Preparing For A First Date in Glasgow (One For The Guys)

Usually I recommend just going with the flow, but for many, preparation is everything. As I walked into the office the other day I saw an array of new women’s magazines neatly spread across the reception coffee table. As I looked a little closer at the usual celebrity faces gracing the covers, I noticed how incredibly similar most of the undercard articles were:’what not to wear on a first date,’ ‘5 ways to impress your new man,’ ‘5 talking points to avoid on a first date.’ So I thought to myself let’s do one for the guys, but let’s keep it really simple and focus on three key areas: before, during and after.

Before:

I always say don’t overthink dates, your lifetime’s happiness believe it or not isn’t dependant on the outcome of this one simple evening ahead. At the end of the day it’s a drink, a coffee, a meeting, a chat, whichever way you look at it it’s not a big deal, at least not yet anyway. It is however, important to feel your best. Looking and feeling your best will promote confidence, reduce any pre-date jitters and ultimately allow you to have a really good time. So what first? Haircut. Whether it’s three inches off the top or a trim around the sides, nothing makes a guy feel fresher and ready for the night ahead than a visit to the barber’s chair. So where to go? For me there is only one place. House Martin Barbers.

HM2Winner of ‘Best Barbers’ at the Scottish Hair and Beauty Awards in 2015, House Martin Barbers is fronted by Stephen Martin and his ridiculously talented young team. There’s a uniqueness to this place that I haven’t found anywhere else during my ten years of touring Glasgow’s best barbershops. From the reception area’s country pub feel to the bank vault and poker table through the back, a visit to House Martin is more of an experience than just a haircut. The most important thing of course though is the cut itself. These guys have cut hair for some of the biggest names in fashion, music and ahem blogging (thanks Michael) and you won’t leave disappointed. I’m also very pro-beard, but if like me you can’t shape your beard without looking like Ming the Merciless by the end, then these guys will of course do it for you. Alternatively, the cleanest of clean cut shaves is equally on offer.
Plus, if the moment takes you pick-up a Cuban Cigar on your way out. Located on Glasgow’s Bath Street, check them out at http://www.housemartinbarbers.co.uk

Next up is the outfit. This is where guys are most guilty of trying too hard. Leave the over-sizedDBArmani logo shirts at home and almost always keep it simple. For me, David Beckham is my style hero, post-sarong days of course. His entire wardrobe is based on simplicity and yet he always dresses impeccably. There’s a few ways you can approach this, let’s start with the feet, the one thing that seems to go with everything at the moment is a nice pair of brown Chelsea boots (my favourite purchase of the year so far). I recently picked up a second pair for a mere twenty quid at the Topman sale, no pressure! Jeans, I don’t think I own a pair of jeans that aren’t ‘skinny’ but if you’re not a recovering emo kid like me then a good pair of bootcut jeans should do the trick, but no white jeans, never white jeans! On top depends on your colour of jeans. Black jeans go well with the old, trusty denim shirt and blue jeans go well with a plain, tight-fitting (but not too tight) black t-shirt. Hopefully with the summer months approaching there won’t be any need for a jacket, but if you do need one you can’t go far wrong with a little leather number, but none of these ones with the big white stripe across them, I’ve never understood those?

During:

78So first off, location. This is one thing I do recommend thinking about because it’s the one thing that could ruin all of your other preparation. Go somewhere that will actually maximise your chances of getting to know someone and of course let them get to know you. Somewhere that you can get a seat and don’t have to shout over the music. One of the worst dating mistakes I ever made was allowing a girl to talk me into going to the cinema on a first date, not only did we not get to know each other, I ended up sitting behind her because it was so busy! Ideally you want somewhere that plays music but not too loud, is busy but not too busy, dark but not too dark, close enough to other places in case you decide to go for a wander and isn’t too expensive. Easier said than done? Maybe not, check out ‘The 78’ on kelvinhaugh Street. This is a place I stumbled upon on an unplanned night out with friends and wow what a place! Drinks, ridiculously cheap home-cooked food and a surprisingly enjoyable night of reggae music in the later hours. Throw in a coal fire, comfy armchairs, chunky tables and French windows and you have a place that might just lead to this date being the first of many. It’s different and girls appreciate originality.

Conversation is next on the agenda. There are certain things that you just don’t talk about i.e exes. Leave the past in the past, tonight, no one cares about who you’ve dated. So what do you talk about? I should mention that this advice is basic and it’s only for when you need it. The ideal scenario is that the chat flows from start to finish, you have a natural spark and every word is said without a moment’s thought and zero repurcussions. However some people are shy, it’s only natural, so be prepared to go the extra mile if it helps a girl open up. Show interest in them before you start talking about yourself and to do that you have to ask questions. Work, family, music, movies, food and travel, stick to these topics and you’ll be set. Politics and religion? Time for another drink.

After:

Whether you say it out loud or not, your only concern is that they get home ok. Never leave a girl by Young-Beautiful-Woman-Sitting-at-Bus-Stop-102513BA890BFDD9herself to make her way home, walk her to the bus, put her in a taxi, whatever it takes – even if you didn’t like them! Be caring but casual about it, you want her to get home ok, but you’re not her Dad. A quick text later on to make sure she made it and thank her for the night. Now let her make the next move. You’re now a dating machine, level completed.

Body-Conscious, Insecure, Emotional…Male.

Bravado is a curious thing when it comes to some men. It’s like our philosophy for life – don’t ever let people see the truth, bury your weaknesses in the deepest, darkest corner of your being and ultimately just pretend everything is OK. Men have struggled to show their cracks for centuries now, but why? Is it the way we are brought up? Are we too concerned with maintaining a presence of strength, power and masculinity? Whatever the reasons I’ll let you in on a little secret – it’s mostly a load of rubbish.

My Dad was from a very working class background. Super tough and never one to be messed with. He was brought up fighting in a poverty stricken area of Glasgow. His best trait? The ability to throw a good punch. A man of many jobs he was a butcher, a baker, a window cleaner, a mechanic and a soldier before retiring with the emergency services. He was what I would call the true definition of a man’s man. My Dad did however have very poor hearing and yet point blank refused to wear a hearing aid. My family knew this would make our lives a lot easier, for him because he could actually hear properly and for us because we would no longer have to shout all the time (the neighbours mistake our shouting for aggression). Still, he would never wear it and avoided the subject at all costs. But why? Inconvenience? Laziness? Not at all, in his eyes it was a sign of weakness that he didn’t want others to see. Even the toughest of old boots can have their insecurities it seems.

At 29 I get by OK without too many problems. I’m very lucky, not because I think highly of myself but because over time I have learned to fully accept who and what I am. Over the years I’ve been described by people as confident, funny, a bit cheeky and a real people person who can chat away to just about anyone. But what was going on in my head was a very different story.

My honest assessment of myself went something like this: crooked nose, funny shaped head, squint teeth, 13866734_1059985577383766_821057246_ndouble chin, oversized brow bone, too skinny, sticky out ears (one of which is higher than the other), over emotional and deep down a bit shy. This was how I saw myself without exaggeration and as much as I’d like to think I’ve made the most of myself, the majority of those things are still true today. The only thing that’s changed, is my attitude.

A lot of men both young and old, suffer with similar self-criticisms on a daily basis but often bury them behind a mask of jokes, arrogance, over-confidence, sarcasm, rudeness and basically anything that will hide the reality going on in their heads.

In my youth, I found accepting my ears to be an endless struggle. I would stare in the mirror for hours analysing them. One day after school I tried to stick them to the side of my head with double-sided tape just to see what they would look like flat – much to the amusement of my Mum I might add. I would also wear tight beanie hats to bed and hope that if I pressed my head hard enough against my pillow my ears would in time, stick to my head. Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?

At the age of 18 I grew my hair long. It fitted in well with the whole indie and later emo culture, but in truth I’d grown my hair long to cover up my ears. The funny thing is, my ears aren’t even that bad (check my photos). I was just a paranoid, insecure, adolescent who was still growing into himself.
maxresdefault (1)Being skinny, that was another problem. I was a cross-country runner for many years which made it virtually impossible to put weight on. Even on the hottest of days, I would wear three t-shirts just to add a little extra bulk. I find it hilarious that my intention was to give myself the tiniest shred of self-approval, when in reality I was just a plonker in three t-shirts on a sunny day. All those t-shirts and my ears taped to my head! Can you imagine if I’d had my way?

Showing emotion is another touchy subject for men. Being emotional is actually one of the few things I genuinely love about myself. I find that if I allow myself the opportunity to really feel something then I can experience life’s moments in their fullest capacity. Don’t get me wrong, in the past I’ve mustered a tear or two for some pretty trivial things including football, home improvement shows and on one occasion even just looking at the moon! (Don’t ask). But for every cheesy American TV show there were emotional goodbyes, breathtaking scenery and the marriage of close friends – times when showing emotion served to enhance a life-long memory.

One of my close Australian friends is another of the ‘real men’ in my life. He’s from a very male dominated family and enjoys the simplicity of fishing, rugby, beer and his dog. I lived with him for a few months on my travels and at a time when he was going through some real personal turmoil. He wasn’t the type to talk about his feelings, but it was clear to see he needed to. I discreetly probed for weeks on end, gently encouraging him to open up and on a few occasions there was the tiniest glimmer of hope, but each time he clicked on to what he was about to do and promptly shut off.

He moved in circles that didn’t allow much room for emotions, it just wasn’t very ‘manly’. I really wantedrowan_atkinson_actor_tuxedo_gray-haired_brooding_27333_3840x2400 him to know that I was there for him, that I would listen without judgement and help him in any way I could, but it was all to no avail. I still wish today he would see the benefits of just, talking.

British actor Rowan Atkinson once said “I like to walk in the rain, no one can see me cry.” I think some men are starting to improve when it comes to showing emotion, it honestly is such a release to just let go and really feel something. And no it doesn’t mean falling to your knees and bursting into tears and it doesn’t make you weak, just human. Why wait for the rain to come?

I hope from this post women can gain a slightly better understanding of why men are the way they are sometimes, not because I excuse certain behaviours but simply to raise awareness…awareness that behind every arrogant pig there is a 12 year old boy standing in front of a mirror trying to tape his ears to the side of his head.

PTB

PTB Meets Emmy Nominated TV Chef Ching-He Huang

As we all know dating and relationships affects every single one of us irrespective of who we are or where we come from, as a result I like to try and interview quite a diverse range of people to share their experiences and advice. When the opportunity arose to interview culinary wizard Ching-He Huang I jumped at it. Emmy nominated and the pioneer of BBC 2’s ‘Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure’ alongside Ken Hom, Ching is globally recognised as one of the finest Asian Chefs of her generation. Married to actor Jamie Cho, I recently caught up with Ching to talk life, love and dating.

Hi Ching, you’ve enjoyed great success in your career so far, is it ever difficult to prevent fame interfering with your personal relationships? The media are more interested in my food than my husband so I’m lucky I get to keep that part of my life private. The only time I think fame can interfere with personal relationships is if there is an affair or a scandal and you’re in the public eye, but we (my husband and I) are quite boring so we’re ok!

Do you think people often put too much pressure on themselves to meet the one? I think there is a pressure in society for people to have the perfect ‘everything’ so not just work, life, but of course relationships too. This is too much pressure – better to just relax and ‘the one’ will find you.

You married husband Jamie in 2014, what were the key qualities that made you think this is the guy I FullSizeRender (18)want to spend my life with? We married after 12 years together and he has always been there. I knew he was ‘the one’ not long after we met, we just never got round to making it ‘official’ until recently.

Any funny dating experiences from the past? An ex once gave me his house keys for a date, I put the keys in and his mum opened the door! What an introduction!

Your idea of the perfect date? A good meal in a cosy restaurant, with good food, wine, and ambience – preferably in a quiet romantic corner. Now, finding the ‘the perfect table’ is tricky – so a sign of a good date is how much homework they do! After all, preparation equals success!

What advice would you give to young women struggling with confidence issues? I think most women are hard on themselves. I take my advice from my mum who is no-nonsense. Life is too short, there is no point worrying about what others think of you, only what you think of yourself – so embrace and celebrate who you are. Only if you are happy in yourself will you find true happiness and be able to give and share it. Without that, no relationship can fulfil you.

Beauty magazines are a major contributor to such issues, is there anything we can do to limit this? Beauty magazines are there to try inspire us, but remember beauty is only in the eye of the beholder. There is beauty all around us and mostly in our hearts. Don’t look outward, look inwards and find peace. Every flower wilts and that’s what happens to all of us. Life is fleeting and beauty is fleeting. It is better to focus on your skill, personality and charm, than on ‘looks’ because that won’t last. Limit what you expose yourself mentally to and detox what is not healthy for your mind, personal growth and inner development.

51a8e42a320cb71160Teen crush? Too many! Growing up it was Keanu Reeves, Brandon Lee, Robert Redford – anyone with a good mop of hair. Did I mention Johnny Depp too?

What’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you? My husband carrying me everyday, in and out of the bed for 3 weeks when I had an operation and couldn’t walk. He was the perfect house husband.

Relationships can be difficult at the best of times, what do you think is the key to maintaining a happy home? Treating your partner like your best friend and communicating honestly without any blaming or guilt tripping. You can’t put a fire out with more fire.

Do you think old school romance has gotten lost in a world dominated by technology? Yes! Where have all the love letters gone? And that first nervous phone call…asking someone out…now it’s a swipe! Too fast and not enough build up – fire’s out before it’s started!

Do you believe our perception of love changes as we get older? Yes, I do. I think our needs change and instead of the attention that is exciting and self-fulfilling at first it evolves from self validation to true love for your partner. As you become a unit and more compromising, love becomes unconditional and selfless as times goes on the more that we give. We all want someone to love and to hold forever, and that means wanting the best for your partner and ultimately you reap the rewards you sow.

Ching’s Amazing Asia premieres on the Food Network tonight at 9pm, Freeview 41 | Freesat 149 | Sky 248 | Virgin 291. In her new 10-part series, produced by Sentient Films, Ching travels the continent and showcases the amazing diversity, innovation and originality of Asian food, placing delicious flavours at centre stage set against the rich and exciting backdrop of Asia.

PTB Meets Former Corrie Star Charlie Condou

Veteran of a variety of challenging roles, Charlie Condou is perhaps best known for his portrayal of midwife Marcus Dent in Coronation Street. An ambassador for the gay community, Charlie is a proud supporter of Manchester Pride and a patron for charities Diversity Role Models and The Albert Kennedy Trust. Recently I caught up with Charlie to talk acting, marriage and his idea of romance.

Hi Charlie, you’ve starred in a number of vastly different roles over the years, at what point did it really click that you had made it as an actor?

I’m not entirely sure I have made it! I suppose Corrie gave me the fame side of the business but I’d worked fairly consistently for a good ten years before that. I guess when I realised that I could support myself and my family through acting without having to get part time work in between jobs, that was when I knew I was successful. I’m always convinced each part I get is my last though!!

As a profession, a jobbing actor can often be portrayed as a struggle, was there ever a time when you were tempted by the 9 to 5?

Oh God yes! Many, many times. Being an actor is HARD. Not the acting part – that’s the bit we can do. It’s the long periods of being out of work that’s the real struggle. I’m sure I would’ve jacked it all in on a number of occasions if there’d been ANYTHING else I thought I was any good at

You’ve featured heavily in a number of pride lists in recent years, what advice would you give to men young and old struggling to come to terms with their sexuality?

It’s very difficult to advise anyone in this situation because you’re asking them to confront their fears and that’s something people have to come to themselves. But in my experience (and the experiences of many friends), it’s not nearly as frightening as you think it’s going to be. Be true to yourself, lead an honest life as best you can and accept yourself as you truly are. The rest is easy.

Appearing on British soaps such as Coronation Street can often propel an actor into the limelight, how did your role as Marcus affect your every day life?

It’s very strange going from basic anonymity to suddenly being recognised by a huge part of the population virtually overnight, but that’s what happens when you’re on a show like Corrie. It’s been a good few years for me now so Im used to it, but like most of the cast, I found it quite overwhelming at first.

Congratulations on your recent marriage to the handsome Cameron, how did you know he was the one?

I’m not sure he is the one, I just wanted to get my first marriage out of the way early! Seriously though, I knew very early on that I was in love with him, but more importantly, that he was someone I wanted to spend my life with. We’ve been together 10 years now and while it hasn’t always been a bed of roses, I love him more now than I ever have. It doesn’t hurt that he’s fairly easy on the eye either.

Any dating horror stories?

Yup, loads, and none that I’m sharing! They all know who they are.

What’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you?

It’s the small things that Cam does that I love. We’re not ones for big romantic gestures; we don’t buy flowers or even celebrate Valentines day. But he brings me a cup of tea and something to eat when I’m working hard or he cooks a meal that he knows I love. I suppose he thinks about me first and often knows what I need before I do. That’s the stuff I find romantic.

Online dating: Curse or Convenience?

I’ve been in a relationship for a long time so Grindr and the likes have passed me by. But I remember Gaydar and I think like all things, it’s fine if you know what it’s all about. Sometimes you just want sex, and that’s ok. But those sites can become compulsive and that can be a real problem for gay men.

Teen crush?

Rob Lowe, who I’ve actually just worked with. He’s a lovely man and still as sexy as he was when I was 15.

Does our perception of love change as we get older?

No idea, I’m still working it out. But I think what we want changes, so we look for different things.

What’s next for Charlie Condou?

I have two shows coming out, one for Channel 4 and one for Sky. Im developing a comedy series, working on a book, getting a treatment together for a documentary and trying to focus on my company Out With the Family. This, while trying to spend more time with Cam and the kids. So it’s fairly quiet at the mo!

Check out Charlie’s website www.outwiththefamily.co.uk, an organisation aimed at bringing together LGBT families to aid networking of gay parents and children of same-sex parents.

*main image courtesy of Magweb

At What Point Do We Say Enough Is Enough?

How many people are in relationships they shouldn’t be in? How often do we stay together because quite frankly, it’s easier than breaking up? Fear of being alone, fear of regret, fear of being honest…these are all reasons (or perhaps excuses) why we stay together, even when our gut tells us to run. We have to ask ourselves though, how much can we really take? How much happiness are we sacrificing with someone else? How many times can we use the same old excuses and ultimately, when will enough be enough?

It’s often difficult to make sense of our relationship problems, sometimes it’s near impossible. The struggles of every day life can often give these issues a back seat. Problems at work, paying the bills, making sure the kids are ok – there’s always something taking priority. But if we don’t address these issues one way or another then we allow them to fester, the resentment creeps in and before we know it we’ll be 60 years old wondering what might have been.

Often in an unhappy relationship we talk ourselves out of ending it. We obsess over hypothetical situations, how would I feel if I saw them with someone else? How would I cope without their financial contribution? You have to realize it simply doesn’t matter! All that matters is how that person makes you feel every day in the here and now, are you truly happy, are you content that this is what it’s going to be like for the rest of your life or deep down do you desperately crave an escape?

Still can’t decide? Ask yourself these questions…

Do you make excuses for them? Ok so you’ve been with someone for a while and you’ve had doubts for a while too. They mess up constantly and by messing up I don’t mean mixing the whites in the washing, I mean those times when they have quite literally punched a hole in your heart. But still, we forgive. We say to ourselves the next time this happens that’s it over… ok the next, next time it’s definitely over…and still it carries on, over and over again. Where does it end?

Does the thought of ending it fill you with relief? It doesn’t always have to be a bad or abusive relationship, sometimes it’s really simple. They’re great, they treat you with respect, they’d do anything for you…your Mum likes them. You’re just not in love.

Is the sex too good? That’s right I said it. Your partner is hot, really hot. You have an incredible, passionate sex life and in those moments you find them utterly irresistible, you can’t imagine your life without them. But the second it’s over, your doubts magically reappear. Don’t let physical attraction mask the obvious.

Are they compromising your life goals? You’ve always wanted to travel, you’ve always wanted to work abroad, you want a high-flying career that makes a white dress and a veil fade into irrelevance. Whatever it is that you want, don’t bin your bucket list because you were with the wrong person.

Are you scared of breaking their heart? You know how much they love you, you know it will destroy them, you’re a nice person and you don’t want to do that – does that mean it’s ok to break your own? Be fair, on both of you.

Feeling the pressure? Time is cracking on, you’re not as young as you used to be, you’re partner is nice, good, reliable, loyal, they’ll be great with kids…but they’re also boring, snore loudly and dress badly, there’s no spark and you feel more unchallenged than you ever thought possible. This is your life, not your parents, not the gossipers at work, you’re allowed to be picky, you’re allowed to look for that spark, never ever settle – ever!

Is the problem taking over your life? You know that way when you have a dentist appointment you’re dreading and every time you laugh or smile in the run up to it you suddenly remember sh*t I’ve got the dentist next week and the smile is instantly wiped from your face? Well that can be true of a bad relationship also, you might be laughing away with friends and suddenly you remember, oh dear I need to go home to him/her tonight. Imagine feeling like you have a dentist appointment booked every week for the rest of your life!

Are you scared of being alone? I’d rather be alone than be with the wrong person. Who is going to want me you ask yourself. Maybe, ‘the one’ was also with the wrong person but they’ve taken the leap, now you have to as well. One door closes another one opens, the one is waiting just around the corner…take your pick of tired cliches. All that matters is, it’s true. Besides, what’s so bad about being on your own? Travel, sit about in your pants, take those dance lessons…smile again.

I know what you’re thinking, easier said than done and I don’t disagree, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Don’t forget to live the life you wanted. There’s always a way to make a change, irrespective of age. Just adapt, be brave and make it happen.

PTB

5 Things Guys Don't Want To Hear

As I’ve spoken at length about before, guys aren’t particularly great at sharing their feelings. In fact a lot of men are more accustomed to biting their lip than actually expressing their honest opinion to their partners. Now that might sound a bit harsh, but ultimately it saves us rather a lot of trouble, an easy way out if you like. So ladies, if you ever feel like your man is being uncharacteristically quiet when you bring up certain subjects there’s probably a very good reason why. Here’s my list of comments that guys never ever want to hear…like ever!

c50fc643a30a2fbc9f277dafb4db58f81. “I’ll always love him” – Everyone has a past, we all hate that fact but in the end we learn to accept that it’s a part of life and sure you might not be your partner’s first, second or even third love, but that doesn’t mean we want to hear all about it. A friend of mine was recently telling me about how things didn’t work out with her ex, but that he’ll always be the one and she’ll always love him no matter what. I said please tell me you’ve not said this to your boyfriend?! “Oh he just knows” was her response. No, no, no, no!! Whether it’s true or not don’t ever let your partner feel like they’re always going to be second best, no matter what they do. There should only ever be two people in your relationship.

2. “I like it when a guy does this…” – So this continues from point one but leans more to the physical side of the relationship. How many guys have been with a girl in the bedroom and she’s let slip a comment that leaves your stomach numb and your mind full of images? We know you’ve got a past, we’re already trying our best not to think about it, but please don’t give your guy sex advice based on your past experiences. After all, actions speak louder than words. Show him, don’t tell him!

3. “I’ve had bigger” – No explanation required.

4. “I’m outside” – So you’ve got a night out planned with your friends or colleagues and sure we’d spoken previously about you meeting them and maybe even going on a double date sometime, but please oh please don’t surprise us! It’s not that that we’re ashamed of you or that we’re up to something we shouldn’t be, it’s just that this is your man’s time to lead-large_trans++eo_i_u9APj8RuoebjoAHt0k9u7HhRJvuo-ZLenGRumAhave some ‘me’ time. If he wanted you there, you’d have been invited. Tough love I know, but sometimes it needs to be said.

5. “We need to talk” – History dictates that this is code for ‘we need to break-up’but if you’re saying it just for effect, attention or to prove a point then please just leave it out. Guys can be sensitive souls as well (whether we admit to it or not) and well it upsets us more than you think. (I’m laughing at the sad face I unintentionally pulled as I wrote that).

Guys don’t think you’re getting off lightly though, these comments of course work both ways. But yeah be wary of what you say, within every burly builder is a sensitive Sally pretending that you are in fact untouched in every way…deluded aren’t we.

Confessions of a Cam Girl

Over the past few months I’ve done a lot of research into the pros and cons of online dating, with some surprising outcomes that I’d never previously considered. During this process I discovered that the biggest complaint of women was the quality of men on offer, but interestingly enough the biggest complaint of men was the plethora of ‘fake’ women on offer, i.e Cam Girls. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, a Cam Girl is someone who strips off on camera and gets a tad playful for the benefit of willing participants and their credit cards. It’s a concept I’ve always been aware of, but naturally taken no notice of. However, the more the term cropped up in my research, the more I was intrigued to dig a little deeper. No I didn’t pay for one, but I did interview one. To protect her identity I’ll call her Sandy, it’s the least sexy name I can think of haha.

PTB: What made you want to become a Cam Girl in the first place?

Sandy: I quit my job as a Corporate Manager after ten years due to my frustration with unequal pay with my male counterparts who had much less experience. I wanted to do something that allowed me to be my own boss and provided me with unlimited earning potential.

PTB: How exactly does the process work?

Sandy: Basically the more the guy pays the more they’ll get within the means of a web cam. It isn’t always about taking your clothes off though, some guys just want to chat or will have more specific requests, I don’t do anything too weird though.

PTB: What does a typical day involve?

Sandy: Hair and make-up, picking out clothes and then sitting around trying to make small talk with people I don’t know. It can be surprisingly boring at times.

PTB: What’s the most money you’ve made in one day?

Sandy: $200 is the most I’ve made in a day, on average I’ll make $50 a day which doesn’t sound like much but remember that’s for only a few hours work and gives me a minimum of around $1500 a month.

PTB: And that’s better than your previous career?

Sandy: In terms of money it’s slightly less, but I have a much easier, more satisfying life and generally I suppose I’m happier.

PTB: What’s the strangest request you’ve had from a customer?

Sandy: To crush mice with my heels, which I of course refused.

PTB: Any stalkers?

Sandy: There is one guy who I’ve never spoken with and he never pays for a show, but he’s always online. It almost feels like he’s watching me without properly watching me if you know what I mean, it’s really creepy

PTB: Is it hard to do a job like that and be in a relationship at the same time?

Sandy: Surprisingly no, my husband actually gets really turned on by it.

PTB: Do you see this as a temporary thing or are you in it for the long run?

Sandy: It’s definitely only temporary, there’s an age-limit to this thing, no one wants to watch an old chick writhing around.

PTB: Are you quite open about your job to family and friends or do you worry about people finding out?

Sandy: I’m not open about it with anyone except my husband. It’s not something I shout from the rooftops, but other than family I don’t really care who knows. At the end of the day I’m not actually having sex with anyone so I don’t feel like I’ve got anything to be ashamed of.

PTB: What is your response to people who call the whole thing a scam?

Sandy: Some guys might think it’s a scam because whilst trying to generate business we may copy and paste the same message to any number of different guys, however when you click on that link you’re always going to get what you pay for. It would be an extremely rare case where someone runs off with your money and credit card details, at the end of the day every girl wants repeat business, we all need to earn a living. I think some guys may label it a scam because they don’t like the idea of the girl not being interested only in them, but you have to remember it’s just business. It surprises me when people take things personally, when you pay for a cam girl you do it for a quick fix, not for love.

So there you have it, a little bit of insight into a world that’s entirely alien to most of us. Obviously it’s an industry that I can’t throw my weight behind, but I do respect everyone’s story regardless of their occupation. I don’t know enough about the industry to know if there is any scandal or fraudulent activity, but from what Sandy has told me it seems to be a little more straightforward than we may think. If you’ve had any experiences of cam girls or heard any stories please feel free to share. Is it really straightforward after all or is this an industry with a few dirty secrets to tell?

10 Things I Love About You

There’s a lot of difficult stuff going in the world right now and nothing I could ever say in a blog is going to change that, however today I thought it might be nice to focus on something positive. It seems on an almost daily basis we are confronted by the frustration and anger of relationship problems and if not our own, someone else is always ready to weigh in with theirs. This is an understandable part of life of course, but this week I spoke to ten different people and asked them to explain the one thing they love the most about their partners. The results, were just what I needed to hear.

“Do you remember the time we were all dressed up, I had a fancy dress on and you were in your bow tie. I was so nervous before the big event that I got blind drunk before we’d even arrived. You had to pull the taxi over so I could be sick and you looked after me even though for some unknown reason, I was screaming abuse at you in the middle of the street as dozens of people passed by. I ruined your big night, but you still made sure I got home ok, I was even still giving you abuse later that night when you called to check on me. I really didn’t deserve you that night.”

“I’d lost my job because of an absolute moment of madness, it was completely my own doing and it affected our entire relationship. Out of nowhere we struggled to pay the bills, our holiday was cancelled and we only just managed to scrape by. It took me three months to find a new job and you carried us through that entire time. Your patience and understanding was like nothing I’ve ever seen, in fact I don’t think you ever complained once, for that I love you.”

“There’s no great twist to our story I just love you and I have from the very first day we met. It seems too good to be true at times but I hope we never change.”

“From the first day we met you knew how important my family was to me and when I took you to meet them for the first time you were more nervous than I’d ever seen you. That night however, you worked your way around every single one of them, chatting, laughing, getting to know them. You even had a dance with Gran. I’d never loved you more.”

“He already knows how much this means to me, but from our very first conversation he knew I had a daughter and unlike a lot of guys he showed nothing but interest in her and couldn’t wait to meet her. I was probably more nervous about this than he was, but from the very moment they met they were like best friends. He never tried to be her Dad, he was just there for her as a friend. It’s a shame we didn’t work out, but I still love him for that.”

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“Sometimes it’s the simple things in life and to be honest I didn’t have much of a sense of humour before I met you. Without fail, you always make me laugh and you might not think much of it, but to me it means the world.”

“You are the quirkiest girl I’ve ever known and the first girl I’ve met with one of those colourful hair braids you get on holiday since about 1999. I was pretty content with life before you came along, but looking back my life was probably a tad boring. I fell in love with you the night I came home from work and you had lit lots of candles and prepared marshmallows for us. I thought you were totally bonkers, but I loved it and still think about that night constantly.”

“I’d been in an abusive relationship for more than four years. You were my best friend, I couldn’t have asked for any more from you during that awful time. On so many occasions I took his side instead of yours, I’d scared myself into loving him. I wish I’d realised you were the one all along so much sooner, I was an idiot. That was a long time ago and you’re there for me now even more than you were back then, that’s why I love you. You never ever left my side”

“I consider myself to be a complete oddball to the point where I never thought I’d meet someone. You are a very different kind of oddball, but the way you accept, encourage and support me is so very normal and as odd as we both may be there is something incredibly simple about our relationship. I can’t imagine finding that with anyone else.”

“We’ve been together since school, that was around 30 years ago now. I’ve always hated the term but high school sweethearts, that was us. I wasn’t the easiest person to be around, but you always stuck by me no matter what and today we have three amazing kids and have built a life together. It would’ve been so easy in the early days just to think we’re too young for all this and call it a day. When I think about what we would’ve missed out on if we’d done that, well it scares the life out of me. I love you because you were the energy that kept us going, you made all of this happen.”

To be perfectly honest this is one of my favourite posts I’ve ever written, purely because the research was so rewarding. In a time where we are so engrossed in the negatives of the world it’s such a refreshing change to go back to basics and see first-hand the extraordinary depths of love people have for one another.

Stay safe everyone.

PTB

 

 

 

PTB Meets Former Strictly Pro Camilla Dallerup

Camilla Sacre-Dallerup has spent over 25 years as a successful athlete in the world of ballroom dancing, leading her to join the original cast of Strictly Come Dancing in 2004. After six years and successfully winning the trophy in 2008, Camilla left to focus on her Life Coaching and Wellbeing business and to further her training. 2015 has been equally hectic, Camilla has continued to forge a career as a respected motivational speaker and her first self-help book ‘Strictly Inspirational’ was published in the UK and US around the same time as she returned to the Strictly Come Dancing Tour – this time as a judge. Recently I caught up with Camilla to discuss the world of dating and settling down with Hollyoaks heart-throb Kevin Sacre.

You were thrust firmly into the public spotlight when Strictly took off, how did this affect every day things like dating and relationships? Work took centre stage for a while whilst I got used to it all and mended my broken heart. I found it so strange to be back on the dating market after eight years, I didn’t really understand the whole texting thing and games people were playing, but other than that nothing really changed except perhaps I became more cautious about who I chose to confide in.

Do you find it helps having a partner who is also in the public eye? Yes, because you understand each other’s situation and you can support each other from a place of knowing. We always managed to keep our relationship quite private, although we are performers and we like social media we are actually quite private people.

How does dating in the UK compare to Scandinavia? I’m not quite sure as it’s twenty years since I dated in Scandinavia so I really couldn’t say. But I remember when I was dating before I met my husband I couldn’t get to terms with the fact that people were dating multiple people at the same time, call me old fashioned but I thought it was more special when you focused on one at a time.

It can often be hard to find the right person to settle down with, what were the key qualities that attracted you to Kevin? From day one there were no games. I found that so refreshing. He was honest, kind and so down to earth and extremely understanding of my busy schedule, perhaps because he was used to intense work schedules too. It was just easy when we hung out and he called me straight away after our first date and said “if you feel how I feel, I consider myself off the market”. We never had to worry about whether it was the right time to text or whether we should meet up the next day or the day after, it felt like the most natural thing ever to be together. I met his whole family within our first month of dating.

Any dating mishaps/horror stories? No not really. I don’t think I dated enough, but I do remember somebody once handing me a napkin in a restaurant when I was single as in to say you need this as you have food all over your face and I proceeded to use it to wipe my mouth and ditch it by the plate and then he very awkwardly said “erm sorry that actually had my number on it,” oops not so elegant on my behalf.

How do you feel about old-school romance? Is it becoming a thing of the past? FullSizeRender (13)No it will always be around just maybe packaged differently.

Often insecurities lead us to attract the wrong kind of people, what advice would you give to young women struggling with confidence issues? I live by the sentence “Perception is projection” which means if we see things we don’t like in others first make sure we have healed that within and know that it’s your right to love yourself and respect yourself and that you are always good enough.

Ideal first date? My first date with my husband, it was at a local pub near my home in Surrey where we sat outside by the river and chatted for hours. Nothing fancy just so lovely and real.

Strange fan requests? I tend to remember the lovely ones instead. A few times on the Strictly tour I received some very beautiful flowers from a secret admirer, very thoughtful. It did however have a card on it with a request on it for me to call him, but I left it to just admire the flowers.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Have patience and always believe what’s for you won’t go by you. Sometimes we think everything needs to happen in an instant, but as I have gotten older I have realised that when things are delayed it’s because the timing isn’t right and when they finally happen you realise why they didn’t happen before. My husband and I often have this conversation as we truly believe that if we had met one year earlier, we would not have been a match as we both had things to learn first.

Do you think our perception of love changes as we get older? I hope not. I want to always be a romantic and always believe in love. I have heard so many stories of people finding love at all ages that I believe there is love out there for everyone, but it starts by loving ourselves and believing that it’s possible to find it too.

For more information on Camilla’s Life Coaching business check out http://www.camillasacredallerup.com and to purchase a copy of her awesome book here’s a link http://www.amazon.co.uk/Strictly-Inspirational-Camilla-Sacre-Dallerup/dp/1780288662

PTB

The Insecurity of Man

As strange as it sounds, insecurities affect even the most confident of people. In fact sometimes over-confidence is the clearest cut sign of anything but confidence. Over the past few years there’s been a lot of bad press about glossy magazines having a particularly negative impact on the confidence of young women and rightly so. A negative impact on ordinary people should always be highlighted, no matter what the industry. Magazines need to look pretty and appealing so people will buy them, that’s why thousands of pounds is spent on stylists, make-up artists, designer clothing and of course, Photoshop. But no one really explains to these young girls what goes on behind the scenes and instead girls burden themselves with an unnecessary expectation to look perfect. With this in mind I decided to take a look at the male perspective of body confidence. There’s a huge health and fitness wave which has exploded all over the UK and beyond and although there are obvious health benefits, again we have this pressure to be ripped or to be drinking anything green or to have a fully stocked Instagram of half-naked selfies. Now us guys often have problems with being open about our feelings and emotions, so I’m going to do it myself in the hope that I can inspire other guys to be big emotional teddy bears who don’t live in the gym. Here is my own list of guy’s biggest insecurities:

Age – many of you will know that girls tend to be a little bit more mature than guys. I’ve recently turned 29, but a girl at 29 probably has the mental age of about 35 so that then leads me to feel like I should be dating someone slightly younger. But then when you do date someone younger she wants to go out until 5am when you’re ready for bed at 10pm after The apprentice finishes (or maybe that just me?) The problem with age is we totally over-analyse it. Maybe it’s not an issue at all, maybe it’s all in our head but it’s definitely something we need to pay less attention to – so long as it’s all legal of course.

Our profession – what’s one of the very first things you ask when you meet someone? “What do you do for a living?” Love or hate your job we all know our job title is going to go some way in forming their first impressions of us and again we start to overthink things. It’s a bit like what Subway did with their job titles, I mean ‘Sandwich Artist?’ I’d probably rather tell a girl I was a ‘Road Hygiene Technician’ a.k.a Roadsweeper. But of course there’s no shame in any job, it’s just amazing how much we care all of a sudden when we have to tell someone what we do. How many times have you heard people jump into a big rant about why they do what they do and how the people are great, the money’s not bad, how you’re still looking around and how it’s definitely not a forever job, before the other person has even responded to your initial answer? The funny thing is, most women are happy just to meet a guy with a steady job, no matter what the title.

How much money we have – I’d say the vast majority of people between 18-35 live payday to payday, but as you get older you start to place an expectation on yourself where you must have money put away. Personally I ended up spending every penny I had travelling and I’d do it all over again, but there’s a small part of me that wishes I could go on sporadic holidays whenever I could, but I guess everyone feels a bit like that sometimes.

Our bedroom performance – This is a big one (no pun intended). The problem is everyone is different. A guy could have been with a girl for years perfectly comfortable in the knowledge that she is completely satisfied in every way possible. They then break up and the guy does the exact same stuff with the next girl and she falls asleep. You then become very aware of this problem and yet again you begin to overthink things (spot the theme yet?) and you find yourself caught in two minds. Before you know it doggy style turns into what can only be described as ‘an atomic 69.’ It’s not easy that first time with a new partner, again first-ish impressions are being made, just try not to break anything.

Who their ex is – Personally I turn into a big immature kid when it comes to people’s exes. Some guys don’t care who the ex is as long as they aren’t better looking than they are. I’m a bit different, the immature teenager in me is thinking “nah I don’t like this one bit, his thing has been in one too many places for my liking.” Thankfully, the 29 year old (almost) adult in me calmly says “it’s all good, everyone has a past” – at least most of the time anyway. It’s a tough one, no one likes the thought of someone they love doing atomic 69’s with another guy, but that’s life.

Our physical size – I was reading an old blog of mine and I remembered a story I’d told a while back. As a teenager I was a cross-country runner and when you’re running anything up to 50 miles a week it’s impossible at that age to put on weight, this was way before protein shakes and bars were commonplace. I’d met my first ‘proper’ girlfriend and I was really insecure about my blatantly obvious skinny frame. I didn’t look ill or anything, there just wasn’t much to me. On our first date, a ridiculously hot summer’s day, she happened to notice I was wearing three t-shirts. I don’t know why I acted so surprised when she pointed it out, as if I didn’t know. It was basically my feeble attempt to look bigger. So yeah, as much as we try to accept and love ourselves it’s hard not to envy the Christiano Ronaldo’s of this world. Not his diamond earrings though, they belong in 2004.

These are the typical insecurities that I myself and many guys I know find to be the most common. Everyone is different of course, but it’s always interesting to hear what men have to say when they’re being honest and not hiding behind the bravado that develops when more than one man is in the room.
To the girls I say it’s ok not to be perfect and to the guys I say it’s ok not to be ripped, if you want to be bigger or slimmer then go for it and if you want to eat Dominoes and fall asleep the moment The Apprentice ends then me and you are going to get on great.

“Just be your beautiful self.”

PTB

The Power of Blogging

Blogging for me was always the great idea I could never quite get around to. In my early teens I wanted to be a sports journalist, I would watch football matches on TV and write my own match
reports just for fun – odd child that I was. As I got older and began to think about further education, the dream of being a journalist surprisingly disappeared. I had my heart set on attending Glasgow University (it looks a bit like Hogwarts) and they didn’t offer a Journalism course at the time, so business management it was. For a long time business seemed like a terrible decision, but the journalism industry in truth isn’t in the best shape. Even those at some of the biggest magazines and newspapers in the world are only freelancing temporarily which at times is as secure as a jobbing actor. That was nearly ten years ago now and not until last summer did I finally start writing again.

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I often hear people questioning why anyone would want to start a blog, I even hear bloggers questioning why they should continue blogging. There are times in a bloggers journey where it can all seem ever so unrewarding – sitting for hours writing and for what? Everyone is entitled to their own opinions of course, but today I want to explain what blogging has done for me and how if done right, it really can change your life. This post may be about me, but it’s really not if you see what I mean. I want every single blogger out there to make the most of this incredible hobby and enjoy every possible benefit that comes along the way. I’m by no means the finished article (no pun intended) but if my own successes inspire you to start or to keep blogging, then I’ll sit here typing for as long as I have to.

I’d not long returned from travelling in Australia when I started writing. I think the prospect of returning home to another boring office job or call centre was a little too much for me to bare at the
time. Funnily enough I did return to a call centre, but through my writing I had not only revisited a former passion, but I was giving myself every possible chance of finding a way out of the jobs I so heavily despised. I went to the cinema one night and saw a great film written by Jon Favreau called ‘Chef’. I came home that very evening and started an experimental food blog. I was onto something with the blogging idea, but not the subject. Perhaps I’d gotten a little too carried away with the film itself, that blog lasted all of one disastrous jaunt to the kitchen. I then came up with the topic of dating. I’ve said many times before that I don’t consider myself to be an expert, we’re all experts when it comes to relationships in my opinion, but I’m very honest and open about my past experiences – the good and the bad. Some of my previous relationships are quite truly movies in the making, maybe one day I’ll inspire a talented chef to write about dating?

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My idea was solid. I was going to be a dating blogger who offered an honest male perspective on all things Dating and Relationships. This right here is the best piece of advice I could ever give any aspiring blogger. Know what you’re writing about and know what your unique selling point is. If you write about Movies, Music, Sports and Video Games and NME or Kerrang are looking for someone to write a post, they’re not going to choose the person who writes fairly well about several different things. The person writing passionately about music on a daily basis will get that job every single time. Know your niche and you’ll progress ten times faster.

Within six weeks of starting my blog I’d gained well over ten thousand hits and had been approached by FHM
to write a post for their website. This was beyond anything I’d ever imagined when I started writing, especially so soon. It still shocked me at this point every single time someone commented on one of my posts. I felt so incredibly privileged that someone had actually taken the time to sit and read what I’d written. This is the most simple reward you could ever gain from blogging – readers. Appreciate every single one of them. As the months progressed I found both my Blog subscribers and Twitter followers steadily increasing on a daily basis and soon I had managed to blag a few celebrity interviews as well (minor but don’t tell them I said that). Engagement is key though, you have to constantly interact with anyone interested or potentially interested in your writing. Network and make contacts, Twitter is an unbelievable tool for this. I now write a weekly blog for two national newspapers and it was through Twitter that my Editor spotted me. Trust me when I say every blogger needs Twitter.

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This all sounds great on paper: writing for one of the biggest magazines in the world, two newspaper columns, guest posts for magazines and websites all over the world and even talks with a major production company about turning my blogs into a documentary series. At the end of the day, however, my writing was still just a hobby. I was still a miserable guy working in a call centre spending every single day counting down to five o’clock. That all changed earlier this year when I finally got what I call my big break. It didn’t involve big magazines, celebrities or documentaries, it merely involves a local company who read my writing and were willing to take a chance on me to do theirs. Interestingly enough I blog about business for them, funny how life goes around in circles. Now I’m a full time blogger and social media assistant and have even held discussions with my new boss about setting up our own business on the side.

My life has officially been changed. I still harbour ambitions of making documentaries, but for now the clockwatching has finally stopped and when it comes to my career I am the closest thing to happy I’ve ever been.

Every single success, I owe to blogging.

PTB

An Unusual Case Of Online Dating

I’ve already sat for ten minutes trying to decide what to call this article, but in the end I decided to call it exactly what it is. This is one of those stories you read in magazines and you think to yourself there’s no way that can possibly be true, but this one, to my surprise, is.

About 18 months ago I started a new job in Glasgow and in my training group I met an older gentleman who’d recently moved home to Scotland having lived in America since the age of 5. He was fascinatingly interesting and yet strangely peculiar, pleasant and odd all at the same time, but ultimately a decent bloke.

I came to learn he was the religious type. His views were at times outdated, even if he did always have the best of intentions. He had split from his wife some years ago, the epitome of a bitter divorce battle and yet he still spoke with such warmth and respect for women and longed only to find someone to settle down with. It sat well with me the way he spoke, a gentleman in it’s truest form even if it was a tad cringeworthy at times.

As I got to know him better however, I realized that his ‘longing’ to meet someone was verging on utter desperation. I’ve spoken at length before about desperation. It’s not a crime and it fleetingly happens to us all at some point in our lives, but desperation can be a very dangerous thing. It clouds our judgement and more often than not, leads to poor if not crazy decision-making.

A few months had passed by when he told me he’d signed up for an online dating site, no surprises there. It’s quick and easy and has become more and more commonplace than ever before. What did surprise me however, was the particular website he had singed up for. If you’re eager to meet someone and want to settle down as quickly as possible surely you’d sign up for a site that allowed you to meet people in your local area or your city or at least your country! Why on earth he had signed up for ‘RussianCupid.com’ I’ll never know. I’m convinced he’d fallen for a pop-up advert somewhere and genuinely believed Svetlana really was ‘waiting for his call’.

I asked him more about the website, I was curious as to how it all worked. It was then that his eyes instantly lit up as he told me with great enthusiasm that he’d already ‘met’ someone. He couldn’t believe his luck, a girl had messaged him within minutes of signing up, even though he hadn’t added a profile picture yet. I was mentally holding my head in my hands. He went on to tell me how lucky he’d been that she’d messaged him first because for men to make first contact it cost an extra £14.99. It was a scam in it’s purest form.

Thankfully, within a few days he realized this. Sadly though he was convinced that only this particular person wasn’t real and had decided to persist with the same website despite numerous warnings from anyone with a brain. A week later came Russian girl number two. This one less than half his age – naturally. I warned him to be careful this time, to keep in mind what had happened before, to tread with even just an ounce of caution and to recognize the usual warning signs. He didn’t – naturally.

‘Oksana’ was a nurse in the centre of Moscow who didn’t have internet access at home and so could only message him from work. She only ever messaged at the same time – 7pm, Monday to Friday. Warning sign? Of course it was. What 20 something living in a big city doesn’t have internet access? A few days later I asked how it was going and he gave me an almost breathless look of sheer joy. He stuttered for a second as he pondered where to even begin with his declaration of love for yet another fictitious Russian girl. Once again he’d been drawn in hook, line and sinker. By this point he’d become a scam artist’s wet dream.

I asked if he had any pictures, “oh I have 16 pictures” he replied in a fading American accent. Sixteen? Very specific I thought to myself. Sure enough he’d been sent a fair few pictures. What didn’t seem to alarm him however, was that every single picture was a poorly shot amateur modelling picturing. Photo after photo in fields, lying in grass, bent over a sink, on the train, at a bus stop, even in the frozen food section of a supermarket. No selfies, no photos with friends or family, just a steady stream of photos from what looked like a low budget Eastern European porn flick.

I must stress at this point I do not wish to be overly harsh on him. He was a nice guy after all, but the excruciating naivety of a man of his age was infuriating. How could he convince himself so strongly that this was real? He wouldn’t listen, no matter how many times myself or anyone else tried to tell him.

Eventually the messages dried up and he admitted his mistake. This realization was sheer relief for me, he wasn’t my responsibility but I seemed to be the only one with any persistence in trying to make him realise what he was getting himself into. His latest failed romance however, would not deter him. He was insistent that online dating was still the right path for him.

This time I was expecting him to join Match or Plenty Of Fish but no next up was ‘Christian Dating’ a site notorious for scam artists looking to capitalize on the naivety of generous Christians and sure enough more messages from Russians! Nothing against Russians, but If I were him at this point I’d be running for the hills at the sight of anything remotely Russian – unless it’s white and comes in a glass.

This one was a little more blunt, I almost respected her for it as it would save me weeks of watching him get his hopes up only to be let down again. Within two days she was asking for money to fly to Scotland and start a life together. Two days?! It seems online dating is serious business in Russia. My colleague, sadly, gave in to her request following a very creative sob story she drip fed to him over a series of late night messages. With the best of intentions, he handed over his entire three month bonus. I’d seen first-hand how hard he’d worked for that bonus. I was sad for him but also overwhelmingly disappointed – I’d warned him so many times. From this point onwards he was convinced she would be moving to Scotland. He went as far as to moving to a bigger house in preparation for her arrival and had planned to greet her at the airport in full Highland dress – honestly. As the days and weeks passed by I kept asking when she would arrive and was given the same answer for nearly two months “in two weeks”. As it turns out she had been demanding more and more money and when he refused, she stopped messaging.

I hoped this would be the final time he would fall for such schemes and thankfully it was. This wasn’t to be his final venture into the world of online dating, but at least it was the end of a pretty horrendous run. He’s the only guy I’ve ever known who’s had three successive relationships without hearing their voice or having any form of physical contact, must be a new record.

The final twist in this tale involved a Dutch woman, half a tank of petrol and a migrant crisis at Calais. One last bash at Christian Dating proved to be a bit more fruitful this time. He met a woman called Christina. They shared his religious beliefs, her love of experimental cooking and a mutual love of all things Bruce Springsteen. They talked for hours on the phone most days, not just at 7pm, Monday to Friday. After three weeks he flew to Brugges where she had been working to surprise her, not knowing that she had in fact already returned home to Amsterdam. Christina, touched by his gesture drove all the way back to Brugges with no money and half a tank of petrol to pick him up. What was supposed to be a spontaneous weekend turned into a three week holiday thanks to the ongoing ferry issues at Calais and in those three weeks it seems they both found a soulmate. It all seems a bit too much to comprehend even now, but it’s a true story nonetheless. Christina has now moved to Scotland, living in the house he’d rented for the Russian.

This is obviously an extreme story, a complete one-off. In the end it seems online romances aren’t the evil of the dating world after all, but my old colleague certainly made things difficult for himself. There are endless lessons to be learned from this story. Don’t let desperation make your decisions, don’t sign up to obscure websites, don’t date fake Russian models, don’t send strangers money and if you travel abroad to meet your new squeeze make sure you go to the right country. Ultimately though, don’t give up. You’ll find what you’re looking for – eventually.

PTB

PTB Meets Former Corrie Star Mark Moraghan

It’s not often I get the chance to speak to a housewives favourite, but it was also a pleasure to speak to a genuine entertainment all-rounder. Not only has Mark Moraghan been gracing our screens for over two decades in a number of gripping roles, he is also an accomplished musician. Recently I caught up with Mark to talk acting, music and of course dating (I had to promise myself not to ramble on about my past love of Dream Team).

Mark, you’ve played a variety of roles over a number of high profile shows over the years, what’s been your favourite?

That’s a tough one. I’ve enjoyed most TV jobs I’ve worked on. But my top 3 would be Corrie, Holby City, and Dream Team all very different but great fun.

As well as acting you’ve been heavily involved in music, was there ever a time when you had to choose one over the other?

I was in a band called Personal Column for a while when I was 17 and I had to make a choice of either investing in some percussion instruments or continue with acting. I think I made the right choice.

How did being thrust into the public eye change your every day life? Do you enjoy being recognised or do you savour the quiet life?

Being recognised is a double edged sword. Without people noticing you for your work you wouldn’t have a job to begin with, people are generally very nice and I always say thank you for watching . Very rarely you come across the odd plonker. I have an array of one liners at the ready for such occasions. I often get strange looks walking around the supermarket, which amuses me.

When you were a young actor starting out, did you ever imagine you would go on to appear in a show so pivotal to British culture like Coronation Street?

Starting out, you always hope that your career will take off, but it’s a long hard road with many highs and lows along the way. I wouldn’t want to be starting nowadays though! But I don’t regret a single day as an actor it’s given me a nice life and I’ve met lots of interesting people on my journey.

Dating and relationships these days seems to have been taken over by the world of online dating, how does this compare to when you were a teen?

I find the idea of dating on the Internet a bit tacky. It’s seems from an old farts perspective, to be about instant gratification, what happened to the thrill of the chase ? But with technology now it seems that’s the way of everything. The Internet has given us more choices and made us greedy in a sense, it eats up news, opinion etc. There is a big thirst for tomorrow’s next big thing, only for it to be forgotten in an instant. And so it goes on, if that makes sense?

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to go out and make it happen. Don’t wait for the phone to ring because it won’t. I spent a few of my early acting years treading water until a light got turned on in my head when I was around 25 years old. As they say youth is wasted on the young. If I knew then what I know now!

What are the key qualities you look for in a partner?

Loyalty, the ability to listen, affection and a great sense of humour.

Any deal-breakers?

Racism , bigotry, incessant talking and swearing too much – although I’m guilty of the latter.

Do you think our perception of love changes as we get older?

Definitely. I don’t think you fully get to grips with what love is until you’re well into your 20’s or even 30’s and it’s something you have to work hard at to maintain. I like most people have made many mistakes in that department, but thankfully I’m very happy and content with life.

You’ve had a career spanning nearly four decades, would you do it all again?

I’ve always said I will never retire. The job or ill health my retire me, but I’d do it all again in a heart beat.

PTB