Sunday, 30 June 2019

It's been a good week:

The meeting with Ortons Writers Circle went great and the feedback I got on a poem allowed me to polish it off and upload it on Wednesday. I've got another poem for the group to review soon.


Saturday, 29 June 2019

If you do this on a first date, you’re more likely to find the one

Tamir Davis from, a supporting platform for up-and-coming journalists, sent me this fascinating piece on activity dating. Bin off the Bar. Curtail the Club. Do something unusual for a first date.
  • 85% of Brits who went to golf-related venues such as TopGolf, Junkyard Golf and Swingers for a first date found a higher success rate for a second date.
  • Other creative first dates which resulted in second dates include: Ping Pong (81%), Bowling (65%) and Amusement Park (52%)
  • 87% of those surveyed stated that activity dating would allow them to feel more comfortable when meeting someone for the first time.
  • 89% of daters would also be ‘very likely’ to see someone again if their first date was creative and not cliché.
Online dating has rapidly become one of the most dominant ways Brits look for love – in fact it’s the third most popular means for meeting a long-term partner, and around half of all 18 to 34-year-olds are now using dating apps, according to the BBC.
But have you ever considered which types of first dates have the highest success rates? Recent statistics from reported that two thirds of Brits stated that they would choose to go to a chain restaurant on a first date, with the most popular choices including: Frankie & Benny’s (33%), Pizza Express (27%) and Nando’s (25%). But in doing so, success rates for a second date shockingly only amount to 4 in 10 (44%).
However, it seems Brits are moving away from conventional dating norms and taking a new approach in the form of “activity dating”, such as crazy golf, ping pong and rock climbing/bouldering. 
To illustrate just how popular activity-based first dates are, surveyed more than 1,000 British men and women between the ages of 18-35 to discover just how inclined they are to avoid cliché date ideas, and which activities appeal most for a first date and the chances of securing a second date.
Golfsupport can reveal that 85% of people who went to golf-related venues, such as TopGolf, Junkyard Golf and Swingers, found a higher success rate for a second date (85%) than those who stuck to the traditional dinner date (44% as per Once).
Other successful creative first dates which resulted in a second date include:
  • Ping Pong - 81% success rate
  • Picnic – 78% success rate
  • Bowling – 65% success rate
  • Rock climbing – 59% success rate
  • Amusement Park (Thorpe Park, Alton Towers) – 52% success rate
  • Snooker/Pool – 51% success rate
  • Ice-skating – 47% success rate
  • Trampoline Park – 44% success rate
Respondents also stated why they think leisure-based first dates lead to higher success rates:
  • The conversation naturally flowed due to the nature of the date’ (83%)
  • It was a fun setting’ (74%)
  • It was different to my usual dating scenario’ (67%)
  • There weren’t any awkward silences’ (62%) also found that 87% of those surveyed stated that activity dating would allow them to feel more comfortable when meeting someone for the first time and would be more likely to go on a first date which was creative over one that wasn’t (92%).
Not to mention, a whopping 89% of daters responded they would also be ‘very likely’ to accept a second date thereafter.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Volvo Releases Cars for People Needing Heightened Protection: Did the Breaking Bad Writers Know?

Fans of Breaking Bad will have noticed that meth-kingpin-cum-chicken-shop-proprietor Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) has a rather low-key form of transport, namely a 1998 Volvo V70. 

It seems, though, that inconspicuousness might not be the only reason Fring chose this particular car brand.

With the release of the Volvo XC90 Armoured, Volvo Cars takes another step as a manufacturer of armoured vehicles. The cars are designed and built to provide safe and comfortable travel with a high level of personal protection for the occupants.
"We are proud to be able to offer these armoured cars. With our armoured cars, we can provide vehicles with a high level of personal security for individuals who require heightened protection," says Stephan Green, Marketing Director at Volvo Cars Special Vehicles.
There is a growing global market for armoured vehicles at present, and a large number are manufactured with various protection ratings. Volvo Cars has received numerous requests over the past few years to develop an armoured XC90. Volvo Cars has extensive experience of building police cars, fire engines and diverse special vehicles with high requirements in terms of function, driveability and safety. In fact, the first Volvo police car was delivered back in 1929.
"The XC90 Armoured (heavy) with VR8* protection rating (VPAM BRV 2009/ERV 2010) enables us to offer a car that provides a high level of protection while retaining the car's fundamental properties. Potential customers include security services who would use the car to transport high-profile individuals," says Green.
Work to develop a car with a VPAM VR8 protection rating commenced just over two years ago. A certified VPAM VR8 rating means the car has 360-degree ballistic resistance as well as explosive resistance.
The armoured car is built on the Inscription version of the Volvo XC90 T6 AWD, which is manufactured at the Torslanda plant in Sweden. The size and nature of the model make it the most suitable vehicle in Volvo Cars' product portfolio for armouring. From Torslanda, the car is sent to TRASCO Bremen GmbH in Germany, a company which has specialised for many years in building high-quality vehicles with high protection ratings.
"Production is classified, with stringent procedures and oversight in place in order to attain the stipulated ballistic requirements," says Green.
The high-strength steel armour is 10 millimetres thick, while the thickness of the glass can be up to 50 millimetres. The armour adds approximately 1,400 kilograms to the XC90, which brings the total weight of the car up to 4,490kg (including five occupants). To cope with the increased weight, the car is fitted with uprated suspension and new brakes.
"Production is carried out with extreme diligence, which is imperative in order to fulfil the exceptionally high requirements placed on this class of security product. We strive to ensure that the car retains its properties despite the extensive armouring. The armour is fitted discreetly to make the car barely distinguishable from a standard XC90. Every customer also has their own unique requirements, which we satisfy by means of customised production," says Green.
The Volvo XC90 Armoured (heavy) is available to order now and the first customer deliveries will be made at the end of 2019.
Volvo Cars also develops another version of the armoured car (light). This means that Volvo Cars has a full portfolio of cars able to offer high personal protection. These cars are built on the XC60 T6 AWD Inscription or XC90 T6 AWD Inscription.
These versions are geared towards different clientele than the XC90 Armoured (heavy). Users could be individuals or companies requiring a car with a higher level of protection due to a geographical risk or a heightened personal threat. A market for these types of protective vehicles also exists among security services, the police, the diplomatic corps and private individuals.
The cars are intended for Latin America and Europe. After construction, they are retrofitted in Brazil, where there is considerable demand for these types of cars as well as substantial experience of building them. These vehicles are designed to offer lighter protection compared with the XC90 Armoured (heavy).
The cars will undergo a battery of ballistic tests to ensure the required protection rating is fulfilled. They primarily provide protection against handguns.
The weight of the car is increased by around 250 kilograms, which is compensated for by upgrading the brakes and suspension. This means that the fundamental properties remain largely unchanged compared to the standard car.
Sales of these cars are scheduled to begin in the first half of 2020. Neither fried chicken nor meth included with purchase.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019


Bags under my eyes, that comes as no surprise,
Staring right at my eyelids for most of the night
Tryna change my viewpoint, get a bigger panorama
Though when you've had Citalopram it comes around much harder
Feeling redundant like an out of date Pepsi
Waking up at random times just like it's narcolepsy
There isn't any cure, you can't just slap on ointment
Just pick up the phone and book another appointment
Sorry, Mr Tuckey, we're an oversubscribed clinic
Our next slot's in six weeks, want me to book you in it?
Another boring clerk, another warning in work
If I make another error I'll go terribly berserk
I try to change my diet up, eat more sweet potatoes,
no matter what I eat, guess which way my weight goes
And that's the way my day goes, it takes a lot from me
Try to live my life like I'm a man and not a zombie
Way past my prime and already a has-been
Thirty-something bachelor, wired on Mirtazapine
But there's always that moment when your head hits the pillow
Where all the day's thoughts start to swell and billow
I forgot one thing, and I didn't do another
Regrets and missed opportunities asunder
All my mistakes and countless blunders
Feeling like the carpet's been pulled out from under
My feet while I'm just trying to stand like a man
The slightest inconvenience I'm out of the chip pan
And into the fire where my thoughts will roar
Calm on the outside but feelings still raw
Here's something to explore: Can I accept my weaknesses,
Lying on my mattress, and sleep with peacefulness?
A zombie-like stillness outside on the surface,
But my heart still beats, and that's why there's a purpose.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Feedback on creative writing / comic events

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Well, the meeting with a PR company went well this morning- I may be volunteering there soon.

Tomorrow night I'm meeting with Orton's Writers Circle, hopefully getting some feedback on a poem. This meetup is full, but there are others you can sign up to. It's an incredibly popular group so you'll have to be fast if you want your work critiqued. I'll be signing up to another in the coming weeks.

This weekend sees Comic Con World come to Blackpool. The event is keen to stress it isn't connected to 2015's disastrous event which saw hideously long queues to get in. It's a totally different company, operating both Saturday and Sunday again in the humongous Winter Gardens.

The Saturday also sees Golden Orbit's comic fair take place at Sacha's hotel in the Northern Quarter. I've found them to be a lot better value than the comic cons. No meetups for the last 2, but they'd both be great for a solo wander.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Public Relations Month Results

I've spent the last month looking into the field of PR, reading books, watching documentaries and dramas portraying the industry or connected industries, and I've looked for opportunities in the process.

Before the project began I'd emailed a list of local PR companies asking if I could volunteer. In the midst of this, though, I moved out, and am still in fact finishing off bits of decorating. More recently I've got back in touch with a few contacts and I have a meeting tomorrow with a Managing Director of a local PR firm. I'm hoping it will lead to at least a few weeks' worth of experience.

I've been to 2 great PR launches from Go:Pr and Events: Olivers Club barbers in Wilmslow and The Studio yoga centre in Macclesfield, making contacts, asking questions, getting to know people, and of course getting pictures with celebs. I've been to 1 comic con and 1 charity birthday party and had 5 celebrity encounters: Steve Guttenberg, Erika Eleniak, Zach Galligan, Kieron Richardson and Rachel Lugo.

What I haven't done, though, is set foot in an actual PR office in the time I've been doing this project. I had done in January, though: I'd spent 2 weeks on placement. What that placement taught me, and what has been reinforced through doing this project, is that I've found my niche- I've just got to get into it.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

The Studio Launch

Thursday night saw the launch of The Studio, a Cheshire Yoga gym in leafy Nether Alderley.

The owner Louise gave me a tour of the luxurious facilities, which include a heated room for classes, top-notch changing and shower facilities (including bladeless Dyson hair-dryers), a reception area with an emphasis on social (places to sit, healthy drinks and snacks for sale) and plenty of disabled access. The studio is colour coded for chakras (I gather regular yoga people will understand this).

A gorgeous venue and a great launch by Go PR and Events

DJ Sarah Giggle giving a demo



Monday, 17 June 2019

Time running out on PR / Netflix stuff

This week: I've found For Immediate Release, a podcast about Public Relations featuring experts from the UK and USA. The site doesn't have a particularly decent landing page put you can take your pick with the episodes and you''ll learn something. The British and American presenters Give a good rundown of happenings in the sector as well as focussing on an aspect of PR, like 'Why Techies Make Great Speakers' and 'Circle of Fellows #45: Consumer Activism.'

The self-imposed deadline for my Public Relations project is Saturday. I haven't learned as much as I'd hoped, but that comes with having a half-decorated house needing attention. I've still got contacts to email and places to approach.

My deadline for Netflix is Tomorrow. It's my sister's account, and I haven't asked what happens next. Will I find out what happens to Walt in Breaking Bad? What happens to that Arsehole McLeash in Designated Survivor? And which characters make it to the end of the pending Season 3 of Ozark?

I'm happy to share the cost. Of course I am.

Sunday, 16 June 2019


Had a few friends round last night to celebrate the new place. A good party with good friends, music and food.

Still looking into PR, mentioning it to this person and that person. I typed 'public relations' into Netflix and found Designated Survivor, about a terror attack on Capitol Hill wiping out the President and most of the top brass, leaving Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Thomas Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) as the man who must take on the most powerful role in the world. There's a PR slant to it in that any political figure is going to have to interface with the media, and needs a team to optimise those encounters. Not exactly learning anything about said field of work but the story strands are fascinating.

Jamie Lomas (Hollyoaks / Eastenders / Coronation Street) follows me on Twitter. I will allow you a moment to absorb that.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Olivers Club Launch

Last night saw the launch of Olivers Club, a bar-and- barbers salon in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Describing itself as 'where rustic meets modern,' the venture from local lad Oliver Ritchie is located on Alderley Road and features traditional leather-upholstered barber seats, complimented with stylish oak and metal furnishings. During the day, both parts of the shop are open for service. Come the evening the concertina doors, I'm told, are pulled across the middle of the licensed venue and the bar continues its business.


I dropped in to the launch, organised by Go PR and Events. Also in attendance: Rachel Lugo and Tanya Bardsley from Real Housewives of Cheshire, Ross Worswick from Ex on the Beach and Jamie Lomas, Warren Fox in Hollyoaks and Jake Stone in Eastenders. Mike Toolan from Hits Radio swung by, as did Jason Manford, comedian from 8 out of 10 Cats. They bobbed in and out though- didn't get any pictures!

DJ Carlton Delingo span some nice quiet house music while we chatted, mingled and sampled delicious treats from Oliver's Chocolate Parties.

Oliver and his team showcased their talents by dishing out free men's haircuts for a few guests. They also do precision beard sculpting and traditional cut-throat shaves!

Another great launch- I'm sure it will go down a treat both day and night.