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?

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 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!

Neurodiversity as a superpower?

I always loved the idea of the listening project and of course took part in it myself with the lovely Kate. The editors enjoyed the last part of conversation, which we still haven’t actually gone through with yet?

It was Kate who included me in this tweet about Leanne and Eloise talking about dyslexia as a superpower. Something I’m fully behind being dyslexic and living in a world of the neurotypical.

The Dyslexic advantage is quite something, along with the videos; in this regards. I remember Malcolm Gladwell getting a lot of attention for saying something similar in his book David and Goliath. Desirable difficulty, I believe were the words.

It’s slightly ironic, when reading about the sperm donation place which was turning away dyslexic men. I’ve also been thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of telling young children about their superpower. Can this be a good or bad thing? It’s really hard to say, especially because I don’t have kids, so have no skin (as such) in the game. But of course it doesn’t stop me from chipping in with something anyway.

I was talking with a colleague recently and we were talking about the joy of seeing neurodiverse people doing what comes naturally, instead of trying to fit in with the neurotypical view. For example, I write as I talk, this isn’t the way you write… lots of people tell me. So I tried to adopt this, but in the end gave up knowing it simply was not the way which works for me. I am obviously a lot happier because of this but I’m still waiting for the technology to catch up.

Street art in Manchester's Northern Quarter

The colleague is a very visual thinker and prefers to communicate in pictures. One of the many great things I seen is this person writing emails using gifs and very little text. Its sounds nuts but it works so well and I’ve started wondering why this doesn’t happen more often? I mean Emjoi’s are becoming more common place, I seen Gif usage increasing in spaces which support them like Instant messaging, Twitter, Slack, etc. I even have a task to install a few apps so I can create my own.

Media which expands human communication and curiosity?

Superpower or magic

How about that for a superpower?!

The allergic tales of two sweet homes

On July 20th, I went to Home Sweet Home in the Northern Quarter, it was a hot day and I was going to Madlab to play werewolf. I asked for some food to take away, as I was going across the road to play werewolf with others. Take away was fine but when I showed my allergy sheet, there was the usual shuffle from the server saying they needed to talk to the manager.

I stood there while the manager came over and she looked at my allergy sheet, taking it away to run past the chef. I explained trace was fine and I have eaten there many times including 3 weeks ago with no problems. The chef had advised that I have my chicken non-breaded as the fryer was used for fish, everything was great.

However this time around I was given back my sheet and told by the manager, they could not serve me anything on the menu. I questioned this with total disbelief, surely there is something I can eat on the menu, even a salad? No I was told, our policy has changed and we can serve anything to you. Changed in the last 3 weeks? She told me yes, and asked me to leave.

To be frank I was so upset and pissed off that I thought, I’m leaving and screw Home sweet home! They lost a customer and I only stopped short of tweeting about it because I knew there was a good chance on the July 22nd, I’ll be at the Home Sweet Home in the great northern. I wanted to see how the same company could justify its self, by hiding behind some piece of policy.

July 22nd came, I walked to Home Sweet Home in the great northern, met up with work colleagues. Ordered a cocktail and some food, showing them my allergy sheet. Server calls the manager, manager shows the chef the sheet. This time the manager comes back and recommends a few options with a couple changes. She recommends some kind of chicken salad and I said ok, not expecting much. What came out was incredible (wish I took a picture of it). It was chicken, salad, cheese, peppers and some other bits. It was positioned on the plate nicely and looked/tasted incredible. It was so obvious the chef had taken the creative challenge and jumped at it. It was amazing…

I later explained how I was turned away from Home Sweet Home in the Northern Quarter only 2 days earlier due to a policy change. The manager knew nothing about this policy change and apologised for the northern quarter restaurant. I made sure to give an extra large tip that evening, and told the manager and server to please tell the chef thank you very much for making a plain sounding salad, look and taste so great.

I do understand the stress someone with an allergy can bring to a restaurant but turning them away and refusing to even bother is just shocking, especially since the EU brought in strict guidelines (why are we leaving the EU?). It’s not like I had gone to a fish bar and expected to be served. Home sweet home is (their words) the home of the legendary cheeseburger toastie. I’ve eaten there many times and it just happens that it wasn’t long before too (under a month!)

My allergies are long but not so bad, there are many people far worst than myself. I tend to avoid vegetarian and vegan food because of the nuts, peas and beans. Heck if I can survive Japan with only one allergic reaction, home sweet home I can find something on the menu which I can eat! I’m very tempted to go back to the northern quarter one and see the reaction this time around!

Shame on the northern quarter for such a shocking response… Being turned away from eating is just bad news! Not even trying and almost being pushed out the door is just terrible!

Wellbeing is more important than checking your dating app

Woman looks at her phone wondering

I was reading no bad dates just good stories and read the point about Bumble.

Bumble is full of feminists?

And this is a problem why? Sweet Jesus, a dating app that puts women in the driving seat, whatever next? Quick guys, delete it – don’t let the vagina army overthrow your seat in power.

I liked the concept of Bumble, love to meet more female feminists being one myself and know there was a massive backlash from the manosphere (read with caution!). But it should be a dating site I’m regularly on.. but I’m not?

When I first signed up it was early and there was little people from around Manchester on it. Then suddenly there was a ton of supermodel type women showing up. Most men would have loved it. But something didn’t seem right, I couldn’t tell for sure but it felt like quite a lot might be fake (from previous experiences and what I’ve read, it certainly seemed possible)?

Fake profiles is a quick way to keep people on the site and interested, or keep them using the app?

Fake match profiles

That was off-putting but then they changed the terms so if a woman messaged a man, had 24 hours to reply. Encouraging/forcing you to look everyday at least. This for me is not the habit I can not see a positive outcome from. I understand some of the reasoning but it feels unsustainable, at least to my mind? I check my dating profile only once or twice a month (to be fair this is very low), unless I’m chatting with a woman or planning a date of course. I have to question the benefit to the people using Bumble vs their ability to tell investers they have a large number of uniques per day?

I have to say checking your dating app everyday can not be good for your wellbeing; be it bumble, okcupid, tinder, grindr, hinge, pof, etc. It leads to cognitive burnout, which is something a lot of regular daters talk about in different terms. This is why the idea of a online dating break is a real thing.

Cognitive burn-out

Regardless, I’m willing to give it another try, but frankly if it’s not a big improvement I’m not going back; another good idea executed badly in faviour of business? Maybe its time for total distruption as mentioned previously?

Using Google translate on a date?

Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong

Yakkapp or rather Martin tweed me a link to someone’s first date which involved a language translator app.

Blind date in Korea, spoke no English. We only talked w/ translator apps. Something he wrote translated to, “I drink pain.” #WorstFirstDate

I dont know the ins and out of the date or the setup, but Lindsey Nothstine’s tweet got me thinking about my experiences of Google translate in Tokyo and would that work in a dating scenario? Skype’s translation feature is pretty epic but certainly breaks the flow of conversations.

It might not be perfect but like I said about Google translate perviously. It opens up the world to you like the man (trainer) I was talking to in the maid cafe. There was no way he could wonder up mount Fuji looking for Pokemon’s scenes (how ironic following Pokemon go’s launch) alone without being able to speak or understand Japanese.

If Google translate can help you to go new places, meet new people or even date them; it can’t be that bad surely…?

File this under pushing your boundaries…?


Forgot to add that in the movie Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (which is pretty much Lost in Translation for Hong Kong and well worth watching – Cheers to Nico for the recommendation).

There is a scene when they discuss meeting people in other countries and using Google translate to communicate. They also talk about going on a first date with 3 spaces, two for the couple and one for the translater.

This is what disruption of online dating looks like?

202. Girl
Be on the lookout, distruption could be around the corner

Elisa of recently challenging me about my thoughts on online dating, especially after watching my TedXManchester talk about the same subject.
I concluded that the dating industry needed a serious kick up the backside and the only way this is going to happen is if you change the model. I then mentioned what P2P protocols did to media sharing. Instead of centralisation, you can have a more decentralised and even a distributed approach to online dating.

Easily said, but what do I mean?

I was trying to find examples of what I meant but it’s very difficult googling for them as they get lost in a sea of other stuff, some of it very weird.

There was a period when a whole bunch of sites with domain names like…, and etc… (not real sites of course) Were the rage for a short while, they would pop up now and then. These people without knowing it could have changed the dating field. They all seemed to contain similar elements and it wouldn’t take long for someone or myself to modify microformat hresume into a hDating microformat (I’m not going to talk about Microdata or RDF/A as its outside the scope of this post, but yes to both). semantically rich data published on the web as way to bring a distribution model to online dating.

Steven Pemberton @ TWAB2010
Why you should have a website

I am always reminded of Steven Pemberton‘s XTech 2008 talk, Why you should have a Web Site.

The nice man from the BBC filmed it and put it online. “Provocative and contentious” said one reviewer, who later said “I should never have doubted Steven Pemberton” and “Steven Pemberton was right”. Another said “The crowd completely disagreed. In hindsight he could not have been more correct.” and “grows more relevant with each passing year”. Text of the talk here.

Steven was talking about the advantages of machine-readable Web Pages and his point knocks right at door of the walled gardens of the social networks. Swap social networks of facebook, instagram, etc for, EHarmony, OkCupid, etc’s walled gardens… and you got the same problem and same solutions?

Online dating has taken all its bad habits from social networks and to be fair most of the social networks have learned from online dating in the same way. I once talked about dataportability in online dating and to be fair everybody laughed.

But imagine if profiles were part of the public internet? When I mean public, I mean not hidden away behind a walled garden (hidden/private web). Because really what are you paying for, if you are paying at all?

I can hear you panic or even laugh… Here’s questions which might be crossing your mind

Friend of a Friend project (FOAF)
Think FoaF for dating
  • I don’t want my profile to be public!
    This is fine, I understand some rather not be so open about their status. It doesn’t have to be connected with the rest of your online profiles by the way (this is down to you)
    It doesn’t necessarily need your name or even a public photo of you (there are many ways to verify someone without such information, think about what PGP, GPGP Escrow services, Ebay, Airbnb, etc do). Also like FoaF you can even hash or encrypt parts to avoid spam, catfishers, stalkers, etc. Maybe hide parts of your dating identity till its required. Theres endless possibilities, which I haven’t even explored.
  • How do I message or email someone, and what happens if things go south?
    South meaning, things start breaking up or you want to stop them messaging you. This is a partly solved problem. There no need to have you’re real email address. Services can step in and provide emails or instant messaging solutions which expire or forward on transparency. It could also be done with a standard protocol and encrypted for further privacy. Off the Record already does this, for goodness sake lets not build new protocols (badly or jokey) to do already solved stuff! (Yes this is what most dating sites are doing now)
  • How do I trust what I am seeing or reading?
    The same is true of most dating sites now, how do you know the picture isn’t a catfish, they really are the body shape they say or show? How do you know the picture isn’t 10 years ago? All the dating site/service is really offering you is access to single people (not that is always true of course)
    This is where the idea of a blockchain for online dating could come in quite useful, to verify with reputation, but if you don’t trust the technology. You can opt for something else… or even build your own! You only have to look at the people who have hacked OkCupid (Amy Webb and Chris McKinlay’s). Imagine what they could do if not restricted to the wall garden and the systems they could write for the rest of us.
  • But its easier to pay the money and sit safely within the closed garden?
    Safely…? Total illusions. But yes its easier, but you are limited by how much you are willing to pay. The open way you can have access to many more profiles, better ways to filter them and theoretically better solutions which you can share with friends.
    This way also puts more emphasis on you to do work, but I can imagine systems and services like wordpress, medium, squarespace, etc doing the heavy lifting for you.
  • How would I search?
    You don’t think some startup will jump into this arena? If not one of the big search giants?! The beauty is if you feel one is better than the other, you can easily switch. No rubbish claims, which can’t be verified. Just imagine when gocompare/money supermarket get involved to show you the best sites to find what you seek. Or imagine crowd sourcing this all.
  • But dating site x’s algorithm is great
    Don’t worry there will be multiple services jumping over each other for your money, data or other things to prove they are the one you should use. Some will be highly manual, some will be heavily automated. Currently there is no urgency to fix, innovate or try something different. Its not all bad news for dating services, they can run their magic algorithms on the public data set.
  • But my dating service offers X, Y and Z.
    Thats nice but have you thought how effective X, Y and Z actually are? Are they a distraction or actually making dating life better? Regardless… there is the perfect opportunity to have a ecosystems of services blossom and offer unique services on top of the open, machine readable profile network.
Future of Fabrication
Distributed models are sustainable?

Think about the way search engines innovated on the structured data and offered better matches as a result. The important part is, if you don’t like what a certain service is doing  or how they treat you, you can just move elsewhere without the fear of loosing access to that person still.

Interestingly OkCupid allows you to make your profile public (very few do), so you could see it without logging in. For example, I have considered making my profile public before but theres not quite enough benefit to me currently. OkCupid use it as a marketing tool and there’s little you can do once you view it. Its clear OkCupid was setup to break some of the legacy behind online dating but when they sold to the Match group, that drive to change things changed focus.

Me with Canvas

What I’m suggesting is similar but on your terms. There are other advantages such as having access to the biggest market of daters, personalised choice, better tools than one dating site can/want to create, bespoke advice and guidance from people who really give crap. This could issue in a new era in the art of match making!

But it doesn’t stop there, oh I’ve just scratched the surface. I feel a lot of the endemic corruption in online dating is due the centralised model.

Imagine if you could aggregate that profile into the legacy dating services. Almost a IFTTT recipe or Atomkeep? to update parts of your legacy profile on a schedule or manual push.

You could allow tinder to use one photo, OkCupid to upload 4-6 photos and a deeper description, only my photos marked professional and the deeper description.

What I’m talking about is Vender relationship management applied directly on to online dating, putting the users in control.

All is possible if you rethink the current setup. unfortunately the controlling companies (MATCH group currently own 27% plus of the online dating market and they own, OkCupid, POF, Tinder and many more) have zero interest in changing much. On top of that daters seem quite lazy and less interested in working for dates?

As you can imagine, there isn’t much in this area but I did find fermat. Its a p2p matching platform. I have yet to really look and see if its doing things how I would imagine

Manchester’s first Cocktail Festival

cocktail hour

For seven days in August, Manchester is throwing its first ever cocktail festival.

Now, we’re a city who enjoys a good slurp on a classic concoction, but even we didn’t see a dedicated festival committed to this refined drinking trend coming.

From August 8-14, Manchester Loves Cocktails (yes, yes it does) will bring together more than 20 fine drinking establishments from right across the city for a full week of unique cocktails and more than 40 special booze-themed events.

Why? Because as the founder of Manchester Loves Cocktails Nick Fox says: “The standard of cocktails in Manchester are now on par with top bars of London and New York.” That’s why.

Best of all is the cocktail price tag – each one setting you back a handsome £4.50 with your festival wristband.

Some questions…

Whats taken so long, where do I sign up and whos with me?

12th Aug, the date we’ve been waiting for…

I asked the question if anyone would want to see me date? But it was related to First Dates, now you get to see more than you expected… The undressed date some of you have been waiting for is… Friday 12th August. I got the email telling me it will be shown, and I will receive a DVD in the post after TX (transmission), which I was surprised about.

I still have not seen a whole episode from the start to the finish uninterrupted. The press coverage has been interestingly negative but it still seems to hold a reasonable user rating in places. Had hoped to have a few friends around for a live showing, but it’s not going to happen at least till the DVD gets sent out or my friends work out how to copy from their Sky+ boxes. Undressed is also now on TVDB and themoviedb.

Unreal TV show

I may have a surprise in store along with the blog I wrote on the train back up to Manchester. It’s all very fitting as I watch season 2 of unreal (undressed/unreal, similar right?) and been thinking more about the manipulation in reality TV. Most people are very surprised when I tell them, it was all shot in one go with no interruptions except the screen asking questions and prompting what to do next.

Pokemon goes dating


It had to happened… dating service which takes advantage of a new craze? Of course!

A new dating service called Pokédates has been created to help “Pokémon Go” players find love while catching Pokémon.

The launch of the service comes after the wildly successful release of augmented reality mobile game Pokémon Go, which has gripped millions of people around the world.

Pokédates aims to get single Pokémon Go players to meet up at a prearranged “PokéStop or “PokéGym” before exploring their city for Pikachus, Squirtles, and the elusive Mewtwo.

This fits the frame of, there is a dating site for everything (and I mean everything!). For example, after Brexit came Better together dating which was profiled nicely in the Atlantic.  Heck theres even a trump dating site!