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Month: October 2012

Lib Dems (and Nick Clegg) keep a promise…will this be lauded or ignored?

Gary McKinnon is not going to the United States to face trial. Nick Clegg was pretty darn clear when asked about this before the General Election in 2010 and he has come through. No doubts he put heavy pressure on the Home Secretary to get this decision and it is one I think it fair and we should be very happy with.

Nick (or someone writing on behalf of Nick) sent the following e-mail out to Lib Dem members earlier this evening.

In opposition, we were unequivocal: Gary McKinnon should not be extradited. I said at the time that he was too vulnerable to be uprooted from his friends and family and sent across the Atlantic, and if there was a case to answer it should be here in the UK.

So today I am absolutely delighted by the Home Secretary’s decision to withdraw his extradition order.

I want to congratulate Gary and his mother Janis on their deserved victory. They have campaigned tirelessly and I pay tribute to their strength and determination.

But there was another significant moment as well: the Coalition Government has announced that we will seek to amend the US-UK extradition process to make it fairer in future.

We’re adding a so-called “forum bar” which will mean that British courts can decide to block a request for extradition if it is in the interests of justice to try the case here. This will increase the overall transparency of our extradition arrangements and will better balance the safeguards for defendants.

We will let you know more detail in due course on this announcement because today is about Gary. Today is a day for celebrating.

Good times. The fact that the extradition process is going to amended is not just a win for today but a win for future cases as well.

Not a terrible day at all…

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On this day 14 years ago the BBC lost Test Cricket coverage. A day that changed how live sport was perceived on TV

14 years ago the BBC lost cricket coverage to Channel 4 in a move that stunned everyone and in all honesty heralded the end of the BBC being the natural home for many of our top sporting events. The decision to switch coverage away from the BBC caught many off-guard and in the end it did spell the end of cricket as a Free To Air sport. However the move itself was not a bad one as Channel Four showed that when they really want something then they can really go for it.

As a long standing cricket fan this change didn’t mean a lot to me as heck I was only 15 years old. Looking back though I can see how Channel Four really developed the sport for the armchair viewer. The early magazine show was clearly aimed at the younger generation and it was extremely successful. The BBC had covered the sport but had never tried to engage with the next generation of fans. They never tried to keep up with technological advances. They had their core audience and had no desire to grow it. Channel Four saw it differently.

They brought about the snickometer which showed us viewers at home whether a batsman had nicked the ball to the slips. They also brought about the red zone to show if a ball pitched in line on LBW appeals and hawk eye technology to show where a ball would have gone after an LBW appeal. This was all pretty exciting and futuristic stuff compared to what we were used to as fans and I think we can safely say it heightened our enjoyment of the game.

Desktop Richie was also a favourite allowing cricket fans to keep u to date on the scores from the PCs. Basically in the space of a handful of years cricket had gone from a sport that hadn’t moved on technologically at all for what 15 years and having two cameras at either end so you always saw the batter face on to being arguably one of the most modern sports for the TV audience in the world. Quite something when you come to think of the traditions of cricket.

When the deal was announcers Aggers said, “The quality of coverage that everyone in the world, I think, has aspired to as far as the BBC’s cricket coverage is concerned has come to an end at a stroke.” You can safely say he wasn’t a fan but I think it is very clear that Channel Four took the sport to heights that the BBC could only dream of.

Channel Four of course lucked out with the 2005 Ashes and their coverage was not only award winning it was just sensational. An amazing line-up of commentators (which to be fair Sky Sports have pretty much equalled but not bettered) by the end of their coverage saw the likes of Richie Benaud, Geoffrey Boycott, Michael Atherton, Barry Richards, Michael Slater, Ian Smith, Tony Greig, Mark Nicholas and Simon Hughes they had enough distinguished voices to really hit home and have that gravitas.

Sadly by this point they knew – as we all did – that the sport was disappearing to Sky permanently. A new Head of Sport was in place at Channel Four and he was no huge cricket fan unlike his predecessor. Sky spent the big money to bring the sport in full to them knowing it was the largest potential subscriber base behind football. Sky paid over the odds for it knowing that they would pretty much lose money on most of the deal except for the Ashes.

Sky have kicked on with their coverage and some of their features are extremely good. You won’t find me knocking Sky’s coverage (bar Nick Knight – he’s terrible) but there has been no quantum leap in coverage compared to when Channel Four took over the rights.

Since those days Channel Four stole the World Athletics Championships from the BBC and stunk up the joint so bad that the IAAF quickly gave the Beeb back the rights to the 2015 and 2017 events. However Channel Four got universal praise for their Paralympics coverage and have recently taken all the domestic Horse Racing coverage. They had worked hard on Horse Racing for the best part of a quarter of a century and most people will think their coverage is just as good as the Beeb’s and Clare Balding is even fronting it.

That decision though by the ECB 14 years ago today didn’t just change what channel we watched cricket on but it also signalled the end of the BBC being able to sit firmly on their hands in the belief that they would always get all the live sport they wanted. I know they lost Formula One to ITV two years before but the BBC never really cared about the sport. The cricket was the first time it had truly been stunned for live sport and ever since it has had to work far harder to keep what it has and develop not only the coverage but the sport itself and for that we should be incredibly thankful to Channel Four for.

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Is TubeCrush sexist and if not would it be if it was about women?

Well it has been a good what 18 months or so since the website TubeCrush made small waves in the media. If you have never heard of TubeCrush it is a website where people can send pictures they have taken of men on the underground and if these men are scored at a six out of ten or higher by the people behind the site then they will put the photo on the website for people to vote on and decide whether they are attractive or not. Seems pretty harmless enough but while the site has sporned versions in New York, Boston and most recently Australia. No version has yet to emerge for women to be featured. Why is this?

First of all I want to decide whether the site is sexist or not. Well as we all know sexism is about prejudices based on gender. Well women cannot be the stars on TubeCrush because they are women so therefore it is surely sexist. We live in a society where gender should not matter and people of the different sexes should be treated equally. Therefore not allowing female pictures it does hit the sexist button. It is a bit like Page 3 being sexist because you can’t be a Page 3 model if you are a man because you are a man. However lets not rehash the old Page 3 debate and concentrate on TubeCrush.

So whilst it might technically be sexist is it just a bit of harmless fun? Personally I see no great issue with it. When you are in a public setting photographs can be taken of you. The old adage that the average person gets caught on 300 CCTV cameras a day shows that we are always being watched. If you don’t like being featured on the website you can always ask for your photo to be removed. No harm. No foul. However the issue I really want to explore is if this website was created by people who wanted to expose female photos instead of male ones then would this small quirky story from 18 months ago have made far more waves?

I was pondering this the other night. I am fairly sure that if I started up a similar website which concentrated on only allowing pictures of girls taken on the Tube and that I deemed better than six out of ten that I’d be derided as a sexist and the site itself would attract a lot of publicity. I would probably make a fair deal of money out of it on the plus side but on the negative side I’d just be perpetrating a sexist act that would lead to even more people disliking me and I have enough of them already!

What would the difference be if men or women are featured on a site like this? Stereotypically guys would think it was ace that someone thought they were attractive enough to be featured on the site but women apparently would see this as an infringement of their rights to privacy, so says the stereotype. Would a women’s feelings be hurt more if she received more thumbs down than thumbs up compared to a guys? Should this matter?

One issue is clearly if a guy caught a girl snapping his photo on the underground would he be worried for his personal safety? Probably not but if a woman caught a guy snapping their photo on the tube then what would her initial reaction be? Would she be scared? Would she think he was some weirdo who was about to spread her photo across the internet for lots of other weirdos to see? (well in this instance possibly) Would her reaction depend on whether the guy taking the photo was attractive or not? If the guy looked like a tramp would she be more worried than if it was a man in a suit? So many questions and as I am but one man I obviously cannot answer them with any sense of authority.

One question I can at least have a stab at is this one from the list – Would her reaction depend on whether the guy taking the photo was attractive or not? – I contest that in many cases it does. I have seen it with my own eyes. I recall an incident at my former employers where one of my female colleagues had been at a party the previous night and had apparently been complaining that her feet hurt. The next day late in the afternoon a courier turned up with a pair of insoles or something for her feet. It was from a guy at that party. Now the guy in question did not know her name but only knew she was working in a certain town in a certain position at the company. So he googled that town and that job and found out her name, where she worked and couriered down a pair of insoles. All the women swooned and all the guys thought he was very weird.

So basically a guy internet stalked a woman and that was ok because as my colleague said he was really dreamy. I am pretty sure shall we say that had I done exactly the same thing to the same person then the reaction would not have been the same. Considering this person was never my biggest fan (and unfriended me on Facebook literally as I have the office for the final time) and thought I was weird and creepy anyway (well I am weird but creepy was certainly harsh considering I did my best not to interact with her) I would contend if I did it she would not act in the same way. Heck if I found out where she worked now and did it she would be so creeped out it would be insane.

As usual I have veered off path here. I think my point is people would react differently in such a situation depending on the person taking the photo. Heck I’m pretty sure I would. I wouldn’t worry about my personal safety (I would worry about their sanity unless of course they were taking photos for the website (which as of writing does not exist but possibly should).

If we as a society are all about equality then why should we react differently to a site of men on the underground to a website for women on the underground? It is more likely that women pictured on the underground would have their personal safety infringed if they had a good looking photo on the internet that they knew nothing about? Are there more creepy stalkers who are male than female? I don’t know but all I know is if TubeCrush was a site where female photos were uploaded on to and voted on then the website would a) make a lot ore money and b) would cause a lot more controversy and the sexist lobbyists would be out in far greater force with far more gusto in their voices than they are currently.

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Random Train Thoughts – A trip to Coulsdon

I remember the days when I used to commute. Well I say commute I used to volunteer in a charity shop so my commute wasn’t exactly early morning (more noonish) but the train home was in rush hour. These days I use the choo choo’s a fair bit but rarely on long journeys. Well three weeks ago I was down in South London having luncheon with a friend and then she decided to try and kill me by making me walk up hills but I don’t hold grudges (she tried to kill me she did) but still no grudges (kill me…).

Anyway I noticed that a few thoughts popped into my head on the journey so thought I’d blog about it but I kept doing other things. Well no more. I’m finally going to write the blog on the random train thoughts about the journey.

Firstly these days I have an iPod so I am usually lost in whatever is coming through those little wires connected to my ears. A song came on by John Callahan feat. Sarah Howells called ‘Find Yourself’ which made me spend the next ten minutes or so wistfully looking out of the window and pondering whether I needed to jack in my life and move to Tibet to find myself. I have struggled to find exactly who I am for a long time and every so often I do think about jacking everything in and walking away from my life to start something new. This always passes but the thoughts do linger longer the older that I get.

Next up I got annoyed coming into Barking as there was a house with Christmas lights and such decorations adorning it. This was three weeks ago so mid-late September. Christmas creeps forward and forward but who wants to see Christmas lights when it doesn’t get dark until half seven? Seriously Christmas doesn’t need to be seen nor heard from in September. It seriously doesn’t.

When I got on the tube at West Ham I sat down and the person I sat next to actually got up and moved to another seat in the carriage. I was like ‘for reals?’ Now a tube is not first class accommodation where in general you choose who to sit next to. People get on and just sit down in the first seat they see. The carriage was relatively packed so I didn’t just think ‘oh look there’s a nice lady who I want to sit next to’ it was more like ‘oh look there’s a seat, I’ll sit down’ but she huffed and went to another seat. I did the tube fail of making eye contact with another person and we just looked at each other and shook our heads. Weird.

Getting off the tube at London Bridge and on the escalator I glanced over and there was a 30-something couple making out – quite heavily and then he started nibbling her neck. I tutted but thinking back was I wrong to tut and shake my head? Public displays of affection should be fine. Why shouldn’t two people express their love for each other on an escalator? Just because some loser who still hasn’t had a date date in 2012 is watching should they care? No they shouldn’t. I always get annoyed when people say they hate Valentine’s Day when they are single but put everyone’s face in it when they aren’t. If people are in love then let them express it and if I see kissing and cuddling I should not tut. I should be happy that there are happy people in this world. Lord knows there are enough who aren’t so why shouldn’t those that are be happy enough to flaunt it?

The next train was relatively straight forward. I went and ate an excellent carvery and then got dragged up hills and saw Cows. Yes cows just wandering about eating grass. Not on a farm. I was stunned but apparently it is quite normal. For the record they were Sussex Cattle and looked like this…

Fairdean Downs Cows
Fairdean Downs Cows

On the way back the train went past Selhurst Park and lots of Cardiff City fans got on the train and just kept singing. There was this poor girl they kept singing at and she looked so nervous. As it is three weeks ago I can’t remember the song but it was a pop song and not a terrace chant.

Then at London Bridge I went to buy a drink at WH Smith and there were three people working there, two of them were behind the tills but they refused to serve me and told me I had to use the self service tills. I must say I thought they was a disgrace. I don’t like using self service tills at the best of times but when there are actually people behind the tills who were meant to be working but they couldn’t be bothered. Well I was not amused.

Lastly there was this girl at West Ham who I was trying to eye up but her dad seemed to have clocked me and decided that they should move down the platform from where they were standing to get further away from me. I mean how harsh is that? Obviously it was probably a prudent move on his part as I do look like a bum but still.

It is strange how two simple journeys can cause so many thoughts to flood through my mind.

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Votes at 16 sounds good but are 16 year-olds really adults?

On the face of it 16 year-olds should have a vote. They pay income tax and National Insurance, can claim welfare benefits and tax credits, enter marriage or civil partnership, become a company director or even choose a career in the armed forces. So many things they can do. They can have sex without the fear of prosecution for having under-age sex. They can start a family with no stigma or legal issues attached. However does all this make them an adult that deserves the right to have a vote?

These people can’t buy alcohol or tobacco. So we deem 16 and 17 year-olds as old enough to get married and pay direct taxes but not old enough to police their own bodies? This doesn’t add up to me and it is why I often have real issues with topics such as these. When I was 16-17 I was old enough mentally to vote and I was certainly old enough to police my own body but I don’t think I was mentally capable about making decisions regarding sex. Heck I’m 29 now and still find it a huge issue (whether that is due to chronic lack of sexual education at my school is in part a reason for this I don’t know) but what defines you as an adult? It certainly shouldn’t be your age.

Of course we have to have a legally defined age for these things because otherwise it would be a free for all. However not all 16 year-olds are the same mentally and they certainly are not informed the same. Same with 17 year-olds. Heck the same with 29 year-olds. Pick any age you want and you’ll find people of different maturity levels.

When the tobacco law got changed from 16 to 18 it meant that a group of people who were deemed old enough and responsible enough to decide how to police their own bodies with regards to tobacco were suddenly not any more. Had these people changed overnight? No they hadn’t but yet most people seem to agree that putting tobacco up to the same age limit as alcohol was the right thing to do.

I really struggle with telling people that they are old enough to have their say and be heard at the voting booth but on the other hand tell them that they are not old enough to enjoy other adult pursuits. Having different legal ages defining being an adult just doesn’t make any sense.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the UK government in 1991, states that a child ‘means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.’ All four nations of the United Kingdom state that a child is anyone under the age of 18 but look at some of the strange add ons to this. Sex is fine if you are 16 or above but any photos or videos of consensual sexual activity of 16 or 176 year-olds is illegal. So have sex boys and girls – you are responsible enough to know what you are doing but taking photographs or videoing it is too much responsibility and isn’t allowed. Now I know why this is and I’m not going to argue against it but does it really make sense that the act is fine but having evidence of the act is not?

Also the age of criminal responsibility is 10 in three of the UK nations (it is 12 in Scotland) so you are old enough at 10 to know right from wrong in one country but if you live in another then you magically don’t know the difference until you are 12? Again this doesn’t add up. For example in Denmark until a couple of years ago the age of criminal responsibility was 15 (lowed to 14 in 2010) but in the USA it ranges from 6-12 depending on what state you live in. Yes a six year-old can be charged as an adult in North Carolina. Argentina has the highest threshold at 16 before any charges can be brought but 18 is the age where they can be charged as an adult.

So across the world different governments define being an adult as many different things. Are the kids in North Carolina really ten years more advanced than those in Argentina? No of course they are not. It just goes to show how difficult this subject is.

I back votes at 16 as a principle but I would like an age set (preferably 16, 17 or 18) where you are defined as an adult for everything. There should not be a case where 16 and 17 year-olds can do some adult stuff legally but not others. I can’t see how a person can be old enough to get married, have kids, join the armed forces, vote but yet we say they aren’t old enough to go buy a pint in a pub or buy a packet of cigarettes. If you are old enough for the former then surely you are old enough for the latter?

This isn’t an ideal world and as I said I was mature and educated enough to have a vote at 16 but I wasn’t in a position where I think I was mature enough to know whether I was ready to have sex or not. Yet I was legally allowed to do the thing I wasn’t ready for but wasn’t legally allowed to do the thing that I was more than ready.

This is a very hard one but surely when you are an adult you are an adult. You can’t be a bit of an adult. Some age limit has to be set but surely the best way for this is to be uniform across all government departments instead of having a situation where you are adult enough for one thing but not another. The move from being a child to an adult is different enough without throwing in all the different stages of being an adult as the law currently defines.

So votes at 16. Yes. However for votes at 16 then other things have to be at 16 too.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Is a copper sucker punching a woman fair or foul?

Foul. End of blog. No wait. Lets look at the video and give you some background. A story has been making waves over in the United States in the past few days after video evidence emerged of a copper just walking up to a woman and throwing a haymaker and knocking her to the floor. The next cause of action is obviously to arrest the woman.

This all happened in Philadelphia at the Puerto Rican Day Parade it emerged that the woman who was punched and arrested may have been part of a group of people to spray silly string over some police officers. Now I know silly string can be a bit annoying but does it warrant someone being punched? At this point I really should share the video so you can see it wasn’t just a punch it was a proper swinging right hook. The type that if you or I did it we’d be in court and would be facing jail time. Please watch the police officer in the white top.

Now you could argue that he was going to grab her but I really don’t think so. If he was doing that he’d still be grabbing her around the neck and that isn’t on. For me it really looks like a pretty calculated assault. Now the officer in question has been suspended for thirty days and is expected to be fired but his union aren’t exactly down with that shall we say.

According to the LA Times report:

John McNesby of the Fraternal Order of Police said Josey (the officer in question) was being treated “like a second-class citizen.”

“He’s being fired without just cause, and we’re going to look forward to making sure he’s restored,” McNesby told reporters after Ramsey announced Wednesday that Josey was being suspended for 30 days “with the intent to dismiss.”

So he’s being treated like a second-class citizen because apparently punching women is fine in this guys eyes. Of course if he was being treated like a first class citizen he’d be in handcuffs himself for the assault but it looks as though he’ll be dismissed but is unlikely to face any police action himself.

As for the woman she had all charges dropped due to a lack of evidence against her. Her lawyer though makes a very pertinent point, ‘I think we can all see if this wasn’t on video, my client wouldn’t even have an opportunity to defend herself.‘ Very very true. If a bystander hadn’t of caught this incident on film then there is little doubt she would still be facing charges and the officer who struck her would still be on duty ready to punch other people to whom he took a dislike.

Modern technology has uncovered many lies that police have told in this country and across the world. We are bred to have an innate trust of the police but the more incidents like these that we see (and go on to YouTube and you’ll find a lot) the more you wonder if these bad eggs are seriously impacting the public’s perception of the law?

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Take Me Out Girls 2012 on ITV1 – Season 4 Photos & Details

For the latest series photos and gossip then please follow the link for Take Me Out Girls Photos for Season Seven – 2015.

It’s back folks. Take Me Out sandwiching The X Factor. Saturday nights with Paddy and Dermot. What more could we want? Yet again Mr Paddy McGuinness is trying to team up men from his love-lift with his flirty thirty in an effort to bring love and happiness to the world. Take Me Out has been going for three runs and this is the fourth and it has already been commissioned for another two after this so Take Me Out fans rejoice as the dating show is set for a long run on Saturday nights for a good while yet.

This year we have a full selection of thirty women to start with. Last year we had 29 because one poor girl won a date with a guy and then the producers found out about his criminal past and therefore she was completely airbrushed out of the show. Harsh. Still we have thirty women who from Saturday we’ll see coming down those stairs hoping to return up them hand in hand with a gorgeous date on the Isle of Fernando’s!

I have compiled all the original flirty thirty photos and their basic details. I hope if any of the girls get around to reading this they won’t think of me as some saddo (I am but please don’t think of me as such) and take my comments in good jest (certainly you Erica – seriously Trypophobia?). I hope you all enjoyed the show and enjoy the incoming barrage of fans on twitter and facebook (and probably the odd one or two in the comments here – the post on the last series got 207 comments (so far) so you may want to check for the odd piece of fan chat and guys pretty much only ever leave positive comments so good for your ego).

Anyway you didn’t come to this blog for my waffle. You came here for photos and details about the girls. So I shall just get on with it and in the immortal words of our favourite Bolton lad (well I do like Sheephead too – what has happened to Sheephead?) it is time to…

Bring on the Girls…

Angela Take Me Out Series 4

Angela’s Details:

26 years old
Probation Officer
From Exeter
Been single for six months

Random Fact: Angela used to be a goth and has appeared in a Bollywood production.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: I can very much see her as a goth!

Caroline Take Me Out Series 4

Caroline’s Details:

30 years old
Litigation Lawyer
From Sheffield
Been single for 18 months

Random Fact: If she could, Caroline would live off mushy peas, wotsits and Horlicks.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Smart, bit ditzy, bit quirky, ticking a lot of boxes!

Caroline B Take Me Out Series 4

Caroline’s Details:

40 years old
Radio DJ
From Bournemouth
Been single for nine months

Random Fact: Caroline can recite every single lyric to any Chas n Dave song. Scary…

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: She works in local radio. I’m envious!

Catriona Take Me Out Series 4

Catriona’s Details:

22 years old
Retail Analyst
Originally from Glasgow but now lives in London
Been single for one year

Random Fact: She is also a big fundraiser and has raised thousands of pounds for a Hospice that means a lot to her family. One charity challenge involved a Zip line across the River Clyde.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: She raises a lot of money for charity which is excellent but she says she actually enjoys dates. I question her sanity. Dates are evil (well maybe evil is a strong term…dinner dates are evil!)

Chanelle Take Me Out Series 4

Chanelle’s Details:

20 years old
Cosmetic Co-ordinator
From Manchester
Been single for two years

Random Fact: Chanelle lives with her Nana who is her best friend in the world.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Her celebrity crush is Peter Andre. It was all going so well until then. Still I think she seems like a good ‘un. Also this is the one romantically linked to James Arthur from The X Factor. Did a party succeed where Paddy failed? We shall find out…

Charlotte Take Me Out Series 4

Charlotte’s Details:

22 years old
Receptionist at a car dealership
From Croydon
Been single for two months

Random Fact: She has an irrational fear of clowns.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Having an irrational fear of clowns isn’t irrational. They are evil. Imagine going on a dinner date with a clown *curls up in the foetal position rocking back n forth sobbing*

Chloe-Marie Take Me Out Series 4

Chloe-Marie’s Details:

23 years old
Primary School teacher
From London
Been single for one year

NB: I have no idea why her photo in the Press Pack isn’t a face on.

Random Fact: She has a fear of cotton wool.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: I like her. Her fear of cotton wool though is a little bit strange but I like her.

Dannika Take Me Out Series 4

Dannika’s Details:

20 years old
Fashion Graduate and Shop Assistant
From Essex
Been single for six weeks

Random Fact: She hates when she meets a guy in a club and the next day they find her on Facebook and end up stalking her.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: I like her. Crazy hair is always something that I swoon at. However not liking internet stalkers…*looks at the fact he’s posting about thirty girls on TV* I suspect me and her aren’t an ideal match. I actually do know someone who genuinely does this though. We (me and others who know him) often wait to see how quickly he goes from meeting them but saying nothing to adding them to Facebook. The average time is as soon as he gets home. For the record it isn’t me – as if I’d talk to a girl at a club. Sad but true. Anyway…

Emma Take Me Out Series 4

Emma’s Details:

18 years old
Just finished her A Levels and barmaid
From Newport
Been single for six months

Random Fact: Self-confessed adrenaline junkie whose best date was going surfing.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Another one I think I’ll like. Also I really really like what she is wearing in the promotional pic. I’m no fashion guru *looks at his PSU hoodie* but yes I like that look.

Erica Take Me Out Series 4

Erica’s Details:

29 years old
Personal Assistant
From Manchester
Single for just over a year

Random Fact: Erica has spent an estimated £3000 on an elaborate tattoo on her back and suffers from Trypophobia. Yeah go look it up. It’s weirder than clowns and cotton wool…

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Her dream man would drive a VW Camperman. I can’t even drive. Not looking too grand for me but has a very likeable face and I’m a face guy. So is a rooting interest to get a good date!

Fennela Take Me Out Series 4

Fennela’s Details:

26 years old
Operations Manager
From Suffolk
Been single for two years

Random Fact: Fenella is an active member of the Young Farmers Club and has attended since the age of 10.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Every year we seem to have one girl who is part of said club and they always like muscular men…

Helen Take Me Out Series 4

Helen’s Details:

26 years old
Receptionist in a local football centre and Chef in the Territorial Army
From Liverpool
Been single for one year

Random Fact: Helen has a special talent as a Marilyn Monroe impressionist.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: She made a guys false teeth fall out on a date she is that funny. Probably going to be great value on the show.

Jamilah Take Me Out Series 4

Jamilah’s Details:

23 years old
Bar manager and mixologist
From Nottingham
Been single for one year

Random Fact: She is both a fully trained mixologist and a fully trained beautician.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: She used to play football for Nottingham Forest’s ladies team. That means she’s better than me at football. Although in all fairness most people are.

Jordan Take Me Out Series 4

Jordan’s Details:

21 years old
Trainee primary school teacher
From Lisburn
Has been single forever

Random Fact: Jordan is petrified of moths and the thought of not finding a date on Take Me Out.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: She has kissed men of 17 different nationalities yet has been single forever. Interesting mix. However anyone training to teach the future generation is someone I will naturally like (I think).

Justine Take Me Out Series 4

Justine’s Details:

25 years old
Speech and Language Therapist
From Essex
Been single for one year

Random Fact: Justine owns a beat boxing parrot called Silver.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Anyone who has a rewarding job (she works with children with autism) is someone I respect. Her fear is of caves. Not horrific and certainly not Trypophobia – did anyone look up what that actually was? Madness Erica. Madness.

Laura Take Me Out Series 4

Laura’s Details:

32 years old
Manager at a Bank
From Helensburgh
Been single for two and a half years

Random Fact: She has a huge phobia of birthday cakes with candles on.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Her ideal man is a real man’s man. I’m out of this but birthday cakes. Really?

Lily Take Me Out Series 4

Lily’s Details:

22 years old
Graduate and GP Receptionist
From Scarborough
Been single for 18 months

Random Fact: Lily has a phobia of dogs who are off the lead – she has had two terrible experiences where dogs have chased her when she was out running. She also has a fear of frogs, ‘It’s the way they can leap and cling’.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: I can accept those phobias. I hate dogs off their leads. I’m convinced they want to eat me. I’m not mad. Honest guv…

Lois Take Me Out Series 4

Lois’s Details:

20 years old
Riverboat Skipper and Japanese Student
Been single for one year

NB: No Geographical location supplied.

Random Fact: Her long blonde hair has never been cut and she can play 11 musical instruments.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Raisins? Raisins? RAISINS? Her fear is of raisins. I’m shaking my head at some of these. However having said that I like her.

Malin Take Me Out Series 4

Malin’s Details:

19 years old
Flight Attendant
Born in Sweden but now lives in Bedfordshire
Been single for two months

Random Fact: She has been involved in both the Miss England and Miss Sweden beauty pageants.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: she had a recent dating disaster when she went to a guy’s house to watch a DVD – he excused himself to go the toilet. Half an hour later he hadn’t returned and she discovered he had gone to bed. I love that story. Still cheer up Malin – I’ve had worse dates as I’ve had people come around to watch a DVD and make their excuses and leave before the DVD has even started. Oh I fail at dates.

Meggan Take Me Out Series 4

Meggan’s Details:

23 years old
Dental Nurse
From Inverness
Been single for eight months

Random Fact: Megan is self-confessed accident prone – she recently shredded a cheque at work rather than the envelope.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Megan’s weirdest dating encounter involved her forcing a pound coin between a guy’s front teeth as a bet. It went wrong after it got stuck. Yep I’d call that weird but seems like an interesting one to watch. Also she doesn’t like small spaces. Finally a relatively normal phobia!

Melissa Take Me Out Series 4

Melissa’s Details:

28 years old
Housing worker in a male prison
From London
Been single for two years

Random Fact: Melissa used to be a raver but she used to bump into ex-convicts on the dance floor which was very awkward and not a great way of meeting men.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Her most annoying habit is talking over people when she finds them boring. Oh what’s that Melissa? You think I’m sad for having spent nearly two hours sorting out this Take Me Out blog? Oh I see. Guessing she thinks I’m a bit boring and have no life and she’s right – on both counts. D’oh

Nadia Take Me Out Series 4

Nadia’s Details:

24 years old
Merchandiser at Evans Cycles Head Office
From Brighton
Been single for one year

Random Fact: Nadia was moved up a year at school for being a ‘smarty pants’.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: She’s bloody smart so it seems so that is always a huge plus. Her huge phobia is of uncooked egg yolk. Yep that one is fair enough in my book. I have a fear of cooking full stop which is probably slightly less fair but moving on…

Natalie Take Me Out Series 4

Natalie’s Details:

26 years old
Full time mum
From Bristol
Been single for two years

Random Fact: She has an ear fetish.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Doesn’t like spiders or deep water. Yes I’m down with that on both counts. The ear fetish though? Really…? Look I’m a guy who is down with a lot of fetishes but that one really is shall we say ‘out there’.

Oli Take Me Out Series 4

Oli’s Details:

18 years old
Make up counter assistant
From Worcestershire
Been single for one year

Random Fact: She has a four leaf clover tattoo which she believes will bring her luck.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Based purely on her press photo and her fear of dogs. I clearly fancy Oli. Also I have a Good Luck Care Bear that I think brings me luck. Match made in heaven…?

Olivia Take Me Out Series 4

Olivia’s Details:

18 years old
Receptionist at a garage
From Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire
Been single for eight months

Random Fact: She’s young at heart and still sucks her thumb and has a comfort blanket called, Twiddler.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: The above random fact is a worry. However my ex had the same issue that she has regarding not being able to touch or look at feet. I thought it was weird then but now…I still think it is abnormal (but less abnormal than an ear fetish so…)

Piri Take Me Out Series 4

Piri’s Details:

21 years old
Manager of a shoe shop
From Kent
Single for two and a half months

Random Fact: Piri lists her interests as kebabs and cakes as well as dance and rap offs. She also carries mayonnaise and ketchup in her handbag at all times in case she accidentally buys a dry snack.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: I genuinely bought three kebabes last Saturday night (special offer and was then breakfast and lunch on the Sunday). Her fears are normal (spiders, black cats and heights) and she once met a man in the cake aisle at Asda. I’m always in the cake aisle at Asda. Do I sense the stars aligning…?

Ruby Take Me Out Series 4

Ruby’s Details:

18 years old
Politics student
From Bristol
Single for almost a year

Random Fact: Her guilty pleasure is Justin Bieber and even has him on her duvet cover.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Justin Bieber? Oh dear. However the worst is yet to come another posh word of a phobia although this one is fairer than Erica’s Trypophobia. This one is called Tokophobia. Look it up. She is ginger though which is always a double thumbs up situation. Also a politics student? That is very much a good thing in my eyes as an (unsuccessful) politician. Seriously only 90 votes. Still gets to me…

Samantha Take Me Out Series 4

Samantha’s Details:

22 years old
Owns her own beauty salon
From Liverpool
Single all her life

Random Fact: She boby pops in her sleep.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: I sleep terribly at the best of times with someone else in the bed but someone who is boby-popping? Also her ideal man would be a millionaire. Not a great first impression…

Thiopia Take Me Out Series 4

Thiopia’s Details:

24 years old
Events Co-Ordinator
From Birmingham
Has been single forever

Random Fact: In her spare time she loves nothing more than studying Victorian criminology and the history of Egypt. Honestly who saw that coming?

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Again someone who is smart. I always like this. She hasn’t even been on a date this year. She has quite traditional values and likes the man to be the provider. Ok that is me stuffed with my modern-man-ness. (Is that even a word?) Apparently not but you get the gist…

Tonia Take Me Out Series 4

Tonia’s Details:

22 years old
Graduate in podiatric medicine
From Galway, Ireland
Been single for one year

Random Fact: Tonia once emailed Stephen Hawking to ask about star constellations. No news as to whether or not he replied though.

Neil’s Initial Thoughts: Got to finish up with one final look at fears and hers are…bees, spiders and movies about possession and paranormal activity. Not too bad. Also she doesn’t like muscular men, men who lives with their mums or men who lack any drive. Shall I bother meeting her or just organise the wedding now?

New Girls:

Of course as Paddy sends off the lucky ladies to Fernando’s they get replaced in the flirty thirty. I haven’t been sent through the background information on the new girls but I’ve just got six photos which replaces the two dates from Week 1 and the four dates from Week 2. So here we go…

Bronnie Take Me Out
Dani Take Me Out
Fleur Take Me Out
Jo Take Me Out
Katie Take Me Out
Leah Take Me Out

I must say that both Fleur and Katie are absolutely breathtakingly stunning…

Anyway folks I hope you enjoyed my light-hearted look at the Take Me Out Contestants for series four of the show starting Saturday 6 October on ITV1 at 7PM.

Feel free to let everyone know who you are loving below.

All photos are courtesy of ITV and Fremantle Media UK.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

How to write a good online dating profile

They say those who can’t, teach. Well I’m living proof boys and girls. I don’t have the chutzpah to pull off online dating very well however I can offer some advice on how to do it far better than I ever did. I know all the theory but putting it into practice in a different kettle of fish. I will give a quick overview of the online dating scene to give novices a bit of a heads up.

First of all men and women are different. I know people who want to talk about equality all the time don’t want to believe this but they are. Men send far more first messages than women. Women get so many messages that it is hard to reply to them all. Men pretty much have time to reply to every message they receive. Therefore women actually need to write the better profile because even though most guys will send them a message solely based on a photo they need to write the better profile because they need to sieve through the wheat and the chaff more.

I once spent 12 hours on an online dating website as a woman and boy was it an eye-opener experience. I felt that I would just flat out ignore so many of the messages and only those who had written a good opening message would get a response. However to write a good opening message you need something to go on so you do actually have to write a fair bit. Whilst researching for this blog post yesterday I came across the following two profiles and honestly this was all they said (along with a photo)

‘no weirdos thanks’

‘No bullshitters – Love dancin and bein wiv my friends love rub pop garage a bit of everything xx’

Now honestly what do either of those profiles give you to go on? The first one doesn’t want any weirdos so do you send a message saying, ‘Hey there, just saw your profile and saw you didn’t want a weirdo well you know what? I’m not a weirdo. It is like we were meant to be?’ and the latter doesn’t want any bullshitters (well who does?) and loves a ‘bit of everything’ well that’s great. This lady is actually rather good looking so she will get messages but the quality of them I fear are pretty awful.

So we need to talk about the positive stuff. Well yesterday whilst researching I came across the following profile and I’ll copy & paste and show you why I think it’s an excellent example of an online dating profile and why if I was still in the online dating game I’d be messaging this girl straight away:

Hi, I’m Jen and I very much enjoy watching silly comedy programmes such as Bad Education, The Inbetweeners, Friday Night Dinner etc. I could probably recite most of the words to every Friends episode – that surely doesn’t make me a proper grown up?! Sadly, irreverent comedy programmes are not part of the National Curriculum (yet – I must start that petition!) so I cannot use this knowledge as part of my job teaching the future generation. Nevertheless, I very much enjoy what I do and more often than not, a day in the classroom can be a bit like appearing in a sitcom!

But I can’t have you thinking that all I do is teach and watch TV. I have been known to watch DVDs too! However, when I’m not in the classroom or on the sofa, I do manage to make my way to the gym a few times a week – I am a big fan of Body Combat. I also venture into the kitchen fairly often where I very much enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. I recently made some blueberry and vanilla scones. If you play your cards right, I could be baking some for you – just promise me we don’t have to have the discussion on the correct way to pronounce ‘scone’?!

I would like to meet someone who is fun and friendly and maybe also knows the words to various Friends episodes – just in case there is ever a power cut and we had to make our own entertainment. I would also really like to meet someone who is interested in having a proper grown up relationship incorporating the use of bags for life!


Let me show you why I think it’s an excellent profile. First of all I like the introduction of a name. The first couple of lines makes a little bit of a diss at herself about being a proper grown up. Quirky. She talks about her work and so we know quite a lot about her already. She’s a teacher and really likes comedy.

I love the ‘I have been known to watch DVDs too!’ line. The rest of that paragraph opens up some of her other interests. She likes to keep fit but also likes baking and shows us one of her specialities with a bit of a tease about baking for you (the reader/potential date) one day then adds in a line about the ‘scone debate’.

Lastly she tells us what she wants. A nice line about knowing lines to various Friends episodes but more importantly she is looking for a genuine grown up relationship. Brilliant all around. It gives you plenty of possibilities for opening gambits as you know several of her hobbies and what she wants. I’d be shocked if she wasn’t inundated with really good quality messages because she profile really opens itself up to getting good quality messages.

So to recap a good online dating profile should only be three paragraphs long. Three paragraphs is the perfect length. Show a bit of your personality along with some of your interests and then round off by telling the readers what you are looking for in a date/potential partner. Perfection. Remember the photograph(s) are important but the profile will open up the quality of people. If you have a hot picture you’ll get lots of messages. If you have a cracking profile you’ll still get lots of messages but it’ll be far easier to see straight away if the person writing to you has read it instead of just looking at the picture and it gives them many avenues to speak about.

A photo attracts a click and attracts a message but if you want a quality message a good profile is key. Show your personality and your interests. Throw in a spot of humour and what you are looking for and suddenly you have a first rate profile that should attract some excellent responses. It’s a shame I’ve given up online dating so I can’t contact the person whose profile I have used to underline how to write a good profile to see if she is getting good messages but still, trust me, she should be getting many interesting and thoughtful messages and hopefully soon she’ll be dating and happy in that grown up relationship she wants with ‘bags for life’.

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A blog about (Lib Dem) blogging – the debate continues…

Last year after the Lib Dem Voice Blogging Awards one or two people were unhappy about who won and who’d been shortlisted. This year it is the quality of the Lib Dem blogosphere that is in question. As we all look inwardly about what the point of blogging is – certainly with regards to a politico – I’ll lob my 2p worth into the fountain.

It all started with an excellent post by Lond Bonkers entitled ‘Time to Freshen Up the Lib Dem Blogging Awards‘ as he mused about the awards being too narrow. With the ‘Best Post’ award culled for whatever reason this year it basically meant that for established blogs there was only one available award and that was for the best overall blog. So it is harder for people to get recognised for their good blogging.

Stephen Tall who won the original awards back in the day (2006 is back in the day apparently). At the awarfs he spoke and said, ‘even to talk about blogs now seems almost retro with generating the buzz today. Blogging is bigger than it was all those years ago, but among Lib Dems it’s on the decline. At its peak there were 250+ Lib Dem bloggers. Today there are around 200 active Lib Dem blogs curated at Ryan Cullen’s aggregator.’

Now whilst it is true that not everyone has left the party it should be noted that membership has declined at a faster rate than active bloggers. The biggest concern for me this year wasn’t that the quality of blogs were down but that the quality of new blogs was down. In 2011 the shortlist for Best New Blog was fantastic but this year it was won by a blog with a collection of writers. Nothing wrong with that but a collection of writers will not develop a niche and a following. Blogging is primarily used as a place to express an opinion on a subject and unless you have your own one it is hard to get into a rhythm or a flow.

Why have we not seen a new crop of bloggers come through? My guess (and it is a guess) is that the lull is new bloggers is linked to the lull in new active members. If there are fewer new members then logically there would be fewer new bloggers. I think that seems relatively obvious. Some of the most established bloggers have deserted the party either for pastures new or because they just couldn’t stomach what Lib Dems were doing in government any more. That is of course their right but it has meant that a lot of the technical blogging looking at policy etc. has disappeared. Also some have had changes in their lives which mean they have no time to dedicate to blogging.

Blogging is often full of enthusiasm for a while until life circumstances change and that it withers and dies and Andrew Emmerson pointed out in his post on the subject. I will say I disagree with him that blogging is a dying art. I read many blogs. Most people will at least have a few blogs they read semi-regularly whether it be through links on social media or watching a feed or just going to the site every few days to see what new has been written.

There will always too be new bloggers coming up and established bloggers on the decline. That is the nature of the beast and the nature of life. Looking solely at the Lib Dem blogosphere it would be harsh to say it was on a terminal decline. Would it be nice if a few new faces started writing? Sure it would but you can never have enough new bloggers in the world but this is linked more to do with the party membership and lack of movement on the ‘incoming’ ledger than it does to blogging as a medium.

On the point of the awards. Do people blog to win awards? I don’t think they do. Do awards and recognition in the Golden Dozen stroke egos and enthuse people to write and blog more? Of course they do. Look we all have egos. Anyone who says they don’t have an ego is a liar. Some will need it stroked more than others but to some degree we all have one. We all work harder if someone tells us we are doing a good job in any form of life. That is human nature.

However having said that no-one starts out a blog to win an award. They start one to have a voice of their own in the maddening crowd that is the interwebs. I believe that quality of work will speak for itself and in time if you write enough good stuff people will find it and read it and keep coming back to read more. Views stroke the ego as much as awards do. Do the party need to do more to promote blogging and actively get people to blog more? I don’t think they do. Blogging has to be a personal passion and if you blog because you feel it is wanted or expected then the quality and longevity of the blogging will not be as high as those who just want to blog because they enjoy it. That is just what I think anyway.

Open up the blogging awards more is all well and good but if people are stopping blogging because they don’t feel that they are getting the love from the judging panel then I wonder if they truly enjoy blogging in the first place. Obviously I speak from a personal perspective (I’ve been told off for this before by other Lib Dem bloggers – apparently I shouldn’t go on what I feel or what I see but more on what the collective sees) but I blog because I enjoy it. Yes I love the views etc. but I once spent seven hours composing a 5,000+ word blog on feminism and not even fifty people read it. Did I stop blogging? No. I was just glad that I had written it.

So all in all the problems (if there are any) in the Lib Dem blogosphere is two-fold. Established bloggers have left the party and their expertise in technical policy blogging has disappeared and a lack of new people joining the party and in turn blogging. The deal with the blogging awards and the Golden Dozen for me isn’t a huge issue. Get more members and woo back the old guard and we’ll be fine.

PS: Richard Morris says it has been a miserable 24 hours for his blogging ego. I know it was tongue in cheek but he wrote a fantastic piece yesterday entitled ‘I’m starting a campaign to make the most democratic of all the party conferences…democratic‘ so he shouldn’t be too downbeat. Good blogging will always be noticed. Does that help stroke your ego Richard? ;o)

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Economy concerns fall by 7% but the biggest riser is in housing – Latest from Ipsos Mori

The latest news from the Ipsos Mori issues index is that people are worrying far less about the economy than they have for over a year. The lowest score since last spring was recorded in September when the company asked people what the number one issue facing Britain today was. Economy scored 61% in August but that dipped to 54% in September as many more fringe issues picked up votes.

These included the NHS (+2%), Crime (+3%), Inflation (+2%), Education (+2%), Poverty (+2%) but most interesting Housing went up 3% compared to August and thus is at its highest point since the autumn of 2008. This is very interesting timing at Ed Balls will announce today that if he were in power he would use the money from the 4G auction to fund 100k new affordable homes across the country. These polling statistics hint that this will be warmly received across the country with the electorate.

However the Economy & Unemployment still dominate with 54% and 34% of people mentioning these issues when contacted by the research company. The economy hit a peak of 71% in June 2010 just after the General Election. This is no surprise as Greece was burning and a coalition had been formed just to fix the economy. Want to know the interesting tid-bit though? The last poll before the General Election only 55% of people were concerned about the economy. So that is a 16% leap in one month. Have the government scared people into undue concern about the economy?

This is an issue I have pondered for a long time. Look the economy is in a mess but if you keep saying how bad things are and keep mud-slinging then people are going to be scared to invest or buy products. If I drove would I buy a new car in this climate? I probably wouldn’t. I would be too scared that I have spent so much on a product only for it to lose 15-20% of its value just by driving it off the forecourt. Are people buying new TVs in this climate unless they really need to or are people waiting more for the sales? I have a few pennies in the bank and I want a tablet computer but I’m probably now going to wait for the iPad 4 in March as buying an Ipad 3 now would seem like a waste when an updated product is out in just six months.

Now of course I’m not your typical person as I’m known to not exactly throw my money around but people are being more cautious and rightly so. However are people being too cautious about saving for that metaphorical rainy day? I think they are and I lay the blame squarely at the feet of politicians. They need to stop saying how bad things are and start talking about how good things will be once the recovery has started. We need to hear more of what will happen and more of a plan of action apart from the rhetoric that we currently have which is ‘the sky is falling and its all your fault’ (which all the parties throw at each other).

Sometimes I really get pissed off at those in power who prefer to engage in the blame game than actually dealing with issues. I throw this at all parties. I like to know whose fault something was but I prefer to know the solution to the problem than who caused the problem in the first place. Surely that is the important issue? If this coalition government bring back strength, growth and trust in the economy then people are far more likely to care about who it was that screwed the economy over. People care about the plumber who fixes their heating, they don’t care as much about the plumber who failed to fix it properly the last time it broke.

I would like to address housing as well as this spike shows that there is a lack of affordable housing in this country. I am 29 and I live in rented accommodation. Due to the fact that I am self-employed it would be very hard for me to get a mortgage on anywhere in the area that I live so if I wanted to buy then I’d have to move. I think many people face similar issues and with the current state of banks not lending and a lack of building going on because no-one can afford to buy we are in a catch-22 and is a serious issue.

The problem with building affordable housing is will anyone to able to afford to buy them? At the moment because of the mortgage issue along with the economy people are being more hesitant to invest in bricks and mortar of their own. For me I’d love to buy but renting actually gives you a bit of freedom. If things go tits up in my work life then if I had a mortgage I’d be struggling to pay it because I’d have put down a hefty deposit. If I continue to rent then that money is in my bank instead of down on a deposit so is available to me to invest in rent or invest in other issues.

It is a hard one but affordable housing is vital not only to get people into their own homes but also to get a whole sector moving. I’m not surprised people are starting to talk more and more about it. Parents don’t want adult children living at home any more. They want them to fly the nest and set up on their own and start families (sorry mum – that bit isn’t happening) and be happy. Living at home whilst prudent doesn’t help starting families etc…

So all in all I am surprised fewer people are worried about the economy than any time since the spring of 2011 but I’m not shocked at all that housing worries are the highest that they have been since 2008. As for how the government are scaring us all about the economy. I don’t think scaring people into a recovery works. Change the rhetoric MPs. Please for the love of God change the rhetoric.

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