Renee

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.

A recipe for social media, stardust and a lyrical Welsh witch

I’ve been working with some fantastic businesses over the past few weeks, helping them to get more out of their social media.  This week’s training combined two of my favourite things: arts and cakes!

On Tuesday, I visited Eat Work Art, a community of artists and designers housed together in a converted factory in the gentrified part of Hackney. It was such fun!!  Once I’d finished revamping Louise’s LinkedIn profile she gave me a tour of the studios.  I always love watching artists at work, and there were plenty of them in their hubs that day, sketching, painting, making wonderful creations out of tatty bits of fabric.

The conversion includes an outside market square with a few niche shops and a very cool café.  I’m happy to train my clients anywhere, but spaces that serve chai latte with raspberry and ricotta cheesecake win every time.

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Vanilla Orchid’s gorgeous Vogue cakes

This theme of cakes cakes cakes continued into Thursday, when the owner of Vanilla Orchid Bakery arrived for her social media training with a freshly baked lemon drizzle just for me!  I’d like to ask for the recipe but it’s always so much nicer to receive as a gift.  And the same day, another client sent me a jar of Nutella – how cool is that to receive through your letterbox?!

But that evening I was sad to read that Alvin has gone to sprinkle his stardust in the heavens above; his black gloves coo-ca-chooing over the mortal world below.  (Or whatever it was that he did in the 70s).  Eating my cake with chocolate spread for dinner cheered me up though.

I grew up in a block of flats where everyone Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingknew everyone, and all the kids played in the gardens and surrounding streets until 11 o’clock each night without fear of being abducted or attacked.  Alvin Stardust’s manager lived two floors above us and, in the summer when a few of us danced and sang Leader of the Pack on a continuous loop, Alvin would come down to join us kicking the football around.  I’ve got hundreds of old photos stored in a huge trunk in my attic but I don’t think there are many from those days.  Unlike today… it’s hard to remember a world without Pinterest or Instagram.

There will be photos this week.  Yes, I’ll be around on Friday night with my witch’s hat and cauldron of spicy pumpkin soup, turning some tricks and dishing out some treats. Maybe I’ll put pics on Facebook.

You might already know that Stevie Nicks is one of my favourite artists.  I wrote about her last year.  Rumours of her links to witchcraft abound, and her beautiful lyrics are copyright of Welsh Witch Music – a company named in recognition of the lady in this song… Do you know her name?  “Would you stay if she promised you heaven?  Will you ever win?  She is like a cat in the dark and then she is the darkness.  She rules her life like a fine skylark and when the sky is starless… All your life you’ve never seen, woman taken by the wind.”

Hopefully wind, rain or thunder won’t take me away on Friday; I’ll still be here: @WeekendWitch.

Diving, believing and a conversation with Karren Brady

In Marbella this week for a friend’s wedding, I decided to take up a new hobby: scuba diving!!  I’m still feeling pretty pleased with myself.  It’s one of those things I’d always believed I could never do, mainly because I can just about doggy paddle a width and don’t even get my face wet in the shower.  Yet I’ve always wanted to swim like a mermaid, with hair gracefully swirling around and angel fish weaving through my legs.

One of my favourite quotes is Henry Ford’s – whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re probably right.  So I changed my mindset into believing I CAN!!  I CAN dive.  I CAN get my face wet, I CAN wear flippers without laughing, I CAN descend to the bottom, weighted and possibly not as elegantly as Ariel, but this was just my first lesson after all! [Read more…]

Corporate branding, inappropriate behaviour and following the dream

A weird thing came over me on Tuesday: I had a sudden urge to clear out my wardrobes in the middle of my working day.  Trancelike, I climbed the stairs.  Then, like a woman possessed, I began a three hour tirade of climbing up and down the step ladder and chucking stuff around the room.  Amongst the treasures I recovered from the wardrobe tops was a bag of Steven’s old press cuttings.

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Original press releases

I married a child actor thinking I’d live the celebrity lifestyle.  Of course, he wasn’t a child when we met – behaves like it sometimes though!  [Read more…]

Naughty pics, number one for business and the dog’s Bar Mitzvah

Some of my most prolific posts this week have been nothing to do with work at all.  I belong to a Facebook group for people who grew up in this area – I haven’t moved far.  I like it here.  So someone irritated me by criticising the way the locality has changed since the 80s.  Obviously it’s different – the demographic has shifted, housing estates have replaced some of the open spaces and streets are dirtier – no different to any other part of London. [Read more…]

Facebook invitations, personal rebranding and fun on the farm

I’ve been working with a graphic designer and artist named Martyn – he does the pictures, I do the words.  On Tuesday, Martyn invited me to venture out for the day into deepest darkest Essex to visit a potential client together.  It was a glorious day – the sun shone brightly as we wasted time sharing secrets on a bench overlooking the estuary, the water sparkling and gulls swooping overhead.  I like to think that at this point I looked professional yet maybe a little pre-Raphaelitic in my long purple silk dress and very high stilettos.  (Martyn hates the pre-Raphaelites by the way, it’s one thing we disagree on.)  So wandering off to our business meeting, I wasn’t quite prepared for what was to follow… [Read more…]

Shiny latex, retro Brighton and being surprisingly good for you

London Fashion Week is a melting pot of flamboyancy and character, with sombre models parading future seasons’ ranges to an audience lucky enough to have grabbed the gold dust tickets.  Our front row seats at Meadham Kirchhoff were close enough to touch the elegant models in their floaty, delicately printed chiffons- teamed with something akin to shiny latex or satin… I couldn’t be sure what it was, but the effect was stunning, if somewhat a little weird.  Wasn’t so keen on the veiled faces – reminded me a bit of the Handmaid’s Tale for the 21st century, but the show was pure class. [Read more…]

Effective social media training, dynamic London and firing up bagels at midnight

You asked and I listened. Small businesses that weren’t in a position to invest in one-to-one training asked if I could run group sessions in London, so I said yes! And now February’s session: “Social Media for Business – all you need to know to get up and running” is SOLD OUT!

The next available session is on March 26th and will explain how social media is a powerful marketing tool to help you grow your business. It’s a busy day full of comprehensive and practical instruction to set you up on, and show you how to make the most of, LinkedIn, Facebook Pages, Twitter and Pinterest. [Read more…]

Networking through LinkedIn, going underground, and designer lunches in London

A man I’d never met before came up to me: “Didn’t I see you in that film…?”  No, I don’t think he did, but it made for an interesting start to another morning of networking in the glamorous and tempting Grosvenor Casino.  Tom, an actor and presentation skills coach, invited me to join him afterwards for coffee.   

How have I never before eaten in the beautiful Victoria and Albert Museum?! Its restaurant is completely fabulous and is my new favourite place for both lunch and cream tea. If you pop in to a couple of the exhibition halls in between you can easily do both. There’s also a lovely rhododendron-edged garden café with a water feature to paddle in (if that’s your thing).  Or you can wallow in the William Morris-designed gothic renaissance-style dining hall overlooked by massive crystal ball chandeliers. [Read more…]

Facebook fundraising, mail order cakes and being out of Twitter touch

I took a rare afternoon off this week, to visit beautiful Canterbury Cathedral.  What a treat the whole city was – ancient, cobbledy alleyways boxed in by an eclectic array of fantastic architecture dating from Tudor to modern; almost every other building housing a tea shop.  The cathedral is fantastic (if you like that sort of thing – I do, but I know some of you don’t).  So I won’t go into detail about the Romanesque nave, delicate vaulted arches and English perpendicular gothic features, as some of my friends will fall asleep – but I do love architecture and I’m thinking now about studying it for my next degree, then maybe lecturing… [Read more…]