Thursday, 28 February 2013

Dos and don'ts of dating - What turns girls off boys?

       6’ 2”, handsome, athletic and with the biggest, bluest eyes I’d ever seen, Matthew* was by far the handsomest guy in college. And he’d asked ME for a date!
       At first, everything went well. We met at the railway station and travelled to a party where we could sit and talk. Travelling and sitting were no problem. It was also gratifying to note the envious stares of other girls as I entered the room on the arm of this magnificent hunk.
       It was when he started talking the rot set in. The entire evening passed with detailed reminiscences of his every achievement, no matter how small - from his first day at kindergarten to the present. Mistaking my polite head nodding for genuine interest, he recreated every argument he’d ever won, every goal he’d ever scored and every compliment he’d ever received.  
       Did we ever go out together again? Not on your life!
Boys – if you’re looking for a genuine relationship with a girl, there are certain things you really need to know!
Good communication
       You may be the most wonderful musician/footballer/artist/IT wizard in the world but constantly talking about yourself is NOT the way to a fair maid’s heart, especially when you boast. Okay, five minutes explaining the intricacies of Windows 8 may be illuminating – 2 hours of it tends to drag a little!
       The whole point of communication is that it has to be TWO-way. In other words, no matter how marvellous you are, shut up occasionally and listen to your hoped-to-be-girlfriend. The key to being interesting is being interested. One young lady called Melissa* sums it up beautifully: “Boys may be attracted to what they see, whereas girls are more attracted by what they hear.”
       Jenny* values conversation more than gifts: “If a boy can hold a good conversation and encourage and comfort you with words...Wow! That’s attractive!”
Good manners
       Most of us can appear well-mannered on special occasions, rather like wearing a smart suit. But if courtesy goes back in the ‘wardrobe’ after your cousin’s wedding or that important job interview or whatever, your true nature quickly becomes evident to people around you.  This is why you need to practice. Just like charity, kindness and consideration starts at home, so try being nice to parents and siblings and by the time you meet that special girl, good manners will come naturally.
Taking the initiative
       Don’t play games. If a girl seems to enjoy your company (which, of course, she will if you take note of the first two ‘turn ons’) and you’ve developed feelings towards her, tell her. She’s not a mind-reader. Being genuine and upfront demonstrates maturity so, even if she’s not yet ready for romance, she’ll certainly respect you.
       Rejection may be hard to take, but there’s no reason to get all heavy and emotional. After all, it’s not a marriage proposal, it’s just a date – and an overly serious approach may intimidate the girl. Okay, she may say ‘no’, in which case, just accept it with a shrug, keep it light and stay friends.
Poor hygiene
       Keep muddy knees and stained T-shirts for the football field. And remember to brush your teeth after a night on the beer and Vindaloo. Girls like boys to be clean, tidy, fresh-smelling and stylish. Of course, there are girls who enjoy doing ‘make-overs’ on their boyfriends and as time goes by they’ll doubtless impress their fashion tastes on you! But if you want a relationship to get that far, remember: First impressions count.
Personal remarks
       Whether through shyness, not knowing what to say or sheer bad manners, personal remarks are a really big ‘No No’, especially when directed at a girl you hardly know. Telling her she looks like “You know, that woman in that detective series.....the one with the glasses” (especially when the actress is not so glam) will not endear you. Nor will questions such as: “Why do you stand like that?”, “Do you always wear trousers?” or “What are you thinking?” These are intrusive and controlling.
       Even compliments can irritate. Says Andrea:* “I like a boy to be polite and never overly familiar. Rather than telling me I look cute or smell nice, he should be able to hold meaningful conversations and listen to what I say as well as expressing his own views.” Her friend Stella* agrees: “What impresses me is when a boy talks to me naturally, remembering things I’ve said and exchanging opinions.”
Playing games
       Some boys who have no trouble attracting girls may even make light of it, competing with male friends to see who can ‘pull’ the most and playing one girl off against another. Such games are cruel, can earn you a bad reputation and may scupper your chances in the future. 
       Girls are quick to spot a flirt, a young man who may flatter and suggest but has no real intention of forming a relationship. Flirts are untrustworthy, make unreliable friends and are viewed as poor marriage material. Says Amanda:* “It’s unattractive when a boy says something flattering which you know he’s already said to someone else a few weeks earlier.”
       One danger of toying with a girl is making her feel you’re romantically attached to her. Asking for her mobile number creates expectations, which again is cruel when you’re not really interested.
       “Boys don’t always realise how soon a girl can get emotionally involved,” says Alice*. “Most girls want to fall in love and any boy who seems kind and caring is a potential Mr Right.”
       Sorry guys, but even if you look like Justin Bieber, have loads of money, or sport an impressive six-pack, there may be just one girl who doesn’t fancy you. In that case, dignify her by accepting her refusal without getting provoked or trying to pressurise her into a date. The more you try, the more she’s likely to resist – and may even come to view you as a stalker!
*Names changed
*Check out my previous blog “Dos and don’ts of dating – what turns boys off girls”  


Friday, 22 February 2013

Dos and don’ts of dating - What turns boys off girls?

        I once knew somebody beautiful. Blonde, model-girl slim and with a face any film star would envy. Oh, yes, Mary* attracted the boys all right! Like moths to a candle, flies to a jam jar.  The problem was, despite her many besotted admirers, few stuck around beyond the first couple of dates.

       Was she the proverbial dumb blonde? Hardly. Not only was Mary an absolute stunner but she was intelligent, well educated and articulate. So what went wrong? What was lacking?
       Sadly, being in a beautiful package can be a curse for some. If you’re pretty, unlike many of your peers, you may actually get asked out by that amazing first Crush. (You know the one – the Justin Bieber lookalike, the Bandbox Beau who never scuffs his shoes.) Nothing wrong with that, of course, providing you’ve had time to develop a Personality.  To have formed your own ideas, have a few goals to aim for. Because even though some boys go purely for looks, their interest may be purely physical and rarely for the long term.
       A well-balanced young man, on the other hand, wants a girl to contribute something to the relationship, someone with convictions and a healthy view of her strengths and weaknesses.  Adam* remarks: “I like a girl with her own opinions, who’s confident enough to express herself and...well...just be herself.”
       James* admits to being drawn to pretty girls but quickly cools off if a girl has no worthwhile goals. “If she knows where she’s going in life, what she wants to do, that makes her very attractive – especially if she’s achieved some goals already.”
       And, when searching for a solid relationship, mature young men aren’t swayed by simpering, giggly girls, however beautiful, who hang on his every word. “I appreciate girls who are honest, respectful and don’t always agree with me,” says Kieron*. “Girls who just say what they think I want to hear are a real turn-off.”
Showing respect
       In a survey involving hundreds of young men, 60 percent said they valued respect more than love, while 70 percent of older men were of the same mind.
       Respecting your boyfriend doesn’t mean giving in all the time, agreeing with everything he says. After all, you have a right to your own views. But even when you don’t see eye to eye, it’s the WAY you express yourself that counts. Some girls can be so opinionated they’ll constantly contradict, correct or belittle their dates, putting the relationship on a fast-track to nowhere.
       If – sorry WHEN – you disagree, acknowledge your friend’s viewpoint, commend him on his insight, then forward your own view in a calm, reasoned manner. Instead of saying, “That’s rubbish!” for example, try this approach: “I understand where you’re coming from and can see you’ve considered the matter, but have you thought of this angle....?” Give the lad his dignity.
Dressing modestly
       Trust me girls – if you can see up it, down it, or through it, leave it on the hanger (or handkerchief drawer!) ready for your next beach holiday.  Boys may ogle Page 3 pin-ups but rarely want their own pretty woman to dress like a streetwalker! And, unless you’re off to muck out stables or decorate a house together, forego those comfy frayed jeans and holey jumpers.
       Well-arranged, modest and stylish is the key. Make sure your clothes are neat and clean, your hair’s shiny, you’re nicely made-up and you look as though you’ve made an effort.
Being clingy
       When two people marry they become ‘one flesh’ and each may need to give up some of the freedom they had as singletons. But by the time to they sign the register, they’re already deeply, deeply committed to each other.
       But after a couple of dates? When you’ve only been out together for a few weeks or months, being clingy and possessive will only repel the object of your affections. Early in the relationship you simply don’t have the RIGHT to demand his attention 24/7 or to know how he spends every moment away from you. In contrast, your recognising his right to have other friends and to pursue his favourite sports and hobbies will intrigue him.
       According to Tim*, being constantly texted is a big turn-off. “If a girl I’ve only just met keeps texting, wanting to know who I’m with all the time, especially any girls, then I see that as a serious warning.”
       And remember, if he can’t be trusted, then why would you want him anyway?
       A pretty girl exerts a lot of power over the opposite sex, which can be used positively or negatively. Let’s face it, it’s flattering when men pay you attention but, if you test your attractiveness on every male you meet, you’ll soon be known as a flirt.
       Many boys agree that a girl who frequently touches them when talking or is always glancing at other passing males is hardly girlfriend material.
Having no values
       We live in a world where sex is on tap and values such as loyalty, endurance,  duty, respect, self-sacrifice and modesty – all the qualities needed for a successful marriage – are often discounted.
       But with everything in life there’s a code of behaviour, a standard below which we should never allow ourselves to sink. Girls who are prepared to ignore this truth in pursuit of a boy, do so at their peril. Because not matter what you do, or how beautiful you are, there will always be boys who just don’t like you, which can be just as well.
       Being liked and fancied are two very different things and it’s important to decide just which category you want to be in. A passing fancy? A one-night stand? Or a young woman of integrity who really values herself.
       If you want to be liked - genuinely liked and respected - then you're sure to attract the right kind of boy.

*Names changed

Look out for my next blog “Dos and don’ts of dating – what turns girls off boys”  


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Panto press - Meet Robin Hood & his Merry Donkey

       “I want a donkey.”
       “I want a donkey.”
       There’s no budging Jule*. Once she gets a bee in her bonnet - or, in this case, a donkey - I might just as well capitulate.  Still, I’ve a good ten minutes to spare, so why not enjoy a little diva-dom with my coffee and cake.
      “But why a donkey?” I ask. “Pray tell, as I’m really curious to know.”
      “Because I LIKE donkeys!” says Jule as if that explained anything. 
      “What I mean is,” I persist, “what‘s your motivation?  If any.” The sarcasm is lost on Jule, who merely sighs, as if dealing with a particularly temperamental actor, interrupted mid-soliloquy. 
       “Now don’t go all Strasbourg on me,” says Jule, “There’s no room in Pantomime for budding Marlon Brandos and the like. No one else in the company has artistic differences.”
      “Bet they do!” I mumble. “Anyway, let’s not change the issue. Having a donkey just doesn’t make sense! After all, wolves were far more prevalent in medieval times – especially in Sherwood Forest.  Or, we could have a bear! That'd be fun."
       "Wolf - Red Riding Hood. Bears - Goldilocks. Donkey - Robin Hood. That's the way of it!"
       "You're very conventional all of a sudden," I say. "Unless, of course, you’re planning to plonk Robin and his merry men on Blackpool sands. Now there's a thought! Plenty of donkeys THERE! Hey! We could even have a Punch & Judy show in case the audience get bored!”
      Jule sighs again. “We have this argument every year, and every year......”
      “And every year you get your own way!” I wail. “I have ideas too, you know! If you cut me, do I not bleed.....!”
      “Now who’s changing the issue?” says Jule, so calmly it’s infuriating.
      “I want a donkey.”

*For the uninitiated, Jule Watson is artistic director for Act One Panto, a professional touring theatre company
*Speaking of Robin and his merry men, I recently visited the supposed resting place of Little John at the graveyard of St Michael’s – an imposing 14th century church.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


Chapter 2
       “PEST CONTROL TO PANTHER Z! COME IN PANTHER Z!” Unnerved by Albert’s less than dulcet tones, I almost hit the kerb!
       “Panther Z! Are you receiving me! This is Pest Control! Repeat, this is Pest Control! Come in Panther Z!”
       Now, Albert Scrum is not a man to be ignored. Realising he’d just keep upping the decibels until I replied, I decided the safest thing to do was stop as soon as I could.  “This had better not be another errand to the sandwich shop!” I muttered under my breath. Albert had a nasty habit of getting his crew to fetch his dinner for him.
       At last, after several minutes of non-stop earache from my radio, I saw a convenient parking space along Strewsbury Mold’s main highway and sighed gratefully as I drew to a halt. Relief however was short-lived. I couldn’t find the blasted receiver and, even when I eventually did, couldn’t decide which button to press. “Aww, why can’t we have Bluetooth like everybody else!?” I sighed. And all the time, Albert carried on. And on. And on. And on....
       “PEST CONTROL TO PANTHER Z, come in, this is an emergency.....! Panther Z are you receiving me....PANTHER Z come in PLEASE! Panther Z.....”
       “Oh shut UP Albert!” I yelled, not realising, of course, that I’d finally hit the right button, so my despairing cry could now be heard by everyone at Pest Control HQ.
       Albert sounded quite offended. “No need to shout,” he said. “There’s never any need to shout.”
       “So what’s the emergency, then,” I asked.  “Have you run out of milk?”
       “Ha Ha, very funny, I don’t think!” Albert replied. “As a matter of fact, it’s a matter of life and death. There’s a vicious dog marauding round St Mary’s Infant’s School. Better hurry before one of the kids gets savaged.”
       “Say no more!”  I said, revving the engine, “I’m on my way!”
       Moments later, I turned into the Infant School’s main gates to witness an extraordinary sight. A somewhat portly lady was standing on a wheelie bin in one corner of the playground blowing her whistle with all her might. In the opposite corner, a group of 3 to 4-year-olds were huddled together, some screaming, others shrieking with delight, as a young and over-enthusiastic Border Collie surrounded them, slinking from one tot to another to make sure none would escape the ‘fold’.
       The dinner lady blew her whistle again, unwittingly sending a new signal to the collie. Leaving his charges, he darted suddenly towards another group of children and, after singling out a particularly defiant toddler, began weaving and circling and yapping, encouraging the boy to join his playmates in the corner, just as he would a particularly obstinate sheep. 
       On catching sight of me, the dinner lady stopped whistling long enough to exclaim, “Thank goodness you’re here! That dog’s been rounding up children for the last half hour! Goodness knows what their parents will say!”
       “Has he bitten anyone?” I asked.
       The dinner lady looked blank. “ least I don’t think so. But he’s obviously a danger....I mean LOOK at him!”
       By now, the dog had gathered his latest acquisition to the fold and flopped down onto his belly, ears pricked up, alert to any potential escapees.
       “He’s just following his instincts,” I said. “After all, herding’s what collies do.”
       “Excuse my ignorance,” came the sarcastic reply, “But last I heard, collies were meant to herd SHEEP. Not infants!” She was so angry, she nearly fell off the wheelie bin.
       “Ah well, that’s the problem. Border collies need work to do and if there’s no sheep around, well.... They’re not really town dogs, you know.”
       “So now he’s David Attenborough!” The dinner lady sniffed contemptuously. “You’re supposed to be a dog catcher, so do your job and catch the ruddy thing!”
       Now this is a gross misconception. Most dog wardens are, like yours truly, genuine dog lovers, not sidekicks to Cruella De Ville! I was just about to tell the lady that when Albert’s voice boomed out from the radio again.
       “PEST CONTROL TO PANTHER Z! Come in Panther Z! This is an emergency!”
       “Oh no, you don’t!” said the dinner lady as I made for the van. “You’re not going anywhere until you’ve rescued those poor children from that nasty, evil animal!”
       Torn between the insistent Albert Scrum and the angry dinner lady, I decided to deal with the latter – even though the dog was quite happily wagging his tail and tenderly caring for his ‘flock’. Besides, she was the one within striking distance and, I fancied, had a formidable right hook.
       I whistled and, immediately, the collie leapt up and trotted towards me, earning himself a pat on the head for his obedience.
       “Good boy!” I said. “You see?” I said to the dinner lady, “He’s quite gentle really. In fact, there’s many teachers I know who’d pay to have a helper like him.” The woman merely sniffed again, disdainfully.
              Ignoring her, I turned to the dog. “Okay mate! Into the van with you. It’s time to get you home to your owners.”
       Now there was only Albert to deal with. He was still shouting as I started the engine and drove away from the school.
       “Pest Control to Panther Z......!”
       “Yes! What IS it Albert?”
       This question was met by an aggrieved silence.
       “That is the wrong procedure,” said Albert.
       “Okay, okay, now just give me the message.”
       But there was no such thing as ‘just’ where Albert was concerned. “Unless you follow the correct procedure, I’m unable to convey instructions.....”
        “You must be joking.....!”
       Albert was insistent. “Unless you follow the correct procedure.....!”
       “All right!” I yelled. “Panther Z to Pest Control. Receiving you! Loud and Clear! NOW can I have the message?”
       “Okay Panther Z, this is your next assignment. Proceed to Strewsbury Mold shopping centre and purchase 1 steak & kidney pie, 1 bag of chips and 1 large custard!”

Read the first chapter here: