Managing time, opening doors and a shiny red Ferrari

The Monty Hall Problem is something that’s taken up an awful lot of time in our house this year.  Some people just don’t get it.  I’m one of them.  The theory is this:  Imagine you’re a contestant on a game show.  You’re presented with three closed doors and you can keep the prize that you choose when you open a door.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingBehind two doors are two pigs, and the third door hides a shiny red Ferrari.  You make your choice without knowing which prize you’ve selected, based probably on gut feeling.  But then the game show host opens one of the other doors – revealing a curly-tailed, honking baby pig.  Now, do you stick with your original choice of door, or do you swap to the other unopened one?

I see this as a 50/50 decision: two closed doors.  So why not stick with your original choice?  It’s either the right door or it’s the wrong one – same as the other option – right?  No, apparently not.  It’s not a 50/50; the probability of the Ferrari being behind the other door is actually 66%.  So compared to your original choice, which is only 33%, you’ve got more chance of winning the shiny red sports car if you swap!

So, when one door closes in life and another one opens, should you walk through it – or knock on the next door…?  I’m a fairly numerate person but I don’t love maths.  I can work out a decent tip in a restaurant easily enough, deduct VAT or calculate the percentage of time I spend on social media compared to presenting training courses; but I’m no Carol Vorderman.  In my defence, I understand the theory of why the third door has double the chance of hiding the Ferrari, I just don’t agree with it.  What do you think?

Anyway, doors are opening all over the place this week, and the one I’ve chosen to walk through leads to Las Vegas.  If I don’t post a blog next Monday it’s because I’m a) road tripping through the desert with no wifi; b) caught up in the excitement and lost all track of time; or c) gone awol!!

Elvis wisely said about Vegas: “How I wish that there were more than the twenty-four hours in the day. ‘Cause even if there were forty more I wouldn’t sleep a minute away…”  Viva indeed!!

If you need more hours in the day you might be interested to know I’ll be running an open time management workshop this autumn.  Email me for details, or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

A London pub tour, social media storm and dancing in the rain

Every year the free concerts at Canary Wharf get better – and more packed.  People squidged into every inch of Canada Square until not a blade of grass is evident beneath the picnic mats, rugs, beach towels, discarded plastic wine glasses and feet. And this year…. brollies.  For most of the first half the sun shone, perhaps not brightly, but pleasantly enough for an outside venue.  Then suddenly, before the drummer could even change his beat, the sky turned black with menacing clouds drifting atop the silvery glassed structures.  It was totally reminiscent of War of the Worlds: the tumbling masses of slate grey powder puffs threatened to part to allow a cosmic visitor to blast through…

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingInstead, the trees shook as a deep howl echoed around the square.  At the exact point the singer reached the bridge of Livin’ La Vida Loca, the rain clouds burst and torrents were literally sheeting horizontally across the shiny walls surrounding us! The well timed lyrics made us laugh as we ducked for cover and kept dancing, the rain diluting our rosé as we splashed in spontaneous puddles.  (Can you guess what today’s lyrics are going to be…?!! Martine will get it!)

As well as the weather, it was a social media storm!  People were tweeting all around us as photos appeared on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and all over the place. Drenched partygoers smiling through the adversity of the British summertime…

London proved herself to excellent company again on Friday when a group of us traipsed about with Vic on his historic pub crawl.  This was our second outing with Vic, an entertaining tour guide who I met a couple of years ago on Twitter, then discovered that, bizarrely, we were working in adjoining training rooms.  For this, his ‘Stripper and Schooner’ tour, We met up on Friday in a seventeenth century hidden gem in Covent Garden with oak beams and a dizzying slanted floor – known in times gone by as ‘the Bucket of Blood.’  Then we walked the length of Soho (an ancient hunting cry, apparently!)  to visit five more establishments dotted around the west end, including a beautiful gin palace, a sedate tavern and the birthplace of the communist manifesto!

Soho on a Friday night is about as busy as you can imagine. Office workers celebrating poets’ day, tourists shoving their euros at the barmaids, and us…. Laughing hysterically, learning less about the history of London’s ancient alehouses and more about each other than we wished to know.  Carrying half full (never half empty) glasses of wine from one pub to the next, making new friends, networking, offering counselling to heal a broken relationship and generally putting the world to rights.  Highly recommended!

And the rain held off, unlike Tuesday.  This is what we were singing when the Canary Wharf storm struck: “She’ll make you take your clothes off and go dancing in the rain.   She’ll make you live her crazy life but she’ll take away your pain.” (Whatever happened to Ricky Martin?)

Well I won’t make you take your clothes off (had enough of strippers for one week), but there’s a lot to be said for letting your hair stream down with the rainwater.  I can definitely take away your pain though – especially if it’s business related.  Call me to heal your social media problems, or ask me about it here: @WeekendWitch.

(Thanks to Mark Haringman for sharing the Canary Wharf concert pic!)

Taking the leap, blood red poppies and lessons in love

In two separate conversations this week, the following sentence came up: ‘The grass isn’t always greener…’  Is it merely a sentence, or a sentiment?  Do people sitting on the fence get to compare both sides?  And can they view the grass objectively?  Isn’t the point that the grass looks greener from the other side of the fence but once you’ve catapulted yourself over the thin wooden slats you discover it’s a dull greyish, mossy hue.

Sometimes you just have to take the leap and hope the landing is at least soft, even if not completely weed-free.  And my philosophy is simple: If the grass isn’t greener, lay some shingle and grow flowers in tubs.  It’s not all about the grass.

10592935_10152654426561255_1668391128739144403_nTalking of grass, I stopped by the Tower of London on Tuesday to see the fantastic display of ceramic poppies creeping across the grassed moat.  They spill out from a small arched window in stark contrast to the fields of blood where the crimson flowers spread upwards and outwards a century ago.  More than 200,000 of the ceramics stand proudly in the shadow of England’s most historic castle, each representing a life lost, boldly honouring the sacrifices those young men made.

So red featured as the colour of my week.  Blood red poppies and the colour of love.  Spending Thursday at the Southbank Centre where I gave a 121 training session to a new social media client,  the Festival of Love grabbed my attention and wooed my camera from my bag.  It was brash, funky and fun.

Celebrating seven kinds of love, a collection of artists and communities have created this lovely programme of free events, performances, poetry and pop-ups.   I learned something new that day: I didn’t realise that the ancient Greeks had 30 words to describe different types of love!  These are the seven definitions chosen by the Southbank Centre:

  • Pragma – love which endures
    Bonding love that develops over a long period of time, enduring ‘in sickness and in health’ or through years of friendship.
  • Ludus – flirting
    Testing out what it might be like to be in love with someone; that slightly dangerous sensation.
  • Agape – the love of humanity
    Making us upset when we hear of a world crisis, encouraging us to give to charity, and connecting us to people on the basis of our shared experiences.
  • Storge – family love
    The love shared within a family, whether related by blood, or not.
  • Philautia – self-respect
    The love we give to ourselves, being true to our own values and taking care of ourselves.
  • Philia – shared experience
    The love we feel based on achieving shared goals, such as co-workers, team players.
  • Eros – romantic and erotic love
    Based on sex and attraction, falling in love is the one which can get us into the most trouble…

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI’ve known them all, but agape is the one that will make me buy a ceramic poppy!  Being at South Bank always reminds of the Flash Mob I took part in a couple of years ago with Sue and Karen.  We had such fun singing on the steps, demonstrating a good example of Philia love… The chorus of this Lennon/McCartney classic was part of the medley that day, and I was humming it on Thursday too:

“There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known, nothing you can see that isn’t shown.  There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be… It’s easy.”  And it is.  I can teach you or show you.  And if you’re not happy where you are right now, follow me: @WeekendWitch.

Traditional training, dancing with Marion and Word on the Water

I’m really happy that Marion has officially joined the team.  She’s full of fun with whacky ideas and fantastic skills for managing some of our social media clients’ accounts.  I’ve known her for years; we started working together in the days when sisters were doing it for themselves and our friendship has endured through pop concerts, blue dinners, holidays, children, balloons, and Andrew Wright.  (But that’s another story.)

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Marion’s cottage long ago… with residents even older than us…

When she’s not looking after clients’ social media, Marion walks her three dogs through the landscaped park in Hawick.  There’s a tiny museum there that houses a memorial to motorcycle legend Steve Hislop.  ‘Hizzy’ died tragically eleven years ago last week, when his helicopter crashed into the next field to Marion’s cottage.  I was staying there then, and remember the day so well.  Although the tragedy didn’t involve a bike, I can’t help playing Bat out of hell in my mind whenever I think about it.

I go up to the cottage when I need some peace to write quietly, diametrically removed from London’s bustling metropolis.  It’s a wonderful place to design new training courses; no distractions, other than the dogs barking and chickens clucking.  My new social media sessions (which were partly written there) have been so well received this summer that I’ve been commissioned to run them again through the autumn, let me know if you’d like any details.

Aside from the new courses, I had an influx of bookings through July for my traditional plain English training sessions.  Being on page one in Google searches definitely helps, plus the sprinkling of enquiries that came via LinkedIn.  So I’ve been all over London de-jargpning and clarifying texts to suit the clients of various organisations.  It’s taken me to some areas I hardly knew before, with unique places to discover.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingComing out of Paddington tube, I quite literally stumbled upon the cutest bookshop ever.  A moored Rosie and Jim type barge that’s fitted out as a delightful bookstore.  It was absolutely lovely, totally unexpected and completely full of charm and character.  I chatted to the owner, who invited me aboard Word on the Water for my virgin voyage.  Well, not voyage exactly; it was stationery, bobbing about on the Grand Union Canal, but I enjoyed it anyway. It was one of my three favourite places this week.

The second was Richmond, as I ventured out west to visit a potential social media client.  I would have liked a picnic lunch among the deer wandering elegantly through the park, but as I have a habit of getting lost and a fear of close-up large animals, I decided it wasn’t a clever move on my own.  Made up for it on Friday, when a trip to Queen Elizabeth’s hunting lodge in Chingford came a close third.  No deer roving around now, but in Tudor times the area was rife with Bambi’s ancestors.  The lodge is a beautifully preserved piece of Elizabethan architecture set amongst ancient fields. (Although I have to note, the wilderness of Richmond is a far cry from Chingford’s Premier Inn, plonked right next door to the lodge.)

Anyway, neither compares to the beautiful scenery surrounding Marion’s cottage.  We’ve danced around in there – not quite the same as in the Annie Lennox days, but still fun… “Now we ain’t makin’ stories, and we ain’t layin’ plans…  ’cause a man still loves a woman, and a woman still loves a man.”  Making stories, making training courses, making words on water… if you need something written, here I am: @WeekendWitch.

Making law, a magical time warp and positivity

Visiting the House of Lords is a little like stepping back into some sort of magical time warp.  Entering via the Peers’ entrance you’re greeted by a receptionist dressed in Fred Astaire coat tails and a white bow tie. The vaulted halls and stairway are so beautiful you want to lie with your head on the landing and your feet pointing at the royal blue, star encrusted ceiling, gazing at the beautiful glittery paintings and stained glass while people walk by holding golden sceptres.  Liz described it perfectly: a Victorian concept of a medieval dream.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingIt’s an honour to be invited to watch a parliamentary debate in the House of Lords.  We sat quietly in the impressive Moses Room and witnessed an embryonic act begin to unfold.  I can honestly say it was truly awesome!  Baroness Wheeler led the debate on childhood stroke, with a number of Peers from various political parties supporting the cause.

Their speeches were well planned, comprehensive and structured to fit precisely into their allocated time slots.  Not a second of that precious hour was wasted: as one Lord or Lady finished speaking, the next person was on their feet before the previous bottom was even back on its red leather seat.  But more importantly, they were passionate and heartfelt; they put across a compelling argument for government intervention to support research, medical guidelines and after-care.

My friends and I have put in three years’ hard work to raise awareness of childhood stroke, so seeing it actually coming to fruition was the highlight of my week.  There’s still a lot of work to be done, but (hopefully!) it’s onwards and upwards from here.  A very positive day!

In fact, the theme of positivity has been overarching this week.  Someone began a chain Facebook post whereby everyone had to list three positive events each day.  David nominated me; I was a safe bet: I rarely have trouble finding the silver lining.  On Thursday I successfully delivered the final social media training session of a series of five – and was very happy to announce that I’ve won a contract to deliver another five starting in August.  Signed up a couple of new training clients and I’m meeting this coming week with three prospective social media management ones – so all in all it’s very positive on the business side.

Being snowed under isn’t always great though, as it can be hard to juggle the work/life balance.  That’s why I always try to tie in my meetings with something that’s not work-related and counts as food for the soul!  So my positive challenge week included two lunches with friends, huge Toblerone cake at Southbank followed by a boat ride along the Thames to Greenwich, a night out for Stef’s birthday, dinner at the Waldorf with my BFF and mango ice cream wandering around Covent Garden at midnight.  One of these days I’m going to find time to sleep…..

The artist formerly known as a squiggle says, “Can U sleep nights?  Do U dream straight up or do U dream in W’s?”  It’s positivity!!  Whether I’m awake or asleep, I’m positive that you’ll find me here: @WeekendWitch.

Plain English dreams, lost in London and Galileo Figaro Magnifico

If you were in the UK on Thursday night, there’s no way you could have missed the fantastic storms that lit up the world with shards of lightening zigzagging across the purple sky.  Unless you’re my brother-in-law, who slept soundly through it all like a worn-out little kitten.

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Fab photo taken by Tony Simmonds – Hove, Sussex. With many thanks to all my Facebook friends who supplied pics and links x

Lying in my bed at 3am, I remembered that someone once told me to unplug major electrical items.  So I crept downstairs where the boys were still watching a film, and ran around unplugging everything like a crazy woman.  Forgot the wifi router though, and woke up on Friday to find no internet!!  Unable to work from home, I baked a cake then headed out in search of 21st century connectivity.  Huge thanks to my clients, Nordens, for putting up with me all day!

During the storm, alarms were going off all over the place.  A nice chap called Vince who’s attended a couple of my social media training sessions must have been busy as a result – he’s a specialist in alarm systems, CCTV and all that. Strange the things that spring to mind when you’re listening out for thunder.

The day of the storm had been ridiculously hot. I left a meeting at parliament at 2 o’clock heading to a potential new client in Pimlico.  Turned out to be a 20 minute walk from the station – not in flowery flip flops this time, but high heeled, hot shoes – and I actually felt as if I was walking through a wall of tangible pressure.  It was so weird, like I had to push the air away to get through.  (Before you ask, no, I hadn’t been at the Pimms at lunchtime!!)  And to top it off, I got lost.  The silly iPhone map took me a horribly long way round, past beautiful cream painted Georgian houses that I couldn’t admire because I was suffocating.

It brought to mind someone else who Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingattends my social media sessions: Francesca writes London guide books with simple maps – and boy, could I have done with one of those that day.  Her ‘Step Outside’ London guides are actually for children, but they’re so beautifully illustrated and charming that they’re a pleasure for anyone with a love of London.  Must admit, I loved it a little bit less after the aimless wandering then rush hour tube trip home.

Aside from running a workshop on Social Media Strategy this week, I have a couple of Plain English sessions booked.  I’ve also been creating website content and de-jargoning technical blogs recently, for clients’ audiences that don’t need to know the specifics.  I do love a linguistic challenge.  I completed a plain English edit for a company abroad a couple of weeks ago, relating to extremely high tech computer software components – of which I knew nothing.  (I do now!)  The end article was far removed from the initial draft and received excellent reviews when it was published in the glossy Telegraph IT supplement.  Sometimes I wonder if I dream in plain English…

If you’re wondering how copywriters can turn a gobbledygook concept into a coherent and easily understandable text, I’ll tell you in the Gibb Brothers’ own words.  And that’s what it really boils down to:  “It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away…”  (Sung so beautifully by Ronan Keating last week, but I still prefer the ancient Rita Coolidge version!)

I think this may have been my first blog in three years to talk about the weather. Whatever it’s like this week, have fun! And if you need me, you can find me here as usual, but with an ice cream: @WeekendWitch.

(Title lyrics by Freddie, of course.)

French bikes, French lunch, French everything

It’s been a very French week for me. Started with Monday’s faux pas when I buggered up my quarterly mail shot to 600 people by typing in the wrong code to pick up everyone’s first name.  The good news is that, when I emailed to apologise, I had my best mailshot response ever.  It’s been brilliant to reconnect with a few people I haven’t seen for ages and new lunches booked in the diary always makes me happy.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media trainingThat email was about using the topical Tour de France as a springboard for Monday’s social media posts.  A group of us took a picnic and watched as the blink-and-you-missed-it event passed by.  As the cyclists whizzed through London on their way to the Palace there were dozens of opportunities to tweet, post and blog. Londoners also had a field day on Pinterest!

Then on Wednesday, we popped over to Paris for lunch.  One of my Facebook friends asked if I’d eloped with a Tour de France cyclist, which made me laugh.  I’d have liked a ride on the handlebars but no one stopped to pick me up!  Eurostar got me there just as efficiently; a little less environmentally friendly but a lot more comfortable than on a bike.

Paris is such a beautiful city and the Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media trainingmorning in Montmartre was the highlight of the day.  True Parisian style: its ancient cobbled streets winding around pretty buildings adorned with flowering window boxes between paint-peeling shabby chic shutters.  That was a long sentence for a plain English writer, but hey ho!  Like the sentence, we packed a lot in.  First, the petit train took us from the Dali exhibition to Moulin Rouge, then back up the steep hill to Sacre Coeur.  Next stop was the Musée de l’Orangerie, followed by a walk in the rain through Jardin de Tullieries towards an obligatory visit to the Louvre.  You can’t visit Paris without saying bonjour to the Mona Lisa. Then a taxi ride to Notre Dame (no, I didn’t see him) followed by a boat trip to the Eiffel Tower.

Driving rain failed to dampen the day, but by the time we walked along the Champs-Elysée I had puddles in my flip flops.  So we stopped for French onion soup and French fries in a French bistro and watched the world and their brollies go by.

The French theme trickled into Thursday, with a delightful – and very English! – chocoholics afternoon tea at the Hilton in Park Lane.  Little French Fancies adorned the top tier of the cake stand.  I posted photos of those delicious chocolate creations all over social media. So, a très bonne week.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media trainingBack to Park Lane for yesterday’s fantastic concert in Hyde Park.  Tom Jones headlining the event was always going to be amazing – and he certainly didn’t disappoint! Stef and I were right at the front, and WOW!! Has the man still got it?!!  (Yes, it was rhetorical…)  Can’t discuss the Facebook knickers conversation here as this is, after all, a professional business blog!  But, needless to say, would have to have been French knickers!!

Boyzone were also brilliant – I wasn’t a huge fan in their early days, but they put on a great show, and it was quite touching how they still include Stephen Gately in their videos and commentary.  10CC: fab as always, Little Mix: hot dancers.  Sunshine, colourful drinks, dancing, laughing – what better way to spend a Sunday?

You‘re probably expecting some TJ lyrics now, but had to end with this.  Hopefully no one will think the video is too raunchy for a Monday morning… “Paris is calling.  Falling, we’re falling, we’re falling, we’re falling.  Lips close, then blossom like a rose, embrasser c’est Francais, embrasser c’est Francais.”   Suivez-moi ici: @SorcièreDeFinDeSemaine

LinkedIn photos, squidgy cakes and £1billion of business

£1,000,000,000 worth of business…  Wow!! That’s a lot of money coming in.  I’ve mentioned Fit for Legacy (FFL) before; it’s the organisation based in Canary Wharf that provides support to businesses in and around neighbouring boroughs.  On Tuesday night, they held a party to celebrate the amazing achievement of bringing a staggering £1bn worth of business into the area!!  I’ve only been a FFL training provider for eight months (social media and time management) and I’ve met some fantastic people during that time, so I was really proud to be invited.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media trainingI trotted off to the East Wintergarden in my long purple dress and high heels – the relevance of this will become clear later…  Over 200 businesses were represented in the tall glass building overlooking the evening sun-kissed river.  I usually enter these events with my eyes firmly fixed on who to say hello to first – after all, networking is the key to being remembered.  But on this occasion, I was sidetracked the second I stepped onto the marbled mezzanine: the longest, most colourful, most beautiful array of cupcakes stared up at me, simply begging me to take a bite.

Hope Mutongwizo is the owner of Vanilla Orchid Bakery and creator of these fantastic delicacies.  My favourite was the red velvet with a thick, sugary, buttercream swirl and a raspberry.  I liked it so much that at the end of the evening I ‘stole’ eight cakes – and this is where the long dress and stilettos became a bit problematic.  Along with a couple of glasses of red wine and the slippery looking flight of green glass stairs facing me, I knew I’d have  a problem balancing the eight ribboned boxes on my journey home.

As if by magic, my friend Mark from the Barking Enterprise Centre appeared with car keys and a smile – and the kind offer of a lift home.  So I tricked him into helping me sneak out the cakes quietly and unobtrusively… which would have been fine had I not dropped one and cried out loudly in horror as it squidged across the floor.  (Don’t worry, it wasn’t wasted.  Mark scooped it up and put it on the edge of the table, and we later saw someone carrying it away! Oh dear.)  Turns out crawling around in a long dress in a puddle of buttercream is the key to being remembered.

I first met Hope when she attended one of my time management sessions.  (If you’re reading this Hope, thank you for the LinkedIn recommendation!)  Other people I’d never met before recognised me from my LinkedIn photo.  Ade, a business growth coach that I bumped into at one of my first networking events, knows me only as WeekendWitch and did a great job of promoting me throughout the evening!  (Thanks very much for your LinkedIn rec too!!)  Proves my point that you must must must have a clear, current and professional photo on your LinkedIn profile.

Cakes aside, the evening was brilliant. Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training It was a genuine delight to be part of the celebration and to feel I’d contributed to the success in some small way.  Karren Brady gave an amusing keynote speech about being a ‘woman in a man’s world,’ showing off plans and photos of the new West Ham stadium being developed at the Olympic Park.   I didn’t chat to her about football though.  We spoke about our mutual work for the Stroke Association and her business mentoring for women.

I’m not a football fan, but what with the West Ham presentation, world cup sweepstake and being part of a client’s football predictor game, it’s been a very sporty week for me!  No football songs this week though!  As this blog was about networking, this seemed a relevant song to choose as networking is ALL about talking to people.  It was also number one the day Karren Brady was born!

“I finally got to talk to you and I told you just exactly how I felt.  Then I held you close to me and kissed you and my heart began to melt.”  (Actually, kissing is not obligatory at networking events…!!)

If you’d like to know more about networking, FFL or your LinkedIn profile, feel free to ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

(Lyrics: Tommy Roe and Freddy Weller)

Appreciation, the JFK conspiracy and an exhibition not to be missed

The launch of the Soldiering on Through Life Trust’s ‘Eight Voices, One Story’ exhibition was fabulous.  It was my first time inside the Ministry of Defence.  I’ve been to Ministry of Sound, and sometimes feel like I should be hurled up in front of officials at the Ministry of Magic, but never this.  It’s a very serious place and I had to wait ten minutes for an escort to take me through to the exhibition courtyard – they obviously took one look at me and decided I wasn’t fit to be let loose alone in a building full of men in uniform…

The exhibition is a fantastic multimedia portrayal of eight survivors of the catastrophes of war.  Yet it’s upbeat, heartwarming and enlightening.  The ‘voices’ are people who received horrendous injuries while serving in the military – and their families.  Anne Diamond interviewed each person with the skill to bring out the determination and gratitude of survival, and their stories are each exceptional and inspirational.

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Darren ‘Swifty’ Swift lost both legs serving in Northern Ireland – now a star of stage and screen. ‘Top bloke’, as some people say…

I was dumbstruck to be awarded a beautifully framed certificate for my ‘outstanding contribution’ to the charity.  Clients often tell me that they value my work, but to be shown appreciation in such a public forum was an absolute honour.  The exhibition will be touring soon and I’ll let you know when it’s coming to a town near you.  (If you’d be interested in hosting it, please contact me and I’ll introduce you to the charity’s chairman.)

My certificate now hangs proudly on my office wall along with my degrees, a signed photo of Patrick Stewart and my nana’s wedding photo.

I ended up drinking somewhat more than usual this week.  Taittinger champagne at the MOD, pink wine on Friday during a girls’ night out…  But the best was a home-made apple vodka cocktail created by Vivienne – a friend I made earlier this year when she attended one of my mini social media workshops.

Vivienne and her husband Howard have produced an extraordinary, riveting film about JFK and Martin Luther King, created entirely from original footage.  It plays out the story, encapsulating the conspiracy theory along with the secondary tales that captured the hearts of my mother’s generation – such as Marilyn Monroe singing her famous version of Happy Birthday.

I travelled across London for a private viewing with Gary, a business friend who arranges funding for anyone seeking high value investment for a specific project.  We watched the tragic story unfold whilst drinking the delicious cocktail and dining on champagne truffles and a cheesecake that had been flown in from New York.  On screen, the images melted against a soundtrack that’s had me playing The Mamas and Papas on Spotify all week!  The film was shown at the NY film festival to high critical acclaim.  If you’re in the media and interested in seeing a rough cut or finding out more about it, do let me know and I’ll put you in touch with Vivienne.

Michelle Phillips played Captain Picard’s ex-girlfriend in ‘We’ll always have Paris.’  That links my two stories nicely.  If you’re geeky enough to know what I mean, you’ll probably also know that she sang this beautiful song: “If there’s one thing I want you to do especially for me, then it’s something that everybody needs…”  If there’s something you need, or something you want me to do, just ask.  Here I am, as always: @WeekendWitch.

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Thanks to Dennis Gimes for the group pic

A Facebook break, naughty hair and training: food for the soul

Sometimes a break away is just what we need to increase our knowledge and feed our soul.  Especially where we can learn in a totally all-encompassing environment that shuts out the world.  If you’re thinking that I sound spiritually enlightened today, it’s because I spent the weekend on a communication-focused training workshop at a beautiful retreat in Kent.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media trainingThe Seekers’ Trust was set up over eighty years ago to promote the ‘well-being of mankind.’  It’s actually a Christian retreat, but is used by all faiths.  The training room was lovely and bright, overlooking gorgeous cottagey gardens and with a fully fitted kitchen – so perfect for residential courses.  We stayed in little cottages dotted around the gardens, lovely mini homes for the weekend.  For the first time since I can remember, being out of wifi range didn’t stress me.  I had no idea what was going on in Facebook world, but as I wandered through the rose garden it really didn’t seem to matter.  In fact, it was nice to have a break from it.  Came home to over 300 emails though!!

It wasn’t all peace and quiet.  This workshop produced some of the most hysterical laughter and excitement, and created friendships that I’m certain will endure beyond the training feedback stage.  Part of the course involved memory work.  You know how something seemingly irrelevant can suddenly trigger the most powerful memory…?  Well, that happened to me.

My neighbour in the next cottage asked to borrow my hairbrush and as I yanked out the hair to clean it for her, I remembered an incident from 30 years ago on a hot, sticky evening, travelling on the London underground.  It was when I worked in fashion; that morning, Joan had asked to borrow my brush before a jewellery review meeting. I had pulled out the hair that day too, surreptitiously, under my desk – and dropped the hairball back into my bag.  I have no idea now why I didn’t put it straight in the bin!  That night on our way home, Gillian asked to read my newspaper.  As I whipped it out of my bag I saw this naughty, tennis ball sized bundle of brunette hair rise up with it and float, in slow motion, towards the man sitting to my left.  Mortified, I reached out to grab the hair – and at the same time… grabbed a part of him!!  (Yes, a rude part!!)

The funniest thing was, he carried on reading his Evening Standard as if nothing had happened and I started giggling uncontrollably.  Gill was demanding to know why I was laughing, which only made me laugh more, making her laugh, and soon the whole row of seats opposite were giggling while this poor red-faced man stared at his paper.

Anyway, back to training…  The weekend made me think seriously about running a two day intensive social media workshop there.  My cooking’s rubbish but my blueberry muffins are edible!  Actually, Costco provided the food this weekend – even I could do that.  Please let me know if this is something you’d be interested in and I’ll look into it.

The people I met this weekend will know why I’ve chosen today’s lyrics, and it’s not simply because we chatted about Robbie Williams while we ate our picnic dinner on the lovely lawn.  He wisely said, “Through it all she offers me protection, a lot of love and affection – whether I’m right or wrong.”  If you think you may be going wrong, the right training will get you back on track.  I can offer you training courses written with love that will point you in the right direction, focus you or get you there – whatever you need.  Ask me about them here: @WeekendWitch.