Evidence that Romance Isn’t Dead

I now work in a jewellers, it’s a great place as you never know who will come through the door, what they will bring, what stories they have and what they want to buy. We have a mismatch of customers, of all ages, nationalities and it’s also a place where we get to hear and see signs of love at least three times a week.

Yesterday, two customers I helped serve stood out.

One was a local customer, who had just received our new catalogue through the door. His wife had looked through it and saw a bracelet that she liked, she pointed it out to him and he didn’t make much of a fuss about it at the time. He came into the shop, without her knowing and looked at the bracelet and the others in the same range – 18ct gold beads on an elasticated band. Some had diamonds and some did not.

After some expert modelling from myself, he decided to take the bracelet without diamonds (because after all, this wasn’t any special occasion) and then asked about matching earrings, which we have too. He bought the set, spending over £1000 and asked us to gift-wrap them. I couldn’t stop thinking about how pleased, excited and surprised his wife would have been to come home to receive such a nice gift.

Later that day, a Chinese group came in. They had already bought some watches from a shop in Manchester the day before and were comparing prices and styles. One man had bought an Omega the day before, and looked at our Omega display. A couple caught his eye and he saw a watch from the same collection as his, that matched his very nicely. In Asian cultures, matching watches for couples is quite a common thing, and I think it is really cute. What was even cuter, was that he FaceTime’d his wife (who was in bed – China is GMT+8) and showed her the two watches he was thinking about buying.


Matching Ladies Omega Watch

She didn’t ask for a watch but you could see from his face that he really wanted to buy her one, saying that what happens if he goes back and they go out to dinner, he dresses up with his new watch and she doesn’t have one. He bought the watch with a darker dial to match his and walked away very happy with his purchase (pictured).




So…where do I find one of those?


Guys on Facebook

Something strange is going on and I’m not the only one to wonder about this. The question is, what is it with guys on Facebook?

Facebook is a strange place, and people use it differently, I get that. There are people who share all their personal photos, emotions, dreams etc on their profile, so wish to keep their friends list restricted to below 100. There are people who use it as a networking tool and add everyone they come in to contact with and end up with a friends list of over 1500 ‘friends’, even though some of these were people they met once and will never see again. Then there are the people in between, who share some aspects of their life but not all. There are Facebook lurkers who see everything, but never admit they’re watching you by ‘liking’ your photos and updates. There are enthusiastic people who go through your whole album and like every single photo, then send friend requests to the friends tagged in your photos. You get my point, people use Facebook very differently.

I have a very private Facebook profile, so people who aren’t my friends can’t see much at all, but once we’re friends, you’ll be able to see my photos, links to my blog and the articles I share. 659 friends I think is a decent amount, but I no longer rush to add people as Facebook friends.

Back to the question… what is it with guys and Facebook?

Let me just list some case studies that cause me and my girl friends to send long voice notes back and forth to each other. In all these cases, we’ve met the guys in a club, out and about, or through some other method, meaning we wouldn’t have each other on Facebook already

  • Guy tells the girl he’s dating if she added him on Facebook, he would leave her in the buffer zone (neither accepting nor rejecting the friend request) for at least two weeks. She sends him a friend request and three weeks later he accepts, even though within those three weeks the two have met up in person
  • Guy tells girl he’s really hard to find on Facebook, so there’s no point trying to find him ~ Challenge accepted, girl and her friends launch an investigation and find his profile and links to his twitter and insta
  • Guy tells girl he doesn’t use Facebook, so there’s no point adding him ~ girl and her friends find him on Facebook, he’s recently updated his profile picture and has added three new friends in the past week
  • Guy sends girl friend request after they met each other for the first time (she didn’t tell him her last name but he found her) ~ she accepts after a few days in the buffer zone and his profile is empty (I thought social media was meant to be that – social, when there’s nothing to see, alarm bells start ringing)
  • Guy goes back to old photos/status updates of the girls and unlikes them to prove some kind of point

I think these guys are all hiding something*, whether it’s another relationship, friends, political views, a child, embarrassing photos from year 9, who knows? But what other reason is there for you to not accept our friend requests, or pretend that you don’t use Facebook, when you clearly do, and have over 1000 friends. Are we not one of the select few to be blessed with access to your profile. 

Besides easy communication through Messenger, one of the reasons to add someone on Facebook is to get to know them a bit better, right? To see their photos, their updates, the articles they share, the sports teams they like etc. Not all of this information is obtained from stalking their profile. When you’re browsing your news feed, photos come up X likes this… X checked in to Y and is feeling happy. Guys, by adding girls on Facebook, she’s not going to necessarily start downloading your photos and making them into a collage, if that’s what you’re afraid of. She can’t use Facebook to access your internet history, so please, what is the deal with guys on Facebook? What are you hiding from us? What game are you playing? 

*ps, if you are hiding something, we will find out about it eventually

Seeking love

There’s a phenomenon in China, similar to some other Asian societies, that values marriage very highly. People simply have to get married. But in a time when everyone is busy working overtime, making the commute to and from work, a lot of white collar workers especially, don’t have time for dating and meeting potential partners. So how do these Chinese people find their life partner?

You might have heard of the Shanghai Marriage Market where grandparents in one of Shanghai’s parks hold posters and pin up all the information about their single grandchildren. Well I didn’t go to that one, but I did stumble across something similar when I was in Hangzhou.

Looking for a suitable candidate

It was close to where I was staying, so just went to have a look around. It was absolutely packed with parents and grandparents holding sticky note pads for writing potential date’s phone numbers on (nice to see a large group of Chinese people not scanning each other’s QR codes for a change).

I read some of the signs, which contained a lot of personal information about the ‘candidates’ – age, Chinese zodiac animal, university graduated from, annual salary, if they have a car/house, height, weight, body type and where their hukou is from. But I can’t remember seeing any names on any of the posters. They would also write down what they looked for in a partner, similar to those categories above. It all seemed quite superficial and materialistic, the parents were simply looking for people of a certain age, who earned X money and had X, Y and Z. There were rarely any required values that involved personality – no “dog lover, likes to play footy on a Sunday, looking for a kind, sporty person  with GSOH” kind of thing, which I think is more important than social status, income and height when it comes to marriage.

It was nice to see a mixture of hand written adverts too

Being a foreigner (with big curly hair that was down that day), within a few minutes, I had a crowd surrounding me, and the questions began:

  • Did you come by yourself?
  • What year were you born in?
    • Oh, ’91, you’re a bit too young to get married
    • No, no, it’s ok…’91 makes her 26
  • Are you taller than 160cm?
  • How many brothers and sisters do you have?
  • Where are you from?
    • England! Wow, you’re children will be so tall and intelligent
  • Are you looking to relocate to China?
    • Because my son’s English isn’t good, he can’t follow you to the UK
  • What did you study at university?
  • Is your hair natural?
  • Are your eyelashes natural? (And your eyebrows, nose, mouth, etc)
    • But why is your hair so curly? Are you sure you haven’t curled it?
  • What are your requirements?

Sorry, what are my requirements?….

They were asking me how tall and heavy I wanted my potential partner to be, where he should have a house, how much money he should earn and have in the bank. Of course, I’m not actually looking for anyone, but I told them how in my country, we meet people and if there’s a connection, we’ll get to know each other better before making any decisions. Although we might have some preferences about religion, age, body type etc, I wouldn’t say they are requirements  before you start dating someone.

Suddenly, one brave man whipped his pen out of his jacket pocket and shouted

留一个号码,可以吗? Give me your number, is that ok?

I said no, and then he started telling me all about his son, which prompted the rest of them to get out their memo pads and ask me for my phone number, saying how great their son was, how much he earned and how beautiful our children would be, because mixed race children are always more intelligent and beautiful.

One woman grabbed me by the arm and said ‘just call me 婆婆 (mother-in-law) already, go on, call me 婆婆, call me 婆婆’. I felt like I was being hounded and it reminded me of Lina’s Momzilla, so I quickly left the area, after giving a fake phone number.

It was a bit of an intense experience, but I learnt a lot about the marriage market in China and how parents try to set their children up.

Sometimes you have to say NO

I used to be a NO person (oh dear, this is starting to sound like something from Yes Man already). During my early teens I was always saying no and shying away from opportunities, feeling safer in my own personal bubble surrounded by all that was familiar.

Then, Project Trust did a school talk in my high school in 2009 and it was the first time I’d actually said YES to something amazing in my life. Since then, some of the other things (besides taking a year out in South America) I have said yes to have been:

  • Buying the cheapest train ticket to Lancaster, which included a 6 hour overnight wait at Sheffield train station
  • Going to Aarti with Nottingham Trent Hindu Society
  • Going to Oceana three days before an important exam
  • Playing cricket for UNLCC (University of Nottingham Ladies Cricket Club) when they were short of players
  • Going to Italy for a mini break because the flights were cheap.

These are just a few things that I have said yes to, each has helped to give me amazing memories as well as build and develop friendships. The buzz of saying yes to things (as in the Jim Carrey film) really can be a fulfilling experience but despite this thrill of experiencing new moments by saying the Y word, there comes a time when you have to say no.


I work(ed) this year as team member and leader of Viva la Fiesta, an events company that strives to create fun and exciting nightclub events for international students. Part of my job involves promotion of the events that we create, most of which is via Facebook. On the night of the event, I am always approached by people (guys) that I do not know, telling me that they know me and have seen me on Facebook promoting Viva events. I don’t mind being some type of Viva celebrity on the night and I love being involved in the positive atmosphere that Viva creates, so I wear my Viva t-shirt with pride. This is not something I say no to (unless there is an opportunity to wear fancy dress).

Me in pajamas at the last Viva

So… where is the saying no part of this post, you are wondering? Well, during this year I have received many friend requests from guys that I don’t know and many more private messages from guys… some of which have been upsetting and downright creepy (you know who you are!). The one thing all these guys have in common? They have all seen me at Viva la Fiesta. Most recently, a guy John*, who I have seen at Viva (yet never had a proper conversation with) started to talk to me via private messaging on Facebook, asking me when I would be back in Nottingham and what my plans were. From the word “hello” I could tell that he wanted me to involve him in my plans somehow, despite him not knowing me or meeting me before.

When I was still in lectures and exams I would just ignore the messages from guys, assuming that they only wanted a free ticket for the next party (which none of them ever got); but now that I have some more free time, I replied to John’s messages. I explained to him that this Thursday would be my last in Nottingham before leaving for my Erasmus placement, yet he still invited me to a Middle Eastern restaurant to eat with him. When I said no, that I already had plans, he still had the audacity to say that if I had any free time, we could “meet up”. Now I’m sure that John is a lovely guy, but since when did this become an acceptable way to meet girls and ask them out? Not only is his timing extremely bad, but the fact that we are not even friends on Facebook surely is a hint that I am not interested in him. How more subtle do I have to be?

So I said NO, as much as I would enjoy some free food, I would probably not enjoy his company and would be wishing that I was spending my time with real friends that I want to say goodbye to before I leave for my year abroad. Also, if I were to say yes to going on a dinner date with John, what message is it sending to him and other guys? That it is acceptable to private message a beautiful girl and after a little small talk she will accept you as a friend and go out to eat with you?


I am not that type of girl and I don’t think that any of us should feel pressured into saying yes to going on a date when we don’t want to and have other and better things to do. The clichéd excuses for turning a guy down are endless:

  • I have a belly ache
  • I’m visiting my family
  • I’m out of town
  • My phone broke, I didn’t see your message
  • I’m washing my hair
  • Etc.

But actually girls, sometimes as well as saying no, we also need to be honest to men and to ourselves. If you are truly uninterested in the guy who is pining after you, be it John, Lucas or Pierre, tell him now rather than making up more excuses to avoid an awkward date.

Saying yes can be great fun, but sometimes you have to say NO.

Then again… never say no to this guy…

*Name has been changed to protect identities of people involved.