PTB Meets Opera Star Lucy Kay

Lucy Kay rocketed to fame on last year’s Britain’s Got Talent with a stunning rendition of ‘Vissi D’Arte’ from the opera ‘Tosca’ by Giacomo Puccini. After finishing runner up to musical theatre boyband Collabro, Lucy went on to land a number 1 record in the UK Classical Charts with her debut album ‘Fantasia.’ Recently I caught up with Lucy to discuss life after BGT and bringing classical music to the masses.

Hi Lucy, you were thrust firmly into the public eye with a rather moving audition on Britain’s Got Talent, how has appearing on the show changed your every day life?

Since the show last year it’s been pretty hectic. I’m traveling to London almost every week for meetings, recording and traveling around performing in some of the most beautiful venues.  I was at The Royal Conservatoire of Music in Glasgow before I entered the show so I’m no longer a student and graduated literally just after the show had finished. So no more student ways and straight into performing for a living. It’s tiring and hard work but I love it.

Has being in the public eye made simple things like dating difficult at all?

I wouldn’t say it has actually, I live in Glasgow so it’s a pretty relaxed environment and I feel I can be myself with my partner and not get any hassle. It’s nice to just enjoy being normal when we head out on dates but when we are in London it’s a little harder.

Die-hard classical music lovers have been known at times to be a tad disapproving of talent show stars, how have you found their reception to your work?

Oh awful haha, as I expected really. That’s why I decided to enter a Talent show I felt that classical music has a stuffy image, it feels very elitist most of the time and I wanted to show that opera and classical music is for absolutely anyone. I certainly wasn’t brought up with a musical background – I did it because I enjoyed it. When I was at music college, I really felt like one of the odd ones who didn’t want to go the ‘proper route into music’. I didn’t want to be in full blown opera companies, I just wanted to be a commercial singer – like Katherine Jenkins for example. Some singing teachers I had were very disapproving with my decision and refused to teach me for my end of year exams – I found it all a little sad but carried on never the less. I’ve been criticised for going down that route and performing opera arias on TV, especially for singing the world famous ‘Nessun Dorma’ which is written for a male voice (Tenor) – I decided to break the rules a little and perform it. Lots of opera buffs had a lot to say about that one. But You just keep going, trying to make it more readily accessible and acceptable for people who would never really get a chance to listen to classical music had it not been for these types of talent shows.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

Hmm there are so many people I’d love to collaborate with one of them I’ve already ticked off my bucket list which was Andrea Bocelli, but I’d really love to collaborate with Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge and Killswitch Engage actually and maybe even Metallica!

Are you ever conscious of someone wanting to get close to you for being a famous face as opposed to who you are as a person?

Yeah there are a lot of people who do that and I’ve had my fair share of them trying to niggle their way in after years of no contact. Funny to see actually.

What qualities do you look for in a partner?

I know most girls always say that they look for someone who can make them laugh but I really do think that it is so important. It takes the edge off the seriousness of relationships. Don’t get me wrong I love being in a long term relationship but you have to have laughter for it to work in my eyes. I’ve been with my man for 3 years now and he makes me laugh everyday. Even when we argue or have the typical bad days he somehow always manages to make me laugh and that’s what I love. Personality is a must have! If a guy hasn’t really got a great personality there’s no point in perusing if he’s just good looking. Those are the relationships that never work. A girl just wants to feel like she can be sexy, safe and loved and that you can trust him and know that he is by your side through whatever life throws at you. I’m not asking too much here, am I?

Any dating horror stories?

I dated someone at college who was pretty much hobbit size, I’m 5″2  so pretty small myself! I had seen him around the place but I was always sat down in the cafe bar so I didn’t see much of a height difference – so  he asked me out via Facebook messenger – very modern. I accepted and when I met up with him that night I really couldn’t believe I hadn’t been aware of how short he actually was. He was incredibly sweet, good looking and ticked all the boxes. Just not the height one I’m afraid. It just felt so wrong… Sorry!

Snog, Marry, Avoid…David Walliams, Stephen Mulhern, Ant & Dec?

I would snog Ant and Dec two for the price one one there! Marry David Walliams (he can make me laugh) and avoid Stephen Mulhern I’m afraid! He’s got some crazy eyes on him.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Not to wear my heart on my sleeve so much and don’t ever feel guilty for living the life the way I want for fear of what others might say. Do things that make you happy not just to please others.

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

Oh yes I believe so – when you’re young, you mainly go for hot guys and soon you get to the point when you realise that looks really aren’t everything. The idea of love itself is a tricky one at such a young age, you find yourself believing that because you have a boyfriend you must be in love. But really what is love?? It comes in different forms I guess and it’s different for everyone. I know when I’m in love because I see no one else that can come close to what I have with my partner. He gives me stability, warmth, laughter and a deep connection I can’t really put into words.  It’s also being able to put up with someone through their bad days. Which is when I do feel sorry for David as I have my ‘bad days’ at the same time every month haha! He’s worked out what not to say and how to handle me at my worst. Now That’s love!

What’s next for Lucy Kay?

Well I’ve recently changed management and I’m now with an incredible team who are working on my next phase. I’m going to be working on more lighter classical crossover music for a second album, currently taking more dancing and acting lessons and auditioning for some big roles in the west end as it’s something I’ve always loved and wanted to do. I’ll be touring on my own in September as well as with guest appearances on Rhydian’s solo tour and G4’s reunion tour.  There’s also a big project coming up next year which is something quite different from what I normally do – I can’t say too much about at the moment but keep your eyes peeled!

PTB

How Not To Blow Your New Relationship

So often I come across people who put endless amounts of pressure on themselves to find a relationship but when they do it’s all too easy to carry that pressure into the relationship itself.

To want something so badly for so long – you could be forgiven for not knowing what to do with it now that it’s finally here.

So here is my simple guide to making a success of your new found love.

Be Yourself.

Firstly let’s get the obvious out of the way. An age old cliche but when it comes to relationships never was a truer word spoken. Have faith that who you are is enough because if it’s not then you are with the wrong person. It really is as simple as that.

Sometimes when we meet new people it’s very easy to disguise our flaws and occasionally adopt personality traits which deep down we know aren’t true to ourselves. But at the end of the day if this person really is ‘the one’ then who you are and I mean who you really are should always be enough. I’m a firm believer that there is at least one true love out there for everyone – don’t waste your time on those who don’t deserve it.

Don’t Get Ahead Of Yourself.

I admit, this can be difficult. When you meet someone you really click with enjoy it but try and stay grounded. If it’s meant to be then it will be – what’s the rush?

Talks of wedding bells and kids mere weeks into a relationship could be described as romantic but only if you’re both in the same place. Try and maintain a steady progression in the relationship don’t risk ruining things early on with signs of desperation. All these things will come in time, don’t sell yourself short with irrational expectations that will send them running for the hills.

Know What You Want.

One thing I’ve learnt from experience is to know exactly what you want from a relationship. Sometimes when we like someone enough we compromise everything we’ve ever wanted and as touching as that is it may lead to future resentment and ultimately a lifetime with the wrong person (see point one).

Have Fun.

As much as I don’t want you to blow your new relationship, I also don’t want you to stress about it. The beginning of a new relationship is one of the most incredible feelings you can experience in what can sometimes be a tough life – embrace it!

Make the most of every second. Stay positive and enjoy your new found blessing. Every single day is a new opportunity to create lifelong memories, give it a try.

Get To Know Your Partner.

Obviously you know each other to an extent otherwise you wouldn’t be a couple but I mean really get to know them. Find out what makes them tick, what makes them laugh and what makes them cry. Knowledge is power and understanding the way they work (as difficult as this sometimes is) will increase your chances of a successful relationship. Talk and be open with each other, no one ever enjoyed a closed book.

Overall, trust that you are on the right path whether it be for long-term success or for a further learning curve. Avoid over-analyzing and try to go with the flow, a relationship shouldn’t be a case study – let things flow.

If things don’t work out try not to be too downhearted. Time (and laughter) is a great healer and you just never know who else’s path is about to cross yours. When people tell you everything happens for a reason don’t doubt them or try and prove them wrong – just be patient.

PTB

PTB Meets Former TOWIE Star Pascal Craymer

International model, champion gymnast and a stint on TOWIE it’s been a busy few years for Pascal Craymer. Throw in a couple of relationships with Mario and Luigi, ahem Louis, you wonder how this girl remains so refreshingly down to earth. Recently I caught up with Pascal to discuss her taste in men, dating in the public eye and her plans for the future.

Hi Pascal you’ve led a rather exciting life from a very young age but how did you find the transition from aspiring gymnast to model and reality star?

Well my whole life was gymnastics and I never thought I would be able to make a career out of modelling. It kind of just fell into place when I moved over to Spain. I was approached to model and thought why not and it has all gone from there. I never would have thought in a million years that this is what I would be doing as a career after gymnastics. I’m very grateful to be able to do something I really love.

Your time on TOWIE firmly put you in the public eye. How did appearing on the show change your every day life?

TOWIE literally happened over night. Suddenly your life becomes not so private. Relationships become very public which can put a massive strain on things. I have a great loyal fan base that I’m truly grateful for, a lot of them have been with me from the very start and I couldn’t be more thankful for them.

You’ve dated some high profile personalities. Is it difficult to maintain a normal relationship when you’re both in the public eye?

Relationships can be difficult as it is but when they’re in the public eye it can put a massive strain on the relationship. I got a lot of messages from people claiming they were cheating etc which is difficult when you’re only just getting to know that person yourself. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve managed to keep my relationships relatively private.

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

The key qualities I look for in a man is ambition, personality and loyalty. I love a man that is ambitious and knows what he wants. Personality is a must! Someone who can make me laugh and has great conversation. I get bored easy so I like someone to keep me on my toes. Loyalty is also a must, who doesn’t want a loyal man! I also like a man’s man. No sunbeds! No fake tanning! No plucking!!! And it really puts me off when they take selfies.

What would be your perfect first date?

Everyone likes being wined and dined! Good food, nice wine and great company is perfect for me.

Worst Date?

I’ve not really had a bad date but I hate the awkward goodbyes! If they lean in for a kiss and you’re not feeling it and you have to dodge it with a kiss, awkward!

Any strange requests from fans?

I get proposed to a lot! Might need to accept one soon!

Teen Crush?

Oooh I had a few! Peter Andre being one of course! Mysterious girl!

What advice would you give to women out there looking for Mr Right?

Stop looking! The minute you stop looking someone comes along!

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

Yes massively. Well in my case yes. I believe as you get older you become wiser and learn a lot about yourself. Based on this I believe our perception of love changes because as you get to know yourself you begin to realise what type of person it is you will fall in love with.

What’s next for Pascal Craymer?

First and foremost I am sticking by my gymnastics past and my fitness which I seem to be becoming a bit of a role model for. I can’t really talk about any projects yet but there are some exciting things in the mix. I’ve never really followed the rules in terms of plans with my future and my work as I believe living in the moment is the best way to be!

Follow Pascal on Twitter: @pascalcraymer

PTB Meets Jethro Sheeran

Some things run in the family. It’s a tough task sharing a name with your global superstar cousin but Jethro ‘Alonestar’ Sheeran has built a worldwide reputation of his own – credible artist, writer, producer and of course doting Dad. Personally, I have great respect for just about any type of musician, whether you’re the busker on the street corner or the chart-topping pro it takes grit and determination to follow a dream of any kind and Alonestar is the perfect example of this. But as much as I love music, today I caught up with Jethro to talk about dating, relationships and well groupies (I had to ask).

As a dedicated musician do you find it hard to juggle your career and relationships?

Yes it’s very hard being away a lot, especially working weekends and late nights in the studio it does put a strain on your relationship at times. Also, when you’re gigging or travelling there’s a lot of trust issues so you have to make your partner feel secure.

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

Trust and loyalty, being supportive of my career and total honesty between us.

Any deal-breakers?

If my partner cannot accept my daughter Skyla Rain Sheeran.

Are groupies a thing of the past in music or do you still find the usual cluster of people hanging around?

There’s always groupies around when it comes to musicians but for the most part they don’t know you as a person at all. They just see you walk off stage after a performance and jump at you, I think it’s weird. I’ve been in a club before a performance and seen a beautiful girl who didn’t bat an eyelid at me but when I performed she was right at the front staring at me and afterwards asked to buy me a drink. I accepted but thought she was a little fake.

Online dating: curse or convenience?

Online dating is awesome I think, for everyone. It’s like an online night club without the bullshit of dressing up, dancing, drinking, catching her eye then having the courage to chat her up. On dating sites your pictures represent who you are which can be both a good and a bad thing, but if we’re honest we need that initial attraction so we shouldn’t see it as a bad thing if we end up scrolling through until we find someone we like. A lot of my friends have met their wives online so I think it’s a great thing especially if you’re working hard and don’t get out much.

Any strange fan mail?

I’ve had lots of fan mail, mostly really cool letters about how my music has helped people get through some hard times in their life but also a few odd things. One time a girl threw a sex toy with her number attached to it on stage and my singer picked it up and kept it. Her face was priceless and she was frantically pointing that it was for me, was funny.

Looks Vs Personality?

For me it has to be both.

Teen Crush?

My teen crush was wonder woman.

Does our perception of love change as we get older?

I think so. My first love was so passionate, we were obsessed with each other, the love we felt was so powerful. I think it still does feel strong but you also put barriers up to protect your heart especially if you’ve been really hurt before. You also start looking for a relationship with someone you really trust where you can let the love grow and have mutual respect for one another as opposed to someone you are besotted with but they don’t treat you right and cheat or whatever. You yearn for them and it hurts – I’m not sure if that’s real love or infatuation.

Download Alonestar’s work at Jethrosheeran.com or on itunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/real-life-feat.-ed-sheeran/id940742964#

Twitter: @alonestar1

Office Romances: Is It Worth It?

The office can be a fascinating place. The politics, the flings, the teacher’s pets, the endless gossip, the lack of common sense of those in authority. The global success of the TV show itself proves firsthand the endless entertainment provided by office dynamics. But if truth be told, we really need look no further than our own workplaces for something to talk about it. In my own experience, nothing gets people talking like an office romance.

As a writer the office is a great place to find inspiration. Sometimes it’s good to just sit back and watch. If you take away the menial tasks being performed by workers then what exactly is an office?  In my opinion a social hub – filled with friendships, hatreds and of course physical attractions. How many scandals have you heard in your time emanating from the traditionally wild office Christmas party? Exactly. Twelve months of secret crushes, flirtations and sheer lust flooding out in one alcohol fuelled evening.

If we look at the idea of convenience well sometimes it is simply that – convenient. An office caters for just about every type of person on the social spectrum. Take your average call centre for example – dozens maybe hundreds of young single men and women. Relationships, trysts, flings whatever you want to label them they’re bound to happen in such a testosterone filled environment. In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s quite possibly the easiest way to meet someone outside of online dating. However, physically meeting someone isn’t really the issue – it’s the aftermath.

What happens if or when it all goes pear-shaped? I find it difficult at times to promote the idea of a workplace romance because personally I’ve seen so many bad outcomes but that’s certainly not to take anything away from the success stories out there nor should it deter anyone from trying, after all what’s meant to be will be. The harsh realities however are difficult to ignore. Break-ups are tough at the best of times but imagine having to work with your ex every single day. What’s one of the toughest things about a break-up? Getting over them. How can we possibly expect to get over someone when we have to look at them through the little gap in two computers all day? Think of all the games that come hand in hand with the situation as well; making each other jealous, flirting with other people. Life is way too short to have to put up with such things. In my time working in offices I’ve seen everything from the most awful of break-ups to demoralized teams to disciplinary proceedings to people having to leave their jobs. All as a result of office romances. But on the flip-side maybe it’s just the price we pay to find love? Nothing wrong with taking a risk once in a while.

All in all I’m not a great advocate of office romances but neither am I an advocate of pessimism when it comes to finding love. If you like someone at work just go for it! Why let something you actually have in common deter you from potentially finding the one? Let’s be honest we all rule with our hearts when it comes to love anyway so why don’t we all just seize the day and deal with the consequences later. You will always hear stories good and bad whether it’s from me, your parents, friends or even your boss but we only ever truly learn from our own decisions, our own mistakes, our own happiness’s. Just live, it’s your life. There’ll be other jobs.

PTB

PTB Meets Gail Porter

Any time I grab the chance to speak to a household name, I prefer speaking to those with character and life experience. After all, what can we really learn from the squeaky clean? Twelve years ago I sat in the audience of a now defunct celebrity game-show. An adolescent sixteen year old I gazed at a real-life FHM model sitting happily alongside one Mark Owen – quietly confident that I would soon be the envy of all my friends. Today as a real-life grown up I look beyond the cover shoots of old to have an even greater respect for this TV presenter, writer, documentary-maker and of course doting Mum. Recently I caught up with fellow Scot Gail Porter for a brief chat about life, love and dating.

Hi Gail, you first came to our attention in the mid-90s. How did your everyday life change once cast into the public eye?

My everyday life changed in the fact that I went from a wee girl from Edinburgh who would plod around unnoticed, then suddenly strangers would come up to me in the street to talk to me. I love a chat, so that wasn’t a problem. Paparazzi scared me though. I never like dressing up and I hate makeup and suddenly I was having my picture taken wandering out of Budgens. I never understood what was interesting about my shopping habits.

Was there a time when dating had to take a backseat in order to pursue your career or was it easy enough to juggle the two?

I was not a big dater. If it happened, it happened. To tell you the truth I loved working and dating was not a big concern of mine.

Were you ever concerned that guys might be interested in you purely for your celebrity status as opposed to who you are as a person?

I guess I am quite naive. I always believed that if someone wanted to take me out it would be for myself as a person, not my job. Unfortunately I was proved wrong on quite a few occasions.

Any odd requests from fans?

I have been sent a request to send a picture of myself naked with whatever cereal I had for breakfast covering my lady parts!

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Any dating horror stories?

The worst date was with a guy who wanted to sing to me over dinner. Awkward…and he had a shit voice and loved Mariah Carey.

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Teen Crush?

My teen crush was Nick Kershaw. I think it was a height thing.

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What advice would you give to young women looking for Mr Right?

No advice to give. Single and 43, say no more!

What do you look for in the ideal partner?

My ideal partner would have to be breathing. Oh…and funny!

Any deal-breakers?

Ignorance and shit shoes.

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

Love is love. I haven’t found it but I won’t stop looking.

@paulthomasbell

@gailporter

Why Do We Cheat?

Cheating seems to have become more common than ever before. Not for everyone of course but in recent times it seems to be ever so slightly embedded in modern day culture. So why do we cheat? I once worked with someone who told me he loved his girlfriend with all his heart but sex was sex. His explanation was that sex was simply a meaningless act and that the occasional misdemeanour would never compromise his feelings for his girlfriend. I found his outlook fascinating but extremely concerning. I could never condone cheating, but I do acknowledge that things aren’t always as cut and dry as they seem. To find out more I decided to hear from a few guilty but refreshingly honest parties.

Scott, 26, Cardiff….

I and my partner met on a night out at university, we messed about a lot for around a year before we decided to ‘officially’ get together. We had a good relationship for about six months or so until my partner got suspicious whenever I did literally anything without her, whether it was going out with friends or even just wanting to study on my own for a bit. Her attitude eventually led me to cheat on her. Unfortunately I had developed the attitude of ‘if you’re going to accuse me of doing stuff behind your back I may as well just do it’. After another five months or so the relationship eventually broke down completely. Once the relationship started to go downhill I cheated on three separate occasions and as far as I’m aware she never found out. I feel bad about it looking back but at the same time the relationship had started to deteriorate before that point and I knew it wasn’t going to last.

Emilia, 31, London….

We had started off as really close friends, then he left his girlfriend for me. It was a summer romance that just kept on going. We both grew as people but in very different ways which ultimately led to us growing apart. He became very manipulative and to be honest just a bit twisted. We fought a lot, fault on both sides, then one evening he hit me and things got steadily worse. He bailed on me on New Year’s Eve, I got drunk and slept with a guy from work.

We broke up a few months later because the trust issues that were already present had only got worse. I had realized just how easy it was to cheat on someone without them finding out so in the most peculiar way my own infidelity had made me not trust him. Crazy I know. But I don’t think cheating is as black and white as people make it out to be. The person who got cheated on isn’t always in the right, even if the cheater is always in the wrong.

He never found out about my actions but I never found out if he had cheated on me either and I strongly suspect he did. People told me he had but they weren’t exactly my biggest fans so I took it with a pinch of salt. Oddly enough, no matter how much I hated him for the things he had done to me, I had never wanted to throw it in his face.

Ben, 37, Manchester….

I was with my girlfriend for about 4 years. She was perfect on paper: gorgeous, kind-hearted, funny, loving, pretty much everything a man could ask for. Looking further ahead I also knew she would make an amazing wife and an even better mother. But for the longest time I always felt something was missing. We worked well together but there wasn’t that spark, that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you just couldn’t live without them. It was a ‘nice’ relationship but I craved ‘spectacular’. I loved her but was I ‘in’ love with her? I still don’t know, but then maybe that just means no? I found my eye wandering on several occasions. I wasn’t proud of it and I didn’t tell a single person but I felt like I had to spend time with someone else to truly know how I felt about my girlfriend. If I’m honest it didn’t help, I wasn’t really getting that spark with anyone so maybe it was me that was the problem? I can’t excuse my actions in any way I realize it’s not acceptable to treat someone like this, especially a ‘good’ person but I’d spent so long lost in confusion that I desperately needed some answers. I still haven’t found them.

So there you have it three very different reasons for cheating: boredom, abuse and indecision. It’s not for me to judge what’s right and what’s wrong but I do believe in hearing both sides of the story before we do. Could we handle these situations better? Of course we could, but nobody’s perfect.

Tell me your story.

PTB

Follow me on twitter: @paulthomasbell

24 Hours On Tinder

Many of you will know that I’m not the biggest fan of online dating. I’d describe myself as sceptical but open-minded. I’ve known so many people let down by the online process – conversations which held much promise quickly turning to bitter disappointment and regret. That being said there are many online success stories so regardless of my opinions of the online game; I fully accept its place within 21st century dating. So with this in mind I decided to try Tinder. I say try but I really just mean see what it’s all about. The growing popularity of the Tinder app has been rather astounding, in fact many people now have it in the same way they would have any other app irrespective of what if anything they are looking for. So in 24 hours here’s what I discovered:

1. Girls love baths. Tinder has introduced a new ‘moment’ feature simply allowing you to post a temporary picture with a message. Remember all those beach photos in the summer: legs or hot dogs? Well be prepared for lots of these except in the bath. They are of course legs this time I might add, no hot dogs in the bath – I hope.

2. Guys seem to (mostly) only want one thing. This doesn’t go for every guy of course but one of the most common complaints from girls was the vast amount of dirty messages being sent to them. It seems ‘would you like to see my penis’ has replaced the popular greeting known as ‘hello’ for many men. This is a similar complaint that I’d heard a while back from the women of plentyoffish.com so I was a tad disappointed to find a similar trend on Tinder. If you are only after a casual relationship there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but there’s ways of going about. I countered this with a ‘moment’ of my own: “Post dogs not d*cks” accompanied by a picture of my beloved Cocker Spaniel. The girls loved it, probably out of relief more than anything.

3. EVERYONE loves a selfie. The world has officially gone selfie mad. What more can I say?

4. Some people really are just lonely. This isn’t a criticism of course I genuinely felt a bit sad realizing this. There were girls posting their phone number publicly meaning just about anyone would have access to it, I found this slightly alarming. I decided to investigate this a little bit more and engaged in a few different conversations. It was incredible how each of these conversations took the exact same turn. It started with ‘oh I’m just bored’ but then slowly as they began to open up a sea of confidence and anxiety issues are revealed. I’ve written about this in some depth in the past, I wish people could see the good in themselves sometimes but easier said than done I know. They may not be who they want to be yet but that doesn’t mean they’re not a great person. I always say for every person who spurns you there are twenty others who would kill to be with you.

5. Looks are everything. Well at least on Tinder anyway. It’s incredible how often you hear people saying ‘looks aren’t everything’ and I agree looks may spark initial interest but it’s personality that determines the longevity of a relationship. On Tinder however that all goes out the window. It’s fascinating really and perhaps even a little bit of an ego boost but it’s incredible to see how quickly our every day rationality simply disappears.

So Tinder, I’m not yet convinced. I’m not sure Tinder quite knows what it is yet? I speak to so many people looking for love but I don’t think Tinder is the answer nor does it seem like a particularly good ‘hook-up’ site, in fact the mere suggestion of it is met with a barrage of hostility – but like I say there are ways of wording your intentions and it doesn’t begin with ‘do you wanna see…’ All just my opinion of course, I’ll let you make your own mind up.

Happy Dating

PTB

A Thank You To My Readers

As we start the countdown to 2015 I wanted to write a quick post with one very important message – thank you. For me 2014 has been a year of extreme highs and heartbreaking lows but my new found love of writing and the support of my readers has been by far my greatest highlight.

I began the year in a far away land, Australia to be precise. I’d moved out there feeling rather lost but delighted to once again be surrounded by the incredible friends I had made on my travels to
America. Going to Australia was one of the scariest things I’d ever done. I’d walked out on my job, packed a bag and flown to Oz via stops in Istanbul and Bangkok. When you do something like that it’s difficult to know if you’ve done the right thing. Abandoning every possible form of stability in search of an adventure. Some people thought I was crazy and maybe I was a little bit but no regrets, I had my reasons. There were days when it made my stomach turn wondering if I’d done the right thing but the following weeks of exhilaration, endless Melbourne sunsets and the manner in which new and old friends adopted me as an honorary Aussie, more than dispelled those fleeting moments of doubt.

When I returned home I was even more lost than before I left. I’d spent so long depressed in my bed (about three weeks to be exact) that I’d almost caused an intervention with my family – funny but true. This is one of the major pitfalls of travel – unbelievable highs to the inevitable ‘what now?’ This is when I discovered blogging. Not exactly a return to stability but a step in the right direction, in fact I was enjoying it so much I was reluctant to find a new job. Not many of my readers will know this but my blog was originally an ‘experimental food’ blog – it lasted approximately 3 hours. I realized the key to blogging was writing about something you are truly passionate about or at the very least something you have a little bit of knowledge about. Experimental food? Must have been the jet-lag.

When I started writing I was astounded by the feedback I was getting, it’s a wonderful feeling to know people can relate and genuinely benefit from your stories. The emails and messages I get from people unlucky in love and young writers starting out looking for advice leaves me completely blown away and incredibly thankful. It’s a real privilege to know your opinion can make a difference to someone’s life. Five months and 30,000 readers later I simply want to say thank you, to each and every person who took the time to like, read and comment on my posts, it genuinely means the world to me. I’m so happy to have discovered the blogging community and long may it continue.

Wishing every single one of you an incredible year ahead.

With Love

PTB

Deciding What You Want

The older we get the more we begin to analyze what we really want in life, at least in my experience. The years of experimentation fade away and we start to consider our decisions with our heads firmly screwed on, perhaps for the very first time. Naturally I believe this applies to relationships just as much as anything else in life. Those three month non-starters and dead-end flings are no longer good enough and more than ever before we ask ourselves – what do I actually want?

I don’t really believe in compromise when it comes to relationships. By this I mean our specific choice of partner. You only live once, what could be worse than a life spent with the wrong person? There’s nothing selfish about being picky – it’s your life after all. If you fear the idea of settling for convenience or choosing the person that suits your family or someone else’s expectations then you’re doing it wrong. Ultimately it only has to suit you. Relationships of convenience are a curse in my opinion, I compare it to jobs I’ve had in the past. Steady, comfortable, and nice but completely unremarkable. The ever wonderful Sheldon Cooper once said “Howard is perfectly justified in seeking out the optimum mate for the propagation of his genetic line.” In human terms quite simply – aim high.

I would never of course try to determine who is the best kind of partner. For some it might be the person with the best job or the flashiest car. Me? I just want a good spoon and some Netflix but everyone is different. One of my readers messaged me recently asking for advice, something which I am continuously flattered by. I always say if my writing helps even one person then it was worthwhile doing. For this guy, years of being single were taking it’s toll. Online dating, speed dating, blind dates, being set up by friends – every attempt as fruitless as the next. I spent so much time trying to convince this person of his qualities. ‘Convince’ him – I find that so sad. We all have flaws but we should never shy away from acknowledging our qualities, even if it’s just privately to ourselves. After all, we should be proud of these traits it’s what makes us good people. To listen to such a genuine person be so self-critical was genuinely quite upsetting, particularly as I know that for every person to ever reject him there are fifty women out there who would kill to be with him. Trying to convince him of this was another story. I tried to make him see that he had just as many qualities as any other guy out there he just needed to believe it and find the right person to appreciate and acknowledge those qualities. I know it will happen for him sooner or later, even if he doesn’t.

I remember being 19. For the first time I found myself dating someone who I knew (on paper) was way out of my league. With regret I changed for her, I would’ve been anything she wanted me to be. Naturally we grow as people and learn from experience but I can’t help but cringe at the thought of doing that for someone even if I was only 19. Who we are as people is the one permanent fixture we will always have in life until the very day we die, don’t compromise it for the wrong people. No one is worth that. I remember being so lost in this facade of being someone I wasn’t that I would just freeze mid-conversation, not knowing what to do or what to say. What a horrible feeling. To completely lose sight of who you are through your pathetic desperation to be someone else. It was like losing the very foundations of the person I was and who I was brought up to be. I had become nothing and all to impress a girl. Back then I was just a lost teenager but I still see grown adults doing this every single day. If this is you I urge you to stop, take a step back, think about your relationship. Do you really want to live your life like this? Acting?

Be yourself, have faith, have hope, have confidence, recognize your talents, your qualities, even the gap in your two front teeth. Not everyone will appreciate these things but someone, somewhere – will. That I promise. As for me, ten years later have I learnt my lesson? Well, someone tried to make me give up writing. I politely declined With Much Love,

PTB

Twitter:@paulthomasbell

PTB Meets Former X-Factor Star Laura White

As X-Factor reaches the closing weeks of this years competition I decided to catch up with one of my all-time favourite contestants. “By any standard I have ever heard that was incredible” love him or hate him when music mogul Simon Cowell hits you with comments like this then you know you’ve got a little something special. In 2008, Wigan girl Laura White captivated British audiences with her expresive, soulful tones and such a shock was her week 5 elimination that it even sparked an Ofcom investigation. Recently I spoke to Laura about life post X-Factor and of course dating and relationships.

Hi Laura, you first came to our attention in one of the most notable seasons in X-factor history spawning the likes of Alexandra Burke, Diana Vickers and JLS. How did appearing on the show affect your day to day life?

I was a working artist and musician before the X-Factor and had written songs, gigged, really worked hard in getting my music out there for years before, but I still found the show to be a big change to my life. It made the UK who have been amazing to me  immediately know everything about me and my music. Being quite a shy girl to start with was crazy at first to deal with but I was just so grateful for the fact that they listened to me and loved my music so much.

There is often a rather unfair stigma attached to being a talent show contestant, is the X-Factor label something you’re proud of or something you would rather shake off?

Some people may say there is a stigma attached but I think every case is different. If u go on the show and end up in theLW finals but have no talent the UK still won’t be fooled you know? In the same sense I am proud to say every decision I’ve made in my music career has been for the music and still is something I feel proud of. I feel even on the show, creatively, I picked my songs and music so I’m proud of the show being a stepping stone in my music life. I worked independently after the show with my fans touring, gigging, writing non-stop day and night we did it alone! The EP was number 1 in the singer/songwriter charts in November and these moments of tirelessly never stopping and believing feel even more amazing when it’s an independent music release.

How did being in the public eye affect your relationships? Were you ever concerned people would approach you because of your new found fame as opposed to who you are as a person?

I think for me I’m a private person so this was tough too be honest. You meet a lot of people along the way. You have to be tough-skinned as people talk no matter what you do, it’s tough and yes I think after becoming a person known to the UK it’s often tough in meeting someone who understands that and doesn’t feel threatened. It’s crazy though I’ve been out with people with similar careers and it doesn’t bother me, I think it’s all about being comfortable in yourself. No one in life is perfect everyone makes mistakes I’ve been out with some great guys and out with some awful guys but every single one of them has made me wiser and stronger

Any dating horror stories?

Worst ever date was probably just turning up and not being into a guy. I’m still like hey and cool about it but it’s terrible if you are thinking how do I get away and not have to kiss this guy.

Ever had any strange requests from fans?

This guy came to every gig with toys for me!! Craziness!! Some guys message me really rude things and ask me to send them pics thinking I will!! So funny though!! 

LW2Who was your teen crush?

My teen crush was defo Shane from Westlife, I met all of them except Shane and I still think I would die if I met him!

What do you look for in a guy?

I look for a good heart, caring, trustworthy, funny, ambitious and someone who I’m attracted too and I guess someone positive who supports me in every part of me. Also I love a guy who is romantic! 

Any deal-breakers?

I can’t date someone arrogant, not good-hearted and someone I just wasn’t attracted to too be honest. It’s not about looks it’s about feeling them you know? And lazy I don’t like lazy guys!

What’s your idea of the perfect first date?

A night of dancing. I love to dance, I love a cocktail and kisses in some crazy place where no one would see us, a beautiful moment. If I’m into a guy I’ll happily stay out until 7am with them. Dancing only though. 

What advice would you give young women out there looking for Mr Right?

My advice for them is to be happy in themselves. No girl needs a guy. Never settle, you really only live once and you deserve to live the life you’ve dreamed of.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you when it comes to men?

Best advice I’ve ever been given is to never text a guy first when you meet him Boys love a chase girls! 

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

Yes. We get wiser and we know what we want more. We know ourselves more, we know what we need and I think the older we get the better love gets. Love should be respected and looked after like a gift.

You’re still only 27. What’s next for Laura White?

I will be releasing my debut album through my management, Climax and Island Records. My song ‘To Be Loved got picked up by Radio One so it’s all progression. Working and meeting the fans, getting the music out to as many places as possible u know? My dream is to win a Grammy for my songs as I write all of my own music and for the world to hear my songs and to heal others in the way the songs heal me. When people come to my shows I love to see them having fun, forgetting their problems, dancing on tables and telling their hot dates for the night that they are into them when they hear ‘To Be Loved’. I just want girls and guys to love who they are and accept themselves like my music made me accept who I am.

What My Father Taught Me

Some of you will know that my Dad passed away suddenly, two weeks ago today. It’s moments like this that we never ever forget in life and for so many different reasons. As a writer I couldn’t not write about this and as a son I couldn’t not share a little bit about the man who had such a profound influence on my life – more so than I had ever realised.

My Dad was 78. We almost hesitate to tell people this because his age didn’t give a true reflection of the person he was. Often when we read that someone elderly has passed away we tend to think “oh ok they lived a good life,” but in his case age truly was just a number. He was so full of life, so funny, still so handsome and just as cheeky as I imagine he was when only a young boy. It pains me to say it, but he wasn’t ready to go. For now though I’ll put that to one side because if there’s one thing my Dad wouldn’t have wanted, it’s me depressing you all with some morbid post about death!

He was a joker. Anyone who has ever worked with me knows I’m a bit of a prankster and love a good joke and anyone who has ever worked with my Dad knows exactly where I get it from. His humour was his most endearing quality. It’s also been a bit of a saving grace for us over the last couple of weeks. To find ourselves hysterically laughing at a time like this seems rather strange, but it’s proving to be the mark that he has left on all of us. A few years back my Dad was hospitalised with pneumonia and one evening when we went to visit him, his bed was lying empty. We looked at each other confused as to where he was as we all know what an empty bed can mean in a hospital. Moments later we noticed his feet popping out from behind a chair at the back of the room, he was crouched down hiding, waiting to jump out and scare us. It made me smile then and I’m smiling now as I write this three years on.

Humour isn’t the only thing I’ll take away from him. As you’ll all know my writing is centred around the subjects of dating, relationships and I guess to some extent, love. I never claim to be an expert on any of these subjects, because I believe that every single on of us are experts in our own way through life experience. But it isn’t always our own experiences that we learn from. My Dad was hilarious, but he was also grumpy and annoying at times and like all of us had many flaws. But at the end of the day when I reflect on the things that really matter, he would’ve done anything for anyone, he doted on all of us. The way he felt about my Mum and the way he looked after her set an example to any husband. My Dad had lived a long life before our little family and would be the first to admit that he made many mistakes over the years, but I believe from the bottom of my heart that he learned from all of them and in the end he lived for us. When I look back now, I can proudly say that he was always there for us – always.

My Dad never asked for much just a newspaper on my way home from work and a quick chat at the end of the day – I only wish I’d done it more often. It’s so sad to think that our parents won’t be around forever but whilst they still are; talk to them, hug them and make sure they know just how much they mean to you. I guess that goes for all of our loved ones as well. As for me, I will remember the good times and I will laugh and I will write through the pain and then I’ll laugh some more. He wouldn’t have had it any other way.

In Loving Memory of Thomas Cox

PTB

PTB Meets Singer/Songwriter Ben Harvey

Ben Harvey made me late for work. Every morning I jump on the bus, put my headphones in and zone out for the brief 25 minutes of peace I get before reaching my desk. You know that way when you’re browsing through iTunes and you look up one artist and it starts making recommendations and you end up looking at another and another and another? Well that’s what happened on this particular morning and as I found myself lost in blissful contentment I realized I’d missed my stop and not by one or two – I wasn’t actually sure where I was. I’d been listening to ‘turn off the light’ by Ben Harvey. Recently I caught up with Ben to find out more about a talent that wouldn’t look out of place alongside acoustic heavyweights like Ben Howard and Benjamin Leftwich Francis (what is it with the name Ben?) and of course – talk about girls.

Hi Ben, how has your success so far affected your day to day life? Do you enjoy being recognized or do you prefer to keep your head down?  To be fair, it hasn’t affected my everyday life. I still work to support my music and to do what I do at the moment and once in a blue moon someone will recognize me and to be honest, its actually quite nice! It’s always nice when someone pays you a compliment when you don’t expect it.

photo 3 (2)How does girlfriend Paris react to seeing you on stage? Paris is great! She’s been really supportive and understanding of my music! She loves coming to the shows and enjoys the whole ‘music Life’ with me. I’m sure by now she must be bored of seeing me play as she’s seen me quite a lot! 

Has there ever been a time when your relationships have suffered as a result of pursuing music or is it easy enough to find the right balance? I wouldn’t say ‘suffered’ but there have been times with a few past partners where they may not have liked the attention I was getting on and off stage. It’s never really been a huge problem though.

Have you ever received any odd requests from fans? Haha actually nothing really strange to be honest! I wish I had something ridiculous to tell you but I honestly don’t! 

Are groupies becoming a thing of the past or do you still see a few sights backstage involving other acts? I have seen a couple of backstage things before but never at my own shows! I’m an acoustic singer songwriter so the shows I play are quite tame and chilled! I haven’t seen it much in my career but I’m well aware it does happen and it probably will for a very long time in the music industry.

What do you look for in a girlfriend? Laughter, honesty, patience, someone easy going, and someone with a big heart! I love to laugh and I think that’s one of the main attractions I had for Paris. We’re both very similar and I think that’s why we get on so great. Shes everything I want and more in a girlfriend.  

Any deal-breakers? As I said before I love to laugh and if you really don’t have a sense of humor and you’re afraid to laugh at yourself then that’s a big turn off for me. Jealousy and arrogance really doesn’t do it for me either plus bad hygiene.

What did you and Paris do on your first date? Me and Paris had been talking for a few weeks online. I met her on Twitter when she decided to use my music in one of her beauty videos. Then one day I said I was going to be in London for a live video shoot with Fortitude photo 2 (3)Magazine and why not come down. We met at Waterloo Station and I did the video, then after that we spent the day together. We went to Ripley’s Museum then got some food, had a few drinks and got to know each other some more. We got on great, I really wanted to see her again so I said to her that I was going to see Lewis Watson live in a couple of weeks and would she like to come. It’s honestly one of the best dates I’ve ever had.

Who was your teen crush? Wow, this is going back! I had a mad crush on Rihanna when she did the ‘Umbrella’ video – to be fair still do now.

Do you think our perception of love changes as we get older? Definitely! Maybe ask me in a few more years as to what I think and I’ll give you more of an elaborate answer. Love is shared and viewed in so many different ways and it definitely changes as we get older.

Lastly being a big fan myself could I be in one of your music videos? Yeah? Good I’m glad that’s settled. Haha Of course! Why’d you even ask? I’ll let you know on the time and place of when we start shooting. We’ll give you the lead dance part! Sound good?

Follow Ben on Twitter @BenHarveyMusic and download the awesome EP ‘#TWO’ available on iTunes now.