Legendary Cindy Gallop at #futurefest

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Everyonce in a while you meet someone who makes you take stock. That person is Cindy Gallop who I had the joy of meeting and hearing live at Futurefest 2016.

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If you don’t know Cindy Gallop you might want to check out her TED talk, make love not porn and I’m surprised I didn’t mention her talk in no fap. I reconised her in the speakers lounge but wasn’t sure where from. Then after the first talk, I knew where from.

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Almost everything she said had me nodding my head and thinking she is ever so right. From the panel discussion about shifting identites to women will rule.

She was so open and honest about everything. Some of the best parts include her thoughts on the crisis of people not talking about sex and other related things. This came up in Sex and the office: the future of love and work. She made the great point of the increase in sexual ignorance. Pretty sure she made the point about China’s increase in sexual diseases too.

Her thoughts on equality, diversity and inclusion was simply breathtaking.

I imagine many people will not be happy with this but frankly Cindy tells it as it is… blowing shit up, changing things as she goes.

Expect a full blog post about Futurefest soon…

Why I stopped caring about what most people think about privacy

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Simon Davis’ post about “Why I’ve stopped caring about what the public thinks about privacy” is such a great piece. I’m sorry to Simon but I had to copy a lot to give the full context.

To put it bluntly, I’ve stopped worrying about whether the public cares about privacy – and I believe privacy advocates should stop worrying about it too.

Unless human rights activists and their philanthropic backers abandon their focus on public opinion, the prospects for reform of mass surveillance will disintegrate.

I’ll go even further. Unless human rights activists and their philanthropic backers abandon their focus on public opinion, the prospects for reform of mass surveillance will disintegrate.

I’m aware that these thoughts might sound wildly contradictory – if not insane. Over the past three years I’ve tested them out on audiences across the world and experienced waves of disbelief. That’s one reason why I’m certain those ideas are on the right track.

In summary, my belief is that too many of us are obsessing about whether X percent of people change their default privacy settings, or whether Y+4 percent “care very much” about privacy – or indeed whether those figures went up or down in the last few months or were influenced by loaded questions, etc etc.

As advocates, we should never buy into that formula; it’s a trap. And for funding organisations to think that way is a betrayal of fundamental rights. A program director for a medium sized philanthropic foundation told me earlier this month that her board had “given up” on privacy because “we can’t measure any change in people’s habits”. I don’t see that equation being used as a measure of the importance of other rights.

In the failed rationale of opinion and user behaviour statistics, the relative importance of privacy depends on the level of active popular interest in the topic. According to some commentators, privacy is a non-issue if only a minority of people actually adopt privacy protection in their social networking or mobile use.

Imagine if that logic extended to other fundamental rights. It would mean that the right to a fair trial would be destabilized every time there was a shift in public sentiment. And it would mean that Unfair Contract protections in consumer law would never have been adopted – replaced instead with a “Buyer Beware” ideology.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying public opinion isn’t relevant. Nor am I saying that public support isn’t a laudable goal. We should always strive to positively influence thoughts and beliefs. It’s certainly true that for some specific campaigns, changing the hearts and minds of the majority is critically important.

The struggle for human rights – or indeed the struggle for progress generally – rarely depended on the involvement of the majority (or even the support of the majority).

However, on the broader level, there’s a risk that we will end up cementing both our belief system and our program objectives to the latest bar talk or some dubiously constructed stats about online user behaviour. Or, at least, the funding organisations will do so.

It seems to me we’ve been collectively sucked into the mindset that privacy protection somehow depends on scale of adoption. That populist formula is killing any hope that this fragile right will survive the overwhelming public lust for greater safety and more useful data.

I’ve noticed an enduring (and possibly growing) argument that public support for privacy is largely theoretical because relatively few people put their beliefs into practice. Conversations on that topic tend to dwell depressingly on public hypocrisy, with detractors pointing out that the general population fails to use the privacy tools that are on offer. Even worse, whole populations avidly feed off the very data streams that they claim to be wary of. Apparently this alleged public disinterest and hypocrisy invalidates arguments for stronger privacy.

(As a side point, I don’t believe that the situation is so black and white. People have become far more privacy aware in recent years, and their expectations of good practice by organisations have increased. People change their behaviour slowly over time, and yet there has been real progress in recent years.)

I also (generally) am less caring of what the general public think about these issues. In recent times, people have convinced me to join different services and tactfully decline. I do sometimes forget my world isn’t the mainstream, and wonder why are we still having these discussions.

Don’t get me wrong, its always interesting good to have the discussion, especially because most people still see privacy in a binary way but when pressed are much less binary about their decisions. A while ago I started calling it data ethics as privacy alone leaves the door open to worries about security for example.

Context and experience has a lot to do with it and in the discussion this becomes much clearer. Just ask anyone who has had their idenity stolen, hacked or abused. Most of the public will never (luckily) experience this.

I’d chalk this one up as listen to the experts

The time traveling web

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I read about W3C’s project Memento a while ago but its become a reality recently.

The Memento protocol is a straightforward extension of HTTP that adds a time dimension to the Web. It supports integrating live web resources, resources in versioning systems, and archived resources in web archives into an interoperable, distributed, machine-accessible versioning system for the entire web. W3C finds Memento work with online reversion history extremely useful for the Web in general and practical application on its own standards to be able to illustrate how they evolve over time

Its smart, simple and great because it works on top of http, instead of creating a whole different way of doing the same thing.

I can already imagine memento powered twitter service or memento powered BBC redux service.

Flying into storms

Landing after a storm
The scene after landing in Manchester Airport

Finally back from Amsterdam after IBC 2016; the weather was incredible. Weather wasn’t far off in the UK it seems. However on flying back to Manchester, we hit a massive storm. The flight was only meant to be 55mins but we were up in the air for 90min.

On tweeting the above, Andrew sent a tweet.

On the review, it certainly looks about right, I certainly spotted a coast line.

Flying through and around a storm

To be fair once we finally landed and I tried to get a train home, I found out the train line was flooded and no trains were running from the Airport. They said the same was true of the tram but James seemed to get through? Ended up getting a Uber and being very surprised it wasn’t surge pricing. Felt a little sorry for most of the other people who were stuck waiting for trains. I was a little miffed but I didn’t know how bad things could have been or was in Manchester.

Another busy period

Ordinary life does not interest me

For the next few weeks I’m pretty busy. My calendar looks like I may have eaten something I’m allergic to and threw up. Leaving you with that pretty nasty thought.

Some of the highlights include…

Its not so much that I’m doing lots of big stuff, rather all the little bits in between some interesting events. For example getting Visual Perceptive Media on BBC Taster in a sensible way. Writing a paper for TVX 2017, arranging DJ Hackday 2017, etc, etc…

The amount of blogging and tweeting might drop as a result. Sure my 5.5 tweets a day has seriously dropped, but I’m blaming Twitter for that.

I always said an ordinary life does not interest me, and there is a certain amount of hustle involved with this all.

More magic leap thoughts

I have been aware of magic leap for ages but since Dave sent me the piece about magic leap; I’ve been looking at more of their work and approaches.

This is when I watched the recording of Graeme Devine at the games for learning summit.

The over all idea of mixed reality I certainly would agree with… The important part is talking about worlds and experiences. Nothing about screens or devices. I would suggest the statement…

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Mixed Reality is the mixture of the real world & virtual worlds. So that one understands the other. This creates experience that cannot possibly happen anywhere else.
– Graeme Devine

…as the Moon shot.

It certainly something I’m also thinking a lot about when it comes to perceptive media. Experience which are simply not possible. The only way this is possible is with the combination of the real and virtual/media world. I’m still inspired by some of the thinking behind alternative reality gaming; mixing reality with directed and scalable experiences.

I also found their company ethos of…

  • People are first
  • What we make will be better, not always new
  • The experience really matters

Quite interesting…

We need a magic leap for the other senses

Good friend Dave mentioned Magic Leap and sent me a link to how it may work. I had a read and although it was a reasonable read, I was less impressed than I maybe should have been. I get Magic Leap is the thing lots of people are getting a little moist about, its seems incredible but I share a small amount of the view-point of the blogger..

Regardless if it turns out to be a consumer success or not, this is the first example of real innovation the tech industry has seen in some time. I am extremely excited to see what happens next for them and looking forward to the shake up this will put on the industry in general.

To be clear, I’m not down on Magic Leap, it is innovative but its more of the same. I only really interested in disruption right now. Something the tech industry needs (imho).

I already mentioned my thoughts about mixed reality and it hinges off the fact it’s not just visual and audible. I draw your attention to the interaction design rant (Touch), Smell and media (Smell) and of course the deeply problematic (Taste).

This paper‘s summary, sums up my thoughts, I feel…

The senses we call upon when interacting with technology are very restricted. We mostly rely on vision and audition, increasingly harnessing touch, whilst taste and smell remain largely underexploited. In spite of our current knowledge about sensory systems and sensory devices, the biggest stumbling block for progress concerns the need for a deeper understanding of people’s multisensory experiences in HCI. It is essential to determine what tactile, gustatory, and olfactory experiences we can design for, and how we can meaningfully stimulate such experiences when interacting with technology. Importantly, we need to determine the contribution of the different senses along with their interactions in order to design more effective and engaging digital multisensory experiences. Finally, it is vital to understand what the limitations are that come into play when users need to monitor more than one sense at a time.

Being able to drive and combine all these things together (even in a basic way – multisensory) has the potential to be far more exciting and immersive than Magic leap could even dream about. And its happening in dark and acdemic corners (I was maybe more excited by the vibrate API draft than learning about how magic leap may work – sad, who knows?). I’m sure they might be thinking the same but the fascination of the tech industry is on higher density A/V. Multisensory is moon shot. Being able to drive these on demand in an ethical, sustainable and contextual way is something I think a lot about with Perceptive Media. Being able to enable anyone to create their own experiences to share is the next thing.

It’s the questions which are undressing?

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People keep saying, how the hell did I not figure Undressed wouldn’t involve getting undressed on TV. Even Jess asked similar questions in the audio we recorded.

I even started wondering if I missed something myself…?

So I looked back through emails and found the one which started it all. An email from good friend Jane saying…

Not sure if this is something you’d be interested in but you are the dating King!!

Then the rest of the email was a forward from Adam at RDF TV

 I hope you don’t mind me getting in touch. I’m currently Producing a brand new dating show called Undressed for RDF Television.  Based on the psychological researcher of Arthur Aron ‘s 36 questions to fall in love. We want to prove it is possible to fall in love in 30 minutes.

We have had some really successful nationwide auditions thus far. We are still looking for more stunning singles to take part and I would love your help with this. Would be kind enough to circulate the attached flyer to your work colleagues, friends, family and clients? We are looking for a diverse mix of amazing singletons for our unique, and ground breaking new show.

Please do get back in touch with any questions you may have.


RDF Television is casting for an exciting new dating show called ‘Undressed’.

From the makers of ‘Secret Millionaire’, ‘Wife Swap’, ‘Shipwrecked’ and award -winning ‘The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds’ comes the dating show with a difference that dares to ask if it’s possible to fall in love with a complete stranger in just 30 minutes.

Inspired by psychological studies, we’re aiming to carefully match like-minded single people with the help of the UK’s first dating coach. They will embark on a series of questions in order to get to know one another in our exciting and unique scenario.

If you’re tired of Tinder and want to find love, apply NOW. We’re holding nationwide auditions over the next couple of weeks in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle & London.

So what are you waiting for? 

Apply now and email:

  • Name
  • Telephone Number
  • Audition City

To *********rdftelevision.com or call us on 020 70** **** for an application form.

Applicants must be 18 or over & residents of the UK

I originally replied to Jane with a thanks but no thanks, however the 36 questions did intrigue me. Especially the idea of trying it out to see if accelerated intimacy is actually a thing or not.

Yeah I’m avoiding most of the TV dating stuff, even if I’m going on First Dates (as a background dater) and Horizon’s dating experiment.

Although I am very tempted…Its based on this…
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/modern-love-to-fall-in-love-with-anyone-do-this.html

Then after a bit of thought and a blog… I replied again with

Decided again, its not going to kill me to go for it. And it will be quite an experience if things work out

(…and what a experience it was!)

So you see, it wasn’t till the researcher/producer called me up at work on the afternoon of 29th March, and asked me the question about how comfortable I was with my body? At that moment I suddenly became very wise to what undressed really means.

are you a good kisser - undressed

The problem with deal breakers is…

....just dealing in sherbet lemons?

Simon was asking me at the lunch table at work, about some of my deal breakers when it comes to going out with women. I said I have a few including my concerns about dating a woman who do not identify as a feminist.

Si pointed out that he had a problem with the term deal breaker, as it implies there is a deal happening?

Dealbreaker
A word used to describe the eligibility of a friendship or relationship based on one trait or preference of the other person. Can also be used if you don’t agree with someones views.
John: “So whats your least favorite band?”
Jill: ” It would have to be Arcade Fire.”
John: “Wait…What? You don’t like Arcade Fire? Thats a dealbreaker.”

Lots of thoughts come to mind… Relationships as deals, deals as relationships? Deal with whom? Is this how we think about postive relationships?

Can opened
Can opened!

Before dropping into the deepend of the ocean. Lots of peoples dealbreakers I hear, are sometimes just shocking in my eyes. But I guess it doesn’t matter because its not my dealbreaker, and people would say the same about mine.

However, the biggest problem I have with dealbreakers is, most of the time they are prefrences not dealbreakers.

Take the above example…

John: “Wait…What? You don’t like Arcade Fire? Thats a dealbreaker.”

Is it really a dealbreaker? Is it something which everything else is in right, you still wouldn’t even consider the person? I feel a dealbreaker needs to be something much more fundemental, not just a passing phase or fashion!

Anna and Jane a few days later, when we talked about this during lunch in the Northern Quarter… Suggested the deal could/is with yourself? This seems about right… The dealbreaker should say something fundmental about you, not I like Arcade Fire or I like Turtles…

My dealbreaker about feminist is built on many things and says plenty about the kind of relationship I want to have with another person. It rules out a ton of women but its better  as this view isn’t going to change. This is a deal I have done with myself as well as being a dealbreaker.

Thought’s watching undressed s1ep9

Watching undressed s1ep9 with friends

I don’t remember much of it as I was drinking red wine from Bucharest with large vodka shots every time it gets a little awkward. It seems to be the new drinking game people are doing around the Undressed TV show.

Little rewind…

Jane sent me an email about a new TV show called undressed which was based around the 36 questions to fall in love. I poo-pooed the whole thing a year earlier and then though got to be in it to really have a proper view on it. So I signed up, slightly fueled with Simon’s comment of if there’s a chance to have a great experience and walk with a great story, having not hurt/killed yourself or harmed anyone else. You should do it!

So I signed up and got the call from the researcher, which lead me to realise I would be in my boxers while experiencing accelerated intimacy with a total stranger. After looking it up and finding the italian series then experiencing one of the most insane skype calls/audition I ever will experience. Answering lots of OKcupid style questions, being matched, tickets to Wimbledon, shooting the whole thing, meeting a wonderful woman (Jess) on the foot of a bed. Then whisked away to catch a plane to Berlin the next morning.

I wrote up how I felt about the whole experience on the train home from London. Then after getting the confirmed date of me and Jess’s show date, we decided to record a 90min podcast which is really worth listening to the 90min podcast in mp3, ogg even torrent.

Ok all caught up

Mild spoilers contained below!

Then Friday 12th Aug evening comes around. I have something quick to eat, take some antihistamines (my friends have a cat) wait for them to kick in, then head to their flat with a bottle of Bucharest wine and some olives. We chat for a bit about the trailer for the show which I am in and caused a little stir with friends on fb, and start watching the show.

Bear in mind, by the end I was pretty drunk from shots of vodka on top of wine. But it was certainly cringy but I have to say it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I had thought of them really turning it into a joke and frankly the chemistry and intimacy between myself and Jess certainly did shine through. They left out a lot of the conversation between us, I guess our conversation was too intellectual and progressive for 10pm TV on a subscription channel. Maybe a conversation about feminism sat next to “Say yes to the dress” would put viewers off?

Maybe the moment I realised Undressed wasn’t about the questions undressing the other person but much more literally. I should have known better than start a progressive discussion about feminism? Interestingly although they cut out the feminism discussion (not a single thing is left of that) and removing our talk about each others background; which I thought they would leave especially since the description makes reference to Jess being well-travelled. They kept a small part of the Sapiosexual discussion. I’m sure Tom would love to hear the whole thing. I also found it interesting that they removed all references to Jess being bisexual too. Too much for the “say yes to the dress” audience to handle at 10pm?

Myself and Jess did wonder if they would green screen the backdrop with orders and questions, or even put stupid things up to replace them. Especially the order to “Undress” Which never happen due to our nature to just go for it. I mean why waste time, there’s much more interesting things to get into.

There was a lot of shots of my builders bum, which wasn’t great but to be fair I had to buy new underwear specially for the show and never worn them before. I’m pretty glad nothing else was focused on, or at least I spotted nothing in HD.

The feedback has generally been really positive…

Thanks Anders, my very old neighbour from Bristol. I felt happy that I was portaied in a decent enough manor. Natalie said I was kind and courteous towards Jess which was lovely to see. I’m a gentleman and would have been pretty pissed off if edited to look like a total dick. Likewise Jess I felt came across well, shes a lovely woman with her own mind and opnions and that came across I felt.

When one of my Newcastle mother hens says something like this, you can’t help but smile quite a bit. I haven’t quite told my parents about the show going out this week. That will be the difficult conversation later on tonight on the phone.

I always compared it to the way some people will free climb a building (you know who you are Max), jump out of an airplane or perform a 900 on a skateboard at the age of 48! Most of us think they are simply crazy or extremely brave (or at least I do). To them its pushing their limits and they likely stand back and say wow that was great.

I was never going to jump out a plane or free climb a building, but I pushed my limits like I always said I would and gained a new friendship.

Thanks Julie who I haven’t seen in ages

Is it guts, stupidity or just taking a chance? We split the bill on the second date as all should do regardless (imho).

Would I do it again? Nope, its one of those one time deals. I was very fortunate to have such a great woman who instantly got me and I got her. I feel if I was ever to do it again, I wouldn’t be so lucky and end up with someone much less interesting.

I have to give a plus one to the production crew, they did a great job matching us and further proves its not about the algorithms.

It’s slighly by fluke that I posted about not living a normal life just before the showing of undressed. But it certainly stands… Last year going to Tokyo, this year appearing on TV (twice!) and in my underwear. I mean if anything the willingness to undress and be undressed is pretty powerful.

Jessica and Ian

Whats planned for next year? Who knows…

Undressed our experience in audio

I am assuming the last post (which you should read first) is the raw thoughts of mine, as I travelled back to Manchester on the train. It’s odd reading it now, but I don’t want to edit it, as it was quite an incredible experience and something hopefully others will consider when living their lives and opportunities come by.

Myself and Jess shared the post previously, so none of it is a surprise to her. But while thinking and wondering what the episode of undressed will be edited into, I started to think, wouldn’t it be great to hear the thoughts of Jess and mine together? I spoke to Jess and she said agreed wishing she had done something similar.

Of course I need to backtrack a little; I can hear some of you asking what happened next?

Well after going to Berlin, Northampton, London, Bucharest and Newcastle over May. Thursday 19th May we met up in London again, first time since the undressed experiment/experience. Things went well as we drank a lot of cocktails and had an italian meal near leicester square. We asked many of the everyday questions people ask including how old are you? What is your job? etc, etc… We also went into more depth over some of the deeper questions which we touched upon in the studio. Things went well and we decided although there was the attraction we are better as friends.

We have both dated in between and there is no hangups about being friends. Yes there was a lot of attraction, similar views and opinions; but to the question of accelerated intimacy… did it work? Yes it did. But like Keanu Reeves says on Speed

Sandra and Keanu in Speed

“…you know,relationships that start under intense circumstances, they never last.”

Yes it comes to something when you start quoting from films…

We stayed in touch as friend and talked about the press coverage undressed was getting, including the mix up with the nude dating show naked attraction by Channel 4. Both of us don’t have sky or cable, so have been reliant on friends views and televisions. We’re both aware, that our signed contract means we couldn’t talk about it on social media. Hence the radio silence…

All caught up?

Knowing what TV is like, we talked about recording our thoughts on the experiment/experience. We did this on Tuesday evening and it was a fun thing to do. I was actually quite surprised how long we had gone on for, and glad we had gotten some snacks beforehand. With water and snacks, we recorded a 90 minute discussion with some breaks; about our experiences and how we felt about everything.

I was unsure where to put this recording but hopefully it offers a counter view to any/some of the criticism of our undressed TV appearance. Its funny and certainly puts the whole experience into perspective, something which isn’t really possible in a 10-15min reality TV show.

To be clear this was done under our own steam. TLC and RDF media didn’t know we were going to do this or have been made aware of it. I re-read the signed terms and conditions again, and see no reason why we would be breaking the signed terms. Listening back to it, I personally feel its actually a compliment to the experiement. They did a great job with the matching; myself and Jess were very happy. I feel this all comes across in the recording.

Jessica and Ian

Undressed: A lesson in accelerated intimacy

This was written on the train back up to Manchester. I would love to post it but I signed a non-disclosure agreement and I’ll have to wait till it’s shown. From my reading, it might also have to be later due to the legality of it being shown on encrypted subscription cable/sat.

So as some of you know, I took part in a dating show called undressed. The concept is quite simple, but not for the fearful. Think of it as First dates with balls.

Meet a blind date in a studio for the first time, take each other’s clothes off down to their underwear then lie on a bed next to each other while a big screen suggests a few of those 36 questions for you to ask each other. At the end of the time, make a decision if you would like to see each other afterwards.

Yes I just did just say striped to your underwear, by a stranger.

This is intense and rocket fuelled accelerated intimacy. You can’t really get much more accelerated than this? It certainly makes channel 4’s first dates look like a snail crawling across the floor. The whole experience lasts all of 30 mins.

My experience

Today started for me early as I caught the 9:35am train to London, then the northern line all the way to South Wimbledon, where I grabbed a coffee before the cab came and took me to the studio. The studio was a bit like the Pie factory in Media City UK, bit old and worn but functional. Sara the researcher who had been my main contact through the process was there to greet me and finally give me a giant hug. Other staff ran around doing their thing while another production researcher sat with me and led me around.

There was a man already in the changing room, who obviously already gone through the experience (he was wearing a night-gown) and was saying nothing about what it was like. After looking at my selection of clothes (I decided to pack most things (deliberately over pack to be sure, as the criteria for clothes which could not be worn was vast) so tomorrow I could just change a couple of things and hop on a plane to Berlin)

NO LOGOS OR BRANDING ON UNDERWEAR or CLOTHES, NO MATTER HOW SMALL
No thin or see-through fabrics as studio lighting emphasises transparency
No small polka dots
No checks
No small thin stripes
No busy /detailed patterns
No black clothes
No white clothes

Turns out the white shirt and plain-ish boxers I bought, was fine with the new summer jacket. I did have to pick the lighter trousers and not wear my striking blade trainers, due to the Adidas logos. But everything else passed the camera test. Then came the question about what to call myself, as the title of producer was too closely related to TV and they were worried about this. So in the end we settled on futurologist, which I only said as a joke. I shouldn’t have joked because likewise my firestarter title, got picked up on too.

After a bit of food, carefully chosen to not cause problems with my allergies and not drop any on my white shirt. Some make up, removing the hair oil I applied earlier. It was time for a the pre-interview.

The room was small, very hot and the whole process was tricky with the producer (Katherine?) rewording what I had said into more simple sound bites. I would reply to her question and it would be quite wordy, and she would boil it down quite a lot. Sometimes she would make it sound almost comical, and I wouldn’t repeat it because it was quite distorted from what I was trying to say. In the end, I would say what I was thinking or happy with and she would go with it or say the question in another way. I’m sure it will be taken out of context, which will be a shame but alas I knew it would.

During the interview, a couple of things stuck in my mind, which she dug deep into. feminism, bi-sexuality, red hair and curvy women. I didn’t know then but it turns out my blind date was most of these.

Afterwards, we waited for a bit before being taken to the actual film set. It’s worth saying I also had developed a cold this morning and was very stiffly. I was taking cold & flu meds and blowing my nose quite a bit, especially in the air-con controlled rooms. When showed the set and shown what I will need to do, I had the opportunity to stand by an open fire exit and breathe some fresh air; this did wonders for my nose, thankfully. While explaining to the onset production team, they had me put tissues under the pillow just incase I needed them in the middle.Of course I wouldn’t have access to my clothes, once in my boxers. Although they did say, I could find a way to pause the date and blow my nose. I was cursing myself for developing the cold on a critical day.

As I waited full clothed behind the scenes, looking out of the fire exit on a lovely bright blue sky. I couldn’t help but feel quite calm about everything. My biggest worry was actually my nose and since that seemed to be getting better, I thought more about who I was about to meet. What incase the team had got it all wrong, what incase she was the total opposite? What incase it was a setup like previously? I considered it all in that time at the fire exit. I also considered fact I hadn’t really thought too deeply about who the other person was? The casting producer, Anouska who was with me most of the day was lovely and honestly wanted the best for me. She had been involved in the production and choice of who was matched; and I could tell she had really high hopes for this match. She didn’t say anything but you can just tell (well at least I felt I could) when people are guanine about these things.

Then the moment came. In clearing my nose, I kinda forgot what I needed to do, once I marched along the spotlights and reached the end of the bed. The floor managers reminded me quickly. The crux was to meet at the bed look each other in the eye with some distance so the camera could see us and the big screen behind. Then she will take my clothes off and I’ll do the same. Once in our underwear, we need to sit on our side of the bed and questions will flash up for us to ask each other. The amount of questions and type of questions will depend on the conversation and how things are going. Aka we won’t answer all 36 questions and photos from our past will pop up for us to talk about.

Stepping out

Ok I can remember this, as I waited to cross the back of the screen, I saw her name. Jessie. Nice name I thought, must not forget her name (people who know me, will know I tend to forget names quickly). As I crossed behind the screen, and waited at the other end the impact of what I was about to do hit. I smiled as I was held and thought about all the people who told me don’t do this, its insane. I thought about Jane who originally sent me the email, saying this sounds like your kind of thing. This was going to be an experience which I will have fun telling people about in the future, so its time to experience accelerated intimacy.

I stepped out and my eyes were transfixed on Jessie who was standing there at the end of the bed dressed in a purple dress. I’ll be honest, when I say holly crap they got just the right looking woman. She was cute but the smile on her face was so warming and put me at ease straight away. I’m sure my face was a picture too. We embraced with a hug and if I remember a bit of a single kiss on the cheek. Stepping back to our marked spots.

Time to undress

We stood facing each other smiling in a slightly coy way, unsure what was going to happen next. The production staff told me they wouldn’t interject unless things went quiet and to just carry on normally. As normal as standing in a black TV set with mood lighting and a bed can be? Slightly unsure, we talked about undressing and Jessie walked over to me, as the production staff said before; I get undressed first then her afterwards. I wasn’t meant to help but Jessie was having a bit of problem with my shirt buttons and my slip on shoes. I honestly started feeling self-conscious when sitting at the end of the bed with her pulling on my shoes; it felt a little wrong so I helped a little. I remember thanking Jessie for nicely folding up my clothes on the end of the bed. The whole undressing wasn’t as painful as I’d first imagined, but I feel that was because Jessie made it so.

Anyway, once I was undressed we stood back at the spots looking at each other. Then I moved across to undress her. I was having a slight problem with the buckle on her shoes and the only way to solve it was to get on my knees and pull quite a bit. We laughed about it a little and finally it was done. Stepping around the back of Jessie to unzip her dress I was surprised to find there was no zip. Jessie told me I would need to pull the whole thing over her head. I tried to be gentle but firm about it but it was tricky and not very elegant. Finally we did it and I stepped back around the front to see Jessie in her underwear. Yes I was impressed but honestly I was focused on her face and that warm smile.

Its bedtime

We climbed on to the bed from our respected sides. Jessie was sat up a little more than myself. I noticed around the set there was quite a lot of cameras in the black background, it was obvious but not as painful as first imagined. Anyway, it didn’t matter because my attention was firmly on Jessie. The big screen in front of us, finally kicked into action with pictures of Jessie’s past as a young child. She talked about her past and the pictures changed a little. I asked questions of her and frankly we just had a nice conversation; while lying on a bed in our underwear.

Then it became my time to have pictures of my past and places I had been.

I don’t know how it happened but we just kept talking and talking. The screen would somethings jump in with some probing questions. For example, at one point it just said… “Feminism.”

Jessie instantly said this must be her; and to be fair I just sat back and let her chat. There was a slightly apologising tone but I jumped in and said how impressed I was with her rich history around feminism. We then talked about how I would only date feminist and the problems I’ve had previous around women who don’t identify with being one. It was a great discussion which was only cut short by the screen throwing out the word… “Sapiosexual.”

Jessie had not heard the term before but I explained and yes Tom, I did say it was heavily dismissed as a sexuality. But as we talked about it, the deeper the conversation became. Not that I’m saying it was wasn’t already deep. We just kept chatting and chatting, we shifted position a little (I tried to sit up a bit, sure mum wouldn’t be happy with my lying position). Every once in a while we would go on a tangent and the screen would ask one of the 36 questions.

From memory we got…

What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

Tell your partner something that you like about them already

Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner and tell your partner something that you like about them already came up

Rocket fueled intimacy

I was feeling very comfortable with Jessie and the whole thing, and the production staff could tell. The questions got more about physically smelling and touching each other. So at one point Jessie was asked to describe how I smell and me straight afterwards. The only way to do this was to really get close, and it wasn’t uncomfortable at all. After a quick chat about how smell is important, the next question from the screen/production staff was to hug each other for 20 seconds. We kneeled in the centre of the bed and hugged. Jessie was warm and very huggable. I was trying to keep things polite for TV (if you know what I mean), which was tricky but I think it was ok. We moved back to our lying down positions on the bed and talked about what just happened. But things were short-lived when the screen interrupted with the next question

Would we kiss each other?

Now honestly as the question echoed in my mind, I looked at Jessie and there was a voice reminding me of my 2016 new years resolution

Make some bold moves with my love life

But the biggest factor by far was the honest & open look on Jessies face. She was ever so lovely and I wanted to kiss her. I always said to myself, I wouldn’t do what I’m not comfortable with, even if that means walking off the set. Especially if the chemistry wasn’t there. Honestly I would have declined or gave her a peak on the cheek. But no, I wanted to kiss her and so we did.

Yes, lying on the bed kissing and cuddling for a short while. I’m sure the production staff must have been so happy with themselves, but not as happy as I was. (ironically last year, I mentioned something about the escalation from eye contact, free hugs and to kissing a stranger, wonder what Elizabeth would think now?)

The experiment/show was coming to the end and like the italian version, we had 60 seconds to ask any more questions we may have before answering the question, would we want to see each other again by pressing on tablet screen yes or no. We both pressed yes (it was obvious) but the production staff couldn’t help but add tension to things (unknown to us at the time). The big screen spun between yes and no on both sides (same as the italian version)

Jessie’s yes was set but my side kept spinning and spinning. It was painful and we even talked about it out loud. I had said yes and pressed it again on the tablet to make sure it had registered correctly. Finally after a few more spins, it was a yes | yes. We shifted back on to the bed waiting and chatting between ourselves as the lights went down.

End of the experiment

We then were separated off and gave another interview about how things had gone. The interview had to be done in our underwear, to show it was after the experiment. There was quite a few questions about what Jessie had said including her feminist answer, the smell and of course the kissing.

I was also told to reflect on her looks and some of the questions I answered. This went on for quite sometime but it wasn’t as bad as the first time. I’m sure there will be some slicing and dicing for the show.

There was one last thing to do after getting dressed getting my things and having Sara and my production runner express how much they loved it and always hoped it would be a great match. I congratulate them on such a great pick.

I waited in a room for Jessie to finish her exit interview and I was joined later. We embraced quite a bit and after some pictures taken together including a bunch of those ones you do at weddings. Swapping numbers, we shared a cab to South Wimbledon station together. It was a shame to leave early, but I have a flight to Berlin booked tomorrow morning (5am). We travelled together discussing what had happened on the show, till Clapham, where Jessie continued her journey on another line home. I hadn’t quite clocked it was still a Tuesday and I couldn’t get on a train till 7pm (due to London peak time hours). But by the time I could text Jessie, it was too late.

It would have been great having some more private time together, but I went to our Euston Square offices, got changed in the bathroom and caught the first off-peak train home to Manchester. The train I’m on now.

In reflection

I was very pleased with the way things went, except the questioning which I know will get manipulated. Being in my underwear on TV still isn’t a thing I would do again but it really worked out. It’s a shame I had to go straight away but I am going to stay in touch. Even if things don’t work out, the experience we shared was so unique and the chemistry was pretty electrifying.

I always did say… The drive to push my limits socially, is fun to me. This was fun but honestly without Jessie, it would have been far less fun and enjoyable.

Watch this space….

That was the end of the post.

Most of you are wondering what happened next? Well theres a blog and audio for that.

Experience accelerated intimacy tonight 10pm

10pm 12th Aug : Well-travelled Jess and Ian's clever chat suffers when attraction takes over.
Well-travelled Jess and Ian’s clever chat suffers when attraction takes over.

Yes its happening, tonight 10pm I’ll be on Sky, Cable and BT Vision’s TLC channel. Its a dating experiment/reality TV show called Undressed

Well-travelled Jess and Ian’s clever chat suffers when attraction takes over

or as another guide put it

…another couple find physical attraction getting in the way of talking

It’s not streamed (you can imagine, it’s not exactly a HBO, showtime, etc category) or on freeview. Luckily some friends are going to let me watch it live, while we drinking red wine and I cover my eyes! Hey I might even tweet now and then…

I have not seen the show, or have an idea how it was edited, plus I can’t tell you the outcome till afterwards. It certainly fits with my last blog post, not seeking a ordinary life.

Look out for a blog post I wrote straight afterwards and a special recording after the show.

Ordinary life does not interest me

Ordinary life does not interest me

I wrote a blog about neurodiversity after Kate included me in a tweet about a mother and daughter talking on the listening project. My blogs are shared into Facebook and Marie added a comment, which was simply a picture.

That picture (same as above) spoke volumes. After looking it up, I found the source.

“Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments. I am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvelous. I want to be a writer who reminds others that these moments exist; I want to prove that there is infinite space, infinite meaning, infinite dimension. But I am not always in what I call a state of grace. I have days of illuminations and fevers. I have days when the music in my head stops. Then I mend socks, prune trees, can fruits, polish furniture. But while I am doing this I feel I am not living.”

Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934

This is something I absolutely subscribe to. You only have to ask friends about my dotted past and look at some of the friends I get up to shenanigans with. I never seeked to fit in or follow other people’s limited constructs of what I should or not do; and to be fair I’ve never been very apologetic about it. Of course it’s not all tea and honey, but it’s just the way I am. Said on the eve of getting undressed on TV.

No more battling ISIS…

Today I came back to find a letter from ISIS (now called Waterside places). It made me laugh a little.

In light of the current connotations to the militant terrorist group we have decided to change our name. We want to avoid any confusion or offence it may inadvertently cause partners, residents and local communities

The new name will be Waterside Places…

…The new name and branding will be effective from 11 August

I always wondered when they were going to change the name, the embarrassment alone must have devistating?

Don’t worry Waterside Places (Muse and Canal & River trust), you won’t be getting any less slack from me and others regarding the problems with Islington Wharf phase 1, 2 and 3!