Valentine’s – 50 Shades of Doomsday


We all know it is coming… by the end of January each year, retail morphs into 50 hues of red and pink and men starting sweating each time they cross the family threshold, for fear of being asked “So what are you getting me for Valentine’s Day?” or “Where are we going on Valentine’s Day?”. And to top it all off, this year, we have the premier of ‘50 Shades’ the movie to rattle our S&M cages. I’ll bring the handcuffs, fear not, dear readers.

Most men hate Valentine’s Day (unless they are proposing and need a jolly good old backdrop) and I can understand why. It just means pressure not pleasure. And they usually come up with the goods as a way of keeping the peace or so that they get to see and touch some nice undies by midnight. Oh, cynical me, but it is true. Putting so much pressure on the boys is enough to generate 14th Feb erectile dysfunction, on a global scale.

Back in the day, when I was a school kid wearing white knee high socks, my late mother would always send me a Valentine’s Day card, just in case I didn’t get any. Bless her, I always knew which one was from her, not only because of the handwriting but also because of the postcode. If she had gone to Aberystwyth I might not have guessed. But alas, the postcode was always London NW something and usually smelled of her perfume. Bless all mums the world over.

But anticipation was all, back then. Getting a text or Whatsapp message is just not the same as getting a card in the post, or anonymous flowers from a mystery admirer. The mystery of romance seems to have dwindled altogether in 2015 – I wonder how Tinder members celebrate this auspicious date? Two hook-ups in a night? Mystery and anticipation are two of the key factors in seduction and romance. Even Mr Grey knows this.

I actually hate Valentine’s Day and would always opt for staying at home eating some great steak (not Rump) and then having some even greater ‘rumpy pumpy’ both before and after food. Greedy, me… The thought of being crammed into a tiny restaurant with a single sad red rose donning each table, paying exorbitant prices and eating a heart-shaped chocolate fondant for pudding almost sends me over the edge.

And whilst you might shout ‘Oh bitter, twisted Leslau’, I am speaking up for the boys here – just because women can be so bloody demanding and annoying. A man having his hand forced to make any type of gesture or shower of affection is not a genuine demonstration of love. A man will do what he wants to do (eventually) and will end up resenting you, either sooner or later.

One of the most romantic gestures a man ever displayed was showing up at my doorstep, single rose in hand, picked from a garden and sporting a sexy public schoolboy smile (wearing clothes, not naked)! A man will always show you (for better or worse) how he feels about you through what he does, 100 times over what he says. Talk is cheap and actions that are spontaneous and natural should be the most cherished and loving of all: those that come from the heart, in the truest sense of the words.

The irony is that women also love men to show us this genuine, more spontaneous side to their personality. The money spent on us doesn’t make us weak at the knees – it is the Flash Mob in Grand Central Station (‘Friends with Benefits’) or the non-sensical soliloquy (‘When Harry Met Sally’) that really gets us going, commercialism aside. But men are all too often scared of being rejected to do these things for fear that all we women want is ‘The Valentine’s Day Dream Boat’.   

And now onto the boys… bottom line girls (excuse the pun) what most men really want for Valentine’s Day is you for starters, main course and pudding, à la When Harry Met Sally. And you can be served à la mode, on top or with or without dressing. Who needs 50 shades of anything and they also don’t care if you fake it! Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends!

‘We need to talk…’ BT (British Telecom) vs BT (Before Technology)


As a linguist (and not a cunning one) I have always been fascinated by language and emotional intelligence. Both are interlinked even though we may not realise it. Language: in its ability to harm, heal and tell you everything you need to know about a person or culture and emotional intelligence in relation to all manner of interpersonal and professional relationships. I have named this blog ‘We need to talk’ because you know as soon as someone says that to you, a bombshell is about to drop from the sky. Right on your barnet before you hit the family size tub of Ben & Jerry’s or a kilo bar of Dairy Milk. But as human beings, we DO need to talk. And a lot more. BT got it right in their ads with Maureen Lipman and her grandson’s ‘ologies’ and those were BT (Before Technology).

From the way Eskimos describe snow and how Spaniards use food and mother references to offend to NLP training and how to master and ‘manipulate’ the spoken word, language is the most powerful and beautiful tool in the world. But we humans, the most advance of all beings (except for Daleks, of course) too often forget its power. Unlike our predecessors who used the power of the word to bring us literary delights that formed and moulded our very being, BT (Before Technology).

A situation happened with a client this week: a long-standing issue for a client that hadn’t been settled by law or technology. So I got involved and spoke to the third party in question. Within minutes if not hours, this particular situation was one step further towards resolution than it had been in two years – due to one polite and, dare I boldly say, intelligent email plus a planned telephone call.

Whilst we hide behind social media accounts and email, our ability to communicate becomes anti-social, if anything. A goldfish bowl attention spans filters into our living and breathing world, so much so, that we lose touch with our greatest gift. K.I.S.S. as one of my other client always says: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Just pick up the phone.

Not all PR’s love to write but I do. I love to read as much as I love to write but over the years, as technology hurls us forward into the unknown, I would much prefer to have a telephone conversation with someone first and then follow up with one or two simple emails. I used to hate the phone and never answered it unless it was for work – phone = work in my PR world. And then the world changed. I now enjoy speaking on the phone most of the time before I slump back into my loner, ‘bah humbug’ ways.

Listening to someone’s voice also brings a different level into any form of interpersonal relationship. Yet even when we do talk, do we actually listen? When listening to a foreign language by phone, we only pick up about 55% of words, which is why it is sometimes hard to understand. But many people are never present or listening at all, regardless of whether they are speaking in Mother Tongue or A N Other language (by phone or otherwise). It all gets rather complicated.

When you listen to what someone says, coupled with their body language, it will tell you everything you need to know about them. If they use the words ‘that looks great’ a lot, you know they are visual people; if they say ‘that sounds great’ you know they are auditory souls. If they cover their mouth while you speak you can pretty much assume they don’t want to answer, don’t believe what you are saying or have something to hide (unless you have a halitosis problem). Most body language is involuntary so should never be underestimated.

If we shout at someone, there is a higher probability that someone will shout back at us, as if under attack. In the same way that when animals sense fear, they attack, we too use our voices, words and, with the advent of technology, capital letters and exclamation marks, to both attack and defend. In relation to animals I often test this theory with ‘vicious’ dogs – I ‘speak’ to them in a very loving way (and tone of voice) and see how their posture changes.

When trying to fathom Mars and Venus distinctions and manage personal relationships, don’t ask me about the latter. I have a filthy temper on me when it comes to men and arguments (only if I care about them) but as I can no longer shout, post-Cancer, I have to take my emotional intelligence to new highs (or just punch their lights out and end up with a criminal record – does jail do Gluten-Free meals?). The key is always language. Not always shouting, just words, the most powerful weapon of them all. But never be too controlled, get it out and don’t fester (note the use of exclamation marks here)!!

At work, the angrier I get (when I allow things to get to me) the more polite I become, just because I can’t lose my rag with a client or a journalist or third party – I always try and be reasonable and the work world is very small. If I ever start a sentence “With the greatest of respect…” you know my blood is boiling. The more I dislike someone or I know they are false, a wanker or a liar (and I can always sniff out a liar, so much so I discovered someone living under an alias, LOL), the more polite I am. It is fun to watch me in action, I can assure you. It stems from my late father teaching me “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer”. I know it is one of the all-time favourite Godfather lines but never a truer word was spoken – and he did actually say it!

This particular phrase takes me right back to where this blog started, to the client situation. I told my client to keep enemies closer and all that. Confuse them. Be nice to them. I was extra nice on their behalf and it appears to be working. And the root of this power? The spoken word, always. Am I evil? Probably. But don’t tell anyone (on email, text, in person or on Whatsapp!). Definitely not on the phone!