Monday, 29 July 2013

Bullet points, French bites and a social media merry-go-round

I was so proud of Oli on Friday when he gave a talk to 150 people at a conference at the British Film Institute.  He’s funny, charming and very cool, modestly receiving the loudest claps of all the speakers.  It’s been quite some time since I’ve run any presentation skills workshops, but he definitely wouldn’t have needed that – he’s a natural.  Although – rewind – he did say afterwards that I was right about him at least having some bullet points jotted down, as he did forget to chat about a couple of things he’d planned to impart – nothing important though, luckily.

I’d never been inside the BFI before.  I always thought I wouldn’t have the patience to watch a subtitled film, but I’m addicted to Sunday nights’ The Returned on ITV.  I only know two other people who watch it but, actually, you forget you’re reading the words.  It’s done wonders for my French – I can sometimes even recognise when sentences have been shortened, presenting us multi-linguistically challenged English speaking viewers with condensed versions of the actual spoken language.  So if anyone would like to take me to see a French film now, I will happily go.  Try anything once, anyway.

It was fantastic wandering along Southbank after the conference. It’s been revamped over the past year and there are loads of decked areas among shady trees where you can sit in a deckchair with a drink and a burrito, reading your book or simply soaking up the sun.  Jubilee Gardens is landscaped now and it’s really very tranquil lying on the grass and gazing above the tourists’ heads to watch the London Eye slowly turning against a cloudless sky.
Imaginative Training social media blogWe childishly joined the queue for the Victorian-style carousel and laughed the whole way round as our prettily painted horses bobbed up and down.  I told him about the time Gill and I went on one in Leicester Square on our way to a red carpet film premiere.  She worked in film PR in the eighties so we went to loads of fantastic film events.  I was in fashion then, and wearing a long billowing skirt from a Paris collection sample sale.  J’étais à la mode alors, et vêtu d’une longue jupe gonflée d’une collection vente d’échantillons Paris. (In case anyone would like French subtitles !)

That merry-go-round wasn’t aimed at children – it was quite late in the evening – and it zoomed around so fast we couldn’t catch our breath.  My skirt blew up to cover my face so all I could feel was the wind blasting at me – and it seemed to never end.  We got off dizzy and laughing, with hair and clothes all over the place.  Another example of how we missed out on social media sharing in those days.

I think that was the time we saw Robert Powell and couldn’t remember his name, although Gill knew he was Jesus of Nazareth.  We definitely didn’t look like red carpet attendees after the carousel, more like victims of some biblical plague!  Bit like today, for me.  I spend most of the summer smelling of a mix between citronella and petroleum. I couldn’t use more anti-midge spray on my arms and legs if I tried – but still the little buggers attack me.   People laughed when I wrote on Facebook this week that something invisible flew down my top and chewed me seven times.  It’s not pretty.

I’m not a huge fan of old-time musicals (apart from The King and I, and Seven Brides), so I didn’t realise this came from Carousel:  Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone.
You’ll never walk alone if you follow me.  Here I am: @WeekendWitch.

Thanks to Cybermyth 13 for the Flickr pic

Monday, 22 July 2013

Media royalty, gone to the dogs and a ruined sex life

This week’s feature on me in the local paper’s business section is a great improvement on last time. It doesn’t quite paint me as the next Martha Lane Fox or Michelle Mone but it does give a reasonably clear account of my business.

If you missed it, it talks more about my work training companies to write in plain English than it does about social media marketing. I guess the editor took a view that it’s more niche – after all, there are bucket loads of social media consultancies in London. Mine’s different. Seventeen years’ experience of running a business plus ten years in corporate employment means my clients benefit from a wider marketing perspective.

Last time I was in the newspaper my photo was on the front page, to the right of the main headline in a column titled something like ‘What’s inside’ with small print mentioning me and the page number. That would have been quite nice, had the main headline (right next to my face) not screamed out ‘Doctor ruined my sex life!’

Imaginative Training | Social media blog
Thanks to the Ilford Recorder for pics

I can’t remember the story now, but some poor person had had a vasectomy that went wrong, or something like that. Definitely nothing to do with me. His photo was below the article and mine was next to it, so I’m sure some people must have thought it was me.  It still makes us laugh… (Graphic designers and typesetters take note!)

Not sure about this journalist’s decision to headline me as a ‘Battling mum’ – that’s not quite the businesswoman image I like to portray. Although I guess there’s a bit of the Boudicca about that, which I do like. Former Queen of Essex…? Well, I do have media links with royalty (not social media!). My other newsworthy day was being...

Imaginative Training | Social media blog
Working in my garden…

caught on camera with Prince William, in an embarrassing fiasco with no make up and my hair in a scrunchie. Being shown on BBC news wasn’t my finest moment. The prince was very charming but I totally looked like I’d gone to the dogs. It was amazing that the Telegraph managed to knock ten years off my age; wonder how that happened…

And now I really have gone to the dogs!! We spent Friday night at a greyhound track in the heart of Essex (not too far from Boudicca’s kingdom, actually). First time I’ve been for years and not quite as glamorous as a day at Ascot (which I’ve never done by the way) but such fun. Although, we were a little bitchy about some of the dogs – too tall, too small, spindly legs, too spotty – reminded me a bit of nights out at the Ilford Palais…

Some didn’t look too impressed at having to run around after a mechanical rabbit (no, Sue!) and tried to wander off to lay in the 85 degrees evening sunshine. And one looked really miserable with its tail between its legs – I’d never actually seen that before and it’s kind of weird to see a metaphor come to life. It was really too hot for the dogs, and too hot for me.

Mrs Loud knows what to do. “Will you cater to every fantasy I’ve got? Will you hose me down with holy water if I get too hot? Will you take me places I’ve never known?” I can take you places! Just follow me here: @WeekendWitch.

(Thanks to inyourfaceblogspot for sharing the Boudicca painting.  It’s all over the net but I can’t see who painted it!)

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Cultural dynamism, making law and being blown away

Wednesday was one of the most gloriously hot days we’ve seen in London this year, so imagine my surprise to emerge from Westminster Station and be almost blown into the Thames by an almighty gust of wind! My balance isn’t marvellous at the best of times, and my shoes were high and pointy… I almost ended up in the lap of a donut seller; the smile on his face was picture perfect.

I’d been invited to Parliament to speak to a bunch of politicians about childhood stroke. Along with my friends Liz, Nancy and a delegation from the Stroke Association’s awareness group, we enjoyed some delicious creamy cakes in the elegant Members’ Dining Room – made me think that there really are some positives to becoming a politician. Seriously… I would love to be a law-maker. There would be no more nonsense in this country if I was in charge for a few weeks, that’s for sure. The afternoon was a huge success. We met interesting people and got our message across that kids have strokes. If only I’d had the forethought to brush my hair before the official photos!
Social media blog | Imaginative Training and Development Ltd
The journey home was vile in that 100˚ heat. I moaned about the underground recently here, so I won’t remind you of the thousands of people squashed together and sweating on each other in conditions reminiscent of the Victorian age. I’m sure some were passed out but remained upright as there simply wasn’t room to fall. However, while we’re on the subject, I did post on Facebook last week about a delightful morning journey in which the woman indiscreetly breastfeeding opposite me caught the attention of the man sitting next to me who joyfully started to touch himself!! London really is a super place to work!

Actually, it really is – London is fantastic!! You won’t find a more diverse, cultural, historic, dynamic, architecturally beautiful capital anywhere in this world. The City of London festival runs for another week, with free art and cultural events happening all over the place – most of my friends don’t even know about it and it’s right on our doorstep. But that’s the beauty of social media. I follow what’s going on through Twitter and retweet the best stuff.

Gill’s going to Maxwell’s in Covent Garden today. They don’t appear to be on Twitter but they do have a Facebook page, although it’s not updated all that often. We spent many summer evenings there in the 80’s, when it was a novelty having lettuce in your burger. The vibrant atmosphere typified everything that was brash and bold back then and we loved it!!

Something else that’s bold (and may be brash, too soon to say) is the Olympic Park redevelopment. I attended a networking evening this week in a hotel overlooking the park, with a wonderful barbecue (lettuce on the burgers, melon and everything!!), free flowing Pimms and, unlike last year, I didn’t trip up and accidentally grab anyone’s willy.  Anyway, Newham’s regeneration officers pointed out the new skyline and it’s going to be like another impressive, high tech mini Canary Wharf. Lots of business opportunities there. And burger bars.

So, a visit to Parliament and major skyline changes to London in one week. Tom Bailey (who smiled down on me as I slept in 1983) was quite right in saying, Have you heard the rumour going ’round? There’s gonna be big changes in this town. And there’ll be no more fighting, no more fuss – you’d better listen to us… (Have you heard that love, love, love is the law?)

It’s not the law that you follow on Twitter, but I’d love it @WeekendWitch

Monday, 8 July 2013

Writing lyrics, pounding the rocks and strengthening your SEO


Imaginative Training | Social media blog
Lots of annoyed comments by email about the lack of lyrics last week!  It’s weird how people email or Facebook message rather than writing directly on the blog – why is that?  Aside from anything else, if you have a business website, engaging in a blog conversation is an excellent source of backlinks, which strengthen your search engine optimisation (SEO).

I am sorry.  There’s nothing else I can say.  I wrote the blog quite late at night, I was excited about my date the following evening (not a date… NOT a date!!) and I simply forgot.  I did realise on Monday when I checked my twitter feed, and it was a toss-up whether or not to add something.  But I decided it would be a good test to see if anyone actually notices, and – oh yes, people noticed.

To live without my music would be impossible to do, cause in this world of trouble, my music sees me through.  Ok now?  How awful would a world without music be?!  What if it really died??  I don’t even know what a levee is, never mind where to find one to drive to.  By the way, I have absolutely no idea why that John Miles song popped into my head; I haven’t heard it for years, as far as I know.  Unless maybe my subconscious picked it up playing in the tiny county pub we visited this evening, or driving home to Magic FM.

There’s a fine line between lyrics and poetry.  Or perhaps an overlap.  Ben’s asked me again to write lyrics to accompany his music for the new hand-carved zebrawood Bellucci guitar, with mother of pearl inlay on the Macassar ebony fingerboard and intricate gold plated tuners.  It’s a beautiful piece of marquetry – a fantastic creation that’s way more work of art than functional instrument.  He loves it with a passion, so I guess my lyrics need to live up to that.  I’ve made a promise to come up with something this month.  It will make a change from writing clients’ blogs and press releases.

In the meantime, I’ve written the poem that is being displayed in two art exhibitions later this year, and my wonderful artist friend Martyn is busy this week incorporating it into his painting.  It’s a tale of broken love and heartbreak… short, bittersweet, abrupt.  The first exhibition will be held in Cornwall, that wild and rugged county that epitomises everything I love about the English landscape.

I’ll go down for the opening, any excuse to be by the sea!  In fact I’m going to Lyme Regis in a couple of weeks, not too far from Cornwall.  I won’t be fossil hunting this time, just a spot of French Lieutenant’s Woman–type wandering along the beach at dusk.  But I’m thinking that if the mood is right I might go back later this year to write my novel.  I love working with waves pounding the rocks and I’ll be more inclined to concentrate if I’m away from my normal routine.  Or maybe that will be the perfect lyrical inspiration…

So, back to where we started – feel free to comment below.  I’ll just sit here in the Green garden listening to music while I’m waiting.  Got a little radio, held it to my body.   I can feel your back beat boy, moving a muscle of love.  Turn it up and press it – I don’t understand it.  I can feel your message boy, calling me over and out.  Send me your message below – or here: @WeekendWitch.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Tattoos, soliciting and six degrees of social media separation

My first love messaged me on Facebook last night to ask if I wanna!  Yes of course I wanna…  He was the only boy at my sixth birthday party – me, Adam, 30 little girls and an ice cream cake that melted under the glow of its sparklers.  He’s still very cute with a look of Bowie about him, and I chat to him occasionally in the KW4 pub.  So when he asks for my help, I’m only too happy to deliver.  Can’t say yet what the project involves but it will definitely be fun, and I’ll share the outcome with you in due course… (Maybe.)

Imaginative training blog | Social media
First boyfriend
Adam has a swirl of thorny roses tattooed along his right arm that reminds me a bit of the Culture Club clothes we wore in the 80s.  When I met Boy George in Carnaby Street he was dressed in a mixture of roses and Hebrew lettering with coloured ribbons woven into his hair.  I swiftly plaited mine and rushed out to buy a hard brimmed black hat.

I worked there for a while… you may recall the story about me being arrested for soliciting? (It’s in the book!)  I loved the buzz and the fantastic, weird people.  Serving Boy George and John Moss was a normal thing in those new romantic days of kamikaze bandanas and fluorescent silk ties.  Didn’t know who they were yet, but their distinctive look set them apart from all the other beautiful creatures gracing the once orange patchwork of now dirty street.  If only we’d had social media back then.  Although I’d surely have been fired for incessant tweeting, and my Facebook page would have exploded from sheer over activity.

This is how small the world is.  I first saw Carnaby Street when I bunked off school with Angela, aged about 12, to visit someone she knew called Hilary who worked in the West End.  Last year I wrote a press release for a fabulous celebrity agency in Soho and, while sharing a bottle of wine under the stars, I briefly met the agency owners’ daughter.  Then, in Ireland for Halloween, Angie showed me photos of her at a party with Hilary, Cheryl Cole and… my client’s daughter!! It turns out that Hilary manages Girls Aloud and Lily is Cheryl Cole’s PA.  Angie knows her!  I’m connected to my childhood next door neighbour via one of my clients and an overrated ex-X Factor judge. Who’d have guessed?

It’s very true that we’re connected to everybody by six degrees of separation.  And with social networking, it’s not too hard to track those connections.  I use them for business advantage, of course – and that’s one of the things I teach people who want to market their businesses more successfully on-line. If you’d like to chat about maximising your use of social media, you’re welcome to call me.  Or, like Adam, you can find me on Facebook – or here, as always @WeekendWitch.