Renee

Gatsby, Annie and dancing over Instagram

I’ve developed an unprecedented craving for pickled cucumber. No, before you ask, I’m not pregnant.  Although the time clock is ticking on that one. If I wanted another baby I’d better get a move on. I don’t though – a phrase that various members of my family will be relieved to read. It’s enough taking care of Charlie who, at the time of writing, is giving me the gift of a pigeon – delivered one feather at a time through his high-tech cat flap.  Anyway, I have two wonderful sons who will probably make me a grandmother one day soon. Aargh!! Quick!! Turn back the clock!

22290666_10155807902531255_1616715340_oTime definitely turned back this week when I took a couple of lovely teenage girls to Gatsby’s Drugstore in Borough for an immersive evening of interactive theatre. Gatsby, Daisy and Myrtle acted out their sorry story to an audience that learned to Charleston – a dance that’s close to my heart, as my grandparents were world champions!! If only they’d had Facebook and Instagram back then! They were very photogenic anyway, so with a few heel twists and swings the social media activity would have been through the roof.

aaaaaaaaaaaaTime also stood still at a performance of Annie at the Piccadilly Theatre on Thursday. Annie is the first west end show I remember seeing, aged about ten. My newly- found cousins Harry and Dorothy visited from Florida and took us for a treat. I’ve written about Harry before in this blog – he was an incredible man who led the army in to liberate Auschwitz. I didn’t know that at the time, of course. That knowledge came much later, when Adey donated the war correspondence his wife had saved, to the Washington Holocaust Museum. That theatre trip was with my dance champion grandparents too! I have one special photo from around that time; it sits on the bookcase overlooking my desk where Charlie likes to lie as I work.

22154353_10155272772033423_3738147764438839508_nOn the other side of the family, crazy cute Stephen appeared via Facebook five years ago. He’s here for a visit now, and we braved the forecast gales on Sunday to admire the cityscape from the Sky Garden. London is phenomenal from the sky, and 35 floors up you get a fabulous view of the eclectic mix of architecture and the sheer scale of the best city in the world. We’re taking time out to visit another of my favourites this week: Paris. No doubt we’ll be tweeting!

This may be twee, but I don’t know any Charleston song lyrics and it’s too early for anything Parisian. “The sun’ll come out tomorrow; bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun. Just thinking about tomorrow scares away the cobwebs and the sorrow ’til there’s none.” Hopefully the sun will be shining right across Europe this week! So, you’ll find me for the rest of this week either back at ground level in London or hanging over the Eiffel Tower in France. Or here, as usual: @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.

Landmarks, cocktails and hidden Parisian pleasure

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingGill and I like to hop around Europe every October to mark the end of sunny summer, the start of a crisp autumn, and our birthdays. This year, we chose the close proximity of Paris for our mini holiday – the aforementioned hop, plus a skip and a jump, a quick ride on Eurostar and there we were, in the city of love, culture and impressionist art.

If either Philip or Alison are reading this blog, stop now! You don’t need to know what follows…

Having spent the first evening dining in Saint Germain, the quintessentially Parisian quarter close to our hotel on Rive Gauche, we popped in to a gorgeous patisserie and chocolatier to pick up some gifts. Each having friends who love salted caramel, we bought some of the gooey stuff, beautifully presented in glass gift jars with tiny silver spoons. A couple of enormous gift bags later, satisfied with our culinary purchases, we had the sparkling idea of climbing to the top of the Eiffle Tower for a midnight hot chocolate while the on-the-hour lights glittered around us.

Throughout Paris, security is comfortingly visible. Gendarmes parade the streets with their Ruger (not so) Mini rifles clearly at the ready, and every public building requires an airport-style security check. I’ve been stopped at the airport before when an underwired bra has made a spectacle of itself, but entering a tourist attraction is generally unremarkable.  Not this time though.

“Qu’est-ce que c’est?” enquired the bemused security guard holding up the little jars, obviously hoping for the final hour of her night shift to pass without complication.

“Salted caramel sauce, obviously…”

“Hmmmmmm. Non.”

Despite our protestations, the sticky caramel intended for ice cream embellishment was a horrible security threat to the French capital, and there was no way we were being allowed onto the landmark with the scary sauces.  So what to do? We’d travelled there by taxi, it was close to midnight and we really wanted to go up.  I’m not sure now whose idea it was to hide the caramel, but that’s what we decided to do.

Laughingly, we bypassed the many street traders hawking their neon-flashing wares and walked to the darkness of some nearby bushes, growing inconspicuously between street lamps and men with ‘best price selfie-sticks.’ Glancing around to see if we were being watched, we chucked the small jars under a bush and hoped for the best.  Would they still be there when we returned? (We certainly didn’t share that information on Facebook.)

The Tower is amazing at night, with spectacular views across the city. And when we descended an hour later, we found, to our surprise and intense pleasure…. The two jars still lying beneath the bush. Not sure whether any tramps had peed on them, or drug dealers injected them with any sort of illegal substances, but we took the chance that they hadn’t and chose to ignore all possibilities of salted caramel sabotage. Nice gifts, eh?!

The holiday was wonderful, with lots of lovely French cuisine, hot chocolate, cocktails that I think cost more than Eurostar, open top bus rides, a scenic cruise, three art galleries, three churches (where I lit candles for little Joey – and thank you to everyone who sent condolences; very much appreciated). We also managed to visit all the major tourist attractions plus a couple of beautiful lesser-known ones.

Now it’s back to work in still-sunny (at the time of writing!) Angleterre, creating client blogs, ensuring people’s social media accounts are well managed and pumpkin carving.

The only French song I can think of right now is the possibly-inappropriate Lady Marmalade… Oh, oh – as I typed that another tune popped into my head!! “Flash is fast, flash is cool, Francois sais pas, Flashe no deux.” Okay, maybe that’s pushing it a bit, but I’m still in holiday mode.

Enjoy your Halloween week! And don’t forget I’m always happy to retweet your scary pics: @WeekendWitch.

Meeting my Twitter friend, sailing the high seas and losing a musical hero

I first ‘met’ Jo in 2011, through Twitter. Although I’d had the training business for many years I’d only recently branched into social media and was keen to follow some leaders in the field. Having recently moved to France and set up a similar social media management company, Jo was a couple of months ahead of me. She seemed to be doing similar projects, tweeting similar stuff and had a similar work ethos to me, so we connected and shared info online.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingAfter a while we became friends on Facebook, sharing more personal stuff than on Twitter – and on LinkedIn, where it tends to stay work-related. Then when Jo expanded into ebook formatting, she created my ebook (and will be doing another three for me this year). But, as is often the case with social media, we hadn’t connected in the real world. Until now.

With the Biz Matters event taking place in London, Jo popped over for a couple of days – and at last we met! In the sumptuous surrounding of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel we enjoyed a lavish breakfast before she caught the Eurostar back to Paris for her trip home to the lovely French countryside, where her two dogs and cat were keeping her laptop warm. It was brilliant!!

I missed Biz Matters. The London Boat Show was calling instead – this was a first!! Being a Scorpio it’s normal that I have an affinity with water. I drink three litres a day, wander along the beach in all extremes of weather and love nothing better than lazing on the bank of a meandering river writing poetry and watching the boats (and swans) sail by. Yet I’ve never had an urge to sail, until now. It’s funny how someone else’s passion can rub off on you, and a trip to the Channel Islands handling our own rudder and boom is now on the agenda for this year. (Actually there are some things I love more than the riverbank…)

With feet firmly back on terra firma, Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingyesterday’s afternoon tea at The Langham was both elegant and delicious. High Tea in the Palm Court consists of not just the usual melt-in-your-mouth scones with clotted cream and jam, to-die-for sandwich and broche selection and dainty, artwork cakes and pastries… it includes a rather large course in the middle – mine was a flaky tart (such as I have once or twice been described myself!) filled with spinach and mushroom in a creamy sauce, a poached egg balanced atop with a certain degree of flair.

One of the marks of a truly classy eaterie is its policy to offer more and more food and, in this, The Langham excels. The waiters constantly proffered more, filling my stomach to the point where I expected a Violet Beauregarde incident, somewhat like I had witnessed at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last week at the Theatre Royal.

Travelling home on the underground from The Langham I read an outstanding article in The Sunday Times written by Mary Finnigan, one-time landlady and lover of David Bowie. She’s published her memoirs, and I said at the time that I would be buying that today. Waking up to the shattering news that one of my all-time music heroes has left this earth has upset me tremendously, and my Facebook feed was filled with shock and sadness at his untimely exit. The show may be over, but Bowie’s legacy will outlive us all.

“I, I wish you could swim like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim. Though nothing, nothing will keep us together… we can beat them, for ever and ever.” Goodnight Starman, sleep well. X

 

Setting goals, being kind & harmonising the middle east (with brunch)

Two statements currently run hand-in-hand: happy new year – and have you made any resolutions?  Well, I wish you a new year that’s happy, healthy, prosperous and successful – and not just for January either, but for the whole twelve months.

I’m not asking about your resolutions.  After all, aren’t they just a humorous means of reminding ourselves and our friends of previous shortcomings?  On new year’s day I could have told you with absolute certainty that I would be opening my mail every day, remembering to take my vitamins and cutting back on the chocolate overload.  In less than a week I can’t quite quote those determined statements with an absolute degree of honesty, nor would I want to.  I know my chocolate willpower’s not stable enough to make it a thing, and I refuse to set myself up to fail.

Business, on the other hand, certainly does benefit from a written list of resolutions.  And I say written, as it’s well proven that the goals we set in writing are far more achievable than those we say, however true we intend to be to our convictions.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingSo, have you set your intentions for this year?  Are your business goals (and life ones for that matter) realistic?  Is it reasonable to believe you can achieve them during 2016?  Have you set end dates for each task you wish to complete?  Silly to say, perhaps, but isn’t a goal without a date just a dream?  Qualify your aims into long- and short-term timescales, keep them specific and set time limits.  I’m happy to help if you’re finding it hard to focus.

As expected, my lead up to new year involved a lot of lovely food.  One brunch worth mentioning was at the trendy new branch of Ottolenghi in Spitalfields – and not simply for the delicious food.  Yotam Ottolenghi and his partner Sami Tamimi shared their childhoods in Jerusalem, and create works of ‘edible anthropology’ using recipes from both Palestinian and Jewish cultures.   These talented chefs represent the two halves of Jerusalem, one raised in the west by Jewish parents; the other born and bred on the east side, living within a large Arab family.  Both grew up amidst good home cooking and brought their love of excellent food and creative recipes to London.

What a fantastic example of two waring cultures joining together in harmony for the hedonistic pleasure of feeding the discerning public.  Food unifies, it provides nourishment and makes people happy.  If only Ottolenghi and Tamimi could transfer the philosophy of their business model into a political manifesto, the world might become a better place.

At the opposite end of the London food scene, my friend Andrew spent nine days feeding homeless people at Crisis.  A hot meal, a warm bed, a safe and secure environment to spend the holiday season – luxuries that most of us take for granted.   Let’s hope that 2016 is a safer, kinder place for everyone. Live happily, fulfil your potential and achieve your dreams.

Ralph McTell wrote these words over 40 years ago.  While everything’s changed, in some respects nothing’s changed.  ‘How can you tell me you’re lonely, and say for you that the sun don’t shine?  Well let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London; I’ll show you something to make you change your mind.’

I spend an awful lot of time in London and love love love its dynamic, cosmopolitan atmosphere and eclectic mix of architecture, galleries, walks and restaurants.  There’s too much that’s fantastic to end the first blog of the year pondering Ralph McTell’s sadly enduring words.  But let’s not forget them, and – hopefully – 2016 will be kind to everyone.

‘People so busy, makes me feel dizzy, taxi light shines so bright.  But I don’t need no friends… As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset I am in paradise.’  We all need friends – make yours here.  Or here: @WeekendWitch.

Fashion week, reminiscing with Jeff Banks and being in the spotlight

It was so hot at the Graduate Fashion Week in every sense of the word.  It was especially hot sitting at the front of the catwalk!  While the spotlights were trained on the models and Gok Wan, they managed to encompass us too.  Luckily our goody bags included a bottle of cold chocolate milk; unluckily (for those sitting around us) I cooled down by taking off my dress… Aubergine silk is far too warm against skin under the glare of the super-troupers.

It was an awesome show with fashion graduates from around the country presenting their capsule collections in the hope of securing a £10,000 prize and – better still – a plum job in the fashion industry.  I love being there! The energy level is so high and the students’ excitement rubs off on everyone.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingThe champagne is always flowing in the VIP suite, but this year was the added bonus of a delicious looking buffet.  It was so nice I tweeted it. Being the first person to greedily help myself to a plate of perfectly pink, cold roast lamb and a beautiful pale green salad of avocado, asparagus, peas and edamame, I thought it polite to take a restrained portion initially then creep back for seconds after other people had eaten.  Only that didn’t happen.

Within seconds of sitting back down, two official and very cross looking waitresses marched in with a large trolley and methodically removed the platters with lightning speed.  As they prepared to march back out, one reported into her walkie-talkie, “This buffet was taken to the VIP suite by mistake instead of to the judges’ room.  We’re on our way!!”  And off they scooted, glaring at my half-filled plate with unbridled annoyance.  It was like Stringfellows all over again – only this time I didn’t put the food back.  (Didn’t tweet that!)

I had the good fortune to bump into fashion designer Jeff Banks, whose clothes graced my wardrobe throughout the eighties.  There was a branch of Warehouse at Oxford Circus that I had to pass to get to the station, and the knitwear collection had a habit of calling me in.  In the nineties he worked with my mum, creating the Thomas Burberry collection.  Marion remembers him sending my mum a huge bouquet but I’d forgotten that.  He remembered though!

Congratulations to all the Graduate Fashion Week participants, finalists and, of course, the winners – especially the winner of the George Gold Prize!  That talented lady, Hannah Wallace, wins a nice wad of cash and will have her collection on sale later this year in Asda.  (Thank you Mark, for the invitation.  (See, I can spell your name right!))

Another talented lady who deserves a mention this week is Oli’s friend Rebekah Miron Clayton.  An emerging scriptwriter and poet, Rebekah’s work has been selected by a panel including Quentin Blake to be published in The Mays Anthology 2015!  It’s a huge achievement for a university student with a packed timetable, especially during exam season!

Agnetha said, “I was sick and tired of everything when I called you last night from Glasgow.  All I do is eat and sleep and sing, wishing every show was the last show.” I sometimes feel like that’s all I do too, but replace eat with work for a more accurate scenario, and make it ‘sing badly’ for complete authenticity.  And I always crave the next show.  (So nothing like that at all, really…)

I have no plans to visit Glasgow but I’ll be working in Edinburgh this week, then staying with Marion in the beautiful Scottish Borders.  If you’re north of Hadrian’s Wall you might see me there.  Or, as always, you can see me here: @WeekendWitch.

Three awards, a pool party and strawberry daiquiris in the purple rain

One of the best things about my job is sharing in celebrations with happy clients!  So Thursday night’s award ceremony for Nordens was quite amazing.  Where most accountants are still stereotyped as boring number-crunchers with grey suits and sensible shoes, the team at Nordens are such fun.  It’s a dynamic firm with a bunch of funny, brilliant people who thoroughly deserve their accolades.

I wrote three award nominations for the company and they waltzed off with… three awards!!  When the first was announced – training firm of the year – Sharon, the practice manager, scooped me up and took me on stage with the team to collect the trophy.  It was tempting to sing; we have karaoked together in the past and our history of Billy, don’t be a hero predates our working relationship!  (Yes, yes, I know karaoke is not a verb, but it should be!)

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingThe company has been highly commended repeatedly, and Joe – a very cute accountant – added yet another winner’s trophy to his collection for outstanding young accountant of the year.  (No, I’m not on commission…)  I spent a lot of the evening posting on Facebook and tweeting – that’s what social media’s there for, right?!

We carried on celebrating at the weekend with a fantastic pool party.  Pleased to say I didn’t fall in, even when dancing pretty close to the edge.  Again, no karaoke (to everyone’s relief) but lots of singing along with the band.  It had been a long time since I’d drunk strawberry daiquiris so I was very excited to see the barman whizzing up a pink mush in his blender.  The glass was freezing; quite different to my first one, which I still remember clearly…

I was 15 then, and staying with cousins in Florida.  They ordered my first daiquiri, then my second – and maybe a third, I can’t remember all the details.  But several (!!) years later it remains a drink that brings back precious memories. (Although I’m sure it was creamier back then?)

I haven’t seen those cousins for a while, but the crazy Vegas boy has been in London for a flying visit.  (The cousin I met on facebook.)  We spent the day in Cambridge, eating pasties and clotted cream (not together), finding spooky artworks and wandering through the filtered sunshine.  Surprisingly, he avoided splashing into the water on Saturday night.  He left before I started dancing too, taking his Hawaiian garland and English accent back to America.  (Bye bye Stephen, see you in November!)

The band finished their set with a song that holds lots of memories too (not of underage drinking): “I only wanted one time to see you laughing.  I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain.”  Laugh, celebrate, have fun, win things.  Then tell people about it on social media! If you need help with any of this, give me a call.  Or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Heart-warming acts of heroism, bingo and a happy birthday wish

The Soldiering On Through Life Trust Awards is one of my favourite nights of the year.  Which is weird, as it generally involves tears.  A group of deserving ex-military men and women are nominated by various charities to recognise and honour their outstanding achievements, despite having suffered horrible injuries during their service.  Sometimes those achievements are heroic; sometimes they’re simply inspirational and heart-warming.

This was my third year celebrating the awards and it just gets better each year.  I work with an amazing team that organises and delivers a perfect function and we’ve become somewhat of an extended family.  I had no previous military ties, so my work here has been an eye-opener in so many ways.

Biggins and me in days gone by...

Biggins and me in days gone by…

The evening at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel is always glitzy.  Celebrities present the awards and dance the night away – well the part from 11pm onwards anyway.  It was my idea to invite Christopher Biggins to co-present with Anne Diamond this year – one of my (rare?) good ideas that the team snapped up.  I’d seen him perform at last year’s Life after Stroke Awards – another charity close to my heart.  He’s a lovely man – what you see is what you get.  It’s a quality I really like in people.  Many of the award-winners share it too; after everything they’ve been through they have no time for pretence.

Antony Costa headlined the entertainment – and he was great!  The dancefloor was packed during his whole set. I didn’t remember that he and Blue sang ‘One Love’ so I was hugely excited to be able to sing along.   That’s what comes of attending a Taittinger champagne reception – a verging-on-drunken-dancefloor-karaoke!  That reception was extra special for me too, as Oliver performed magic there to a crowd of 500.

But celebrities aside, the stars of the evening were the amazing award winners, who blew everyone away with their incredible stories of courage and inspiration.  I spent my time during the ceremony tweeting their photos and posting onto Facebook as they proudly accepted their trophies.  If you’re interested, you can see their videos here.  Spare ten minutes for them if you can; grab a coffee and a tissue and get comfortable.

Sharon and me in days gone by...

Sharon and me in days gone by…

I spent Sunday night at a charity event too – albeit on a smaller scale and without the razzamatazz!  It was bingo!!  I attended that one with my cousin Sharon so it was just as much fun. And I won a fiver!  Sharon and I grew up being the slowest eaters in the room (and made no exception on Sunday) – but we were both pretty quick when faced with chocolate.  One of our enduring shared memories is a family road trip where we spent six hours eating sugar sandwiches and singing Seasons in the Sun. I’m lucky to have found a friend who can play that on the guitar, so we’re looking forward to an opportunity to do that again.  Possibly at a party we’re both invited to next month…

Marion and me in days gone by...

Marion and me in days gone by…

While I was doing my stuff on Sunday, Marion, my lovely social media assistant, was celebrating her birthday.  So I’m taking this opportunity to say happy birthday and thank you so much for all your hard work! You do a fab job and it’s greatly appreciated!! When Sharon and I get that guitar we will happily serenade you with a rendition of Terry Jacks – or maybe something a little more cheerful.  Julia and Co, probably.

As tempting as it is to end with Terry Jacks’ lyrics, the awesome people I met on Saturday night are too inspiring for a dreary song.  These words by Heather Small and Peter Vettese are far more appropriate: ‘I step out of the ordinary, I can feel my soul ascending.  I’m on my way, can’t stop me now and you can do the same!  What have you done today to make you feel proud?  It’s never too late to try – what have you done today to make you feel proud?  If you’ve done something that makes you proud, tell me here – I’m always happy to share: @WeekendWitch.

A world before Facebook, out of charge and Kate Bush on speed

When I was eight months pregnant, Gill and I sold the flat we’d lived in together while we were both single.  I loved that flat; we had loads of fun and I have so many happy – and funny – memories of Kingswood Road.  During the sales process, I had to go there for some reason.  I can’t remember why, but it felt sad to go back to a home that had been rented out for three years to people who’d abused it.

Now an empty and unloved property; I wandered around the rooms hearing the echoes of our laughter and felt wistful.  Then I felt a twinge.  Could it be early labour or simply a sudden urge to pee…?  Either way, there was no way I was going near the bathroom – the tenants had left it in a right old state.   And smack bang out of the azure blue a more recent memory flashed by of Gill talking about a problem with the lock on the front door.  And yes…. I was trapped!

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingHotel California without the pink champagne; Rapunzel without the hair.  My mobile had less than 3% of battery left and I was about to give birth.  A frantic call to Gill and she – thankfully – was able to call the estate agent to rush round with the key and rescue me.  Only my ordeal wasn’t over.  As I sat panicking on the window ledge I saw the man appear around the corner – and he saw me.  Waving my arms in the air like Kate Bush on speed, he thought I was telling him my problem was solved.  He assumed I hadn’t been able to get IN, and all was now well in the world.  I can still feel how my stomach sank as he smiled and waved, turning on his heel and vanishing back from whence he’d come.

My 1% of battery got me through to Gill who, when she’d stopped laughing, called the agent again; lo and behold I was rescued.  Clearly this was before the days of social media.  I’d have been tweeting for my life (two lives!) in that situation, and I like to think a few Facebook friends would have charged on their white stallions, hopefully bringing a stash of emergency chocolate.

This story has nothing to do with anything, but it serves as a constant reminder to keep my phone charged.  Running a Plain English Business Writing session last week, nine people out of ten had their phones on charge – me included. After all, no phone, no Facebook – right?

Not being able to access Facebook on your phone is one thing; having it but not knowing how to maximise it for business is another.  If you’d like some help, feel free to ask me there: Imaginative Training for Social Media.

Don Henley obviously knew my plight.  ‘Mirrors on the ceiling, pink champagne on ice… And she said, “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.”’  Well, no one has to be a prisoner when they have social media – the whole world’s open and waiting to do business with you.  Find out how: @WeekendWitch.

PS: Have a lovely Easter if you’re celebrating this week. Enjoy your chocolate bunnies!!  And happy Passover if you’re celebrating that – have a wonderful, delicious dinner.  (I’ll be doing both!)

Recruitment parties, GOSH and Diamond Lights at TalkSPORT

When my friend Robert wrote Diamond Lights for the football duo Hoddle and Waddle he probably had no idea that it would go on to be recorded by a host of celebrities over the next couple of decades.  The latest incantation is by two TalkSPORT presenters, Andy Goldstein and Jason Cundy, and aims to raise a whole load of dosh for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingNow, not being a sports fan I hadn’t heard of the radio station’s dynamic duo, but I definitely know GOSH, having stayed there for a few weeks with my son following his stroke.  So I’m very pleased to help promote this fantastic single!  You can watch it here on TalkSport’s website   or go straight to iTunes to download it. It’s fab!!!

 

Robert and I met on Twitter.  We tweeted, we chatted, we facebooked, we linked in on Linkedin and finally, we met – and we’ve been friends ever since.  Long standing friends and family though I’d gone bonkers when I announced that a stranger I’d met on twitter was coming to my home for dinner, but he turned out to be not an axe murderer at all.

There is obviously a clear line that you shouldn’t cross on social media though.  After all, we’re constantly fed horror stories of dating disasters, professional-appearing businesses that turn out to be as dodgy as Del and terrifying stories from around the globe.  But, with a little common sense, it’s perfectly possible to create solid relationships on-line.  Just please stay aware…

Whether Robert thinks I’m completely nuts is another story.   He came over once to give Ben a masterclass in songwriting and I gave a rendition of Fleetwood Mac in my dreadful tone-deaf voice; it’s enough to make anyone retreat quickly into the relatively safer world of online chat.

This week brings four parties – three for Christmas and one for Geoff, who is leaving his job after about 30 years.  We met in 1988 when I worked in recruitment and supplied staff for his enormous team at the local council.   He later employed me as the Plain English Consultant to train local government staff to write clearly, without jargon and in a way ordinary people could understand.  That contract set me on the road to starting my own business, so I have a lot to thank Geoff for! (Thank you Geoff!)

As I’m typing this I’m remembering a Christmas party where Geoff was recovering from knee surgery.  Forgetting about that, I dragged him onto the dance floor and, being too much of a gentleman to complain, he limp danced in agony.  (Sorry Geoff!)  Someone mentioned yesterday that my whole working life seems to have been one big party… can’t complain about that!

That particular party was many moons ago, but my delightful voice was on show there too, as I sang back-up for Carol in front of 150 bemused clients.  And I do still remember the song!!  “They say our love won’t pay the rent, before it’s earned our money’s all been spent…”

If your love’s not paying the rent and you’d like a business boost in 2015 to increase your visibility across the web, call me today for a chat. We can talk about running a sparkling social media management campaign for the new year.  My number is 020 8551 7077, or you can tweet me: @WeekendWitch.