Sunrise in bed, the Cheesecake Queen, and black lace in the fast lane

Like most people, I don’t love Mondays.  Last Monday was an exception though… My accountancy clients Nordens, the award-winning fabulous people who look after my finances, invited me to be head judge for their Bake Off competition.  How can a week possibly start any better than by being treated like the Cheesecake Queen and presented with a plateful of various cheesecakes to eat and remark on?  Well I’ll tell you: it can’t!

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingThe competition was deservedly won by Benjamin, one of the accountants in the upstairs office. His Ferrero Rocher cheesecake was outstanding. The rum and raisin American cheesecake and Banoffee cheesecake were also fantastic – so much so that when the competition had ended and everyone returned to work, I remained seated at the canteen table, quiet as a mouse, fork in hand, surrounded by half-eaten cheesecakes which accidentally ended up inside me.

To make up for my lovely start to Monday, Tuesday saw my alarm flashing and clanging at the ungodly hour of 5.30am.  I had to be at a nearby college by 7.30 to give a presentation on social media to the Redbridge Chamber of Commerce.  It was far too early for me, although the pain was tempered by the pleasure of watching the sunrise from my bed.  Actually, it was worth the early start.  I met some brilliant people who run local businesses and they gave great feedback on my social media tips.

Instead of rushing home to email them all, Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI ventured up to St Katherine’s Dock.  I sat in the sunshine watching the world float by, waiting to meet a tabloid news editor with whom I’ll be working on a social media project later this autumn.  He bought me a delicious lunch at the Dickens Inn, site of my first office Christmas party.  What a night that was…

It was 1983 and I worked in fashion buying, so the party was trendy, elegant and edgy in equal measures.  I turned up in a black lace ballgown, which would have passed as just about acceptable in those heady days of decadence, had the boy I’d invited as my guest not broken down on the A13 and instructed me to push his car for half a mile along the outside lane!!  So I arrived oily, windswept and shivering!

None of that this week though, as we enjoyed lunch and Rioja on the flower-laden balcony.

My confusion at inside/outside lanes and whether we drive in or on them caused a lively debate on Facebook this week.  I rarely get stumped by English usage, so querying a correct phrase always gets people involved in a big way.  Thanks to everyone who offered their opinions, apart from Amir in New Zealand who was somewhat critical of my driving.  (Possibly rightly so…)

Anyway, after lunch at the Dickens Inn I ended up in a jazz steak house for dinner, so this week I’ve had more than my fair share of food.  I’m actually thinking about applying for a job as a food blogger, although the publication would need a clear slant towards chocolate or cheesecake, to be fair.

I don’t know any cheesecake songs, so considered a 1983 hit to quote.  But this – apparently random – choice arose from the car lane conversation.  Gill knows what I’m talking about, even if nobody else does.  “Golden brown, texture like sun.  Lays me down, with my mind she runs.”   Run with me?  @WeekendWitch.

Flying in a Spitfire, the finest banquet in London and ladies in not many clothes

I do like an occasion to dress up posh!  And the Square Mile Salute was definitely one of those occasions.  This amazing evening saw the City of London come together for the finest banquet in town, in support of five military-related charities.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingThe banquet was served in the splendour of magnificent Guildhall.  The raw beauty of its twelfth century crypt provided the setting for Monica Galetti’s caviar reception. The celebrity chef, presenter of Masterchef: the Professionals, provided an exquisite array of canapés – none of which, I’m pleased to report, ended up in my bra!

The elegant meal, served in the glorious Great Hall, was created by a team of chefs from the Birley Clubs and served in style with ambient lighting that reflected the medieval atmosphere enjoyed by kings and courtesans.

We ate in the shadow of rom_the_great_hallgargoyle-looking mythical giants, with gothic and Romanesque windows providing the colours of ancient stained glass. Monumental statues of British heroes peered down, possibly counting the bottles of carefully-chosen wine that accompaied each dish.

I didn’t meet a king there, but I did meet some charming senior military personnel involved with various charities linked to The Soldiering On Awards.  The event was organised by my friend and colleague Anne, and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the attention to detail, fabulous entertainment and flawless execution.

The evening’s after-party was held at Annabel’s, arguably one of the most elegant private members’ clubs in the world, with a three-year waiting list to buy your multi-thousand pound membership. Boasting a celebrity clientele over the past five decades that’s included Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor, I  didn’t get to meet any Hollywood stars, but I did manage to corner the evening’s very handsome host: Comic relief’s Come Dancing winner and former Royal Marine, Cassidy Little.  Or he cornered me, I’m not sure now.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingWe share a love for Captain Picard and country driving – well, I don’t actually like driving, country lanes scare me a bit, but what’s a blind 70mph bend between friends..?  I do love Jean-Luc though, no question about that.  Martyn maneuvered Cassidy into agreeing to buy me lunch based on our conversation about sci-fi podcasts (lunch being a step up from champagne).  He wasn’t intentionally matchmaking; it was mainly because he wanted me to leave the club so we could share a taxi home before the 3am London cab rush.  We haven’t confirmed a lunch date yet, but I’m hopeful.  I’m recording his late-night TV chat show just in case!

Another charity evening followed on Saturday, when the gorgeous Hotties launched their raunchy 2016 calendar in aid of Soldiering On.  The launch party at Stringfellows in Covent Garden involved a steady flow of complimentary alcohol, teriyaki salmon served by hostesses in white fishnets and not much else, and an array of strippers, doing their stuff around the poles.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywriting

Air Commodore Charles Clarke OBE and us

While you may be thinking this was not an appropriate place for a lady to spend her Saturday night, I should point out that I was, in fact, with my clients, so that was okay.  I was also with my sons, so possibly not quite so acceptable.  Although, we had a brilliant evening and they seeemed quite happy being there with me.  Yes, one of us danced around a pole on the main stage (and no, I’m not saying who it was).  No, no-one in our party took off their clothes.  Yes, we met some incredible people; yes, we helped to raise money for the charity; yes, I was the last woman standing that wasn’t a stripper or employee…  Tasteful? Some would say.  Tacky?  Not really.  Fun? Definitely!

The highlight for the four boys in my entourage was the honour of meeting Air Commodore Charles Clarke OBE, a war hero who survived being shot down over Germany and captivity at the notorious Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp.  This awesome 92-year-old veteran has more charm and charisma than most men I’ve met, a razor sharp memory and a twinkle in his eye.  What a gentleman!  We sat together at a dinner a couple of years ago and have enjoyed various events to raise the charity’s profile together ever since.

Thursday’s auction saw someone SMS-SPITFIRE-PILOTS-DAY-FOR-TWO-Image-1bid £25,000 to meet Charles and take a flight in a spitfire, and another lucky person can win this in a raffle (email me please, if you’d like tickets).

I did think about closing with a wartime tune today, but this hit won out.  Tina Turner is a lady who’s fought and won her own battles, and this song can play in circles around your mind today, just like it did in mine during the furnace-like ride home on the London Underground.  “I’m your private dancer, a dancer for money – I’ll do what you want me to do.  I’m a private dancer, a dancer for money and any old music will do.”

I’m not a private dancer but I am a private ghost blogger.  If you’d like help to create a regular on-line presence and increase your website’s SEO, give me a call.  Or message me here: @WeekendWitch.


(With thanks for the Guildhall pic, courtesy of

War horses, men with chutzpa and nearly being a princess

Katja’s art exhibitions are always fun, both to visit and to participate in.  Her latest show, ‘Favourite Words,’ has spent the summer touring east London and now landed in its final home, Café Moka East @ The View Tube.

To celebrate the art show, this quirky café on the edge of the Olympic Park opened late on Thursday to host a cockney rhyming slang quiz.  Two Geezers (men from a Bow-based community group who live and breathe slang) presented the questions and the group of artists and friends wracked our brains to win.  Karen and I formed a tiny team with shamefully little knowledge of cockney slang for two born and bred Londoners.  We didn’t do too badly though! And, although we didn’t win, we got a chorizo and red pepper Spanish tortilla – so that was okay!
sept 1The words I submitted for the art exhibition were a set of three, framed in fuchsia and all beginning with ‘Ch.’  My point was about the fascinating linguistc disparity of the vocalisation of Ch – how the letters form different sounds (something I studied for my masters degree but boring to explain).  Anyway, when I started dating after 20 years of marriage, these were the three qualities I looked for in a man, all beginning with Ch: charm, charisma and chutzpah!

Mentioning a Yiddish word is quite relevant today as it’s Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year.  A good opportunity to re-make the resolutions we failed to keep in January, before the end of this year’s Gregorian calendar. (And before the introduction of 2016’s chocolate advent calendars, as naughty people shouldn’t be allowed to have those.)

I spent Saturday afternoon making war horsea mess with melting chocolate while watching War Horse at the New London Theatre.  It was a stunningly presented production, simple and striking.  I am not a horse person, but I think they’re beautiful, elegant creatures (from afar), with hauntingly knowledgeable eyes.  Of course, Saturday’s horses weren’t flesh and blood, but I couldn’t have been more impressed with the way their personalities shone through if they had been alive and genuinely whinnying and snorting on stage.

Through my social media consultancy, I work closely with some military personnel and soldiers who’ve been wounded in action, but I give little thought to the animals who risk their lives to keep us safe.  I did meet one incredible dog in April though, who served on the front line in Afghanistan. It’s horrendous to think of what the war horses actually went through.

From Leicester Square, we drove to Hyde Park for a wander around the Serpentine, as the early evening sun cast long shadows on the water.  At the Diana Memorial Fountain, we watched children splashing around and I told Brian about my meeting with Prince William on the day the memorial opened.  If you didn’t catch my embarrassing episode on TV at the time, you can read about it here.  It’s true, I could have been a princess if I’d played my cards better…  Oh well, who wants to live in a palace anyway?!

Whether you love the Queen, respect the monarchy or dislike what they stand for, who can’t admire a woman who’s worked solidly for almost 64 years?  And she’s still smiling about it at 89 years of age!  As they say, a woman’s work is never done…

So I’ll never be a princess, never be queen.  But…

“If I was king for just one day, I would give it all away.  I would give it all away to be with you.  If I was king for just one day, I had just one thing to say… You know that love is all we need to get us through.”    (Play it here.)

Love’s not all we need in business though.  If you’d like advice on increasing your social media visibility leading up to Christmas, please get in touch now so we can get the bauble rolling.  Call me on 020 8551 7077 or find me here: @WeekendWitch.

pooh and honey potPS… Wishing a happy, healthy and sweet new year to all my Jewish friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and clients.  And wishing a happy, healthy and sweet autumn to anyone who’s not celebrating that today!

Dating websites for cinema lovers, an apology and making a buzz

I don’t like injustice!  So here I am, righting a wrong…  Following last week’s blog when I reported that Simon (with the beard) claimed that Carole King was not a nice person, I have now had a first-hand account to the contrary.  Martine has actually met the award-wining singer-songwriter and has filled me in on why she disagrees with Simon.

Martine met Carole (we can be on first name terms now I am apologising) about ten years ago when Ms King (don’t want to overdo it) stayed on her kibbutz for a few days.  Apparently, anyone who came into contact with her thought she was lovely.  She even gave an impromptu concert. Well, not so much a concert, but a singalong night. Martine says she was very modest and friendly and really didn’t want to be the center of attention. She happily got up to sing with anyone who wanted to, leaving the kibbutz residents with some great memories from that evening.  So there you have it!

As you know, my work keeps me online for much of the time.  I’m checking people’s Facebook posts, uploading pics, tweeting, blogging on various sites, targeting new followers, connecting with prospects.  Well, this week I’ve been reviewing some dating sites too.  It’s not the first time… when we picked up a dating website client last year, Marion and I spent hours trawling the net to familiarise ourselves with the industry.  It was quite an eye-opener!!

This week has been a little tamer than some of the sights we saw during that project, that’s for sure. But I have one question: why does (almost) every man state that his idea of a perfect first date includes going to the cinema?  Someone recently invited me on a date – to the cinema.  Why, oh why would I want to sit next to a person I barely know for three hours rather than get to know them over a glass of rioja?  Why do they think I’d prefer to share our first encounter with someone behind me rustling sweet wrappers (and not sharing), a stranger next to me sniffing loudly and someone in front wafting their BO in our direction?  No, most women would prefer somewhere candlelit with a chocolate torte or authentic crème brulée and intelligent conversation.  Just saying.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI had an intelligent – and rather unexpected – conversation yesterday with… a beekeeper!  Patrick and Joe came to visit and we wandered around the local nature reserve.  The beekeeper was kitted out in the obligatory headgear but had his hands unnervingly bare as he rummaged around in a rather large hive.

Once he emerged intact, we wandered over (but keeping a safe distance from the little buzzers) to chat.  It turns out that John Dutney produces award winning honey just along the road in Woodford – and he very kindly gave us a jar!  Patrick proceeded to dip in his finger and eat almost half the jar of the smooth, lovely nectar!  Apparently, eating locally-produced nectar helps to reduce the symptoms of asthma – I didn’t know that.

Anyway, the pollen count’s probably dipping here in London now that autumn has intermittently breezed in.  This song is so out of context for today’s blog, but relevant to my meeting with Mr Beekeeper.  It’s not something I would normally include but, having reminded myself that it exists, the lyrics and tune flooded into my brain and now won’t go away.  “I’d heard about you before, I wanted to know some more.  And now I know what they mean, you’re a love machine.  Oh, you make me dizzy…”  If you don’t remember this you can play it here on Pinterest.

If you want people to hear about you – and then want to find out more, make sure you have a strong, visible presence on social media.  If you don’t have that it doesn’t matter how sweet your honey tastes. (That’s a metaphor, unless you’re Mr Dutney!)  To find out more about raising your social media visibility, ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

New musical hero, being cut-throat and fifty shades of silver

It’s been a very musical week.  Martyn the Artist and I battled the storm to get to Somerset House for The Jam exhibition: About the young idea.  Now, I wasn’t a Jam fan when they were originally cool.  I liked a few of their songs at the time – mainly the more commercial stuff like Bitterest Pill and English Rose.  I joined in a lot of the anarchic-type conversations at college and discussed politics and youth’s disenchantment with the state of the country, government, nuclear disarmament – but it was much in the Young One’s vein, repeating things Rik Mayall had quoted.

A main reason I didn’t buy The Jam’s albums was how they looked.  I didn’t find their angular faces and sharp haircuts attractive.  Ben accuses me of being musically-shallow in this respect – and he’s right, I suppose. At that time I was dancing around my bedroom to Wham! with their bright-teeth, floppy-haired Hawaiian shorts videos and wearing my distressed leather boots and a rah-rah skirt.

Now I love The Jam’s music and have a huge amount of respect for Paul Weller – in fact, he’s my new musical hero.  Martyn bought me a CD of the group’s greatest hits and I’ve been playing it all weekend.  Apart from when I’m getting ready to go out, when I’ve been playing my other new favourite old album: Tapestry.  There’s a reason for this, too.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingOn Thursday I went along to Beautiful, the Carole King story currently being played out in a theatre in Aldwych, thinking I’d know three songs.  As it turned out, I knew all of them – and more! I had no idea she was such a prolific songwriter.  Songs I’ve sung – quietly, muttered under my breath or shrieked loudly to other people’s discontent – are credited to her and her ex-husband’s lyrical talents.  She wrote for the Drifters, the Monkees, Aretha Franklin and a whole host of musical royalty.  I barely knew her name before, and yet it turns out she dominates a good percentage of my iTunes library.

I posted on Facebook that I was at the show, and my friend Simon (with a beard) whatsapp’d to tell me that she was a nasty piece of work in real life.  I didn’t know that.  Still don’t – I’m taking his word for it though, as he’s super-clever and I guess the music business was as cut-throat in the 70s as it is today; people probably needed an edge to get on.

So it’s been a week of music and partying.  From my mum’s special birthday celebrations (and thanks to the many Facebook friends who sent birthday wishes – some who know her, some who don’t) to Jo and Lawrence’s 50 Shades of Silver wedding anniversary party.  They made the funniest spoof video of 50 Shades – very, very clever.  Hoping that will appear on Facebook today.  Jo and I started singing together when I was seven years old; while we clearly missed out on a career in music, it’s now evident that she could be the next big Hollywood star.  (Thanks for a fantastic evening J&L!)

Thanks too to David and Dawn for Kerrie’s 30th birthday barbecue last night.  I must remember to eat breakfast, chocolate, something, anything next time before Dawn puts one of her own-recipe cocktails in my hand…

So how to close…?  Jam or Ms King?  Jam or Ms King?? Jam or Ms King???  I really can’t decide.

Okay, so I have quoted Paul several times in previous blogs (but probably Carole too).  It’s pouring outside, so I’m going with this:  “Looking out on the morning rain, I used to feel so uninspired.  And when I knew I had to face another day, Lord, it made me feel so tired.  Before the day I met you, life was so unkind, but your love is the key to my peace of mind.”  If you’re looking for social media inspiration and the peace of mind that your business can have a more visible presence on-line, call me to find out how I can help you.  Or ask me here, as always: @WeekendWitch.

Opening closed doors, the last dance and men with beards

We change every seven years.  Our cells rejuvenate, every drop of iron-rich blood pumping through each newly formed cellular veins is fresh; old skin has dissolved into a clearer, hopefully more youthful film to cover our reformulated bones. (I’ll probably be inundated with challenges from people in the medical-know, so I’ll admit it now – this is based on info from the daily papers and what my mum says.)

Anyway, one thing’s for sure: our tastes change. I’m at an age that is divisible by seven and my tastes have certainly altered this year.  I now like dark chocolate, French TV with subtitles and men with beards.  I also have more patience with technology and nature, but less tolerance of ignorant people.  I check Facebook before I read my email now and sometimes order eggs Florentine in Patisserie Valerie rather than an éclair.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingBut the biggest change has been in my attitude to doors.  Well, metaphorical doors…  I’ve always been a strong believer of ‘when one door closes another one opens.’  A better door, bigger, shinier and leading to greater opportunities and positive, happy events ahead.  Now I’m thinking, what if it’s a revolving door? What if the door closes and we try to walk away, only to find ourselves involuntarily turning around to face it again?  What if the revolving door spins and we can’t get out?  (That actually happened to my friend Carol…)

What’s wrong with knocking on a closed door anyway, or pushing it ajar to peek back inside?

What if we find ourselves walking seemingly away from the door along a road that suddenly curves unexpectedly back towards it?  A snake-like path that meanders forward before changing direction like the wind.  Is this a sign that there’s still something waiting for us behind the original brass knocker?  And why can’t we have two doors that we flit between?  Who says we can only go from one door to the next?  And furthermore, what if we get trapped in a giant version of the Monty Hall problem…? (I just freaked myself out when I went to link to my previous Monty Hall blog as it turns out I posted it exactly a year ago today!)

Fortunately I haven’t had many doors closed to me, although I have slammed a few in my time.  That’s another thing isn’t it: bang it shut too hard and it will inevitably bounce back open.  Or jam closed… at the exact moment you realise you’ve left something important on the other side.

Another attitude I’ve embraced as I’ve got older is toward other people’s perception of me.  This mantra is one I first heard many years ago but which frequently pops up on social media: “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt.  Sing like there’s nobody listening and live like it’s heaven on earth.”

At Tuesday’s concert in Canary Wharf, the entertainers performed a fantastic set of 70s and 80s disco stuff.  Everyone danced like no one was watching, everyone sang (mostly out-of-tune), no-one cared – that’s what life’s all about!  Welcome to the last week of summer – enjoy it!!

As the eternal Queen of Disco said about the last dance, “I need you by me, beside me to guide me.”  If, like Donna Summer, you need guidance, I may be able to help.  I’m working with a number of clients at the moment to guide their social media strategies leading up to Christmas.  If you’d like to know more, email me or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Creepy toy designs, pub work and drunk in charge of a chocolate factory (not me!)

Joan and I spent a wonderfully nostalgic afternoon at the V&A Museum of Childhood.  The creepy birthday party display in the lobby belies the charm of a toy collection spanning 400 years; although, I have to say, some of the dolls are really quite disturbing!  Quite bizarrely, lovely Victorian items embellished with antique lace and duchesse satin, and ornate 18th century Chinese puppet theatres made of precious stones, sit alongside grubby teletubbies and Star Wars characters.  While upstairs, a fantastic collection of dolls’ houses made my afternoon complete.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingWhile I was excitedly telling Joan about my forthcoming trip to Geneva, she recalled a Swiss story from when Mike worked as a food technologist.  That was a cool job and one I think I would enjoy, as long as it didn’t involve anchovies.  Perhaps second in ‘cool ratings’ only to the toy designer I dated for a while, which inevitably came up in conversation as we laughed at some ridiculously dated designs and packaging on display.

Mike’s job on this particular Monday was to run a quality control exercise in a Swiss chocolate factory.  He left Joan in the hotel while he headed off to work, only to reappear a couple of hours later – unconscious and on a stretcher!!  Joan’s concern was short-lived; Mike had been assigned to the liqueurs section… where he’d inadvertently got blind drunk and collapsed with alcohol poisoning!!  All in a day’s work…

I didn’t know Joan in those sherry-chocolate-fuelled days.  When we worked together in fashion, Mike was busy testing cream cakes for M&S.  I frequently negotiated the central line at rush hour holding an industrial-sized cake box containing a frozen strawberry and cream gateau.  That’s probably what started my love affair with frozen cream.

I’ve not had any days like that this week, but I did spend a whole afternoon working in a pub.  Not pouring pints – I can only imagine what a mess I’d make of that.  Instead, I ran a complete 1-2-1 Plain English Business Writing session in a pub nestled within Waterloo Station.  The rain was torrential and it seemed pointless to run through puddles to our agreed venue, when we could stay warm, dry and well-fed without stepping outside. It worked out just fine.

Random year alert: The best-selling toy of 1967 was Ker Plunk.  Bet you’ve clapped your hands with glee and groaned at that at some point in your life – yes?  In the same year Sandie Shaw said, “I wonder if one day that, you’ll say that, you care?  If you say you love me madly, I’ll gladly, be there… Like a puppet on a string.”

If I’m not there with the puppets, I’ll be here with some social media guidance.  Enjoy your week! @WeekendWitch.


(Credit to the V&A COM for the pic – mine is the same, but blurry!!)

Magic at Arch1, grown up boys and a business plan for the healing bear

My dating disaster prompted considerably more emails than usual, with at least two people begging me to write a dating blog.  I have to report that since casino man, I’ve met only nice people.  So I’m reverting to a life of privacy, secrecy, discretion…  For now, anyway.  I will go ahead with an ebook later this year though, so please do send me your tales of on-line dating fiascos.  All shall remain nameless…

Arch1 is an awesome venue.  (I didn’t go there on a date, but with my sons.)  Musicians and entertainers are lining up to perform in this teeny tiny railway arch, shadowed by a giant willow tree and differentiated from the other arches by a simple sparkling string of fairly lights across the door.  It’s barely larger than my front room.  A cute bar is slotted in one corner, and the toilet is in a broom cupboard behind the stage.  No lock.

Yet, despite its size, around 150 people crammed in last Saturday night to pay tribute to Keith, a young soul who died tragically a year ago.  I didn’t know Keith well, although he was a regular in my home, usually at parties and on the boys’ poker nights, back when I wasn’t allowed to join in.

11831684_10153543628656255_3122798006444406782_nMy son Oli’s mentalist act was the highlight.  Obviously I’m going to say that, but he really, really was amazing.  He stunned the entire audience with his (what?) sorcery?  Maybe.  Skill? – for sure.

Four of Oli’s friends performed at Arch1 too.  These boys have played in a band since school – Passenger Casanova.  I’ve watched them grow from 11-year-old children playing in my garden, to incredibly talented young musicians.

Passenger Casanova

Passenger Casanova

We’re quite a musical family.  (Apart from me!)  Wishing a happy tenth anniversary to my Bro-Lo David and sister-in-law Dawn; he plays guitar and keyboards rather well.  I never remember to send them a card, so hopefully a mention here will suffice.  A funny Facebook baby photo of David reminded me of the Cabbage Patch Doll craze – do you remember it?  They hit the stores in 1982 while I was working in Hamleys, and the queue snaked right the way along Regent Street.  I didn’t want one at the time, and didn’t fancy adopting one when they started appearing as collectibles. Had a tamagotchi though….

I’ve had a passing involvement with toys this week too, as I arranged for Crystal Healing Bear – and its creator Tina – to meet with my accountant Mark to talk through a business plan. Tina has identified a gap between emotionally disturbed or stressed children who could benefit from alternative therapy and mindfulness training, subconscious guidance for parents, and a strategy allowing them to project feelings onto an inanimate ‘friend.’  Thus she created Crystal Healing Bear – a teddy and book that includes mindfulness techniques. She’s planning to present the business to schools later this year, and the book is available on-line now.

A percentage of Tina’s profits will be donated to The Dream Factory.  This charity is very close to my heart.  It’s run by Avril Mills, one of the most inspirational women I know, who helped Oli when he was in the Royal London Hospital for several weeks.  So if you happen to spot Tina wandering around Essex dressed as a giant bear, pop a pound in the Dream Factory box please.  (I actually dressed as a giant bear in 1982 – it’s a lot harder than it sounds…)

This was the best-selling record in ’82; I remember rushing out to buy the 12” the morning it was released. (That will confuse some of my younger readers!!)  “Our mothers cried.  Sang along, who’d blame them.  You’ve grown, so grown up – now I must say more than ever…”  You know the next line!  You also know my next line…  Feel free to call if you’d like to know more about mindfulness, business plans or anything social media-related.  Or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

LinkedIn, networking and ‘naming and shaming’ dating site dates

I’m not a gambler – just the odd occasional flutter for fun.  I prefer roulette – there’s a real childish excitement about watching the wheel spin and waiting for the little silver ball to land on its final number.  As you know, I rarely discuss my personal life in this blog.  Much of it is not appropriate for a weekly update that’s shared with the world.  However, there’s one story that I’ve told several times this week that’s left people absolutely shrieking with laughter – or in jaw-dropping disbelief.

Having signed up on a dating website (it’s much like LinkedIn in a lot of ways) I started chatting with a lovely looking man whose photo was more creative and appealing than many.  I did also check him out on LinkedIn, actually, as that shows much about a person’s character as well as their professional standing.  (The power of testimonials again…!!)  Then when I clicked on his Facebook page I was astounded to see that, out of the 48,000ish men on line, he and I shared several mutual friends.

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No, I’m not including his photo (as nice as it was!)

All seemed marvelous!  He phoned me, we chatted, we seemed to have loads in common…. So when he invited me to the Hippodrome in Leicester Square for a late-night cocktail I said yes.  It was downhill from there…  First of all, the artistic photo that had caught my eye was ‘several’ years old.  I don’t judge; there could be reasons.  I couldn’t find any. But what was so shocking about that was when he told me he’d previously agreed to date a woman whose photo turned out to be six years old – and he’d promptly walked out!  He hadn’t even waited to find out whether she was a nice person.  He simply branded her a liar.  Hmmm… pot, kettle…

Having spent a good two hours (in the long two hours sense, not the pleasant one) telling me of his vast fortunes, he gave me £10 and instructed me towards the roulette table to “Go have some fun!”  So I did, winning a nice tidy £110!!  The polite thing is obviously to offer to share it with my date – or go immediately to spend it together in a lovely candlelit restaurant.  I was fairly sure he’d refuse to take a penny, being a gentleman of course.  But… In fact… he pocketed the lot!!!  (You couldn’t make it up…)

I don’t often wish bad thoughts on people, but I do hope my winnings burnt a nasty hole right through his designer trousers and scorched his leg!  Although everyone I’ve told has found the whole thing hysterical, I did actually check with Amanda – a Facebook friend who ran a party roulette business before battling successfully against Cancer.  (She now writes a brilliant blog based on her health experiences and positive thinking, the Law of Attraction and the power of the subconscious mind.)  She confirmed the winnings were legally, ethically and morally mine – and even if they weren’t, It Was A Date!!

One moral of this story is to keep your social media profiles up to date – whether they’re business or personal.  Also… just be nice, genuine and natural.  (I know that’s possible – and there are lovely people out there, but that’s another story…!)  The key moral should be to be extremely careful who you date, if you’re dating at all, or planning to.  I’m thinking of writing an ebook on disastrous, ridiculous and laugh-out-loud funny dates; if you have any personal stories please feel free to email me.  When I receive 20 I’ll begin the book.  All anonymous, of course, and without naming and shaming anyone. Just the stories please…

At the YBC networking event on Thursday night, I bumped into Clayton Coke, a wonderful man who specialises in helping businesses to improve their cashflow.  He told me he’d been worried when we met up last autumn as I’d recently become single, and he gave me a good (as in useful!) talking to on personal safety for women.  I have taken heed.  And I’d like to reiterate that, while social media is a fantastic tool for business, on a social level don’t assume that sharing mutual friends means someone is all they paint themselves to be.

The networking event was fab, as always, in the shiny crystal arena within the RBS building at Spitalfields with red wine and batter coated jumbo prawns.  Thanks to Ted for arranging that.

As I’m writing this blog I’m also reading of Cilla’s sudden death.  So sad.  And personally ironic in a week that I have a blind date, so I’m closing today with this: “I know that from today I will see it in the way you look at me – and say you love me.  So let it rain.  What do I care?  Deep in your heart, I’ll still be there.  And when I’m there I see the love of the loved.”

RIP Cilla.

Summer in the city, skewed Beatles and a dollop of LSD

Canary Wharf’s summer concerts are always good fun.  A holiday atmosphere descends on Canada Square as the grass vanishes under the weight of picnic blankets.  The entertainment is generally first rate and as evening falls and the buildings light up, it’s a small oasis of happiness on a hot summer night.

I thought I was going to see a pretend Beatles band on Tuesday, so it was a surprise to discover that it was, in fact, the BBC orchestra playing Beatles tunes.  I’m not a huge fan of the Fab Four but, like most people, I know enough words to sing along.

canary wharfWe made ourselves comfortable and spread out the picnic, which mainly centred around chocolate chip cookies and pink wine.  The energy was high; everyone was ready to dance and wave their arms in unison.  2000 people (my estimate – may be way off!) were ready to join in.  The conductor bowed, the band struck, up, the singer shimmied her sparkling self onto the stage…  Then what came next can only be described as, in Janice’s words: Bing Crosby sings The Beatles.

Don’t get me wrong; the orchestra was fantastic.  And the singer had the most beautiful voice.   But the arrangements were so dreary we ended up wanting to weep, sleep or worse.  It was impossible to sing, even if you knew the lyrics, as no tunes were recognisable.  It was a clever (?) take on the songs but, in my opinion, not suitable for an open-air gig where regular attendees expected to be on their feet hollering at the top of their voices and swaying as best they can in the limited space available between friends and adjacent squashed up groups.

The overall evening was great though and we had a good laugh trying to recognise each song from its lonnnggg, slowwwww intro.  The ambience is always lovely and we did manage to dance a bit to the very last compilation of hits.

I can’t make this week’s concert as I’m running a Plain English training session in Staines on Tuesday, but I’ll definitely be there the following week for Queen night!

This was John and Paul’s advice in 1967: ‘Cellophane flowers of yellow and green, towering over your head.  Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes and she’s gone.’  My eyes are usually hidden from the sun behind my Jackie O Ray Bans, but if you need me, you can always look for me here: @WeekendWitch.

PS: the poem I wrote about John Lennon is coincidentally on the same web page as the poem I wrote for my dad, who died 23 years ago this week at the same age as I am now.  Remembering you, daddy… Never forgotten, always loved.