Renee

Inspiration, cakes in Shoreditch and champagne with the man who woke me every day

Driving to the Park Plaza for Friday night’s Soldiering On Awards was a poignant experience.  Sadly, roadside floral tributes have become commonplace, but the crowds spilling out around Westminster Square were eerily quiet as they tiptoed over bouquets and read tribute cards while some, strangely, photographed them.

There was nothing quiet at the awards though! At the Park Plaza on the far side of Westminster Bridge cheering and clapping were the order of the day as over 500 people gathered to celebrate the Soldiering On Awards, recognising the achievements of men, women – and some incredible animals – who have been seriously injured in military service. These winners, in fact all the finalists that were gathered to be honoured there, have gone on to inspire others and create excellence from their tragedies.

C702WVNXwAABuVSIt’s unthinkable. Most of us are lucky enough to never suffer life-changing experiences and we simply can’t imagine what these people have been through, but there was nothing miserable or depressing in that room.  It was empowering.

My highlight of the evening was meeting Mike Read, the DJ whose captivating voice woke me every morning through college, my job in fashion and right up until I broke my clock radio. We spent half an hour chatting about this and that, he got me champagne, he said he couldn’t dance with me later as he hasn’t had dancing lessons – I told him I’m having swimming lessons, not that that was relevant.

17498727_10155169751331255_8419109128308697501_nAnyway, as far removed as most of us are (hopefully forever) from catastrophic injury, many of us do suffer from debilitating or unrelenting illnesses and that can be as difficult emotionally and physically as an unprovoked wound.  You may already know that I work with the Stroke Association to raise awareness of childhood stroke – a cruel and devastating trauma that can change the lives of a baby, child, teenager – and their families, often irrevocably.

I won’t harp on about that today – many of you have read my son Oli’s story, and it’s one that I’m eternally grateful turned out okay for him. I’m just mentioning it because, as I’m typing this, I’m also preparing for a meeting at the Stroke Association’s head office near Shoreditch. (Multitasking at its best – also eating chocolate and keeping one eye on Homeland.)

17555560_10155176863146255_8416856_nI’ll be going from there to visit clients in Hoxton (close to the hotel where my website was hacked!) to chat about Instagram and blogging. I’ve been promised hot chocolate and cake in a Hoxton café, so that will be nice! Although I have to admit I’m a bit caked out after last week’s Bake Off at my client and accountants in Woodford.  Nordens holds this competition annually for the team to bring in their delicious home-made creations – and guess who was a judge? Yes, me!! Well I do have rather a lot of experience eating cake.  Congratulations to Cydney who won with a lovely light lemon drizzle cake topped with mini Easter eggs.

17554955_10155176858516255_58716285_nWhich reminds me, my lovely friends at Kennards Artisan Chocolates (Desire4Food) created a huge Easter egg that was auctioned off at the Soldiering On Awards for a nice few hundred pounds.  (I don’t know the exact amount, but sadly I was outbid.) Massive thanks to them for their unswerving generosity and support.  They’re somewhere around Shoreditch today too, in a pop up shop – so I’ll pop up to visit them while I’m in town.  If you’re around there too check out their Facebook page and join me for a pre-Easter chocolatey treat!

Mike Read’s career has spanned over 40 years as a DJ, writer, journalist, TV presenter, songwriter and much, much more.  For my generation, there’s one song that we remember vividly as zooming to the top of the charts after he banned it from Radio 1’s playlist! (Coincidentally, Holly Johnson, who wrote it, bought a Swarovski diamanté brooch that Joan and I had selected for the Principles stores when I worked in fashion buying. I’d probably listened to Mike that very morning.) As Mr Johnson says, “Shoot it in the right direction, make making it your intention. Live those dreams, scheme those schemes; hit me, hit me, hit me with those laser beams.”

If you intend giving your business a quick blast in the right direction, feel free to call me for advice – or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Incredible animals, a 19-course meal and fun on International Women’s Day

It’s two weeks to the Soldiering On Awards. This champagne-fuelled, glitzy evening will celebrate the best of inspirational people, charities and organisations within the military family. Someone decided that each finalist is worthy of public recognition and a shiny golden trophy, and the excitement to find out who has won is mounting.

Last week, two of my colleagues from the charity invited me to an amazing lunch – choosing the menu for the awards dinner! As you may already know from previous blogs (or from eating out with me) I have a healthy appetite.  But I have to admit that, on this occasion, the food actually beat me. We enjoyed the equivalent of 19 tasting courses – along with four glasses of wine!

That’s not a typo.  19 courses.  Six beautiful canapés, decorated with tiny pansies and the most delicate sprigs of herbs preceded a lunch of five hors d’oeuvres, five main courses and three desserts. Then petit fours and coffee.  (I had mint tea.) I posted a couple of pics on Facebook, and people commented of course, especially on the wonderful desserts. If you’re feeling jealous, don’t be! I felt totally ill afterwards 🙂

Then on Friday I was invited to a Women in Business event held by Newham Chamber of Commerce at the snazzy offices of Freshfields law firm in the city. This wonderful morning celebrated International Women’s Day (which was actually two days previous to that, but we’re worth celebrating every day, right?!) This year’s theme: Be Bold for Change.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingRather than eat the breakfast (which did look delicious but was too early for me; I had to get up at 5,30 to be there on time), I spent the first hour or so chatting with Anita Dobson. What a lovely lady! I’ve seen her act, obviously, and in real life she was a delight to spend time with. Both being eastenders, (you see what I did there?) we chatted about days gone by spent at the Ilford Palais, the perils of getting older, such as reading menus at arms’ length, and our shared love of cats.

 

This led on to a chat about animal charities, and I invited her to the Soldiering On Awards, as one category is for a remarkable animal that’s served in the military or worked as part of the military family. I hope she can make it.

Following the breakfast and networking, the morning was a panel discussion of eight super-interesting women hosted by newsreader Julie Etchingham. She’s an incredibly smart lady who flawlessly directed questions at the panel members for an hour.

While most people were impressed with me meeting celebrities, Gill was more excited that I’d also met the founder of her ‘Clubbercise’ class! Claire Burlison Green has built a global business from women exercising to disco music waving glow sticks in the air.  She brought a couple with her for demonstration purposes, but didn’t hand them out to the audience, sadly. It would have been fun on the underground at rush hour.

We didn’t have glow sticks back in the Ilford Palais days. All I remember now is the two of us in little blue corduroy dresses that barely covered our bums, a glass of water with ice and lemon, and a group that hopped on stage singing Let’s Dance when the DJ had his break. (I also remember not wearing coats as we preferred to save the 20p for the cloakroom – so walking home at 1am in the winter, freezing those exposed bottoms and discussing the geography homework we had to finish before going to bed…)

“Let’s sway, while colour lights up your face. Let’s sway – sway through the crowd to an empty space.” While Bowie was singing that – or the people in the 80s band were, we had no idea that 30 years later the crowds would have moved online and social media would fill all the empty spaces. Are you filling yours? I’m around this week if you need any help – here I am: @WeekendWitch.

Arts memberships, soaring doves and David Hockney’s bum

Being a member of the Tate is so wonderful when a major exhibition hits town and tickets sell out in seconds.  The Guardian reported that the Hockney exhibit sold over 20,000 tickets before it opened, with some visitors having to wait until 9pm for their chance to see the eclectic collection of artworks. I later heard is was completely sold out, but I’m not sure if this is true.

Anyway, early or late, it’s worth it. I chose to go late, simply because it was the only chance I had to get there during its first week of opening.  And that choice is one of the beauties of membership; I can just walk in without pre-booking.  The only problem with late night gallery viewing is that the café was closed, but hey-ho, sometimes you have to forego your cream bun in the name of art.

I was familiar with the most well-known pieces of course – but I had no idea his styles spanned different genres. The retrospective begins with Hockney’s early works from the 60’s, covering six decades of rich, vibrant paintings and installations, right up to the pieces that blew me away: his iPad and iPhone creations!

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingNow I’m trying that, but it’s not working out. I think you need time to get the hang of it – at least that’s what I’m telling myself. I had a sudden splurge of creativity to get out of my system this week, so I hijacked an easel that I’d bought for Ben several Christmases ago and which has remained neatly in its box, and made a commitment to paint some celebrities. I need my art class to resume – I miss it. (And no, before anyone comments I don’t mean the naked men!!)

PS – post script – written after I thought I’d finished but worth adding in… We caught the end of a documentary about Hockney on BBC4 late on Sunday night. Within two minutes of hearing him discuss something art-related, we saw the great man strip naked and run with everything dangling into an azure-tiled shower cubicle with a skylight!  If I thought I’d seen all of David Hockney beforehand, I certainly have seen it all now!

On a more sobering thought… Our family lost a wonderful lady recently, and Nanna Joyce was buried last week in a lovely spot in London.  At her graveside, Carol and Denise released two white doves that flew in perfect unison, soaring high above us as the sun crept out to cast a warm shadow over the mourners.  The colour theme was lilac and purple, so today’s lyrics seemed an obvious choice.

“Dream if you can a courtyard; an ocean of violets in bloom. Animals strike curious poses – they feel the heat, the heat between me and you.”

I’ve shed tears for Nanna Joyce, and I’ve shed tears for Prince. But memories are always beautiful. That’s why the Facebook feature of reminding you of memories from past years is so popular. Do you share yours? If you need help to do so, ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Being queenly, courageous people and the inspirational animal vote

Marion’s daughter once gave me a fridge magnet that says ‘Don’t treat me any differently than you would the Queen.’ It’s good advice, and last week Philip took it. We spent the weekend in a fabulous Tudor castle, in the very room where Henry VIII slept with his doomed wife Anne Boleyn.

Encased within a sumptuous four poster bed, with a log fire roaring on the opposite side of the octagonal room, champagne sparkling in crystal goblets, truffles (quickly eaten) and a very large bouquet gracing the central table, it was easy to imagine we were royalty.

A wonderful tour guide explained the castle’s turbulent history before we settled down to a very large afternoon tea, complete with clotted cream and jam scones, and five cakes each. (Yes, that’s not a typo.) No sooner had we recovered from all that than we dined on a sumptuous seven-course meal. So to say I felt spoiled during the trip is an understatement.  (To say I felt sick is another…)

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingMy close friends know that I’ve had an interest in Anne Boleyn since early childhood, although Philip didn’t know that when he booked. It added another dimension to the weekend to know I slept in her room.  I thought it was actually their bed, but apparently 500-year-old beds have bedbugs, so I’m guessing a luxury hotel chain purchased new ones at some point.

This was a couple of days after a reception at the House of Lords to honour the finalists of this year’s Soldiering On Awards. The House, otherwise known as the Palace of Westminster, was built 1000 years ago. 1001 to be exact! The elaborate building we know stems from the mid-19th century, following a fire that destroyed the original palace. However, the medieval Great Hall survived intact, so it’s likely that both Anne and I walked through there.  My MP arranged a wonderful tour a couple of years ago for the boys and me – until then we hadn’t realised that UK residents are entitled to visit free of charge, bypassing the £25.50 entrance fee.

Anyway, the reception was held in a lovely terraced room overlooking the river, with Taittinger champagne flowing throughout the evening to toast the inspirational finalists. We celebrated their individual journeys and wished them luck for the award ceremony and banquet on 24th March. (Tickets are still available here if you’d like to join us.)

f7661868c1c6ca4c16aa432bb4738209Two of the award categories are being voted for by members of the public – a People’s Choice Award that showcases some truly amazing people, and an Animal Partner Award for an exceptional animal that has carried out duties to make the lives easier in some way for members of the military family. If you have a spare minute, please take a quick look and cast your vote for the one you most admire.

One of my favourite songs from one of my favourite films, with simple lyrics that transcend time. “Did you ever know that you’re my hero and everything I would like to be? I can fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings.”

Some of the courageous people being honoured at the House of Lords may not have chosen to be ‘heroes’ but deserve the recognition nonetheless.  We can all fly, whether we’re the eagle or the driving wind; we just sometimes need to be reminded to spread our wings a little wider than normal and remember that the future’s what we make it. Then trust ourselves to make it a good one.

If you’d like to know more about the Soldiering On Awards, drop me an email – or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Tradition, looking up and Morgan vs Farage: an editor’s delight

I’m writing this blog at the National Gallery, one of my favourite London haunts. Aside from the fabulous collection of artworks, obviously – including my number one painting – the actual building is an architectural delight with beautifully mosaic floors and splendid arched and domed ceilings that I’m sure many people miss because we don’t look up enough. Also, the café is very lovely with an array of cakes immediately as you enter, always a winner as far as I’m concerned. The wifi’s good too, and the leather couches situated all along the galleries are comfortable and perfect for sitting, gazing, people-watching, reading, tweeting or blogging! One man nearby is asleep. He has earphones in but his mouth is drooped open. He’s not dribbling, fortunately.

16443476_10154998990331255_1731324406_n (1)I came here for a meeting, then spent a bit of time wandering around until I settled in this nice spot. It’s a wonderful gallery – but then so is the much smaller, teeny little gallery where I’ll be exhibiting my latest poem from Thursday (until the 19th).  I’d love to exhibit somewhere like this, of course, but the Mile End Art Pavilion is equally as exciting. And I’m making the cakes on Thursday – which I’m sharing for free if you’re able to pop along.

traditions-poster-3_orig (1)They’re traditional Jewish honey cakes, in line with the nature of the exhibition – which is called Traditions – and my poetry, which is about traditional Jewish food.  Ironic really, as I’m not kosher and bacon and prawns form the backbone of my diet.  No, that’s not quite true – chocolate does that, so maybe bacon is a rib – if you see where I’m going with this train of thought.

Anyway, it’s always an honour to be included with this illustrious group of artists and the show will be fantastic, so please do come along if you’re free on Feb 2nd, between 6.30 and 8.30pm. (Here’s my poem if you’d prefer to read it online, without the cake.)

Keeping with this traditions theme, I visited the Jewish museum for the first time this week.  It’s a remarkable place in the heart of Camden, tracing Jewish history in the UK from 1066 to present day. I thought I knew a fair bit about the religion, but I picked up some interesting facts, quirky trivia and a few disturbing revelations that reflect a notable parallel to today’s immigration issues.  Being a light-hearted blog I won’t discuss them here but, if you’re in London with a couple of hours to spare, the museum is definitely worth a visit. And if you’re wondering what the parallels might be, here’s a clue…

On Friday night, Gill and I went to the TV studios on Southbank to watch Piers Morgan (who we like) interview Nigel Farage (who we don’t). It was a hell of an interview. It went an hour overtime – giving three hours of solid chat-time for a 42-minute show. The meaty topics didn’t begin until almost two hours had passed, and we believe it was to ensure ITV had enough material to make a programme if Mr F got uppity and walked out when the questions began that he refused to answer. Philip and Hayley think that’s nonsense; for one thing, whatever his views and politics, he is a professional and wouldn’t have an on-air tantrum – and for another, the producer probably planned it that way.  Whatever, it’s going to be very interesting to see how they edit the show, which is being broadcast within the next three weeks.

The interview covered a lot of personal stuff – outweighing political discussion 2:1 and showing the more human side of the man.  I felt sympathy at times with regard to personal trauma and health issues, and I respect his determination to keep his family clear of politics and paparazzi; but my overall opinion didn’t change.  One thing impressed me though – he knows the difference between less and fewer!

As the interview overran we had no time for dinner before heading home.  Feeling hungry often makes me think of this song – it used to be one of my favourite love songs, in a weird kind of way. It’s amusing, although you can’t tell that from the lyrics I’ve chosen. Watch the video on Pinterest for a greater insight into the Jewish tradition of food and dating! “Four in the morning. (What’ll you have?) Well, I’m in the mood for a corned beef on rye. With a tomato and some coleslaw on the side.” See, nothing romantic there but it’s Dean Friedman at his best.

Tweeting about dinner isn’t a great business move unless you’re an eaterie or food critic.  If you’d like advice on what’s appropriate and effective to tweet for your own business, give me a call on 020 8551 7077. Or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Idols, dating a roadie and less cheerful endings

I wasn’t planning to write about George Michael – we’ve all read so much about him since his tragic passing on Christmas Day that’s it’s reaching saturation point, especially on Facebook. But it’s true to say that he was a major influence in my formative years and, being the third of my late-teen musical heroes to be snatched away during 2016, I decided to jot this down (even if it’s only Gill and Martine who read it).

It made me so sad, but I smiled thinking about dancing to the Wham Rap 12″ in Gill’s bedroom. (Half my readers won’t know what that means!) We dressed like Shirley and Dee C Lee, with floaty rah-rah skirts and distressed leather boots. Dee’s sister went to my college – I think her name was Diane, and Dee came in to sing one afternoon. Not with George, unfortunately, but it was fun all the same.

My Twitter profile says, ‘Doing everything, regretting nothing,’ yet we always regretted that we hadn’t gone along to the filming of Wake me up before you go-go. We had the fluorescent tops and glowing beads, the big hair and the wide smiles… Gill even had an authentic Choose Life t-shirt. The fashion and Wham!’s music absolutely typified our late teens.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI’ve used the phrase ‘soundtrack to my life’ many times, and this really was. Bowie, Prince and Wham! were constants on my fake Walkman, and featured on the regular playlist at the Ilford Palais – the salubrious nightclub where we spent most nights leading up to our GCEs meeting men called Ossie, Moike and Ben Down. It was a step up from the Brixton Academy at the time though, which may be why we didn’t venture down to south London for the now iconic video filming and a chance to meet George and Andrew,

We did go to quite a few concerts though.  I dated a roadie one year who got us tickets for consecutive nights. I didn’t particularly like him – I think his identical twin had the better personality, but the benefits were good… It was during that tour that we first saw George sing Careless Whisper.  He sat alone on the stage on a solitary stool, and I remember thinking that those beautiful lyrics might be my favourite ever.  As it’s turned out they’re not – but they’re probably somewhere in the top 20.

Band Aid played on the TV on Christmas Day while we were busy with the Silly Sausage that had looked so good when Kylie poked it on Jonathan Ross last week. I was pointing out to the boys how our 80s pop idols are, today, either timeless megastars or no longer with us. I pointed excitedly at George, with his floppy blond highlighted locks, unaware that he’d drifted into the second category as we pulled and twisted the silly plastic toy.

Then, of course, the obligatory Last Christmas came on.  They played a clip of it later, after the news broke, and it made me cry.

100million albums sold – that’s quite a number.  Prince achieved pretty much the same, and Bowie sold at least 140m, spanning a longer career.  I bought quite a few of all those.  And now, three of my five long-term favourites have gone in one year.  (Stay safe Meatloaf and Madonna!!) As Mr Panayiotou will still be saying long after our generation has stopped dancing, “Time can never mend the careless whispers of a good friend. To the heart and mind, ignorance is kind; there’s no comfort in the truth –  pain is all you’ll find.”

It’s been a far less cheerful ending to Christmas than usual, what with George passing, and various family members missing the holidays due to flu. But next week is a new year, and the start of wonderful things for everyone who believes that wonderful things can happen if you believe hard enough. Enjoy the rest of your Christmas week! I’m working today, then not… but you can still catch me here if you need anything social media-related: @WeekendWitch.

Horrible hackers, big bums and artisan food all over the place

I spent Monday morning working in the Hoxton Hotel – in fact, I think I mentioned that in last week’s blog.  What I didn’t realise at the time was that, while I was busily tapping away using a friend’s laptop, some nasty person somewhere was busily tapping into me.

So a couple of things to say about that. Firstly, thanks to those of you who alerted me to the fact that my mobile website had crashed. Secondly, thanks to the friend who had let me borrow his laptop to save shlapping mine on the train – I think it’s now been upgraded with a stronger anti-virus, anti-hacker, anti-whatever. And thirdly, thanks to my webhost: TSOHost, for quickly and painlessly restoring the site to its former glory, minus someone’s big fat bum staring up from your mobile phone in place of my blog.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingTo say thank you to them for all the times I drive them mad – and they always help me without charge and without showing any sign of laughter at how ridiculous I must sometimes sound – I sent them a gift. I’ve spent a couple of mornings recently delivering 121 social media training and support to BoroughBox, a fantastic foodie delivery and mail order company in South London, so I jumped on their website and ordered a gift box.

The carefully-sourced products all looked so lovely it was hard to choose, so being in an I-can’t-make-up-my-mind kind of mood, I emailed John at BoroughBox and asked for a recommendation. Hence the webhosting company received a scrumptious box of artisan sweets and treats to share amongst themselves.

Moving slightly away from nosh and onto real food, on Wednesday night I had fish and chips at the Camden Roundhouse before dancing to Poliça a band that Dale found through some trendy music magazine. We were definitely in the 10% of ‘older people’ – something that never pleases me very much. It was fun though, and always good to catch up with old friends.

As travelling home from Camden made it a late night, I skipped breakfast on Thursday. This turned out to be very lucky as it was a happy working day full of even more artisan food. (It seems to be seeking me out…) Charles Roc, a company that specialises in hotel housekeeping, invited me to attend a hoteliers’ conference in London that was organised by the Caterer magazine. As you can imagine, the food was amazing!! Tiny portions of deliciousness dotted all around the room, from a creamy Thai chicken dish to mini rare roast beef in brioche buns, to mango and coconut bircher and beetroot and something smoothies. And that’s just what I’d polished off by lunchtime.

Desserts were served in a bar overlooking the canal, with Rosie and Jim barges floating by. The display was an incredible array of lemon drizzle lollipops covered in pineapple icing (I think!), lavender cream éclairs, pina colada cakes and so many other delicious things that I can’t even remember what they were. I took photos. I also helped myself to a couple of doggy bags, much to my client’s amusement. (Or horror – not sure which!!)

So, with the chocolate fair stash on its last legs, I’m making up for the last couple of week’s binging with a daily stint on Ben’s exercise bike. As Freddie so famously said, “Bicycle races are coming your way so forget all your duties, oh yeah! Fat bottomed girls they’ll be riding today, so look out for those beauties oh yeah!”

Forget your duties? Not if you’re running your own business!  But if you have too much to do and too little time to do it, you can always pass some across.  Outsourcing your social media takes away the headache of managing your marketing campaigns on a day to day basis.  You can have a professional presence 24/7, 365 days of the year! Email if you’d like to know more about social media management, or ask me about it here: @WeekendWitch.

Chocolate, time management, a charity ball and more chocolate

As you may have guessed, chocolate features quite heavily in my life.  It influences my diet, my holidays and my relationships. (Yes, really!) So an afternoon at the London Chocolate Fair was really quite mind blowing for me.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingFrom tiny chocolatiers starting out on the road to business growth with delicious samples at every turn, to a Dubai firm whose stand resembled a Bond Street jewellers, with beautiful chocolates perfectly set out in glass cabinets guarded by a surly looking salesman (?).  I can only describe him as an unapproachable security attendant charged with actively not encouraging prospective customers to taste his wares, if you know what I mean.

Dating a fellow chocolaholic, it was inevitable that we would enjoy the exhibition at London’s Olympia, and we came away with a veritable selection of truffles, water truffles, chocolate-covered fruits, liquid-filled chocolates, dark chocolates, milk chocolates, pralines, ganache and hot chocolate. I didn’t even care that he shoved a creamy chocolate whip thing in my face, smudging my make up and leaving me sticky. Didn’t care…

14647284_10154626549846255_554661864_oI started out at the exhibition pretty sleepy, having fallen asleep after 2.30am following a charity ball on Friday night. My accountants – Nordens – I’m sure I’ve recommended them to you before – were invited by the Institute of Chartered Accountants to raise money for a hospice in Essex. Following a (non-chocolate themed) dinner, we played at the casino tables set up around the room, and danced to a selection of immortal 80s tunes. It was great fun, and thank you to the tea for inviting me.

I skipped last week’s blog.  The Jewish holidays and all the cooking and entertaining that entailed meant I had to reapportion my time.  That sentence originally said ‘ran out of time’ but clearly that’s not good coming from someone who trains businesses in time management! But it’s true.  I was away at picturesque Rutland Water the previous weekend, then cooking for several large dinner parties, plus baking six cakes and carrying out various 121 social media workshops all over London. Something had to give.

14717098_10154620381771255_4381957366363002620_nTwo of the cakes were for the accountancy team – by request, a large double layer chocolate cake, embellished with galaxy counters, flake, chocolate buttons and maltesers, and a big squidgy carrot cake.  As it turned out, this was squidgier than planned, as a member of the team that had helpfully offered to carry it into the office, sadly… er… d…r…o..p…p…e…d… it, upside down and with a loud yelp onto the pavement. Still, people ate it, gravel, fag ends, dog poo and all…  (Well, hopefully not, we went with the three second rule, even though it took a bit longer than three secs to scrape it off the kerb.) All’s well that ends well though, as everyone is still alive today…

I’m typing this in the lobby of the Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch.  I often come to this trendy space to work as the wifi is good, the atmosphere is buzzing and the hot chocolate is rich and creamy.

This is not one of the 80s tracks played on Friday, but Gill and I played it an awful lot back then, and it’s probably more relevant today. “You know very well what you are: you’re my sugar thing, my chocolate star. I’ve had a few, but not that many… But you’re the only love that gives me good and plenty.”

If you need to find more time to eat your chocolate stars, or to grow your business in a more friendly and sociable way, email me for info on 121 training sessions being held in London between now and Christmas. Or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

From the palace to a revolution, via a Jewish girl’s story of hope and survival

Having had a very Christian time recently, what with my Madonna poetry exhibition and falling in love with Jesus Christ Superstar (which has been playing on a loop most bedtimes), I’ve returned to my Jewish roots in time to celebrate the New Year.

pianistLast week, we attended one of the most touching and poignant performances I can remember witnessing.  Mona Golabek is the daughter of a young Viennese refugee who travelled to London on the Kindertransport – a train that saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish children during the Holocaust.  Mona’s mother, Lisa Jura, was a 14-year-old musical prodigy. She settled in a hostel in Willesden Lane where her piano concertos became a beacon of hope for the many displaced children sharing the home.

Mona tells Lisa’s story so beautifully in this heart wrenching one-woman show that I bought the DVD and book before we left the theatre. I don’t usually recommend books on this blog, but this time I’m making an exception: The Children of Willesden Lane.  Fast forward 80 years and the tales of refugee children are little different…

The horrors of the Holocaust and the lessons the world should have learnt from its destruction of societies stand in stark contrast to the majesty of London’s historic buildings that survived the onslaught of war.  Buckingham Palace was one such building, struck by bombs 16 times yet luckily sustaining no major damage and no serious casualties. It endured as the beautiful landmark we know today.  I read about these bombs on-line, there was no mention of them during our recent visit to see the grandeur of the State Rooms.

It’s such a wonderful building!  That’s all I can say. If you love history, architecture or London, you must visit.  The tour has closed now for the winter, so put it in your diary for next summer.  The opulence is breath-taking, as you can imagine.  On my first visit we got told off for taking photos; not sure why. I wouldn’t mind if you came to my home and snapped my ornaments and ceilings to share on Facebook. (Or would I? Actually never really gave it much thought. It surely wouldn’t count as an invasion of privacy if I charged you to come in.  And I’d bake you a blueberry muffin…)

War and opulence are two of the themes at the V&A’s new exhibition on Revolution, 1966-1970. I was a baby then, but it’s a period in which I’d have happily floated around as an adult in swirling chiffon skirts with flowers in my hair.  It’s amazing, as the V&A exhibitions usually are: feminist, sexual, cultural, musical, scientific, fashion, political activism… all the revolutions that defined that brief period and laid the foundations for today’s British society.

I went along with Brian, who was very revolutionary in a Half Man Half Biscuit kind of way when we were dating, but is now an upstanding member of the Green Party.  The explosive exhibition could have kept us riveted all afternoon, but the lure of the William Morris café was too great and pulled us away after a couple of hours. I’m going back there soon though, with Martyn the artist, so I’ll be able to read all the things I missed the first time around.  That’s the beauty of a gallery membership – I can keep popping back. Exhibition, culture, cakes…

But this week will be less about artistic culture and more about tradition. I’m making chicken soup with kneidlach to feed my family, and honey cakes to feed my friends. Wishing a very happy, sweet and healthy new year to everyone who’s celebrating, and a happy sweet and healthy week also to everyone who’s not.

As John Lennon wrote (but I prefer Tom Bailey to sing), “You say you want a revolution; well, you know – we all want to change the world. You tell me that it’s evolution; well, you know – we all want to change the world.” Yes, the world is dynamic and ever-changing and many of those changes occur today through social media.  Let’s hope that for the coming months the changes are all positive.

If you’re looking for change within your business and hope to see a brighter future for your balance sheet, call me for a chat about social media marketing. Or ask me here.

100 Madonnas, ecological improvements and better time management

I’m so excited!! This Thursday sees the launch of the 100 x Madonna art exhibition in which I am very proud to be exhibiting my poetry. If you’re not on my mailing list you may have missed my info about the launch – which is Thursday evening, 6.30-9pm at the Crypt Gallery, Euston. Wine and nibbles, art, culture, 99 hugely talented artists and me. I hope you can come along! (Aside from the art, it will be a great place to network!)

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI’ve been writing poetry since I left school but only started to publish and exhibit it fairly recently.  I also used to read copious amount of all sorts of literature, but time has taken its toll on my reading hours, and I now find it takes months to plough through a book. I’m also having trouble fitting in my online scrabble games right now… (Sorry Scrabble buddies!) I should really take one of my own time management training courses

I ran a training session last week – not time management; it was a LinkedIn improvement course with a security firm based in Shoreditch. We met in john Lewis at Westfield and snuggled up in a booth for a couple of hours with a laptop, hot chocolate and fruity flapjacks. (Then later, salmon salads. Just mentioning that in case any John Lewis staff read this and get uppity about us sitting there all morning – which I’m sure they wouldn’t as we ate lots, drank plenty and looked like happy, smiling customers.)

Westfield (Stratford) is getting better and better.  Karen and I took a mini cruise along the river that runs through the Olympic Park a couple of weeks ago.  It wasn’t long and didn’t meander far, but the tour guide gave a fantastic commentary on the development of the site and its ecological importance for London.  The improvements there – not just ecologically but also culturally, socially and retail-wise have been staggering.  I was so pleased to hear that the Tate is moving in – maybe I can exhibit there one day – that’s a nice goal to aspire to!  Sadlers Wells will also have a presence on the site – more Cuban dancers, hopefully!

I had to end this week with a few words from our present day Madonna, of course.  I chose a song from the 80s when she was at her peak. “I see you through the smoky air, can’t you feel the weight of my stare? You’re so close but still a world away.”  One major change there – we don’t look at people across smoky environments any more, thankfully!!  And the most enormous turnaround: people can be a world away but with social media we couldn’t be closer!!! I work with clients from right here in London, my home town, through Holland, Albania, dotted across America – right the way around the globe to Castlemaine, Australia! And I don’t even meed a broomstick to get there!!

If you’d like a chat about marketing your business world-wide with social media, call me today, or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.