Renee

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.

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

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.

Business excellence, an urban beach and financially-free lollipops

I’m not a beach babe.  I love walking along the beach at sunset and one of my favourite days of 2014 was wandering along Coronado’s white sands at sunrise.  I generally prefer the rugged, windswept beauty of the coast in winter.  But when I read on Facebook that a thousand tons of deep, fine sand had been spread over the Olympic Park, it was too tempting to miss.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingIn the metaphorical shadow of the iconic Stadium and ArcelorMittal Orbit, the early evening sun shone as my friend Karen and I joined in a beach ball game (kind of!) and watched the volleyball on this, the largest urban beach in the country.  A couple of bars, the canal and some water features surround the beach, giving it a real holiday atmosphere, but we didn’t stay long.  Too many children enjoying the start of the summer holidays. 

 

We jumped on the tube to Shoreditch instead, where the Food Fest beckoned, street musicians entertained and a rain cloud burst at the precise moment we threw our finished dinner into the bin.  Timing is everything.

The carefree atmosphere in Stratford was what you may expect to be the opposite of a business event held in a bank’s head office – but your expectations would be wrong.  I was invited to a networking evening at Metro Bank in Holborn on Thursday.  Exiting the glass elevator into a lobby decorated with photos of partying dogs and a large display of free lollipops, I had an inkling that I was going to enjoy the evening.

As the red wine flowed, I met an eclectic assortment of businesspeople, along with a number of very human bank managers. I’ve made friends with a film maker and a gallery owner; they invited me to an exhibition of Chinese art and movement, but I already have a dinner date that evening.  I also saw a woman there that I’d been introduced to 25 years ago – the mother-in-law of a colleague when I worked in recruitment.  I even impressed myself with my face recognition skills for that!!

Also impressed this week with Darren, one of the guys at my accountancy client’s firm, for being a double finalist in the Business Excellence Awards…  Well done Darren!!  Having worked closely together to create the perfect application, I know that he’s brilliant at designing systems to improve their clients’ businesses, so these accolades are well deserved.

‘Beach baby, Beach baby, there on the sand from July ’till the end of September.  Surfin’ was fun, we’d be out in the sun every day…’  Well I might not be surfin’ and I may not be on the sand for the next three months but I’m happily offering a summer special – any 1-2-1 training session for 25% off the normal price.  This offer applies to sessions booked by July 31st and delivered by September 30th.  Call me if you’d like to know more, or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Spanish cocktails, boys in tartan and being prepared for social media

I spent last week in Spain with my friend Angie.  We don’t see each other as often as we’d like because she’s lived on a sheep farm in Ireland for the past 14 years – but she’s the queen of the Costa Blanca.

We had such fun.  She’s very poular and knows everyone so we were never short of company.  I am not a big drinker – one glass of sparkling rose at a networking event is usually enough.  So was a bit of a shock to my system to get through an evening on a strawberry daiquiri, pina colada, half a bottle of Cava, baby Guinness (which isn’t that at all – it’s a delicious creamy mix of tia maria and baileys) – then a final caramel vodka back at the ranch.

Angie claims I shouldn’t list these drinks as it paints her as a bad influence.  Especially as I previously named her as my 11 year old partner in crime for bunking off school to traipse around Carnaby Street.  There was a reason for that…  She wanted to visit her mum’s friend Hillary who worked in the music business.  Hillary now manages Cheryl Fernandez Versini – whose assistant is the daughter of someone I taught to use Twitter for business.  Six degrees of separation!!  I love that.

On my first night in Spain we were invited to the opening of a new bar in Villamartin.  As well as the delight of eating frazzles again (remember them?) the singer delivered a stream of songs that took us back to our shared childhood.

Surprisingly, the bar had no wifi!  So no one could tweet that they were there or post on Facebook to encourage local friends to pop down for a welcome drink and a frazzle!!  And of course, no wifi meant no facility to check in on Facebook.  It was bad planning; any new business should be properly set up for its launch and it was such a shame that this one missed out.

spainI’m not a jealous person, but I do remember a day in 1973 when Angie was taken to see the Bay City Rollers playing at Wembley and I wasn’t allowed to go.  Her dad sold Rollers’ tartan scarves outside the venue – scarves which my nana ran up on her sewing machine.  I hadn’t forgotten about this: my memory is sharp, but I’d long since tucked this recollection away.  It leapt back to the fore though, in that shiny marbled bar in España, when the singer unexpectedly belted out Shang-a-Lang, a laughingly joyous (!!) Bay City Rollers’ song.  Not what you expect these days, but the dance floor was packed – despite most people there being too young to remember the original version.

This was the first week I’ve been away without my laptop, so thanks to my dream team for keeping the business running.  I resisted the temptation to tweet photos of my paella and sunburnt skin – so it was a real holiday.

I’m back in the office now; 846 emails to sift through – 800 nonsense and a handful of relevant ones to deal with this morning.  Guess what will be playing on Spotify while I’m working…?

Couldn’t find the credits for this, but I can still picture the boys as they were, smiling down on me from the posters on my purple walls.  “Give a little love, take a little love.  Be prepared to forsake a little love.  And when the sun comes shining through… we’ll know what to do.”

Be prepared and know what to do: good advice in most situations.  Don’t be like the newly-opened bar in Villamartin.  Whether you’re launching a new business, a product or a concept, make sure your on-line presence is fired-up and ready to go.  Call me if you need help or advice… or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

(Thanks for a lovely week, Angie! xx)

Life after Stroke, Gugelhupfs and being a nun

People on the tube are very friendly to nuns!  Following an incredibly funny girls’ night out to The Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, I travelled home with Karen on the central line wearing a nun’s habit.  (Why is it called that?)  People were happy to give up their seats on the sweltering midnight train, and there was an unconcealed display of curiosity as to why two nuns were travelling east after dark.

No one seemed to notice my black Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingpatent high heels or fuchsia nails, although there was some sniggering when we started taking tube selfies and asking strange men to snap us for Facebook.  The man opposite me, trying very hard to appear sober, voiced his surprise that nuns are allowed to carry phones. I pointed out that a mobile is a means of safety for all women, and he nodded sagely, before slurring that he’d protect us with his life.  Nice.  I wasn’t intentionally impersonating a lady of the cloth but I do feel that, nevertheless, we educated him in some of the more responsible ways women should behave when travelling late at night…

So I can no longer claim to be the only person I know who hasn’t seen the Sound of Music! The singalonga… version we watched was hugely entertaining.  And Salzburg looks so beautiful; I’ve added it to my list of places to visit, along with Prague, Bangkok and Highgate Cemetery.

I had a very Austrian couple of days as it turned out, because on Thursday afternoon Liz, Nancy and I enjoyed a sumptuous afternoon tea at The Delauney.  Instead of scones and clotted cream, they serve poppy seed Gugelhupfs with apricot jam and whipped cream – and the most delicious sachertorte.  I asked for an extra slice but don’t tell anyone.

Earlier in the afternoon we’d attended the annual Life After Stroke Awards.  The awards are given to inspirational people who have shown extreme courage after suffering a stroke, as well as people who’ve gone the extra mile to support stroke survivors.  Their stories are both heartbreaking and heartwarming.  Thanks to The Stroke Association for organising a wonderful day, and to the celebrities who give their time each year to present the awards and provide an extra touch of glamour to such a worthwhile charity.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingThe winner of this year’s Children and Young Person’s award was a gorgeous young girl named Emily who had her stroke when she was ten.  Her dad is a member of my Facebook support group, and this week will see the 200th person joining this group.  (200 people, all of whom have shared the horror of wondering whether their child will survive the night.)  I set up the group to provide a forum for these parents of child stroke survivors to shout, scream, cry, ask questions, gain advice and support, and share the achievements of their children as they slowly get back to some sense of normality after such a devastating experience.

I was so lucky to experience a positive outcome, but not everyone is as fortunate.  I count my blessings each day.  No one knows what’s around the corner and every day is precious.  There is an old saying that does the rounds on Facebook every now and then… I can’t remember it exactly, but it’s something like: Live every day as if it’s your last and dance like no one’s watching.  I agree on both counts.

It’s not often that I quote Rodgers and Hammerstein, but this is good advice:  ‘Climb every mountain, ford every stream… follow every rainbow, ‘til you find your dream.’  I’ve been reading The Law of Attraction again.  If you have a dream but need help achieving it, I’m always happy to offer advice and guidance.  Ask me about one-to-one mentoring here: @WeekendWitch.

Multitasking, networking at home and meeting a gigolo

Andrew is an insolvency practitioner based in the heart of London.  Fortunately, I don’t need his professional services right now, especially as I’m welcoming a new client on board today.  Andrew and I were introduced by Michael, a branding consultant I met at a music networking evening in Shoreditch who, like me, loves putting like-minded people together.

My initial meeting with Andrew was highly entertaining.  Rather than discussing his insolvent clients, we focused on his creative writing; Andrew has published a range of kids’ books in alliterating rhyme.  He also told me an eye-opening story of his life as a gigolo… but that’s another story!

So when he invited me to an evening where he’d be entertaining the audience at Liz Gee’s Lecture Club – with nibbles and wine – I happily accepted.  As it turned out, I’d met Liz at another networking event, at a casino in Gloucester Road, but I hadn’t yet attended any of her events.  What I hadn’t realised is that Liz welcomes her guests into her own home, a beautiful and elegant property at the edge of Holland Park.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingSome people believe that the true test of whether a networking event is successful is meeting people with whom you can do business.  I disagree.  It’s simply about connecting with people that you like and would be happy to recommend to others.  I won’t do business with everyone I met at Liz’s house because I don’t have a need for everyone’s services.  But in the course of the next few months, it’s likely that I’ll meet people who will be pleased for an introduction to at least one of them – and that’s what it’s all about!

Equally as important in my opinion is the venue, as that’s what I tend to remember.  A casino that serves chocolate and nut cookies at 9am, a private club overlooking the Thames with mini fish and chips in teeny tin buckets, a gallery on the 42nd floor above the city of London, a football stadium… and now a fabulous home in west London with luxurious furnishings and an eclectic gallery of artwork adorning the walls.

It was such a lovely environment to be in that it was more like being at a private cocktail party than a business event. Huge thanks to Liz and Rowland for their hospitality.  How great for them to be able to network right in the comfort of their living room… most of us social network from home – in my case that involves more chocolate than wine.

I got the bus to Holland Park that day, a hot and airless Boris bus… then enjoyed by a gentle stroll through the gorgeous park.  It followed an afternoon stuffing myself at Choccywoccydoodah (yes, more chocolate) so the inertia of a bus ride was good – and it certainly beat the tube on a warm summer’s day.  Although the tube ride into town is time I usually utilise to paint my nails.  Well, multitasking is often the key to getting everything done.  (But not always.  Sometimes a solid time management plan does away with the need to multitask and allows you to focus clearly and achieve more.)

A wise man once said: “You can spend all your time making money; you can spend all your love making time.”  If you’d like help managing your time to be more productive, or fancy a little networking, give me a call.  Or chat to me here: @WeekendWitch.

(That wise man was Don Henley.)