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According to statistics, 19% of Britons are classified as disabled.

The Government has a rather loose definition of disability as ReviseSociology explains (emphases mine):

Anyone ticking YES/ YES and either ‘my illness affects me a lot or a little’ is classified by the UK government as disabled.

The problem with the above is that if you have Asthma and similar mild conditions you could be classified as disabled, and this doesn’t tie in with the government’s own definition of disability which requires that someone has a condition which ‘substantially’ affects their ability to carry out every day tasks.

Stating that you have asthma which affects your breathing a little, does NOT IMO qualify you as disabled, but it does in this survey.

The government doesn’t publish the breakdown of responses to the final disability question, but it’s roughly a 50-50 split between those answering ‘a lot’ and ‘a little.

In conclusion, it might be more accurate to say that one in ten people is disabled.

Even so, that is still a lot of people.

The report, Family Resources Survey 2018/2019, states (p. 7, PDF p. 8):

Of those who reported a disability, 27 per cent reported a mental health impairment in 2018/19, up from 24 per cent in 2016/17. This is an increase of 12 per cent in the numbers of people reporting a mental health impairment, overtaking the number reporting dexterity impairments (which fell by five per cent).

The next page says:

Workingage adults were the most likely group to report mental health impairments, with 39 per cent of disabled workingage adults reporting this type of impairment, compared to 36 per cent in 2016/17. In contrast mobility impairments for disabled workingage adults have fallen from 43 to 40 per cent in the same period. Children were much more likely to have learning or social/behavioural impairments than adults. Thirtyfour per cent of disabled children were reported to have a learning impairment. Across all ages, there has been an 18 per cent increase in social/behavioural impairments during the last three years, with 42 per cent of disabled children now reporting a social/behavioural impairment.

Beneath that paragraph is an alarming graph breaking down reported disability by nation or, in the case of England, by region, with the following explanation:

The prevalence of people reporting a disability varied across the UK. The North East had the highest percentage of people reporting a disability in 2018/19; 28 per cent (0.7 million people). The percentage of people reporting a disability was higher than the UK national average in Wales (25 per cent), Scotland (24 per cent), and Northern Ireland (23 per cent). In contrast, London had the lowest percentage, 13 per cent, of people reporting a disability (1.2 million people), followed by the South East, with 19 per cent (1.7 million people).

These regional differences could partially be explained by the varying demographics in each region, for example disability prevalence may correlate with the percentage of the population of State Pension age in a particular region, noting that reporting of a disability is more than double amongst this age group, compared to the overall population (see Table 4.1 and 4.4 for full data).


A cynic would say that this is about benefits, or, in popular parlance, ‘being on the sick’.

With that in mind, I was intrigued and encouraged to read an article in The Guardian on February 13, 2023: ‘The big idea: your personality is not set in stone’.

It’s by David Robson, the author of The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Transform Your Life.

I skipped through the first half of the article, which most people commenting, sadly, did not. Here’s the main point:

What if educating people about their potential for personality change placed them on a more positive trajectory? To test this idea, Jessica Schleider, assistant professor of clinical psychology at Stony Brook University, New York, and John R Weisz, professor of psychology at Harvard, selected a group of around 100 adolescents who had previously shown signs of anxiety or depression. They took a brief computerised course that explained the science of brain plasticity, alongside statements from older students, who described the ways they had grown over their school years. They were then given worksheets to consolidate what they had learned.

When Schleider and Weisz checked in on the teens’ mental health nine months later, the students reported a significant decrease in their anxiety and depression compared with those who had instead taken part in a course on “emotional expression”. The same strategy has since been tested in other settings, with larger numbers of participants, that have produced equally positive outcomes. Teaching people about personality growth is not a panacea, but these results suggest that it may be a useful tool to help build greater psychological resilience.

Whether you are wrestling with serious issues or simply want to polish off your rougher edges, it is reassuring to know that character is ultimately within your own hands. DNA and our upbringing may predispose us to certain traits, but we also have the power to shape our future selves.

It is a pity that comments on the article were so negative. What logically-thinking person wouldn’t want to be less anxious or depressed?

Then again, some people use depression and anxiety — the two often go together — as a comfy cloak. I know one person who has been on anti-depressants for years. The dosage seems to get higher and higher as the decades pass. That person had a well-educated married mother who, for whatever reason, became a recluse in middle-age and stayed that way for the rest of her life. How tragic. Did my friend adopt a learned example?

Parliamentarians often bring up the UK’s mental health statistics during debates, especially those involving young people. It would seem to me that teaching youngsters about brain plasticity and hearing from older students who evolved positively during their school years would be a good direction in which to move. It would enable them to progress to further education, either in a trade or at university.

The article discusses another experiment involving changing personality traits:

In one 15-week trial of nearly 400 people, participants accepted an average of two challenges each week. Provided they actually completed those tasks, their traits shifted in the desired direction, according to a standard big five questionnaire.

Similarly exciting results could be seen in a later experiment, which used a smartphone app to coach participants in their desired big five traits. Crucially, this study involved a much larger sample – 1,500 people. And in addition to the typical self-report questionnaires, it asked participants’ friends and family to rate their personalities before and after the intervention. The differences were still apparent three months after the experiment had ended. As Aristotle argued more than 2,300 years ago, we become what we repeatedly do.

The unexpected malleability of our minds should be good news for anyone who wishes they were a bit more sociable, organised, or happy-go-lucky. Another potential benefit is that awareness of this research could help improve mental health.

What are we waiting for?

I remember when, in the 1980s, self-help books were all the rage. Maybe it’s time to give them — and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) — another look rather than play the victim.

Continuing my occasional columns on dating, The Guardian had an interesting agony aunt column last week about a woman who wondered why her libido had decreased in her relationship with her ‘gorgeous … soulmate’.

Instead, she prefers cuddling and snuggling with him.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly — psychologist, actress and comedian Billy Connolly’s wife — replied, in part:

In the past you found casual sex inspiring, but in a lasting relationship you will have to discover how to have satisfying sex without the thrill of a one-night stand. If there is genuine attraction between you and your current partner, this should be possible. If, however, your current situation is a relationship based more on a fantasy of what you think you want, it may not develop.

Yes, there is a frisson in an encounter where something forbidden is involved. Furthermore, the woman says in her letter that, prior to meeting her current beau, she had mere ‘situationships’ based on sexual congress. Men did not treat her well.

Now she has the real deal: a man who loves her for herself.

This is what I think is happening. Unlike Pamela Stephenson Connolly, I am not word-restricted. Also, unlike her, I am not a psychologist or a counsellor.

My thoughts are based purely on common sense.

It sounds to me as if this woman felt that she had to use her sexuality to attract a man. It is a working, rather than a winning, formula.

As such, the formula became a habit for her.

Suddenly, she no longer has to do that. So far, she has not had to do that for ten months. She is with a man who loves her as a person rather than as an object.

Part of her is finding it hard to adjust to a relationship based on appreciation from her boyfriend. She doesn’t behave with him the way she did in her situationships. It feels wrong because she is breaking what seems to have been a long-standing habit, possibly a deeply ingrained one.

The other part of her is relieved that she no longer has to behave as she previously did. She says she enjoys relaxing with her boyfriend. She enjoys his kisses and cuddles. She enjoys their conversations. Sexual congress is now taking a back seat for her, relatively speaking. It’s a new experience — and a new behavioural pattern — for her.

Through this relationship, she is making up for lost time, the hollowness she previously had. He is able to express his affection for her and she’s loving it. He’s filling that gap.

At long last, she is getting the emotional blanket of warmth she never had from her situationships.

Bottom line: true love is not necessarily exciting or thrilling. Instead, most often, it feels warm and cosy, all-encompassing, emotionally satisfying. It doesn’t raise worry or anxiety. It offers affirmation and reassurance.

She should give herself time to adjust accordingly. It might take several more months, perhaps longer.

I wish this lady, age unspecified, all the best with her boyfriend and hope that she sticks with him. He sounds like a prince of a fellow.

Those who have missed the first two parts in this series can read them here and here.

Job interview mindset

As I wrote yesterday, think of dating as a type of job interview. Be friendly yet impartial, because not every first or second date will be a success.

Julia Samuel, a therapist, recently explained the work mindset for The TimesIt involves setting emotional boundaries (emphases mine):

We need to bring a different — not robotic — but more robust version of ourselves to work. Work doesn’t need our “whole self” it needs our “work self”. When life is tough, having the familiar structure and purpose of work can save us. Switching off our inner distress at work — maintaining a “stiff upper lip”can be a healthy way to operate. We can switch back to dealing with our problems in the appropriate environment and may have a different, clearer response having had a break from ourselves.

Given the turbulence in the world, finding ways to balance ourselves and not pathologise normal feelings is key. Having the capacity to move between emotional states in different places is helpful for us individually and collectively.

“Private” and “professional” are useful descriptors that support us to recognise the boundary between work and home.

In 2014, Christian Rudder, one of OkCupid’s founders, wrote an article for The Guardian: ‘Seven secrets of dating from the experts at OkCupid’.

He says that data were important to him and the site’s other founders from the beginning:

I was one of the founders of OkCupid, a dating website that, over a very unbubbly long haul of 10 years, has become one of the largest in the world. I started it with three friends. We were all mathematically minded, and the site succeeded in large part because we applied that mindset to dating. I have led OkCupid’s analytics team since 2009, and my job is to make sense of the data our users create. Playing with the numbers helps us run our site. But as people bring technology deeper and deeper into their lives, it can show us profound and ridiculous things about who we are as human beings. Here are just a few examples.

What stood out was the very real comparison between dating sites and job sites. He posts charts and graphs to illustrate his points:

Every dating site has to have a way to measure how good-looking its users are. This helps keep the site healthy – you’re able to make sure nobody’s getting too much attention, make sure no one’s getting ignored. Unfortunately, despite our efforts, people still gravitate to the best-looking people

He then examines data from ShiftGig, a jobs site:

In either case, the male candidates’ curves are a flat line – a man’s looks have no effect on his prospectsand the female graphs are exponential. So these women are treated as if they’re on OkCupid, even though they’re looking for employment. Male HR reps weigh the female applicants’ beauty as they would in a romantic setting – which is either depressing or very, very exciting, if you’re a sexual discrimination lawyer. And female employers view it through the same (seemingly sexualised) lens, despite there (typically) being no romantic intent.

OkCupid’s analysts must have a field day with all their data. This, too, is interesting:

OkCupid matches people by asking them questions – we ask pretty much everything (from how often you brush your teeth, to whether you believe in God) – and the user answers on average about 300 of them. The site lets you decide the importance of each question you answer, and you can pinpoint the answers that you would (and would not) accept from a potential match.

People tend to run wild with those match questions, marking all kinds of stuff as “mandatory”, in essence putting a checklist to the world: I’m looking for a dog-loving, agnostic, nonsmoking liberal who’s never had kids – and who’s good in bed, of course. But very workaday questions like: “Do you like scary movies?” and: “Have you ever travelled alone to another country?” have amazing predictive power. If you’re ever stumped on what to ask someone on a first date, try those. In about three-quarters of the long-term couples OkCupid has brought together, both people have answered them the same way, either both “yes” or both “no”. That’s much, much higher than the expected rate, since both questions evenly split our user base. In fact, successful couples agree on scary movies – either they both like them or they both hate them – about as often as they agree on the existence of God.

Caution on public transport

In March 2022, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan banned staring on the Tube. It was his way of confirming an October 2021 Transport for London (TfL) campaign about sexual harassment.

On March 10 that year, The Telegraph reported:

Staring is sexual harassment, London commuters have been warned, as police and the Mayor told train passengers not to look at each other in an “intrusive” manner … 

TfL, which launched the campaign in October last year, said it aims to “send a strong message to offenders that sexual harassment is not tolerated on TfL’s services”.

“Sexual harassment is a form of violence, most often directed against women and girls in public places,” the transport network said in October … 

“The campaign aims to challenge the normalisation and dismissal of this behaviour as ‘something that happens’ to women and girls on public transport and in other public spaces, making it clear that it is never acceptable and that the strongest possible action will always be taken.”

Yet, in January 2023, TfL posted an advertisement for an app called Genie Connect, which enables Underground passengers to exchange a friendly message, presumably after eyeing each other during their journey. The reply shows the risk involved with unwanted attention:

First date red flags

On October 15, 2022, The Guardian listed 56 red flags on a first date.

I was surprised to find that constantly checking one’s mobile phone wasn’t on the list. That would be my No. 1 turnoff if I were ever going on a first date again.

Justin Myers, the author, probably doesn’t mind phone activity.

In introducing his list, he says:

The clueless romantics among us may struggle to identify ostensibly harmless behaviour as a sign of impending doom, but it all starts with the first date. Can you really tell from the way someone acts that dating them would be your biggest mistake since the night of the seven absinthes? Having observed more courting couples than I care to remember, these are the little red flags no self-respecting singleton can afford to ignore.

Most of the red flags involve a dinner date, beginning with first impressions (green bold emphases in the original):

Looks very different from their profile photos
Our digital mugshots benefit from a brightening filter or dab of the healing brush tool, true, but on a dating app, you must look like yourself, in photos taken within the last year. It’s like people (men) who lie about their height, with 6ft being the default, even for those who stand on a box to reach their bathroom sink. If they can create such an outrageous lie destined to be uncovered within seconds of meeting, what else might they feel comfortable lying about?

Orders something to share
Small plates, with cutlery, napkins and hand sanitiser nearby – fine. It can be fun to discuss what you’re trying, or arm wrestle over the last of the albondigas. But as for the “’scuse my fingers” horror, poking into a mound of sloppy nachos, or, reddest of all flags, a bag of crisps torn open into a greasy foil lotus for you to “help yourself” – I would rather die.

‘I’m not like other guys’
You are, in fact, just like other guys, because all guys say this.

I’m not the jealous type’
Say you need the bathroom and leave by the fire exit.

Reverts every story you tell back to them very quickly
Usually, what they’re saying will have nothing to do with what you were talking about. They’re not having a conversation, they’re broadcasting, and that’s never going to change.

Is overfamiliar
A first date thrives on warmth and relatability, but there are boundaries; you’re in a job interview in all but name. Asking for selfies, or adding you on social media before pudding, denotes a people collector, which would make going to festivals with them intolerable. But if you actually met on social media, they know everything about you anyway; this date could’ve been an email.

Pressures you into agreeing to a second date before the first date is even over
They’re probably worried you’ll catch a terminal case of buyer’s regret in the cab home. A second date plan should be made sober, and electronically, at a distance, so you can pull a face while thinking, message friends, consult your crystals, run all your options past the team working the Large Hadron Collider, whatever.

Future red flags

The article goes on to list other red flags on future dates.

Those who have read and absorbed the content from Part 2 in this series should be able to avoid dating people who exhibit the following:

Almost sounds nice, like a bath bomb, maybe, or a chocolate bombe. Nope. Lovebombing is a dangerous plutonium blast of love, affection and commitment. Saying “I love you” far too soon, going overboard on gifts or romantic surprises, introducing you to parents or their best friends before it feels natural, angling to move in together before they even know how many fillings you’ve got. Hurtling into the next stage of the relationship suggests they’re more into the idea of you than the reality. The first cogs of commitment clunk into place while you’re still getting to know each other, which means when the fever lifts and the romance fades, you’re stuck in the loveless prison that initial fervour built for you.

Another depressing buzzword of the modern age, a breadcrumber will message you regularly to keep you interested but will be vague about meeting. This is likely to mean they’re “benching” you: keeping you on standby in case something they’re really invested in doesn’t work out.

Needs constant reassurance that you like them
Previous relationships leave scars on us all, and who knows what emotional traumas lurk beneath? If you’re not the supportive type who can help them overcome their insecurities, you may be better bailing out before you make them worse. And, no, “I’m still here, aren’t I?” isn’t enough

Tells you they didn’t like you when they first met you, but really like you now
A compliment so backhanded it leaves knuckle marks. They’re not boosting you, they’re trying to make you feel small, and leave you panicking that you come across as an arsehole when you meet people for the first time. (Even if you are, this feels more like a them problem than a you problem, am I right? We can’t all exude warmth or be instantly adored. Some of us are an acquired taste, like olives, or immersive theatre.)

The complexity of the dinner date

On January 13, 2023, The Guardian posted ‘”It’s just so intense and awkward”: the death of the dinner date’.

This was sad to read about, because, speaking as a foodie, what’s better than a dinner date? While you’re enjoying what you’ve ordered, you can scope out your date’s food preferences and their table manners, important social indicators for a relationship’s future.

The article says:

Whether for financial reasons, the pressure of time or because today’s daters want something more daring, dinner dates, it seems, are dead. A survey by the dating site Match suggests the financial crisis is playing a large part, with 40% of those it polled saying the cost of living crisis meant they were going on fewer dates, and more than a fifth saying they would be put off if someone suggested an expensive dinner, as it would mean they weren’t compatible financially.

However, dinner does not need to be expensive.

Furthermore, why not opt for a late weekend breakfast at a local café or a pub lunch instead?

This article makes me think that sharing a meal together early in a potential relationship is mandatory:

… there’s the always awkward question of who pays, which, if you’re straight, is made even harder to navigate by changing gender expectations, says Mike, 31. He has only ever had one dinner date: “When the bill came, she kind of expected me to take it. And I said, don’t you think it’d be fair to split it?” The woman told him it was “kind of unsexy” that he hadn’t offered, but they eventually each paid their share. Things didn’t go any further.

“A dinner date just sounds to me like I’m wearing a suit without a tie and she’s wearing a dress, and I pull out the chair behind her,” says Mike. “It’s not something I have ever done or would do.”

Dear, oh dear. That’s telling, very telling. Foodie girls should avoid Mike.

Then there’s this:

Changes in dating habits may seem inconsequential, but they’re anything but, says Dr Julia Carter, a senior lecturer in sociology at UWE Bristol who researches romantic relationships. “It’s not trivial because it tells us something about what’s happening in society.

“The idea of a dinner date feels quite traditional to us now, that idea of a man asking a woman out. Actually a lot has happened in our society [since that was the norm]. Dating is one of those aspects where women are starting to assert themselves much more than would have been expected in the past.”

Dinner is also very public, she says. “One of the changes we talk about sociologically is that dating has become much more privatised. Thanks to dating apps, people tend to be sitting in their rooms on their own flicking through profiles, where in the past you may have had a social group where you’d all chat [about who you are dating]. So perhaps more private activities are preferred when you go on a date. Going to the park is much more private than having a meal in front of an audience in a restaurant.”

Is  it? The last place I would want to be on a date is in a park — unless food follows. And it should follow relatively quickly.

One middle-aged dater says that going on a date is like going on a job interview. Well said — and I can see her point about going for a drink instead:

For Corinne, 51 and back in the dating game after the end of her marriage, “there are so many similarities between dating and finding a job”. If thousands send in a CV, she says, “the first step is like a screening, when the headhunters call you up just to check you out. You want to quickly assess whether this is something that is worth exploring or not. And an initial drink is the quickest way to get that over.”

In that situation, she says, you definitely don’t go to dinner. “That’s because you’re meeting strangers, and you don’t know whether you’re going to like them. You want a situation where you can quickly move on.”

However, for foodies, going on a dinner date early on reveals a lot. One soon finds out if one is dating a fellow foodie or someone for whom ‘food is fuel’, full stop.

The things men say, or don’t say

Matthew Hussey, author and YouTuber of Get the Guy has excellent posts for women.

Any woman reading this who is already in a suitable relationship or a good marriage should read this in order to pass it along to family members or good friends who are still looking for lasting love.

What follows is painfully accurate, but any woman who knows about these things can get over her own pain much more easily.


I’m sure there was a word for ‘ghosted’ before social media became the norm. ‘Dropped’ and ‘dumped’ come to mind, sometimes preceded by ‘unceremoniously’.

Hussey gives his advice on ghosting. It’s a bit of tough love, as the ghosted one really does have to get over it, as he tells an anonymous woman whom he has dubbed ‘Deborah’. She wanted closure, and she didn’t get it, which put dozens of questions in her mind:

If you are able to go on Instagram and see that they’re still living their life and that they’re not dead, then you have your answer about this person. That should be a moment where you actually can set them aside. That should be a moment where continuing to agonize over the situation and follow the thoughts of, “But what happened? Why did they suddenly ghost me? Why aren’t they getting back to me? What could I have done so wrong?” That is a form of rumination that is simply scratching the wound.

Our mind can, in situations like that, look for story, you see it in Deborah’s message, she’s looking for that story. Maybe is he struggling with our situationship? Is he thinking about it and there’s something holding him back? That’s attributing story to a situation that doesn’t need to be that complicated. Occam’s razor, the idea that the explanation that requires the least variables is the most likely explanation. In other words, the simplest explanation is the one you should go with.

In this case, the simplest explanation is that this person, for whatever reason, decided that they don’t want to continue, or that they’re not interested, or that they can’t give you what you want. And in that moment, instead of communicating with you about that, decided to take the easiest possible way out that had no regard for your feelings. That’s the simple explanation. It doesn’t need more thought than that.

And, yes, this used to happen in the old days, too.

Hussey says that, even if this man hadn’t ghosted Deborah, he would have been a poor match for her:

I would go as far as to say, if this person really liked you, it still wouldn’t matter. They’d still be a terrible person to be with because if the person that’s capable of ghosting you like that really liked you, that would still be a trait they have. It would still be a way they react when they’re not interested. Do you see that? So even if you got your wish and this person really liked you and went after you in the way that you wanted them to, the likelihood is that would just blind you to this quality that they have when they’re not interested. That would still make them a terrible person for you to be with because that person is a very dangerous person to be with.

You don’t get loyalty with those people. You can’t build trust with those people. You don’t get consistency with those people. You certainly don’t get good treatment when that person sees you as no longer valuable to them. What you are really seeing in that moment is what does someone do when they’ve decided you’re no longer valuable to them, or when they don’t need you, or when something different comes along that arrests their attention? What happens to you? What happens to anyone? Forget you. What happens to anyone in a situation like that that’s in their life?

And that’s really good information, that’s important information to know. You almost have to remove the you from it because the I is the ego in it. How could they do this to me? How could we go from having the connection we had to suddenly, I am not even worthy of an explanation? The me in it, the I it that’s all the ego. But what we have to do is go, “Oh no, what this really is a representation of how this person treats people.” And that should be an incredible turnoff, should be seen as a dodged bullet. It should be seen as in itself a form of closure because I would never want to be with a person who is able to do this, or who’s in a stage of their life where they can’t see that this is really distasteful and bad behavior.

And I’m going to push back here, Deborah. And you sent me a message with love, I’m going to send you a message back with love, but it’s going to be a tough message. I think that your email to me was a bit of a cop-out. I think it was your way of giving yourself a license to keep thinking about this person that doesn’t deserve for you to keep thinking about them

Deborah, you said you had a two-month relationship, two months. And you said there was some misunderstandings along the way. Who knows if it was even a relationship from what you’ve said. But there was someone that was on your radar for two months. And then, they ghosted you and now they’re still on your radar in a big way. Enough for you to email me about this person because you’re in pain and the confusion of it.

This, to me, is not someone that’s worth your life. But you’re making them worthy of it

There are so many stories you could be living, the real tragedy is when we are continuing to play out this story that’s not interesting that has finished, by the way, there’s your closure. It finished. We made a video recently on the nine confusing things men say and what they really mean. Well, of all the confusing things men say, ghosting isn’t one of them. Ghosting is pretty obvious. It’s pretty direct, it’s pretty clear-cut. Our job is to give ourselves the closure so that we can go and live one of those other interesting stories.

The reason I say that what you said is a cop-out is because you’ve made this person responsible for your ability to move on. You’ve given them that power, I can’t move on until I get some kind of explanation and figure this out. Life isn’t that simple. We don’t always get the closure that we want. In fact, a lot of life doesn’t give us the closure that we want. How many people out there watching this video have a parent, nevermind a parent that died that they never felt they got closure from? How many people watching this video have a parent who’s still alive that they get no closure from? A parent, that they don’t feel seen by? A parent that will never truly understand them? Or they’ll never have that great turnaround that you always wished they would have? How many people watching this video will never get that closure? Life is like that

9 confusing things men say — signs of trouble

In his response to Deborah, Hussey mentioned his post and video, ‘9 Confusing Things Men Say (DECODED)’. Excerpts follow:

“You’re the kind of girl you marry, not the kind of girl you date.”

that to me is a way of saying, “And I’m the kind of person who’s only willing to date right now, and therefore I can’t proceed with you.” It might also, if I’m being really honest, be a kind of cue that this person isn’t sexually attracted. “You have wonderful qualities, but I don’t feel that chemistry with you. Otherwise, I’d be trying to jump you right now.”

“I like you too much to be with you.”

… That says to me, “I am absolutely 100% going to hurt you.” I like you too much to be with you is a way of saying, “I’m not really looking for anything serious, so I’m not going to invest in you in any real way, but I do like you. I like you enough that we should probably keep having sex, but I don’t want to go any further than that with you.” But it’s also, again, notice the pattern here, the flattery. “I like you too much to be with you.” Notice it’s flattery, but it’s confusing flattery. If you think about it, it’s quite clever because it says, I’m flattering you. I’m dazzling you with a compliment at the same time as telling you that I can’t give you any more than I’m giving you right now. So I’m simultaneously piquing your interest and giving you a reason to keep trying with me while excusing myself from trying it all with you.

“‘I haven’t loved you these past two years. I was lying to both of us.’ They then ended things and two weeks later he came back and said, ‘I need you in my life. I love you. Let’s try again.’”

… I don’t think he went back out of love. I think he went back out of fear and told you it was love.

The problem with what he said is he said, “For two years I’ve been lying to you and myself.” So now you’ve got in your head that for two years you’ve not been living the same reality as me. How do you recover from that in two weeks? Has he done all the healing necessary in the space of two weeks? I don’t think so. I think he panicked. I think nothing has changed on his side and someone like that, if they are let back in, should be let back in incredibly slowly.

“Let’s just take it day by day.”

Well, look, firstly, that’s the sort of thing that sounds completely rational. It sounds like the voice of reason at the very beginning of dating … But if at the point where you are starting to, or there’s this sort of expectation that you behave like a girlfriend, and that means seeing them regularly, it means comforting them on bad days, it means coming over on a sick day and bringing this person soup, it means meeting each other’s friends or family, it means being involved on a consistent basis in each other’s lives. And when you try to ask where this is going, that person says, “Let’s just take it day by day,” that is someone who wants you very much to live in the present because the present is all they can offer you. They are not looking for a relationship. They are looking for an experience.

“We aren’t really dating, dating.”

There’s no intention behind this. This is just you and me getting to a place, getting to a room where it’s appropriate for us to take our clothes off.

“You’re too independent.”

That says to me, “I am used to feeling important by being with someone who is in need, whether it’s financially, whether it’s psychologically, they’ve got some kind of issue or challenge in their life, and I have some kind of power by what I can give, and that’s what makes me feel important. That’s what feeds my ego. That’s what makes me feel safe and indispensable … I don’t have leverage over you in the way that I’m used to, that I am leavable, that I am dispensable and that makes me feel unsafe and therefore the stakes feel too high in this situation. I need to go to a place where I can feel important and powerful again.”

“I can’t get away with bullshit with you. You’re too smart.”

… it’s a way of saying, “Look at you. You’ve got me all figured out,” while over here I continue to bullshit you.

“I can’t give you a title, but I act like your boyfriend. Aren’t actions enough for you?”

We used to say all the time, and I still believe this, watch someone’s actions, not their words. If someone treats you really badly all the time but says, “I love you,” their actions are what matter. You say you love me, but you treat me horribly. That’s what matters. But there is an addendum to that. When someone is giving you the treatment you think you want, but their words say something undesirable, especially if that undesirable thing they’re saying should hurt their chances of getting a good result with you, you should believe that thing. And what he said falls into that latter category. He said, “I can’t give you a title, but I act like your boyfriend. Aren’t actions enough for you?” This is him playing on the logic that actions mean more than words, but in this case, his words mean everything because his words give away his true intentions.

… When this person says, “I don’t want to give us a title,” what they’re saying is, “I want to experience being in a relationship, but I don’t want any of the commitment of being in one, and I want to make sure that I can leave this easily at any time because I don’t actually want anything with you in the future.” At worst, “I want to be able to sleep with other people. And I think by not giving us a title, I can still do that.” At best, “I’m being monogamous with you, but I have a deep-seated aversion to any real commitment or any real idea of building something. So I am liable to hurt you down the line when I realize that this is all too much.”

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

Any time someone acts really complicated, for good or bad reason, remember that for the worst kinds of people, or even just for the kind of lightly manipulative people, or the people that are just kind of selfish, being complicated actually works because if I think you’re amazing. You’re just so great. I just can’t. You’re perfect. You’re marriage material, you’re incredible. I like you so much. I just can’t because of blah, blah, blah. Complication, complication, complication. Remember that people who give you complications, people who confuse you, they are achieving something very often with that confusion. It’s a bit like if I give you a riddle, you’re so distracted by the riddle and how to figure that out, how to get past this confusion that I’m feeling, or this hurt that I’ve been through in my life, or these complications in my feelings. If you’re busy with that, then you’re not paying attention to how little I’m actually giving you. And for a lot of people, that’s exactly what they’re trying to achieve. Let me distract you from how little I’m giving you by giving you this complicated scenario that your mind is now going to go to work on.

Those are all danger signs. Therefore: terminate, terminate and move on, quickly.

Avoiding commitment: the possible relationship ‘with the right person’

Hussey also has a post, ‘The #1 Thing Men Say to Avoid Commitment’.

To be honest, women are rather good at saying that, too, so it’s also pertinent to men.

Hussey explains:

You say to them, “What do you think about relationships?” They say, “I could be open to a relationship with the right person.” Now, some people may be saying this sincerely. I could imagine someone saying, “Yeah, I’m open to a relationship with the right person.” Or I could imagine the swindley who says, “I could be open to a relationship with the right person. I could be an astronaut, I could be a pillow, I could be a Pokemon, I could be anything, you see. I could be a dancer.”

When that person says it, it’s exploiting a loophole that says yeah, there’s a possibility. Now let’s not talk about it anymore. With that person, you can find yourself going down the path of dating them. Also, it’s not just that they placated you by saying that. It’s that in the back of your mind, it’s a way of pushing off any difficult conversations yourself. ‘Cause if you really want to… We are a biased judge, aren’t we? If we really want to see someone, if we have a lot of chemistry with someone, if we’re excited about them, we’re looking for excuses to see them. So when they say, “Yeah, you know it’s possible.” We go, it’s possible. Now I can go and have sex with them.

So I want you to be very careful. It’s okay to continue to see a person like this, but don’t let the blind hope of something they said early on stop you from measuring the actual progress or lack of progress that you are seeing in those first couple of months. Progress means there’s more consistent communication as time goes on. More frequent, there’s more of it. You feel like you’re getting closer, you feel like you’re getting more comfortable with each other. You feel like you’re being more vulnerable with each other. You’re letting them in. They’re letting you in. Progress looks like him actually inviting you into his world, into what I think of as the constants in his life.

When someone is trying to keep you at arm’s length, often they won’t bring you around the constants in their life. The things that it would be more difficult to extricate you from if it was to end tomorrow. So it could be stuff that’s to do with their work. It could be stuff that’s to do with their friendships or their family. They won’t bring you into that inner circle because it makes for an easier exit the moment they don’t want to put in any more effort. The moment they don’t want to see you again. It works for them to be able to pick you up and put you down at their leisure.

The third way that you can measure progress is whether you’ve actually been able to have a conversation about not seeing other people, exclusivity. Are we temporarily cutting off our other options in order to focus on each other to see what this might become? If you’re not feeling any of those three things, then there’s likely not much progress in the relationship. It’s probably a situation where this person calls you when they want to see you and then is off living their life the rest of the time until they need their next hit.

At that point, you’ve got to be able to say to them, “Hey, I am really enjoying spending time with you when we spend time together. And I know that, for me, I’m looking for a relationship with the right person. And I know you said you were open to a relationship with the right person, but I don’t feel that there’s any progress between us. So it leaves me wondering whether anything has actually shifted for you in the sense of seeing what this can be together or whether nothing’s changed that.”

Tells that person exactly where you stand …

We have to be willing to have that difficult conversation. Remember, if you are looking for a great relationship with the right person, the right person to you is not just someone you are charmed by. It’s not just someone that you think highly of. It’s someone who’s ready. The right person is both right and ready and if they’re not ready, they can’t be right. Someone demonstrates their readiness by actual progression that is seen through their actions, by the ways they invest in moving things forward with you.

People who moan online

I was horrified to read a Times article dated January 16, 2023, about people, mostly women, who post their dating statistics online.

Apparently, it’s the latest thing. It’s more of a moan than a boast. I do not understand this at all. Why would someone want to reveal so much to the world?

In ‘Dating Wrapped: my love life as a PowerPoint slideshow’, Olivia Petter attempts to explain:

When it comes to ways to reflect on the year that’s just past, among the strangest is to count the number of times you have been dumped. Or the hours you have spent agonising over an ex. Or looking at perfect pictures of them — and their new partner — on Instagram. And yet that’s exactly what twentysomethings like myself are doing.

Introducing “Dating Wrapped”, a social media trend that has seen people sharing their romantic highs and lows from last year online. Constructed in the style of its musical counterpart, Spotify Wrapped (an annual round-up of individual users’ listening habits compiled by the streaming service), this exercise has people charting all the things they have — and have not done — in love over the year by way of intricately detailed PowerPoint presentations, delivered to camera and posted on TikTok.

Suffice to say, people are taking it rather seriously. Take the TikTok user Alexandria McLean, whose Dating Wrapped slideshow went viral last month. There were 21 dates in total — 66 per cent of whom she had met on Bumble, 33 per cent on Hinge. Out of those people, 19 per cent ended things with her. She only cried over two of them, though.

Others have made more startling revelations during the process, like the TikTok user Gianna Giovi, whose presentation featured a graph of the number of dates she went on. “Ten of them I was just using for food,” she confessed.

It’s not just women on the Dating Wrapped scene. There’s also the model Chris Olsen, who created a scatter chart featuring all the men he dated in the year — the metrics were “datability” versus “hotness”.

That has so many possible negative ramifications, including with potential employers.

Act in haste, repent at leisure.

Online daters who went offline — successfully

On Wednesday, January 18, The Guardian featured an article, ‘Dating burnout: meet the people who ditched the apps — and found love offline’.

The people interviewed are solidly middle class with good careers and have expanded networks of interests and people, e.g. the music business. Some of them already knew each other on a professional or personal level.

The most interesting story was of the woman who met her boyfriend through her personal trainer:

Rebecca Oliver, 32, a marketing manager from Cheshire, has encountered a lot of dishonest men online …

During the summer of 2021, she threw in the towel on apps and began to focus on herself. “I spent a lot of time getting fit instead,” she says. “Then, later that year, my trainer asked if I’d like to be introduced to a friend of his who I might like.” She was set up on a blind date with Javier Ojeda, 45, who owns a property development business and also lives in Cheshire. “I had more trust in the relationship straight away, because it felt like he came with a seal of approval,” she says.

Javier, who has never tried internet dating, says the concept seems too contrived. “It’s all well and good swiping, but I like introducing myself to someone in person,” he says. “As soon as I met Rebecca, it was obvious that it was going to have some legs.” Within six weeks, they were using a shared calendar; they soon met each other’s friends and family. “We got a puppy together five months later and Rebecca moved in last year. It grew really quickly, but in a very organic way,” he says.

She also believes that meeting through a friend meant they were less inhibited by dating rules. “On apps, people are dating lots of others, so you feel as though you have to follow a certain schedule before you can have a conversation about exclusivity. That didn’t happen offline.”

Good for them and for the other couples.

It’s a shame that Guardian Soulmates is no longer around. Many people formed successful partnerships thanks to that site.

On the other hand, one can equally meet a nutter in offline life.

My advice would be to keep an open outlook and perfect one’s profile to match with someone of a similar outlook rather than the 90 per cent.


As I wrote previously, life isn’t easy. Nothing is easy, because we live in a fallen world.

Therefore, there is no reason why dating should be easy. For some reason, however, for the past 100 years, there seems to be an unwritten assumption that dating and love are simple.

If some of us gave dating and love the same careful attention we do to our work, our worship and our friendships, we would probably see them in a more considered way — very differently.

Dating and love are no different to any other aspect of life. The sooner some of us realise that, the sooner we are to find success in both.

End of series

Yesterday, I began a brief series on dating.

That post addressed dating in the offline world.

Today’s looks at the online dating scene, upon which more Westerners depend for their love lives. Offline life doesn’t often present all the opportunities for meeting new people that the online universe does.

Everyone who has used one of these sites has a firm opinion on them, one way or another.

Furthermore, every online dating customer has a list of dos and don’ts on how to present oneself.

Fundamentals to bear in mind

In ‘Dating Advice: A Practical, Modern Guide’, Mark Manson advises people to get themselves together when embarking on finding the love of one’s life.

Excerpts follow, purple emphases mine.

About that perfect partner, he says:

First, consider this: everyone wants a perfect partner, but few people want to be the perfect partner.1

I think the vast majority of problems around “finding someone” are caused by uneven expectations like this.

But when you flip this on its head and you start taking a little more responsibility in this area of your life—when you start focusing on what kind of life you want to live and what kind of partner you want to be—you’ll start to see all the flakes and narcissists and liars fade into the background. You’ll start making genuine connections with people and make each other’s lives more enjoyable.

For years, I probably obsessed a little too much over this part of my life. But after stumbling through one unhealthy relationship after another, I learned a very important lesson: the best way to find an amazing person is to become an amazing person.2

Then there’s neediness, which he presents in a unique way:

Neediness occurs when you place a higher priority on what others think of you than what you think of yourself. 

Any time you alter your words or behavior to fit someone else’s needs rather than your own, that is needy. Any time you lie about your interests, hobbies, or background, that is needy. Any time you pursue a goal to impress others rather than fulfill yourself, that is needy.

Whereas most people focus on what behavior is attractive/unattractive, what determines neediness (and therefore, attractiveness) is the why behind your behavior. You can say the coolest thing or do what everyone else does, but if you do it for the wrong reason, it will come off as needy and desperate and turn people off …

Now, we all get needy at times because, of course, we do care about what others think of us. That’s a fact of human nature. But the key here is that, at the end of the day, you should care more about what you think of yourself than what others think

We behave in needy ways when we feel bad about ourselves. We try to use the affection and approval of others to compensate for the lack of affection and approval for ourselves. And that is another root cause of our dating problems: our inability to take care of ourselves.

Taking care of ourselves is an essential factor in finding the right person to love:

No one can see your value as a person if you don’t value yourself first. And taking care of yourself, when done from a place of non-neediness, is what demonstrates that you value yourself …

Think of it this way: people won’t love you until you love yourself.

Health is an essential part of taking care of ourselves:

When you feel better—when you have more energy and your mood is raised a little—it’s a lot easier to get your ass out of the house and into the world so you can engage with people genuinely and confidently. You’re also more pleasant to be around.4

And if you have any past traumas or psychological issues that need to be dealt with, do it. Talk to friends and relatives and get therapy if you need it.5 You’re ultimately the one who can help yourself the most, but it’s okay if you need a little help in this area. Get it taken care of.

Personal finances are also part of self-care:

Money is a major source of stress for a lot of people. It can be so stressful, in fact, that most people end up ignoring a lot of their financial problems altogether. This, in turn, leads to a vicious cycle, where ignoring your money problems only makes them worse and you end up even more stressed as time goes on …

In short, get this area of your life handled so it’s not dragging you down in other areas.

So is one’s career, he says. Do what you can to find the best job for yourself because:

To put it bluntly, no one wants to be around someone—let alone date someone—who complains about their job all the time.

Having an expanded social life is also important:

Developing an active social life not only makes for a more fulfilling, enjoyable life, it also puts you in contact with more (and different) people, upping your chances of meeting someone you click with.

In closing on health, he says:

You’ll notice that all of these areas take quite a bit of time and effort to develop. In fact, you’ll probably never stop working on each of them to some degree, and that’s okay. The best way to get these areas of your life handled is to develop healthy, consistent habits around them.

And the point isn’t to reach some state of nirvana in your life where you have six-pack abs, a bazillion dollars, and a packed social schedule with thousands of friends and then, FINALLY, you’ll suddenly find true love. The point is to just always be working towards being the best version of yourself you can be at any given time.

He has advice on using dating sites:

I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with online dating and studies have shown that more and more people are meeting online and having long-term relationships.7 It’s definitely doable and it can be a great way to meet people, especially if you’re new to a city, extremely busy with work, or just “getting back out there.”

With that said, most people don’t use online dating very effectively. If you’re having problems with people being flaky and/or lukewarm, well I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it’s not them, it’s you.

You see, online dating and dating apps are great for meeting people quickly and efficiently—and that’s about it. After that, it’s up to you to be bold and clearly communicate what you’re looking for.

This will freak some people out. This will cause some people to “ghost” on you. And I’m here to tell you this is a good thing.

Think about it: the people who freak out and ghost on you, they are the flakes and wishy-washy people you’re so tired of going on dates with. It’s best to weed them out as quickly as possible and not play into their wishy-washy games. This is doubly true the older you get.

If you tell someone on a first date that you’re looking for a long-term relationship and it scares them off, then you just did your future self a huge favor. If simply stating your general intentions freaks somebody out, then the reality is that they don’t want the same thing as you and/or they have their own issues to work out. Learn to see it as a blessing when someone eliminates themselves for you.

Your job is to simply express yourself honestly and not be ashamed of that.

Manson says this about the myriad ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of dating. Ultimately:

Vulnerability, when done correctly, is actually a show of strength and power. Telling someone you like them and want to get to know them better doesn’t “give them all the power” unless you’re entirely invested in the way they respond to you.

If, instead, you are merely expressing yourself to make your desires known and you’re willing to accept the consequences, good or bad, others will notice that. And it’s incredibly attractive

But before moving on, I want to make something clear about being vulnerable: this is not another “tactic” or “strategy” to use to get people to like you. That, by definition, is neediness (we always come back to neediness, don’t we?).

A person who is truly secure and comfortable with being vulnerable is simply expressing themselves and saying, “This is who I am, faults and all. You don’t have to like me for me to be OK with that.”

He says it took some time for him to find the right partner:

My first handful of significant relationships were mired with a lot of manipulation and victim/rescuer dynamics. These relationships were great learning experiences, but they also caused me a great deal of pain that I had to eventually learn from.

It wasn’t until I managed to find myself in relationships with some emotionally healthy women who were able to manage their flaws well that I really learned what to look for when dating someone.

And I discovered in this time that there was one trait in a woman that I absolutely must have to be in a relationship with her, and it was something that I would never compromise on again (and I haven’t). Some of us are unwilling to compromise on superficial traits: looks, intelligence, education, etc. Those are important, but if there’s one trait that I’ve learned you should never compromise on, it’s this:

The ability to see one’s own flaws and be accountable for them.

Because the fact is that problems are inevitable. Every relationship will run into fights and each person will run up against their emotional baggage at various times. How long the relationship lasts and how well it goes comes down to both people being willing and able to recognize the snags in themselves and communicate them openly

You may think a person like this doesn’t exist. That they’re a unicorn. But you’d be surprised. Your emotional integrity naturally self-selects the emotional integrity of the people you meet and date. And when you fix yourself, as if by some magical cheat code, the people you meet and date become more and more functional themselves. And the obsession and anxiety of dating dissolves and becomes simple and clear. The process ceases to be a long and analytical one but a short and pleasant one. The way she cocks her head when she smiles. The way your eyes light up a little bit more when you talk to him.

Your worries will dissolve. And regardless of what happens, whether you’re together for a minute, a month or a lifetime, all there is is acceptance.

He concludes:

And so, if you take nothing else away from this, just know that the way to find true love is to be the best version of yourself and do it unapologetically and without shame. You’ll attract people into your life who connect with you on your level and, just as importantly, you’ll weed out all the people who don’t.

And that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

Online tips for better results

Mark Manson’s essay was mentioned in a Guardian article from 2022: ‘Swipe less, don’t be a sleaze, do say hello — and 10 more tips to raise your dating game’.

Online dating has become more popular because, with many people working from home, chance meetings are becoming rarer:

According to a 2020 YouGov survey, only one in 20 Britons in their 20s met their current or most recent partner “out and about” – at a gig, bar or bookshop, for example – versus one in five aged 50 to 64.

Focus, including time management, is important:

Annie Lord, a dating columnist for Vogue whose memoir Notes on Heartbreak will be published in June, recommends using them at a particular time, “rather than spending every evening just scrolling”, and making a plan to meet any promising matches as soon as possible.

Many people have profiles just for the ego boost, Lord says. “If you haven’t arranged a date within 48 hours of talking, it’s never going to happen. You can overthink it, or procrastinate. If you’ve had one OK conversation, you should probably just meet them.”

Jo is one successful user. Her time management brought benefits:

She met someone last year. Her top tips are to limit your activity and take months-long breaks. On her last venture on the dating scene, she swiped for no more than 10 minutes, a few times a week.

Profiles should be targeted and honest. Getting a second opinion can be helpful.

The aforementioned Mark Manson advises:

appeal to the 10% of people who will think you are fascinating and fun, instead of downplaying them for the 90% who will think you are merely fine. If you are not sure of your best or defining traits, ask a friend.

The same goes for what you are looking for: if you want a long-term relationship, or to be friends first, don’t be afraid to say so. The only people you will put off will be those who want something different. But emphasise what you do want, not what you don’t want: positive, upbeat profiles get more messages and matches.

Getting a second opinion on your profile doesn’t hurt. Jo says her partner’s profile stood out for its detailed description of his interests, which made it easy for her to ask questions, and several decent photographs (not selfies). “He told me later that a female friend helped him.”

On the subject of photographs, an old OkCupid blog post from 2009 has excellent advice.

OkCupid’s data man, Christian Rudder, says:

no matter how much time you spend polishing your profile, honing your IM banter, and perfecting your message introductions, it’s your picture that matters most.

He has four photographs of women, two among those ranked most attractive and two from the middle range in the popularity stakes.

All four ladies are easy on the eye. However, there is one big difference between the top group and the middle-ranking group: the smile. Rudder doesn’t elaborate on that, but the top group are smiling with their lips whereas the other two have a full-frontal, toothy smile. This indicates to me that a partial smile — not 100% toothy — works better: Mona Lisa.

There are also four photos of four men. The chap with the guitar has probably posted a professional publicity photo. His stands head and shoulders, as it were, above the other three.

Get professional photos taken — whether from a friend or a pro — and avoid selfies or party photos. Include more than your head so that people can see part of your torso. Some people are suspicious of head shots, wondering how heavy the person is.

On the other hand, a few of the male commenters said that, for them, the photo matters less.

Returning to the Guardian article, forget about a type of person you want to date. When I was single, I never had a type and had loads of great dates.

The Guardian advises:

Apps make it easy to be overprescriptive about a potential partner, but it is impossible to gauge chemistry or compatibility from a profile. If you are curious about someone, meet them …

Lizzie Cernik, who has interviewed many couples for the Guardian’s How we met column, says it can be helpful to reflect on your “attachment style” – your approach to intimate relationships, established in childhood. “Don’t look for what you want in a partner and try to tick boxes – look for what you need,” she says. “The two can be very different.”

I would add: try not to take remarks personally. Think of any first meeting as a job interview. Also, keep that meeting brief. You’re meeting with strangers, not friends. Do you like every potential employer in an interview? No. Do you take their remarks to heart? Probably not, in most cases. Apply the same principles to dating:

Generally, anyone who demonstrates controlling or problematic behaviour, is consistently poor at communicating or does not meet your effort …

Then move on to the next candidate:

Allow yourself to be excited about your next date: “Life would be so depressing if you didn’t have hope.”

As I said yesterday, being able to converse is vital. The Guardian cites Vogue’s dating columnist Annie Lord, who suggests:

being friendly and striking up a conversation. “There’s less of a risk factor if you can find common ground that will make it seem less intrusive, and you’re not going to feel rejected if the conversation stops.”

If flirting seems foreign, keep it light, says Jean Smith, a “flirt coach” and the author of Flirtology: Stop Swiping, Start Talking and Find Love: “You’ll soon find it’s not as scary as you imagined. Just go up and say hi.”

The article says that, not surprisingly, many men today are hesitant to talk to women, much less ask them out. However, most women should be able to discern a sincere invitation:

“If you’re really attracted to a woman and think the vibe is right, but you’re scared to ask her out, ask yourself: ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’” says Kieran, 26. “Then walk yourself concretely through that worst-case scenario.”

If it is nothing more than a polite no and some mild embarrassment, he says “shoot your shot – send a DM or ask her for a drink like you’re ripping off a plaster. And if the answer is anything other than a resounding yes, take it as a no – and live to try another day.”

the difference between a cynical come-on and a genuine compliment, offered without expectation, is like night and day.

While using online dating, remember the offline world and ask your friends, especially married couples, to help you find someone:

Partnered people, in particular, love to hear dating stories. Put them to work by asking them to set you up with a single friend or colleague, or engineer an introduction to a stranger. Combining groups can often be less intimidating.

Finally, it’s okay not to date at all, even if I’m one of those who thinks the world needs more well-matched couples with a view towards marriage:

It is easy to feel the pressure – from friends or family, or our couple-centric culture – to “put yourself out there”, but no one gains from you going on dates you don’t fancy. “Only date when you’re enjoying it,” says Alison. “Doing it for the sake of it will zap the joy from your life and take away much-needed energy reserves.”

When dating doesn’t happen or ‘doesn’t work’

I now return to the theme at the beginning of this post: self-improvement.

I suspect that many, although not all, people who don’t want to date actually do want a regular companion with whom to share life.

Mairi Macleod PhD is a married mother of three from Edinburgh and the author of Dating Evolved, an advice website designed with women over 50 in mind.

In her post, ‘Lessons on dating in midlife’, she writes:

Yes I know, online dating is no panacea, but it can work and we all know someone who’s found love this way. This is a numbers game and the more men we can sift through the more likely we are to find a good one, so online dating is just another potential way to meet more men.

But your chance of success here is dependent on your attitude and if you like to moan about the horrible selection of men online – change the record. Having a more positive attitude will help you to see the good guys and will make decent men more likely to get in touch.

You might think that actually, there are no decent men out there. This belief often stems from the fact that the ones who approach you are the confident ones, the experienced ones, the ones with the moves but who don’t really care what people think. The nice guys that you could have a decent relationship with – they won’t be so in-your-face, perhaps not so confident.

And you might think, “I’m not interested in men who don’t have the balls to approach me”.

But there are a load of perfectly legitimate reasons why a good guy might keep away:

– You look amazing – why would you be interested in him?
– You’re busy, he doesn’t want to disturb you – he’s considerate, remember
– He doesn’t want to be that creep – he’s respectful.

It’s time to get off your phone, open your body posture, make eye contact, and smile. And if he doesn’t come and speak to you? There’s nothing stopping you speaking to him. It’s the 21st century.

Whatever you do, don’t leave it up to the universe to deliver your man – it ain’t gonna happen. You’ve got to put in a bit of effort, make opportunities, and help your luck along.

Finally, you need to know that you’ve got what it takes to be attractive to a man who’s right for you. Everyone’s different in what they like so show off those unique foibles. Yes, if you’ve a PhD in astrophysics and like doing maths in your spare time some men will run a mile – you don’t want them. Some men will love you and your particular quirks and those are the ones you’re interested in.

Get out there and hold your head high. Good self-esteem and confidence, when you have them, are your most powerful tools for finding the right man. The self-esteem means you won’t put up with crap, and the confidence will make you glow.

And when you meet someone, instead of asking yourself “how can I be attractive to this guy?”, it should be “is this man showing up for me”, “is he capable of being the kind of partner I need?”

This is how to put yourself in the best position to find a fabulous relationship.

Returning to Matthew Hussey from Get The Guy, from which I cited yesterday, he has an excellent post on this subject, ‘5 Reasons You’re Still Single (That Have Nothing To Do With Love)’.

He begins with what’s involved in becoming a millionaire, something else that many hopefuls get wrong, too:

the results we want to achieve in life are best achieved indirectly. So, if you want to be a millionaire, don’t focus on becoming rich. Focus on creating an amazing product that meets people’s needs. Focus on your leadership skills. Focus on your ability to build an amazing team and get them on board with your vision so that they can help you get there.

For those without partners, Hussey says that they often need a wide social circle, new communities in addition to personal friends:

Reason number one you may be single that has nothing to do with love. You have friendships, but not communities. There are a lot of people that will say to me, “Matt, I have a social life. I have great friends.” I know that when they say they have great friends, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re part of any communities …

And one of the great antidotes to online dating and burning out through dating apps is to have communities in real life. If someone invites me somewhere, and it’s not someone I know really well, it’s more of an acquaintance or someone who’s on the way to becoming a friend, but they invite me somewhere. They invite me to a party they’re going to or a social event, they’re running. If I go there, I’m probably going to meet 99%, if not 100%, new people. That gives me a shot at becoming part of a new community, especially if I get invited two or three times and I become a new staple part of that group.

If I join a running club, I am going to be exposed to a new community of people that I wouldn’t otherwise have met. Most of us spend our lives in the exact same communities we’ve always been in. And so, once we’ve exhausted those pools and realize there’s no one there for us, our opportunities stop there, apart from online dating. The antidote to that is not spending more time with your existing friends. It’s two things. Say yes to people you don’t normally say yes to that can expose you to brand new pools of people, and go do things you are interested in in community. Because you could just put your headphones in and go for a run on the street. But when you do it as part of a running club, you are in a community doing it.

And that gives you the added benefit that you’re going to meet people there, some of whom will be new friends that will invite you to new communities again. And if you hit the jackpot, one of whom might actually be the love you’ve been looking for.

The second reason is working from home:

The second reason you might be single that has nothing to do with love is that you work from home …

… It’s always easier not to leave the house. When you go to a place of work, you might bump into someone on public transport on the way, you might bump into someone in the building you work in, you might bump into someone at lunch or at happy hour that someone is holding from your office after work. These are all opportunities to collide with another person. You can sometimes end up in a relationship by accident that way. Some of you have because you worked somewhere and that being somewhere meant that you collided with someone at some point. You ended up in a relationship that could not have happened if you worked from home that day.

… Anywhere that you can bump into someone is a plus and a moment where an opportunity could arise. Don’t use working from home as an excuse to be passive.

The third reason is living in a remote location, in which case, get into larger towns or big cities more often:

If we’re going to remain where we live right now, we have to create multiple wins that we’ll get from going to the nearest place where there are people. What are the four reasons that you could be going into the city that you can combine on a single day or on a weekend? Go do that, and make sure that while you’re there, you attend something social or you meet up with someone or you just go hang somewhere and work for a couple of hours in a busy spot. Or you go on dating apps, and you line up a date while you’re there. Or you may look at something a little more drastic. You may look at your choice in life to live where you live and say, “Does it work with my key priorities?”

“If one of my key priorities is I really want to meet someone, do I want to live a little closer to the action? Is it worth it? Is it possible? If it’s more expensive to live there, could I take a smaller space to go and live there so that I can have the possibility of a different kind of social life that might bring more opportunities for love?” Or, “If I’m looking after my sick mother where I am, do I need to be one minute from her? Or could I be 20 minutes from her and 20 minutes from the nearest place where there’s lots of people, instead of one minute from her and 40 minutes from the nearest civilization?” These are all options. I’m not here to put any judgment on what you’re doing right now or to tell you you should do anything. But they’re questions worth asking.

Life is all about choices. It’s all about priorities. And if we have a setup right now of where we live that’s making it disproportionately difficult to meet someone, something has to give somewhere, and we need to find where that give is.

The fourth reason is personal appearance which does affect how we feel about ourselves:

The fourth reason we may be single that has nothing to do with love is that we’re not proud of ourselves. And more specifically, we’re not taking pride in ourselves and our appearance right now

It could be getting up and getting ready in the morning and feeling good. It could be doing our hair or makeup. What are those things that make you feel sexy? … I’m wearing shoes that I like. I’m wearing an outfit that’s new and crisp. My hair’s done, my skin feels good. And in that moment I’m open to the world. I’m looking around. My head is up. I’m ready for interactions. I’m going to make eye contact with the person serving me my coffee.

I might have a bit of banter. I’m open to the world. And that energy produces a whole different world of opportunities. There is one face that we have that tells the world to go away, that tells opportunity to go in a different direction. And there’s another face we have that invites everything into our lives. The difference is when we leave, do we feel that energy that makes us proud to take ourselves out? Do I feel good? Do I feel like I’m taking myself on a date right now? And am I doing the things that make me feel that? A small thing for me is getting ready first thing in the morning. Showering and making myself look as good as possible in the morning so that I feel like that for the rest of the day. That cheesy cliche, “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” right? When you go out and you just feel ready, then anything can happen.

… So, is your head up? Are you open to the world? And are you doing the things for yourself, your presentation, your image that make you feel like doing those things? Are you taking yourself out on a date each day? Because if you are, other people will want to date you.

The fifth and final reason is being too tired and lacking energy:

The fifth reason you may be single that has nothing to do with love is you’re too freaking tired. And I would combine this with you don’t have time. Time and energy are two things that are very connected. In fact, I would go as far as to say energy is time because most people have some kind of time.

Most people find time to watch the latest Netflix show, regardless of how busy they are. They somehow have still seen the episodes that we’re all talking about when we say, “Have you seen this?” So, they have some time. But time without energy is redundant. If you don’t have the energy to reach out to somebody, to flirt, to go out and be where people are, to be on a date with great energy, then it doesn’t matter how much time you have. You’re just exhausted. You’re never going to be able to do it. So, we have to look at our lives and say, “If I’m getting real with myself, what needs to happen for me to have more time and perhaps, even more importantly, more energy to actually invest in creating opportunities in my love life?” And I say this humbly, knowing that there are those of you who are working multiple jobs, who are looking after sick relatives, who have children that you’re raising on your own, that are dealing with all manner of issues in your life. You may be dealing with your own health issues …

And that might involve recalibrating. Who do I need to start saying no to? Who do I keep making more important than me? And they shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of that list. Where do I need to have more boundaries? Where am I doing too much people pleasing in my life? Where am I taking on responsibilities that aren’t my responsibilities? Where do I need to start putting myself first? What help and support could I get? And how do I start to crowbar, albeit imperfectly, time for my love life into my week? Whether it’s time to go and join a community where I might have a hope of meeting somebody, or whether it’s time to go on a date. I need to find that time. If it’s as important to me as I say it is. There may be areas I need to pull back, but if it’s important, I’ll find a way.

When you do these things, it’s not just about giving you more time because, by the way, if you’re honest with yourself, you might already have some time. But it may be more about where do I need to pull back so that I have more energy? Because energy is ultimately going to be the thing that allows me to start to be enthusiastic and more optimistic about this area again.


The above citations are the best advice I have found about online dating.

There wasn’t any of that when I was single over three decades ago. Back then, the offline world was ‘it’. I met people behind the counters in a bank and a railway station. Nowadays, no one needs human contact to get cash or a train ticket.

However, I did meet someone in a restaurant which could have led to something more if we had lived closer to each other. We kept communication going for eight weeks, but it just wasn’t viable.

As it was, several months later, I met the love of my life through a new mutual friend at the time. I had moved far away for a new job. We met soon afterward.

See? A move, new communities and new people really can lead to that special person — and a satisfying marriage.

Tomorrow: Surviving disastrous dates and rejection

As I grow older, I find myself turning into an uncurable romantic.

My philosophy is that as many people as possible get married. Suitably, of course, because life is so much sweeter as a twosome. Having been in that happy state for over 30 years, I can personally vouch for it.

Chance meetings leading to marriage

I spent much of Sunday reading about dating and ran across a 2013 article from The Guardian‘Valentine’s Day: share your real life meet-cutes’.

A meet-cute, in Hollywood parlance, is a serendipitous meeting that ends in lasting love, the subject of many romantic comedies.

The Guardian‘s article and the comments that follow feature many of these chance meetings that ended up in long-term marriages.

Here are two from the article:

… there’s this touching story from Sophie Gadd, a student in York: her grandparents met in a hospital in Gibraltar during the second world war, after a ship blew up in the harbour. “She was injured by an office window falling, he was injured on a nearby navy ship.” The pair fell in love and spent a lifetime travelling the world together before her grandmother died in the 80s.

Rose Cox from Manchester emailed me her story. In 1969 she was on her way to a house party but was running late, so phoned to let her friend know. Someone else picked up the phone. “I really liked his voice.” His name was Philip, they met in person and saw each other every night for a whole week.” At the end of the week, he asked me to marry him. I said yes and we married six months later.” Rose and Philip have been married 43 years.


The article says that a group of San Francisco romantics set up a free dating agency, Meet Cute, which attempted to set up circumstances for a chance meeting. Unfortunately, it seems that Meet Cute no longer exists, because its website is up for sale.

This is how it worked:

Neither person knows anything about the other. Instead, you get sent details of where and when to be, with the promise that your mysterious other may also walk by. These aren’t blind dates – you might just be told to pass through a bookshop, a museum or a cafe at a particular time – but engineered moments intended to give you a chance to meet someone “just like they do in the movies”. There’s no planned dinner or drinks; it’s supposed to be up to you to seize the initiative to speak to the person you think may be your meet-cute and figure the rest out for yourself.

What a great idea.

No time for dating

Yet, so many people say that they do not have time to date.

Matthew Hussey’s Get the Guy website is largely aimed at women but also includes general advice from which men can also benefit. He has videos as well as transcripts.

On January 1, 2023, he wrote ‘5 Mindsets for a Successful Love Life Starting Today’, which deals with life as it is and working time for love into it. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

It’s a funny thing. New Year’s is like a false idea of a reset, because there’s that feeling isn’t there? There’s that psychological effect of a new year that says to us, “This is a time when I get to just start again,” and it feels almost like an Etch A Sketch board. You know those things where you draw something on the board and then if you shake it just all disappears and you get that blank slate again?

It can feel like a new year is going to give us that, but it’s always a bit of a false promise, isn’t it? … I want to give you five specific ways to think about all of this differently. And you be the judge …

Number one, life has to be lived in the middle. When I was overwhelmed, one of the things I did was remind myself that life is always like this. There can be phases of our life where we’re justifiably overwhelmed because there’s lots of different things coming at us at the same time, and that was part of what I was feeling.

But I also am careful to remind myself that there’s almost never a time in my life where that’s not true to some extent. There’s a phrase Dante used, “Nel mezzo,” in the middle. Life has to be lived in the middle of all of these responsibilities and prioritiesThe idea of the perfect time, the idea of the perfect amount of breathing space is itself a fiction.

And once we accept that, we all of a sudden start asking ourselves a different question, not, “When is everything going to open up so that I can do some of these things I want to do,” but instead, “How do I crowbar some of these things that I want to do into my life now in the middle of all of these things that I have to do, and I’ll probably have to do in some form six months from now as well.” There are undeniably some bad times to go out and try to date where you’re at the peak of grief at the end of a relationship, when you are dealing with some intense recent trauma that you’re trying to work through. There are times that are bad, but at a certain point we will also have to recognize that we’re never going to be at a point where we feel like everything in our own personal growth journey has been achieved, that we’ve done every bit of healing we could possibly do.

There are always going to be ways that someone could show up in our life at a time where we don’t feel 100% ready and we will begin a relationship in the middle.

Number two, stop waiting for space to breathe and instead change the way you breathe.

Hussey describes his initial experiences learning Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which involves rolling on the floor instead of sparring in an upright position. He found the breathing hard, rolling around with a strong opponent. He started holding his breath, which made him feel worse. After the session his coach told him that he makes the black belt students roll for an hour, something Hussey found unimaginable.

So, he started breathing differently, learning how to control his breathing while rolling for longer periods of time. He applies the same principle to everyday life. We mustn’t become overwhelmed:

… this is what I did when I was in that place of overwhelm. I said, “There’s always going to be something. I’m going to go home for the holidays and there’s going to be a whole bunch of other new things that I have to do and people I want to see and things I need to tie up before the end of the year.” I had that feeling, and that made me realize, “Oh my God, it’s not about to end. And if it’s not about to end, then instead of waiting for space to breathe, I need to start breathing differently.” Settle in, because this is a life. What you have is a life.

He continues:

Number three, lose the fiction of the fresh start. I feel like we almost all have this element of us that likes neat and tidy lines. We like to demarcate, “This is what this chapter was about, and now this is what this chapter was about, and now I’m doing this”…

… Much like the new year, the idea of the new year, new you, fresh start is a false promise, because we don’t get these perfect beginnings and endings. What we get is just life on a continuum.

… I want us to lose that illusion of the fresh start, and instead realize that all life just operates on that continuum, that there is always just a sense of everything blends into each other and we don’t really get the clean lines. Life is messy, and instead of looking for a blank canvas on which to paint, we have to look at it like it’s this ongoing mural that we are adding to all the time with every brush stroke

Number four, don’t over exaggerate how much of your time this area that you want to make progress in needs. I’m writing a book at the moment, and I know that in my fantasy world I just have a year of doing nothing else but writing this book.

I remember saying that to my writing coach, and him saying to me, “Matthew, even if you had all the time in your week to do nothing but the book, even solid every day don’t do anything else writers only have a handful of hours in them a day. Some people one or two. What are you going to do with the rest of that time? You can’t write all day every day. It doesn’t work like that.” And I always remind myself of that when I’m wishing that I had the perfect amount of time to do it. I couldn’t fill all of my time with it. The same is true of getting fit and healthy. You can’t spend all of your time at the gym. It takes one hour a day, right? The same is true of your love life. You say, “I don’t have time for a love life right now,” and I want to say, “But what does that mean?” If no one is asking you for a relationship right now, then it’s not going to take all of your time.

Right now your job is not to worry about how much time a relationship would take up, which by the way, from 15 years of doing this, never once have I ever encountered someone who met the most amazing person for a relationship, someone they had massive chemistry with, were head over heels for, immediately felt this feeling of, “Oh, this is what I’ve been looking for in my life,” and then said, “All of this is wonderful, but I just don’t have the time.” It never happens like that. Time is always an excuse that people use before they’ve met someone that they love. When they find out they love someone, when they feel have those feelings, they are making time everywhere that time could possibly exist. But in the beginning, all we need is time to flirt. That takes seconds. All we need is time to meet some people. All we need is time to go on a date. And that doesn’t have to be your whole week. It can be a couple of hours a week.

… I will suspect that the problem isn’t time at all. Your fear of doing that thing, your fear of going out there and meeting people and getting rejected is being masked by an excuse like, “I just don’t have time.” The fifth and final mindset I want to give you for progress this year is to be patient, because the trajectory of your progress is what matters.

… one of the things I think we have to do, while I agree that it’s good advice to sometimes increase our sense of urgency in life, and I think in a way we’ve already done that in this video because we’ve talked about the idea that you should look at life as something that needs to be lived now and not wait for the future, right? There’s your sense of urgency. But where I think you can be patient is with the results. If you’re taking some form of action today, even if it’s small, even if it’s imperfect, even if it’s just the best version of it you can do right now which isn’t even that great, the cumulative effect of those things over time creates a different trajectory than the one you are on.

That’s one of the things I’ve been enjoying doing in my life recently, to speak personally. I used to be always in a rush. Always in a rush to get there. Always in a rush to go, “I want to have it now. I want to have it this month. I want to have it this year.” I was always in this mad rush to get the result now, and I have actually taken a lot of comfort and joy and relief in just giving myself longer timelines for things. Not longer timelines before I take action, but longer timelines for worrying about what the result is. The real value is not on performing miracles today that are going to burn you out in the next two weeks. The real value is in creating a new trajectory.

Having listened to these five things, there is no better time to take action than right now. Regardless of what else is going on in your life, take action in the middle, nel mezzo.

Conversation and flirting

If time isn’t an excuse, the inability to flirt often is.

Some weeks ago, one of the Guardian agony aunts counselled a chap who said he couldn’t date because he couldn’t flirt.

I don’t recall what she said, because I was too busy formulating my own answer to his problem.

Effective flirting — not parroting silly chat-up lines — relies on being able to converse well.

This guy’s problem was his inability to converse. A lot of us get caught up in contextualised conversation with family, friends, classmates and colleagues.

Someone in his position needs to broaden his conversational group.

A good place to start is at the supermarket or local newsagents. These are good places because we often visit them at least weekly. Always begin with a simple greeting and a gentle smile. Mention the weather, a topic that everyone can discuss. Do it regularly and do it often.

Before long, a comforting pattern will develop that can be used elsewhere.

Brief conversational exchanges with strangers build up confidence. In time, that skill can be transported to the dating scene.

On November 13, 2022, Matthew Hussey posted ‘7 Easy Ways to Flirt That Will Make You Irresistible’. Admittedly, it’s more for ladies, but men can also pick up a few tips.

For the chap who wrote to the agony aunt, this will be somewhere down the line, but here are inoffensive ways to flirt on a date:

Touch is one of those catalysts for attraction if we use it right. Of course, we don’t want to be constantly touching someone throughout a date, that would be uncomfortable … A little arm graze, you laugh and you touch someone’s arm. You say, “Do you want a menu? Okay, let me grab you one.” And as you grab the menu, you just touch their arm lightly or maybe they tease you and you give them a little push. All these moments create touch.

And by the way, I think this is better in the direction of woman to man than man to woman. I think men, you have to be a little more careful with this. But women, you can do some of these things that create just a moment of connection through touch. Ask yourself at the end of the day, at any point on that date, did I actually touch the person?

Test number two, did you make at any point on the date, slow, seductive, eye contact?

Pace is a very important thing on a date. I’m not just talking about eye contact here. I’m talking about how slowly you speak at certain times, how slowly you move at certain times. When you think of someone confident and sexy, there’s a pace to that, that slows down

… If you are constantly making points and moving around a lot and gesturing a lot and in that kind of jittery mode and everything you say is really fast sentences and so on, there’s no seduction to that pace. Slow it down. Did you slow it down?

Test number three, did you give him a desire-based compliment?

There’s platonic language and there’s desire language. There’s also a platonic tone and a desire tone, you can use either. Platonic language would be “That looks nice.” Desire language would be “That looks hot.” Platonic tone would be “You look good in that jacket.” Desire tone would be, “You look good in that jacket.” Subtle differences, but one of them says, we’re going to be friends, and the other one says, we’re not going to be friends.

Number four, did you hug them like you liked them?

There’s a big difference in hugging someone as if they’re a friend and the way we hug someone when we feel comfortable with them and we like them, we let it linger for just a half second longer. We almost become a bit more vulnerable. You ever hugged someone where it felt like just for a brief moment, they were sort of melting into you? Didn’t it feel amazing? Didn’t it make you feel connected to that person? Didn’t it make you feel more comfortable with that person? Didn’t it create the moment of electricity? Are you creating that with other people? Or are you leaning over and giving them your shoulder and the rest of your body retreats and it feels like they’re hugging a coat hanger? Allow that hug to be a little more vulnerable and to last just a little longer than you would if you were trying to get away.

Number five, did you give them a couple of opportunities to just observe you?

having a nice little moment with your hair, looking at the menu. You’re deep in the menu so they can look at you. Or going to the restroom, or just being over here, checking something out, which allows them to check you out. People need moments where they can take you in without feeling like you are watching them.

Number six, did you tease them in a playful manner?

… Tension is often born out of a playful friction. Playful friction allows you both to step into a role play where you’re having a little thing, you’re at odds over something and that creates a spark. It could be that there’s a pool table over there and you go, “We can’t play pool. I can’t have us fighting on our first date.” That creates this little like mini-competition.

Number seven, did you make use of the post-date sexy, subtle, subtext text?

If you just send someone a message that says, “I had a really nice time tonight. I hope you didn’t have to wait too long for your Uber.” That’s a nice text, but it’s so literal. There’s no subtext whatsoever. But what if you just said this “Tonight was really fun…” And then maybe you throw in a little blushing emoji. Firstly, it’s not many words. I kind of like it for that reason. I’m not saying you have to send few words, but something about this message really works because it’s few words. It’s not overly thought out. The ellipsis is what says there’s things I’m not saying right now. And the word fun, that’s desire language that says we could have more fun together.

This is a message that immediately when someone receives it after a date, they say, ooh, there’s something there. This person is attracted to me. This person didn’t just have a nice time. And the great irony is that when we feel someone is slightly attracted to us, even if it’s just in what they don’t say, not even what they do say, we are more likely to be attracted to them because we take our mind out of the friend zone and into the desire zone.

More of Matthew Hussey’s recent posts can be found here.


No one ever said that dating is easy, although most of us have been plagued by some self-doubt in the process.

I wish I knew some of these things when I was growing up, especially Hussey’s thoughts on life.

I suspect that most of my readership is already married. For those who have young adult children, please do pass some of this advice along to them.

Bottom line: dating isn’t easy because life isn’t easy.

More tomorrow: exploring online dating

John Redwood certainly has a bee in his bonnet over former Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Unusually, Redwood has been tweeting several times daily in Trumpian style over which candidate — Sunak or Liz Truss — is better as the future leader of the Conservative Party and our new Prime Minister.

He has also continued to keep his readers updated in his eponymous diary.

On July 20, 2022, the final day of Conservative MPs voting for leadership candidates, he tweeted:

Later that day, he wrote a brief diary entry, ‘Then there were two’:

I am delighted Liz Truss will be in the final with Rishi Sunak. I want a change of economic policy as readers of this site will know. Liz Truss will give us that change. Rishi has accepted Treasury and Bank advice which has given us a high inflation and if unaltered will give us a recession next year. We can do better.

Redwood has been an MP since Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Not only does he understand her monetary policy but also the way Treasury and Bank of England forecasts have gone wrong over the past 40 years. He advised Thatcher in the middle years of her long premiership.

Boris Johnson also understands that the Treasury gets things wrong. In his final PMQs on Wednesday, July 20, he gave advice to his successor, saying (emphases mine):

I love the Treasury, but remember that if we had always listened to the Treasury, we would not have built the M25 or the Channel Tunnel.

That day, the OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) came out with a revised forecast.

On July 21, Redwood wrote ‘Some funny numbers from the Treasury and OBR’:

The OBR has had to explain why it was so far out in its forecasts of the deficit and borrowings last year. They have written:

“Our latest forecast for (Central government borrowing) 2021-2 is £48.3bn below the October forecast and £131.2bn below our March 2021 forecast (the Budget)”. They accept they underestimate tax revenues by a massive £77bn and overstated state spending by £48.7bn. It should be easier to forecast what you spend when you are running the spending controls.

We can all make mistakes. Forecasting is difficult. What is more difficult to forgive is that this was not the first time they have underestimated the revenues and overstated the deficit. Worse still is they used their precise forecasts of revenue and deficit to tell the Chancellor he needed to raise more taxes to reduce the gap between spending and taxing. It turns out they need not have asked him to do that as the numbers were so much better than the numbers they tried to create with tax rises.  So when I am asked how do we pay for the tax cuts, the first answer is we are so far ahead of plan there is no problem. The second answer is if you cut the right tax rates to a sensible amount you can end up with more growth and more revenue, not less.

The Treasury also needs to come clean about the debt interest. They have been using their current high figure of £83bn which includes index costs on the repayment of inflation linked debt which does not entail making any cash payments before redemption. They use this figure to scare politicians into accepting more austerity to control the debt interest. What they omit to point out is on their definition of debt interest they forecast a collapse in the cost of it to £46.7bn by 2024-5. That is a fall of £36.3bn or 44% in debt interest.

The Treasury has a tradition of overstating deficits when there is good growth and understating them in recession. There is also a danger their policy advice based on very wrong forecasts could drive us unnecessarily into recession.

Redwood tweeted that our current inflation is likely to be temporary:

As soon as Truss and Sunak were the final two contenders in the Conservative Party leadership contest, The Times endorsed Sunak.

Much of the media have also swung behind Sunak, except for the more conservative news outlets which feature more articles on Liz Truss’s candidacy and Kemi Badenoch as the future of the Conservative Party, even though she was eliminated from the leadership contest.

Redwood tweeted:


The Remainer media have attacked Truss’s proposed policies. Sunak’s softness on the EU are why the media back him. They want a return to the EU:

Sunak has been pushing the line that Margaret Thatcher had an initial high tax policy that worked well. Therefore, Sunak is high tax, in a Thatcherite mode. In reality, once Thatcher got new advisers, she began cutting taxes, which brought economic growth.

Redwood tweeted:

Redwood believes that Liz Truss has the Thatcherite economic policy in this contest:

Redwood had more to say about Sunak’s performance while he was Chancellor:

I particularly enjoyed this next tweet, in which Redwood compares Sunak to Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown, who later became Prime Minister, succeeding Tony Blair:

Redwood said that he tried to advise Sunak on the economy, but to no avail:

On Friday, July 22, Redwood correctly predicted that Rishi would send a message of panic:

Sure enough, the next day, Rishi said he wanted to declare a state of national emergency:

We can only hope that Redwood is right in saying that panic puts off voters:

Sunak made the statement in Grantham, Margaret Thatcher’s home-town. Redwood finds it curious that Sunak never mentioned an interest in Thatcher until this leadership contest:

As I write on Monday afternoon, I will look at that day’s BBC debate between the two candidates in a separate post.

Before the debate, Redwood shared his thoughts:

In closing, Redwood reiterates why Liz Truss is the better candidate:

Even though I have no vote in this contest, Liz Truss has accomplished far more in trade deals and foreign policy than Rishi Sunak as Chancellor. His time in No. 11 was disappointing for the most part.

Conservative Party members will receive their ballots early in August, enabling them to vote by post or online. The deadline for them is August 2. A new Prime Minister should be in place by September 5.

As I am still digesting events from the past ten days, the following animal videos serve as balm for the soul.

In Switzerland, a woman who had lionesses taken from her goes to visit the zoo where they have been living for the past seven years. Watch what happens:

In colder climes, will our little penguin friend make the leap from the ice floe?

I hope that your Monday was a good one.

Normal service resumes tomorrow. There is a lot to cover: Boris, the Conservative leadership contest, the Dutch farmers’ rightful protest and so much more. I am praying for all of those involved.

On Tuesday, June 28, 2022, a young British comedian wrote about her solo holiday experiences for Metro.

Ania Magliano says, ‘Going on holiday solo isn’t fun — anyone who says otherwise is lying’.

I took three holidays and two weekend breaks by myself over 30 years ago before I got married. I’m here to tell you that all of them were great fun.

One, in particular, was unforgettable, start to finish. It would have made a splendid movie.

But, let’s delve deeper into Ania Magliano’s recent solo holiday in Greece.

In order to have a successful holiday, have a good reason for going solo. I knew other people would cramp my style. I wanted to be swept along by the moment, experiencing spontaneity.

Anna’s reason was, errm, to display sophistication:

For a long time I idolised solo holidays as the pinnacle of sophistication.


Sure, there were moments where I did feel happy, peaceful and classy as hell (moments that were instantly undermined by my brain going, ‘Look at us, we’re being classy as hell right now’).

It seems she wanted to prove that she could get in touch with her inner self:

Fair enough.

For me, the right time to go solo on holiday came once I was in touch with my inner self. By that point, I was yearning to travel alone. So I did.

I recommend going to cities rather than an island or a resort for two reasons. First, islands and resorts attract groups of friends or couples. Secondly, cities offer a diversity of opinion and places to go with greater chances of striking up conversations. A singleton in an urban environment is not unusual.

Yes, one can have a great time on a solo holiday. One just has to have the right reasons for going and the right mindset before departure.

Mothering Sunday is March 27, 2022, which is also Laetare Sunday, the joyful day in Lent:

Laetare Sunday, Mother’s Day and the Golden Rose

Laetare Sunday is Mothering Sunday

Some churches in the UK will be departing from the usual Lectionary lesson and read the latter part of 1 Samuel 1 instead.

Here is the whole chapter, the highly moving story of Hannah and her long-awaited son, Samuel (emphases mine below):

The Birth of Samuel

There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite[a] from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.

Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel,[b] saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”

Hannah Dedicates Samuel

21 When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.”[c]

23 “Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his[d] word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull,[e] an ephah[f] of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. 25 When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Hannah vowed that Samuel would take a life-long Nazirite vow (verse 11):

… no razor will ever be used on his head …

The only other men in the Bible to do so were Samson and John the Baptist. Most Nazirite vows were short-term in nature.

John MacArthur explains the vow:

That last little part was a Nazarite vow, described in Numbers 6:3 to 6.  If a Jew wanted to take a vow of total consecration to God, he would not cut his hair, no concern for physical appearance, not drink the wine and the strong drink, abstaining from the banquetings and the celebrations and all of that, living an austere, consecrated, God-centered life. 

Commentary on Hannah’s story comes from John MacArthur’s 1987 sermon, ‘Hannah: A Godly Mother’.

Hannah truly had faith. Even though she was sterile, she believed the Lord would reverse her condition, which He did.

The name Hannah means ‘grace’. It befits this woman:

We meet her in 1 Samuel 1.  Hannah, her name speaks of her beauty; it means grace, and indeed she is the emblem of the grace of womanhood She became a mother by faith She first appears, as 1 Samuel opens, as a childless woman.  Then she becomes a mother, the mother of one of the greatest men who ever walked the earth, Samuel.  And as you see the account of the birth of Samuel, you note the profile of a godly mother.

Incidentally, the name Anna is a form of Hannah.

This was not a propitious era for Israel, which was experiencing a time of turmoil:

As the book opens, it is the period of the Judges There is no king in Israel as yet It is a time of turmoil; it is a time of confusion It is a time when Israel is vulnerable to the Philistines It is a time when they are debauched morally It is a time when their religion has grown cold And it is a time for a great man to rise and take the leadership of the nation, a period of religious degeneracy, of political distress.  With the death of Samson the country was divided and leaderless The Philistines were hanging on the edge.  The priesthood was corrupt Moral scandals were rampant among the family of the priests The nation was weak.  The nation was impotent.  And the worst of all, chapter 3, verse 1 says, “word from the Lord was rare in those days, and visions were infrequent.”  God even had nothing to say.  The nation needed a great leader, a great man, and God needed a great woman to shape that great man.  And Samuel, one of the greatest men who ever walked the earth, was not only the product of the work of God, but the product of a godly mother And she gave to her nation and the world the greatest legacy a woman can ever give, a godly child.

MacArthur gives us his perspective on what denotes a godly mother:

As we are introduced to this story, I want us to note three things that profile a godly mother She had a right husband relationship, she had a right heavenly relationship, and she had a right home relationship Those three things stand out and profile her for us.

First of all, let’s consider her right husband relationship And may I say that this is, at the very outset, essential for you to understand.  The most important relationship in a family in raising godly children is not the relationship between the parents and the children, it’s the relationship between the mother and the father What you communicate to your children by your relationship dominates their thinking They are learning about human relationships from the two of you They are learning about virtue, they are learning about sin.  They are learning about love.  They are learning about forgiveness.  They’re learning about sympathy.  They’re learning about understanding.  They’re learning about compassion.  They’re learning about virtue.  They’re learning about honesty and integrity.  They’re watching, and far more important than your relationship to your child in the long run is the relationship you have to your spouse, that’s projected to your child.  And so at the very outset, the Word of God is clear to tell us the relationship between Hannah and Elkanah.

Now, first of all, let me say that it wasn’t a perfect relationship; so ladies, you want to start out by realizing you’re not married to a perfect man.  That’s a given.  I want you to understand what the Scripture says.  Hannah was married to a polygamist Now, I don’t know how that would sit with you as a woman, but I can guess.  And I can also tell you that it didn’t sit any better with Hannah than it does with you, to have a rival in the house, to have another wife in the house And worst of all, she is producing boys and girls and Hannah has none, and so she is the unfruitful, unproductive wife who cannot give to her husband that which her heart most longs to give.

He wasn’t a perfect man.  The very fact that he was a polygamist indicates his imperfection.  But understand this, this is a primitive time, and polygamy was a part of human culture; never God’s design, never.  God always designed one man, one woman, leaving their parents, joining together for life, and becoming one flesh, from Genesis on.  But human society was rife with polygamy, and when the truth of God came into human society, it was so pervasive, polygamy, that it took time to root it out

And so Elkanah created for Hannah a very difficult situation.  We don’t know the details, but it may well have been that he went on to marry Peninnah because of Hannah’s barrenness, and in order to produce a generation who could then possess his inheritance.  And so that would even make the pain deeper, because Peninnah came to do in that union what Hannah could not do.  Not a perfect relationship, but nonetheless a good one, a right one.  Let me show you why.

First of all, they shared worship Now, “this man,” Elkanah, verse 3 says, “would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh.”  It doesn’t mean he went once a year, it meant that every year he went.  In Deuteronomy, chapter 16, verse 16, it explains the prescription; three times a year – yes, it was the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths The man had to go to the place of worship.  In this particular time, in 1 Samuel, the place of worship was at Shiloh, because that’s where the Ark of the Covenant was located before it was transferred to Jerusalem

Starting out, then, they had a shared worship; so vital.  How you worship communicates volumes of information to your children Are you faithful?  Are you faithful to come and meet with God’s redeemed people, week in and week out?  Are you faithful to make the Word of God the priority in your life?  Are you faithful that prayer should have a high place in your experience spiritually?  Are you faithful to live what you affirm that you believe?  In other words, the attitude of your spiritual devotion is communicating a Christianity to your children that they will have a hard time overcoming, if it in fact is less than it ought to be.

Secondly, they not only had a right relationship in their marriage because of worshiping together, but secondly, they shared love Notice verse 4, “And when the day came that Elkanah sacrificed” – one of those times when he took the trip to Shiloh – “he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and all her sons and her daughters, but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah.”  Stop at that point.  He didn’t love Peninnah That’s the implication.  Peninnah was there to produce the children that Hannah couldn’t have Peninnah was there to create a future for his family, his inheritance.  But Hannah was the one he loved, and he made no attempt to hide that And when they went to offer their sacrifices, I don’t know if you know how that worked, but they would go to offer peace offerings, and they would offer the offering on the altar there.  The priest would take a small part, then most of it would come back to the family, and they’d have a feast And when passing out the feast, he would give a double portion to Hannah, because she was the one he loved.  This was a gesture in the East to an honored guest She was the one who had his heart.  And it was not just the love of emotion, it was the love of kindness, and the love of thoughtfulness, and the love of sacrifice, the love of honor.  He loved herAnd this love was her security

Men, if you don’t know it yet, you ought to know it; a woman’s security is in your love for her, not in your bank account, not in a fancy house, not in new furniture, not in a retirement plan.  A woman finds her security in your love, and it needs to be demonstrated so frequently that there’s never a question about it People wonder often why women tend to be suspicious of their husbands, and wondering if they might have some other attraction or be fooling around with some other person, and the reason is because it’s so deeply rooted in a woman that her security is in the love of her man.  And that’s the way it was with Elkanah and Hannah And she was secure in his love, because he took the time to demonstrate his love to her in very public ways, such as he had done at this feast in front of everyoneThey shared love, and thus she was secure in that love; and she needed that, believe me, when he had another wife …

They shared love … There is the absence of anxiety and frustration, so that the woman can give herself to the children, and not always feel that she’s got to be a beauty queen to win the affection of her husband.  Once the husband with his love wraps that woman up and secures her, then she can give herself away to her children, and not have to feel that she must always fight the uphill battle to attract her husband.

Thirdly, they shared another thing.  They shared feelings Shared worship, their relationship to God was a common one.  They shared love, and they shared feelings.  Look at verse 6.  “Her rival, however,” – that’s Peninnah – “would provoke her bitterly to irritate her because the Lord had closed her womb.”  It said that also at the end of verse 5, twice it says the Lord had closed her womb What it’s trying to say is this isn’t Hannah’s problem; the Lord did this The Lord closed her womb.  And this Peninnah would harass her, you know, that kind of thing, “Too bad you can’t have any children, Hannah,” just sticking the knife in And it happened year after year; “as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she would provoke her so she wept and wouldn’t eat.” 

Here she goes to the big feast Elkanah is sympathetically, lovingly giving her a double portion She won’t eat anything, ’cause on the other side of the table, Peninnah’s really rubbing it in that she has no children The response – I would not want to be in Elkanah’s position, trying to pull these two women together.  But Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep?  And why do you not eat?  And why is your heart sad?  Am I not better to you than ten sons?”  They shared feelings.  Boy, he read her feelings and he didn’t pontificate, he asked a question.  Why are you doing this, Hannah?  Haven’t I been better than ten sons to you?He knew the conflict, and he knew the conflict was intensified from Peninnah’s side, and he knew that it was deep and painful and it was a hard, hard place for her to be And so he was tender, and sympathetic, and thoughtful, and he felt her feelings in his own heart.

She has a right husband relationshipThey share worship, the deepest dimension of human life They share love, maybe the next deepest dimension of human life.  They share feelings, maybe the next deepest dimension of human life.  They have a deep relationship.  They move together in the presence of God, with one another, and over the issues of life that involve other people.

As devestated as she was about her sterility — which God had given her — she believed that He could reverse her condition. She never lost her faith. Not only did she pray and pray for a child, she also made a vow to the Lord. Many women would have been bitter and turned away from God, but not Hannah:

The high priest is in the temple.  She goes there.  She came into the temple greatly distressed.  Her soul was bitter, it literally says And she prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly She is just crushed – crushed.  And she made a promise, a vow.  “O Lord,” and she goes on to make her vow.  But notice this about this godly woman: she was a woman of prayer.  It’s a beautiful characteristic.  She understood that God was the source of children.  She understood that God alone could alter her sterility.  Her distinctive virtue was her faith, constant faith.  Verse 12, “It came about as she continued praying before the Lord” – constant.  She remained there.  She stayed there.  Her heart was broken She was pouring out her prayersThis is the spirit of true prayer

So she promised God, “I’ll give You this child, I just want to be fulfilled as a mother, I just want to raise a godly son to give back to Your glory.  And if You give him to me I’ll give him back.”  This is her promise, to present her child to God.  That’s the essence of a godly mother.  While praying for a child, she prays for that child not for a wrong reason but a right reason, to turn that child back to God, from where the child came.  That’s the essence of a godly mother – to give the child to God, to give the child to God.  My mother only had one son, and I am that son Before I was born she dedicated me to the Lord from birth, and told my father that she wanted a son who would preach the gospel That’s a wonderful legacy And that may not be what every son is to do, it is not what every son is to do, but every godly mother will give that child to the Lord for whatever he has; the same with a daughterSo Hannah made her promise.

We also find out more about Eli and his sons. Wasn’t it awful for Eli to accuse Hannah in her brokenness of being drunk?

The next thing we see about Hannah was her purity.  Eli was the high priest, but I’ve got to tell you, he was really a lousy high priest And nothing could be said about his discernment, either.  “It came about when she was praying continually before the Lord, Eli was watching her mouth.”  Sitting off on a – he was a big, fat manIn fact, when his sons died, he was so shook he fell over, and landed on his neck and broke it and killed himself So Eli was sitting there watching her, and she was in there pouring out her heart and weeping and crying.  And she was speaking in her heart.  She wasn’t speaking out loud, it says in verse 13, only her lips were moving.  Have you ever had that experience where you’re really talking in your heart but your lips are moving, though not a sound was heard?  So Eli thought she was drunk Isn’t he discerning?  Now, I don’t know anything about my discernment as relative to other people, or to Eli’s, but I’ll tell you, I think I know the difference between a drunk and a woman broken in prayer

So Eli decided to play the spiritual role “How long will you make yourself drunk?  Put away your wine from you,” he says to her.  And Hannah is so gracious, and answered and said, “No, my lord, I’m a woman oppressed in spirit I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.  You misjudge me.  Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman.”  That tells us a little bit about drinking wine or strong drink and its relationship to worthlessness regarding women.  That’s an Old Testament attitude.  “Don’t consider me like that.  I have spoken until now out of my great concern and my provocation.”  Then Eli, hearing such a lucid answer, answered and said, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you’ve asked of Him.”  It’s sort of a mild apology But he mistook her for being drunk.  “Don’t think your maidservant a worthless woman” – literally, a son of Belial, profitless.  A common term, by the way, in the Old Testament, associated with idolatry, Deuteronomy 13; rebellion, 1 Samuel 2; lewd, sensuous acts in Judges 19 and 20; a term used to speak of arrogance and stupidity in 1 Samuel 25, and even murder in 1 Kings 21 “Don’t think that I’m in that group.  I’m not that kind of person.”  She was a virtuous woman, like the woman of Proverbs 12:4 and 31:10, she was a woman of virtue.  She was a godly woman, she was a pure woman …

… the rest of chapter 2 into chapter 3 into chapter 4 is the sad, pathetic tragedy of the family of Eli His sons were fornicators They died, and he himself fell over, as I said, and died.  It was a tragic, ugly scene.  And the commentary of Scripture on Eli was that he could not restrain his sons from doing evil; and his wife is never mentioned I don’t know what part, if any, she had, but she was a long way from what Hannah was in producing godly Samuel

MacArthur explains why Hannah was able to enjoy eating after she was so upset in prayer:

I’ll tell you why: because she had patient faith.  She had patient faith She gave it to God, what else could she do?  She wasn’t about to remain frustrated.  This is true faith True faith doesn’t pray, “O God, here’s my problem, here’s my problem,” walk away in utter frustration.  That’s really doubt.  Faith says, “Here it is, God,” and walks away, and is no longer sad.  That’s trust.  “I trust You.”  Very much the mark of a godly mother, one who totally trusts God – she casts her burden on God, and that’s the end of it.  She walks away.  She eats.  She is no longer sad.

Samuel was a little boy — older than a toddler — when Hannah dedicated him to the Lord:

“For she said to her husband, ‘I will not go up until the child is weaned.’”  Now wait a minute.  That’s a couple of years, Hannah.  Three years?  I don’t know exactly how long Hannah nursed little Samuel, but several years surely “I won’t go.”  It was only about a two or three week trip, at the longest, to go up there and be there for a week, traveling there, traveling back.  It’s less than 200 miles from one end of Palestine to the other.  She wouldn’t go, she wouldn’t go at all.  Why?  She was dedicated to the child.  When God gave the child, she was dedicated to the child

Samuel means heard by God And boy, once that child came, Hannah said, “This is the child of my passion, this is the child of my vow; I will not forsake my time with this child I won’t leave this child for several weeks.  I won’t take this little child along and make it uncomfortable,” because they would necessarily walk The child needs sleep, and the child needs the gentleness of home, the quietness of a nursing environment … 

And she dedicates the weaned child to God So verse 24, “When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year- old bull, and one ephah of flour, and a jug of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh, although the child was young.  They slaughtered the bull and brought the boy to Eli, and she said, ‘O my lord, as your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord.  For this boy I prayed, and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of Him So I have also dedicated him to the Lord; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the Lord.’  And he worshiped the Lord there.”

Samuel’s story begins in 1 Samuel 2:

Look at chapter 2, verse 18:  “Now Samuel was ministering before the Lord, as a boy wearing a linen ephod.”  In other words, he was girded like a priest would be, dressed as a little boy His whole life was ministering before the Lord.  “And his mother would make him a little robe,” verse 19, “and bring it to him from year to year when she would come up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, ‘May the Lord give you children from this woman in place of the one she dedicated to the Lord.’  And they went to their own home.  The Lord visited Hannah; and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters And the boy Samuel grew before the Lord.”

She never really let go of her responsibility; every time she came, she came with a new little robe for her growing Samuel That’s the result of godly mothering And that’s the insight that you never stop being Mother, no matter how old they become God blessed her. To be a godly mother involves a right husband relationship, a right heavenly relationship, and a right home relationship Hannah had all of that.  God honored it, and she gives us a model to follow.

In closing, may I wish all mothers celebrating in a few days’ time a happy — and blessed — Mothering Sunday.

It was only when I moved to England that I ate goose for the first time.

There’s no finer meat to serve at Christmas.

In the UK, now is the time to place an order.

Below is my recipe for a foolproof goose. It might take a while to prep, but it is well worth it.


One 10 – 12 pound goose should serve 7 people.



2 tsp granulated or caster sugar

2 tbsp sherry or balsamic vinegar

You will need a rack and a large roasting tray for this as well as two saucepans: a large one for stock and a small one for fat rendering. On the day of roasting, you will need a turkey baster and a large measuring jug.


Let the goose air dry for at least 12 hours before cooking (instructions below).

Make stock while the bird dries out so that it is ready when you want to make the gravy or jus.

1/ For the stock, you will need the wings. With sturdy kitchen scissors, cut the wings off at the body of the goose, then cut into equal portions.

2/ Put the wing pieces along with giblets and neck into a saucepan to brown and caramelise. When caramelised on both sides, cover with water, cook and reduce to make goose stock. Season with salt and pepper. This takes about one to two hours. When the stock is finished, set it aside to cool.

3/ Reserve the liver for a separate delicacy for two people, lightly sautéed in butter for a minute or two each side to place on warm, buttered toast. Salt the liver just before serving. Drench the butter over it and the toast. (You can have that the day before you have the roast goose or on the same day. With liver, the sooner the better.)

4/ Begin preparing the bird the day before roasting. Start by breaking the legs of the goose by stretching backwards without breaking the skin. This will make it easier to carve once you have roasted it.

5/ Remove any excess fat from the goose cavity and render gently over low heat in a non-stick pan. This is the best fat from the goose. Once cooled, pour into a sterilised jar and keep for roast potatoes. (Heat a tablespoon of fat at 375 deg. for 10 minutes, then put halves of dry par-boiled potatoes in it to roast for approx. 30 minutes.)

6/ The day before roasting, pour boiling water over the goose (with innards removed), pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Coat the outside with salt, vinegar and sugar (a somewhat traditional Chinese method for duck) and rest on a rack over a roasting tray. Let it sit in a pantry overnight.

7/ For roasting, put the goose on the tray over the roasting pan into a preheated oven at 500 degrees for 20 minutes.

8/ With a turkey baster, remove any fat from the pan into a measuring jug.

9/ Turn down the heat to 350 deg. or 325 deg. for two hours.

10/ Keep removing fat with a turkey baster into the same measuring jug.

The oven temp. is an advisory. If the goose starts to get too brown and the meat is not cooked, perhaps the heat is too high.

My Christmas goose takes about two to two-and-a-half hours to roast following this method.

11/ Keep the fat in the jug to cool. Reserve later for roast potatoes (as above). Have sterilised jars at the ready. You should have nearly a year’s worth of goose fat to refrigerate and use as you like.

12/ Let the cooked goose rest for about 45 to 60 minutes before carving.

13/ Make a jus with two tbsp. (approx.) flour, mix into remaining fat, then add Port or red wine. Make sure that is evenly mixed and cooked. Add some of your goose stock (from Step 2 above) gradually to thin slightly for a light jus to pour over the goose. Reserve any spare jus and refrigerate.

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