Whe had an annus mirabilis or an annus horribilis.. in terms of what has come your way, it’s not what happens but how you face it. What’s next?
Singing in 2001 African style
The New Year began, not to the tune of auld lang syne, but to a group rendition of an African song at friend Tom Morely’s party. Tom specialises in group work using drums and African chants. It’s energising as well as great fun learning the rounds.. All night as we ate yummy food and sipped bubbly we were practising the song for midnight. It was a unique start to another unique year for me. [NB dated 2017 – Tom Morely is a songwriter, activist, team-building facilitator, drummer- Instant Teamworks]
In search of ‘exercise’.
I suppose it might be down to New Year’s fever that I joined a gym in January. I’d been a regular gym goer from 92 to 97 but when I went freelance and moved from a friendly but scruffy gym to a high tech cold chain one, the magic was lost. I wasn’t motivated to go. In the spring I’d done a fair amount of running along the seafront but not for long. One knee had gone kaput after my second rollerblading lesson last year and was just about healed when the other one gave way..Walking was a pain and running was out of the question.
I started to accompany my boyfriend, Paul, on a pushbike when he went running. With his encouragement I got my cycle in shape, took it to Eastbourne and rediscovered the joys of cycling. It might be a sleepy seaside town, but its wide low-traffic treelined roads and the seafront are ideal cycling territory.
I rarely use my car now when I’m down here and thoroughly enjoy the long ride along the seafront to the supermarket with a rucksack on my back.. It seems more natural for me to be exercising in the course of my daily activities. I take particular pleasure in cycling along the seafront in defiance of the ‘no cycling’ notices as a protest against cyclophobia!
Probably the most empowering form of exercise that I have discovered this year is Chi Kung. It is a simplified offshoot of tai chi and is used widely alongside conventional medicine as part of the healing process in hospitals throughout the Far East.
Chi Kung involves very slow movement performed in a continuous flow in harmony with deep pelvic breathing and various meridian point on the body. For me this is the most calming, meditative and energising stuff I’ve ever done.
I bought a video from a local Chi Kung teacher, I attend a class when I’m here and I often do a little routine in my garden in the morning or when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed or tired.
It can be done anywhere and for 5 or ten minutes or two hours. Sometimes a few movements are enough to revive flagging energy, reduce stress, or calm a busy mind. It’s brought calm, acceptance and an emotional stability to my life. I heartily recommend it to anyone.
Flirting and I had our first media appearance in the Guardian on Jan 10th 1999. That article generated a flood of media interest that has continued to flow in on a regular basis and as a result I’ve done a lot of media work this year. It seems that Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s, and summer holidays are great times for flirting!
I’ve had journalists on all my courses and appeared in magazines and newspapers on radio and TV in the UK, Amsterdam, the USA, Australia, India and god knows where else. I’ve been written up in glossy men’s and women’s mags, gay mags, party mags, mags that go into posh homes and even Forum magazine [I was assistant editor of the mag 1974].
I’ve had pieces on me in most of the national daily newspapers and appeared on umpteen radio shows in the States, the UK and even Tasmania!
I’ve also been published and paid as a journalist. The Sunday Post printed two articles by me on ‘kissing’ and ‘sex in the office’ and they did a piece on me this month. Apparently the Post is somewhat of an institution in Scotland . I also got paid for a piece on social flirting for WH Smith’s Greatest Party book.
This was the year when TV flirted with me, teased me and then didn’t come across with the goods! Earlier in the year I’d done quite a lot of TV stuff to publicise the book. As the year wore on, GMTV, This Morning, Big Breakfast and Esther all called me to take part in shows and all cancelled. BUT, even as I write, GMTV has already asked again if I can do a show in the new year on finding a husband. It’s just the way it is.. and I’m happy to do it or not as the case may be. I suspect something much more exciting is waiting for me around the corner.
‘The Science of Seduction’ a superb and well researched scientific study of seduction was made by the BBC Natural History unit under commission from the Discovery Channel. I was featured in the programme which was shown in the States and Canada on Valentines Day.
I absolutely loved doing all the radio 99% of which is live. It gives me a chance to get some nice message across without being edited out. And I’m good at getting in the plugs I want to. And best of all, you can do radio from home without having to worry what you look like. That’s very freeing. The two half hour ‘agony aunt’ slots I did for BBC Southern Counties radio [Note 2017 – Southern Counties has now separated into Radio Sussex and Radio Surrey] really allowed me to get my teeth into a meaty subject after which listeners phoned in. I chose ‘Philandering Men’ and Is there Love after 40 as my subjects!
Flirt Coach is launched on Valentine’s Day
I handed in the final draft of my book last summer and now, nine months later, it was about to be unleashed on the world. I had great fun going round bookshops and finding it on the shelf. My friend Lesley spent half an hour in Brent Cross rearranging the display to favour Flirt Coach! It was an amazing experience receiving my author’s copies of the book . I also received a bit of a shock when I discovered that several books had been printed with pages missing. What’s really ironic is that the missing pages were the chapter on SEX!
Thorsons, my publishers, had arranged a load of publicity.. choosing Valentines as the perfect launch date. I spent two or three weeks running around doing all kinds of media stuff and got to stay in a hotel for a week.
The only downer was that I’d been charging for doing broadcasting work before and now I had to do it for free! It was worth the exposure and fun and the book started to sell well.
I went on Channel 4’s Big Breakfast and experienced a Donna Air ‘interview’. She’s one of those interviewers who ask a question and then answer it themselves. But in the true silly, outrageous spirit of the programme I just made sure to wave my book around a lot along with the pink and blue feather boas I’d bought because they matched the book.
Ready Steady Cook!
I’d pre-filmed this programme last year to be shown this Valentine’s day. I was on the show with a wonderfully larger than life girl called Heather. She was a nightclub singer and had the same raucous down dirty sense of humour as me. Ainsley Harriot the show’s host is the world’s best flirt. The producer warned us not to engage him in any of this naughty talk otherwise he’d outdo us and they wouldn’t be able to edit out the programme.
I had a fabulous time and Paul came along too. He helped us scoff the prawns in garlic and the other delicious stuff they’d cooked up and he took some brilliant photographs of Heather, myself and Ainsley. A great day out and fantastic publicity for me and the book. Heather became a friend and came along and brightened up our June flirting day.
Big Brother was watching me
Like most of the nation I too couldn’t resist watching Big Brother from time to time. But Big Brother, it appears, were also watching me. In July I found myself at the Big Brother studios in the back of beyond appearing on an E4 programme called Big Brother, Little Brother. It’s a magazine type show devoted to all things Big Brother!!!
I got to see all the TV monitors for all the cameras in the house. There’s a team of people who watch them all day. There are other people who are going through the tapes choosing juicy bits for the next transmission. I also got to meet the guy behind the Geordie accent of the Big Brother commentator.
My task was to point with a long stick [looked great with my leather jacket!!] to a large screen showing cuts of Helen and Paul’s encounters and talk the audience through the heavy flirting that went on between two housemates..They even asked me to predict ‘will they snog or won’t they’ Great fun and they paid me. And the bonus was that other media people got in touch after seeing it!!
Flirting in Amsterdam
I love Amsterdam and this year I got to visit twice. As part of the launch PR for their new no frills airline, KLM took me and several reporters to Amsterdam where I ran a ‘flirting seminar’ in the press lounge at the airport.
We ended up in an Amsterdam restaurant flirting with waiters and glasses of champagne As a result Zoe Williams did a great piece on it in the London Evening Standard. I even got to work with a paying coaching client while I was there. I had fun teaching her to smile at workman from behind the plate glass of the hotel window.
I worked with a lot of clients this year and seeing each one of them and the people in my seminars change was a source of joy to me. The girl I worked with in Amsterdam is now in a relationship with someone she likes a lot!
I’d run my first flirting weekend in Amsterdam in Jan 2000 and it was such a success I decided to repeat the experience. I had a lot of help from fantastic Dutch friends Hanni and Arjan. Hanni found the venue and Arjan did a press release and also wrote up the weekend for a men’s magazine! Another friend Teresa did the dance sessions. It was a blissful few days.
I went by plane a couple of days before the seminar and Paul planned to ride there at the weekend on his scooter. We stayed in a rented apartment that belonged to a gay artist who’d painted murals throughout ever room. What an amazing place.. paradise. David my neighbour and ‘adopted’ son and Adrian came along to hang out and have fun in Amsterdam. The venue was very feng shui and spiritual with lots of space, wooden floors, fountains and light. Couldn’t have been better and it was on one of Amsterdam’s prettiest canal streets and 5 mins walk from the apartment.
The seminar was a wow and I did a lot of press interviews while I was out there and some TV. There was a huge piece in a Netherlands daily ‘Der Telegraf’. During one of the TV things, I found myself in the street with a presenter who thrust a mike into the faces of passers by and shouted ‘Do you flirt well?’. Most of them ran away.
I had to give him a quick lesson in approaching people and showed him how. Flirtjen je welle? I think was what I had to say. After that we got some better responses and it was shown every hour throughout the evening on the local news channel.
Paul arrived on Saturday night and joined in the after course party which was a riot. Most of the younger contingent sloped off to sample the rich night life of the city. We spent half of the next day in the Amsterdam sex museum. Makes you realise there’s nothing new and people have been doing ‘strange’ things for as long as records have been kept!
I love my work so much it’s like play most of the time and I’m able to organise my life so that I seem to have lots of time to just enjoy myself. But come August, I hadn’t had a holiday abroad for two years..
Paul had just gotten the use of a massive big trail bike, a Triumph Tiger, complete with lime green tiger striped bodywork and matching panniers so we decided on the spur of the moment to take a trip to France. We hopped on the bike, crossed the channel at Newhaven, about 10 miles from where I live, and started riding in the direction of La Rochelle
Paul called some friends he’d not seen for 17 years and they invited us for dinner and a bed for the night at their home in the Dordogne. 4 hours and some hard riding later we were eating al fresco on the patio of Johnny and Jackie’s amazing restaurant come home in the heart of the countryside. We stayed for 3 nights and had a great time. Fantastic food, lots of sunshine, dogs, cats, kids and even a pig! Sadly we missed the moment when the pig escaped and wandered into a restaurant full of people.
The company was stimulating and the sunflower strewn countryside relaxing. We visited some fascinating towns, Chartres for one, and villages full of history and beautiful buildings. We set out for home after a feast to remember out on the patio in the midday sun and rode hard and fast to Dieppe.
Our hovercraft was cancelled but we ended up getting a free cabin on the ferry so we arrived back a little rested. It was an exhilarating, fast paced four days of fun.
I found a new string to my bow this year. I began to get calls from companies asking me to get involved in PR campaigns for various ‘flirty’ products. I spent a whole morning giving radio interviews talking about ‘what women want’ to promote the release of the DVD of Mel Gibson’s film. I co-interviewed with Peter Stringfellow and we got on really well.
I promoted Flirtboat, a flirting game on the internet and I wrote a flirting booklet for Pink Lady Apples and now I’m being hired by Match.com, the internet dating agency, to facilitate monthly events for them. They’ve even threatened to give me a title like ‘VP of Flirting’. Whatever next.
The Daily Mail hired me to do some makeovers on women and the first one appeared in October. They’re storing up the rest for next year.
I also met with Edward de Bono, someone I admire a lot for his creative thinking and ideas on education. We planned to launch some flirting codes in the new year… and that’s still underway.
Paul is a motorcycle journalist and he’s always getting scooters and bikes to test for the magazines he writes for. He encouraged me to get my CBT, which means I can ride 125cc bikes with L plates instead of being restricted to 50 ccs. I made a commitment to myself to get a full bike licence by my 50th Birthday which is Feb 22nd 2002.
I took a few lessons locally on a geared bike, but got fed up with having to use a kick start. Meanwhile, I’ve been riding around with him sampling new scooters, being photographed and photographing him. I even got to go to a celebrity scooter auction and my write up got published in Twist and Go.
As a ‘hobby’ I plan to write about riding clothes, test a few scooters and maybe even write stuff for women’s mags on the subject. It’s a very trendy and rapidly growing market for women. I think I’ll even persuade some sassy scooter manufacturer to give me something to ride around as publicity. I can just see it now, a shocking pink body, with Flirt Coach in blue… and the website. We’ll see how it pans out.
Endings and Beginnings
This year I experienced some very contrasting life and death events. In January my uncle Terry died and I went to Devon with my parents and brother to attend his funeral.
The joyous outcome of that was a reunion of all my mother’s family, and I got to meet relatives I’d never met and renew acquaintances with my cousins and their families. The day after the funeral my friend Andy Smith married his partner, Jules.
In September Paul’s mother died but not before she’d seen in her 81st birthday a few days earlier, with family and a couple of close friends in her garden on a lovely sunny day. On the day she died, across the ocean tragic events were unfolding as the twin towers burned and collapsed in New York and thousands perished
Two days later my friend Rita, in New York, gave birth to Noah on September 14th.
And three days before my December flirting seminar I received a mail from Teresa, who had helped out on the Amsterdam seminar after attending the first one. She had met a man right outside her front door and married him at the end of November.
Death is often followed in this way by births and marriages offering hope and joy for the future
It’s been an eventful and fun year and something new has come up whenever I’ve thought I needed a change.
Above all I’ve run several flirting seminars that have sent people out into the world more hopeful, more playful and more daring and more themselves. I don’t have children but each time someone writes to me with a success story, and I get a lot, I feel my heart swelling with as much pride as I imagine any parent would do on hearing of their own child’s success.
My parents have been so supportive all this year and it’s been wonderful living so close to them. I’ve really enjoyed being in a seaside town and especially one that is as peaceful as Eastbourne.
At the same time I’ve been living it up in London, attending press parties, seeing friends and doing all kinds of strange and wonderful activities. I’ve acquired a false tooth, some new friends, lost weight, had fun with my boyfriend and spent time with my friends, and my fingers have flown across the keyboard connecting with people from all over the world throughout the year.
And on January 8th I’ve an appointment at the smoking cessation clinic. And I’m looking forward to being 50 and being splendid.
I look forward to more of the same and more of something new.. and I wish for everyone the joy of doing what they love and loving what they do.
Love, hugs, smiles and nice thoughts to you.