplace in an article last week were "sad and disappointing". "She could have shown herself as an inspiring role model to other women and men but she missed an opportunity."

Jackson thinks feminism has been hijacked by extremists and she says she can't muster the energy to be indignant about low-level sexism. It would be terrible, she adds, if women were given unfair advantages in the jobs market. "To which I can only say: some hope."

You would think the government would have learnt its lesson from the Windrush scandal, says Saira Khan in the Sunday Mirror. But the Home Office is raking in millions charging the children of immigrants a fortune to get the citizenship they are entitled to by right. This "blatant profiteering" is driving families into debt. The charity Citizens UK says parents are taking on second jobs and going without food to scrape together the £1,012 fee.

If they can't find the money, their children are denied what should be theirs anyway: further education, student loans and the chance to travel abroad. It is almost ten times what France and Spain charge and represents a profit of more than £600 per child. The actual admin cost is less than £400.