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Thinking about sex, chocolate and curry? Blame algorithms

PUBLISHED: 08:03 24 July 2017

Forget your algorithms and order my knickers... please, darling. Picture: BB

Forget your algorithms and order my knickers... please, darling. Picture: BB

Archant

“Oh, no, please don’t make me do it,” pleaded my husband.

He could have been talking about any number of things, but in this case I had merely asked him to order me two packs of my favourite knickers from online seller Amazon.

“Can’t you do it?” he implored. I couldn’t. He is registered for Amazon Prime and my pants were on special offer via Prime. Only he had the technology... Damenschlüpfer durch technik.

Resigned, he ordered me two packets of three pairs of Sloggis.

“You know what this means,” he said, glumly. It meant he was going to get emails from Amazon suggesting what other items of ladies’ underwear he might wish to purchase.

A propos of this, two days after my knickers arrived he received an email from the retail giant asking him: “How do you like your Sloggi basic Tai three-pack women’s briefs?”

I was supportive as only a loving wife can be: “Email back that they’re my favourites and they fit beautifully, thank you.”

He had a short rant about algorithms. These are the computer calculations that work out what sort of purchases we make and target marketing accordingly. I don’t like companies checking up on what I buy. That’s for me to know... even though they obviously know too.

In the 1980s, my late father-in-law, who was then in his 70s and habitually wore trousers, was sent a clothing catalogue with a covering letter that said: “Dear Mr H, we’re sure you would look lovely in one of our new summer dresses...”

Thus electronic mail is merely a continuation of what has gone before.

Meanwhile, my favourite email this week was the one that began: “Hi Lynne, hope you’re well. Recent research suggests that having sex once a week can slow ageing in women.”

That was a bolt from the blue. Even my work email is alogorithmically sensitive, although I note there were no clues about ageing men.

It was accompanied by information about libido boosters (not a brand of ice lolly). Here is a selection:

• Have a natter: “Set aside talk time and respect it. Put a little relaxing music on, if you like – something you both enjoy,” says nutritional expert and author Marilyn Glenville. By the time my husband and I have worked our way through 500 CDs and finally settled upon a piece of music we both enjoy, the moment (even if it had been approaching) would have passed.

• Do a date night: Something you enjoy together. “This might be a walk in your favourite park, a quiet supper together, or a hike in the hills. “Try to establish some intimate physical contact – hold hands as you walk, or play footsie!” A hike in the hills? Which East Anglian hills would they be? Our driveway has a gentle incline; I suppose that will have to do.

• Use aromatherapy to aid your libido: “Put a few drops of relaxing oil, such as lavender, into an essential oil burner, turn the lights down low and allow the calming mood to take the room,” says Cassandra Barns (what happened to Marilyn?). “And then fall asleep...” says Lynne.

• Spice up your love life - quite literally: “Spices such as chilli, curry, and sweat-inducing foods are believed to have aphrodisiac effects because they produce physiological effects in our bodies in much the same way as having sex would,” explains Cassandra. Another conclusion might be, why have sex when you can have jalfrezi?

• Stress less to prioritise sex: Cassandra says: “The problem is that in today’s over-stressed work and home lives, we are constantly producing... stress hormones, and often not allowing our bodies to make other hormones, such as sex hormones.”

And now, my favourite:

• Support your sexual desire with chocolate: Cassandra says that nibbling a few squares will help lift your mood. That’s squares of chocolate; we don’t want any nibbling of people with old-fashioned views. Good quality dark chocolate can relax you, intoxicate you and give you sheer pleasure... it does this by triggering those feel-good hormones,” she says. Trying this one now...

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