My night speed dating

 

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Because I am an extremely adventurous single person, I decided that I would try speed dating last Friday. Maybe, just maybe, the man of my dreams would pay £20 to meet me, I convinced myself.

The event took place at a bar in Mayfair, giving me hope that it would be full of millionaires ready to talk to whisk me off to a life of diamonds and sustainable fishing. But the venue was actually more like that bar in Eastenders – Sharon’s Den, or whatever it’s called now (is Sharon even still alive?!)

Arriving at the venue, we were not so much greeted, but ignored by the organiser – a grumpy bloke in a t-shirt who boasted that speed dating “never started on time”. He wore a whistle and marched around the venue blowing it. Aside from being quite startling, this made me realise that I have never liked anyone with a whistle.

I won’t lie – the speed dating set up is very manageable if you’re a woman. You sit on a chair while men come around and try and impress you, each of whom have varying levels of sweat on their hand. The dates lasted four minutes, after which the grumpy bloke would blow the aforementioned whistle. Sometimes he went a bit psycho if you didn’t pay attention, which rarely I did – distracted by conversations about swimming and plumbing, among other things.

Speed dating has A LOT of rules. For instance, you can’t get drunk or talk about controversial topics, which is mission for me because I use Brexit as a litmus test for a man’s testosterone levels.

The rule list also said DON’T LIE. I’m terrible at lying anyway, so that wasn’t a big problem. Apart from when my dates asked me if I would write about the evening (because I am a journalist). One even checked in case I had a spy camera. I said I would only write about speed dating if it went badly.

Not that it did go badly, but it wasn’t great either. For starters, four minutes is actually really quick, however painfully slow that Madonna song featuring Justin Timberlake is. It’s not enough time to eat a baguette, let alone digest a person, and no sooner was each date over than I had to decide whether I wanted second course – or just to be friends. Mostly I didn’t even want the aperitif.

Ultimately speed dating made me feel sad! There were some really nice men there – and women – but it all felt a bit like being the last Ferrero Rocher in the packet. I would only do it again on the condition it was longer – a la Long Dating – or had a great mixture of Ferrero Rocher. Maybe what I’m really saying is I want Cadbury’s Heroes.

But overall, it was a fun evening. Afterwards we went out in Soho, resulting in the worst hangover of my life, that meant I spent the next day vomiting and wondering whether to call 999 (can you kill yourself vomiting?). All of this reinforced the fact I need to stop clubbing, find a husband and settle down. Just not through speed dating.

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A review of cold medicines

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Last Sunday I went up to my brother’s university and managed to contract a TERRIBLE cold. I think I have Fresher’s Flu, although I did return home via a horrible service station, so I could also have Service Station Flu. And I also stroked a really slutty cat at a hotel, so I may even have CAT FLU.

The point is that I’m really sniffly and everyone should feel sorry for me. This is about my millionth cold in the last few months, making my cyberchondria spiral out of control (“can you die from sniffing?” Google, Google, Google). My Mum says it’s because I’ll probably live, but I still feel scared!

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what the point of this blog is. Well I was so bored recovering from cat flu that I decided to do something productive. That is, write a review of sniffle recovery products. I got the idea after my parents bought me A LOT of them, showing me what love really is. I feel a bit like one of those Youtube stars who receives loads of free beauty samples. Only I am Sniff-Ella. It was very lovely of them, just look!

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1.Benylin Tickly Coughs

I knew I first had cat flu when my throat started feeling tickly. Tickles are just the worst, aren’t they, whether they’re in your throat, on your foot, or somewhere else.

Luckily I had some Tickly Cough next to my bed. I thought that it held all the answers to my dreams of health, until I realised that it doesn’t actually work, and my throat was STILL tickly after swigging it. As if that isn’t bad enough, it’s really sugary and I don’t even think Fitbit allows you to log it in. So I’ve definitely gained about 1,000 calories for nothing.

4/10 stars.

2. Robitussin Chesty Cough

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As cat flu took hold, I moved onto Chesty Cough. What I love is its discrete packaging. As you will see later, some cold products are really obvious about the fact you have a cough, but Chesty Cough just makes it look as if you’re having a moment of religious awakening. In your chest!

AND it’s sugar free, so you don’t even feel fat – like you would with tickly cough.

7/10 stars.

3. Sterimar (nasal spray)

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The first thing I noticed about this is that it has a dolphin picture on it, which should have raised the alarm bells for what was to come. My Dad bought this for me and was extremely insistent that I used it. “Have you sprayed your nose?” He asked me every few hours. Increasingly, the words filled me with terror.

The thing is absolutely massive and you really need big nostrils for it, which I don’t have (I don’t think). Sterimar even asks you to do a “test” spray before dissemination. I did this in my bathroom and it was honestly as if Free Willy had done a backflip. Then I had to spray my nostrils and, my gosh, I can only just about see again.

STILL, I won’t lie. It did make my cold better.

8/10 stars.

4. Mucus Cough

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THIS is what I mean about the importance of discrete packaging for medicine. After all, who wants to go to the chemist counter to buy something that says “Mucus” on it?! Not me, that’s for sure. And it’s also coloured green. I think this is a disastrous design choice. I don’t see Imodium tablets being coloured BROWN.

But for all of its packaging failures, Mucus Cough was great. It was kind of like being bashed over the head. Just one drop and I slept for hours.

9/10

5. SIDNEY

Okay this is a bit of a cop out, but my dog ACTUALLY helped with my recovery. Just look at him, he is so cute and never left my side throughout cat flu. If Sidders could speak, I’m sure he’d say “keep calm and carry on”. Or “give me lunch”. But anyway, just his sweet little face is a drug in itself.

10/10

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David Beckham: the victim of cyberbullying, above all else

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Smiley, simpering David Beckham has a dark side. At least, that’s what 18.6 million emails and documents seem to suggest, leaked about the star in a scandal dubbed “Beckileaks”. They reveal a man who kicked off after being snubbed from 2014’s Honours List, and called Katherine Jenkins a “F***ing joke”.

All of this has thrown Brand Beckham into disarray, as its PR representatives try to cover the cracks. Journalists, of course, are having a great time – many of whom are sick to death of covering Donald Trump and now have more information than they know what to do with. Beckileaks is the perfect tale of downfall, all the more tasty given the Beckham’s previously pristine image. “Now we know the tawdry reality behind the facade of David Beckham”, writes Jan Moir for The Daily Mail.

Such harsh attacks on David Beckham reveal an ever-heightening hypocrisy among the masses. No one has called the leaks out for what they are; a vicious form of cyberbullying. Whatever unflattering information they unearthed, the leaks shouldn’t have been released at all. Indeed, in the lead up to their dissemination, the Beckhams were blackmailed and asked to cough up one million euros for their suppression. They refused. Good for them.

In general, leaks have never caused a huge amount of concern, and occupy a strange space in people’s minds. Many seem to think that the exposure of information reflects a fact-driven, democratic society. The likes of Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden have become heroes, as though their antics served some sort of protective function. But all they have done is advocate leak culture, which can harm individuals, as much as institutions.

Strangely enough, the public has massive worries about privacy, it’s just that the definition of “breach” is quite limited – and anxieties over personal information are generally directed towards big powers, whether it’s the government’s Investigatory Powers Bill or something else. Leak activities are often about the disruption of large-scale institutions – even David Beckham – by smaller vigilante groups, which makes people oblivious to the threat to themselves.

They are, frankly, too busy reading the latest Beckileaks updates to care. Katherine Jenkins has even snapped back at Beckham, but this is hardly fairly game, and by arguing with his private words she, herself, has served to advocate the lack of delineation between personal and public information. In truth, she should pity – not attack – David Beckham.

In all of this he has been the victim, and it is Football Leaks – the website who unveiled the information – as well as the criminals who obtained it who should be the objects of our disgust. Their activities will only multiply without widespread condemnation. David Beckham’s right to privacy is no laughing matter. It, in fact, underlines ours too.

Apple Tree Yard review: Rotten from the inside

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I don’t think anyone has been quite rude enough, yet, about BBC One’s latest crime series: Apple Tree Yard, which concluded last night.

It happened to be one of the most dull, yet deranged, television dramas I have seen in a long time. Not helped by the fact that none of the story makes sense.

Apple Tree Yard asked too much of its audience from the start, when we were supposed to believe that Yvonne Carmichael (Emily Watson), an amazing genetic scientist, would recklessly embark on an affair with sexy stranger Mark Costley (Ben Chaplin). In a cupboard.

The plausibility of this situation was not helped by the fact that Watson and Chaplin the chemistry of two sea otters. Not that I was paying much attention; I was too busy wondering if Costley’s character would ever change his suit.

The series was padded with unnecessary detail, and numerous times subplots were discarded as quickly as they were introduced. Yvonne – the amazing scientist – engages in the most insensible of electronic activities, searching for STD clinics on her laptop and penning elaborative diary entries, both of which are highly incriminating. Forensic teams would pounce on this information, so should script writers. Yet all of it is left to rot in early episodes.

Similarly, some of the characters should have died on the editing floor: Yvonne’s pregnant scientist daughter and bipolar son, to name two.

The pace of Apple Tree Yard was slow indeed, and felt all the more ploddy given that Watson only talks in one voice – an affected, RADA-style whisper that induces the effects of Nytol, rather than intrigue. Yvonne’s long-suffering husband Gary is the only one who gives the show some welly.

Overall I wasn’t sure what the point of Apple Tree Yard was. For a crime series, it has very little mystery, generally because the audience constantly follows Yvonne and Mark throughout their shenanigans – and is, thus, always in the know (albeit, apart from a small twist at the end). In courtroom scenes, I held my breath, waiting for a shock. Will Mark betray Yvonne? Will he explain why he only wears one suit? But the only surprise was that there was no surprise.

At the very least, I would have hoped Apple Tree Yard would have some sort of message to it; even for a crime series, one does hope for a bit of intellectual stimulation. In the beginning, Watson offers impressive-sounding soundbites (“fear, that’s what makes animals of us all”), which I suppose are meant to sound deep and meaningful, but ultimately cannot mask what a hollow story this is. There is nothing to take away from Apple Tree Yard – other than, don’t let strangers take you on a tour of a cupboard. It is simply a series of events. And daft ones at that.

Daytime television has become too political!

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In recent times I have found myself in need of a distraction from the world’s political events. It all gets a bit much sometimes – doesn’t it? – the endless onslaught of apocalyptic news, so I have distracted myself with entertainment of the lighter variety. On Sunday night it was an episode of Apple Tree Yard, which – though interesting – could not coax me into sufficient levels of relaxation. Then yesterday I ventured to an empty cinema in search of popcorn and Zen. Still, I couldn’t find either – for the film was serious and sad.

The only thing that does the trick these days is daytime TV, and what I am so ashamed to admit is that I actually watch clips of it in the EVENING, for I have a job. Loose Women, in particular, has transpired to be not the trivial phenomenon I took it for as much as an asylum from the news. Like Odysseus sailing past the sirens, I tried not to get sucked in by Coleen Nolan and the gang. But I can’t stay away from all the juicy topics, not when Loose Women covers things like “Granny Dumping”, which I never knew existed, and “SHOULD NURSERIES BE ALLOWED TO CUT KIDS’ HAIR?”. It’s capital letters for capital entertainment.

Loose Women is not the only programme that has enraptured me with its line up. I’m also slightly obsessed with This Morning (I know, it’s BAD). I adore Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, who have a chemistry that could set a science block alight. Like Loose Women, I think of This Morning as my own safe space from 2017; the most extreme thing you’ll see is a Gok Wan makeover. I feel reassured and happy when I’m watching daytime TV.

That’s until the past few days, where the shows’ producers broke my wonderful bubble. They have made everything too political! On Loose Women this week, there was a chat about phobias, vaguely based on the story that Donald Trump has bathmophobia. Anne Diamond confessed she had it too (LOL!). Things took a turn for the worse yesterday when Nigel Farage turned up to debate politics with Katie Price. Audiences called her “out of her depth”, but no wonder. It’s daytime TV!

I’ve now even see Phillip Schofield impersonate Jeremy Paxman on This Morning. Yesterday its producers had invited Mark Burns, a Trump-supporting pastor and televangelist (what is that by the way?) on the couch, and Schofield was not impressed. He seemed to think this guy could actually stop the President. Even though no one’s ever heard of him! “Is there a point where you would actually say in public “enough Donald”?” He demanded of the guest.

Enough Philip! I wanted to cry out, but it was no good. Now that all these talk shows are determined to turn into Newsnight. Why they feel the need to do this, I have no idea. Not least because such things exist as Cathy Newman, Jo Coburn and David Dimbleby. The couch show producers should have basked in their milky, soothing formulas that provide a haven from serious debate.

Of course, whatever you feel about 2017, it’s exciting that huge numbers of people around the country are suddenly politically engaged, and that includes daytime TV fans. But I wonder, if the likes of Jordan and Phillip Schofield are now expected to hold politicians to account, will we experience something more worrisome than one-dimensional television? Politicians will have a right old laugh!

Besides, in the next few weeks we are going to have more news and analysis of the US situation than we could ever imagine. We will also need breaks, too. Daytime TV, the world needs YOU.