Monday, 29 June 2009

Tag... you're it

I'm really chuffed with myself tonight. Look what I made all by myself! Two gift tags - watch out for the techie terms now - mixed media & collage, OOAK* - woo! Yet again I am using up art supplies that I usually just buy and then look at for several years (though the one thing I hunted desperately to find actually appears to have been used - tish. Whatever next? Perhaps I'll open a shop on Etsy! Who knows, my artistic paraphenalia could dwindle down to just one box instead of three... Tomorrow I tackle the novel!

*One Of A Kind

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Romantic notions

The grass was almost knee length, the sun relentless and the atmosphere humid. I just had to do it - I hitched up my skirt and ran with wild abandon through the meadow (I would like to say I was holding boyfriend's hand and we skipped along together - well he rang alongside which is near enough). For a second or two there I was transported high on a hill with a lonely goatherd but then reality, in the form of one of the worst attacks of hayfever I've ever had leapt out the pollen-soaked grass and smacked me round the nose and poked me firmly in both eyes.

Undaunted, the hopeless romantic in me allowed another impetuous moment to be seized this evening. As the rain fell out of the stormy sky with big plopping drops that jumped up from the patio, I ran around the garden celebrating in the joy of ... getting wet.
And then I ran in here and blogged about it. Yes, a strange girl. Perhaps I will stick my journal out in the rain for a few minutes to wash off the scent of stale picnic food and diminish the risk of it harbouring e-coli and other nasties (even the wasps kept away!)
Oh to be in England in the summertime...

PS: Photo - raindrops on my washing line (and whiskers on kittens)

Friday, 26 June 2009

Gleeful wrecking

I just adore the sound my journal makes when I open it...a lovely sort of unsticking noise reminding me of all the fun we've had in the last week or so. Bits often fall out of or off it too and, what's even more amazing, is that it has started getting creative all of its own...

Just look at this. First pic shows my pressed page including an amazing 'precious' jewel that glinted up at me from the pavement - what a find! See the faded red leaf on the right? Well, originally it was on the left, but it fell out leaving behind a mirror image of itself embossed in the glue. That was my journal saying "hey, look what I can do". So, I helped it out a bit and sloshed a bit of paint on top and look at the lovely result - almost a perfect copy of the original. Who would have thought it? Just goes to show that great creative ideas will pop out and show themselves to you with this project when you least expect it. I have also discovered that cherry juice makes great multi-tonal paint; but more on that when we get to my stain log page another week.

So, we went walkies this week and the journal became a handbag of sorts - complete with pocket lint. Best wrecking was undoubtedly the washing experience which I blogged about earlier in the week. I would have posted a picture if there was anything left to take! We snuggled up for the night (well actually that was last week but I forgot to mention it!).
One thing I keep forgetting to do is document my dinner. I'm wondering though that maybe this is my subconscience being a little bit disturbed about rubbing smelly food into a book. Or, maybe I am just waiting for the right occasion to document my meal. I mean ... beans on toast would be dull, right? Now... on Sunday we are having a picnic (weather permitting - this is England remember and it's Wimbledon fortnight and Glastonbury weekend so pretty much GUARANTEED rain). Well, wait and see if the sandwiches and cold sausages, cheese, bread, strawberries, crisps, chicken and even the odd ant or wasp make an entry!
Finally, aside from all the fun and games and house wrecking (I had to tidy it up briefly because my mother was visiting - but rest assured fellow messy wreckers, it is now back to the same, if not worse state as it was last week), I actually learnt something this week. It was naturally one of the things I guess we are supposed to be learning. It was about breaking free creatively; not being afraid to create something that might not be perfect and, by doing so, discovering a side to your creativity you didn't know existed. I wrote a blog post on it a few days ago if you fancy reading more.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Going with the flow

Had an interesting meeting with an accountant type yesterday who wanted to see my comms plans. "Is it in excel or MS Project?"* She innocently enquired.

"Well..." says I rapidly trying to back myself out of an Alice in Wonderland type rabbit hole. "It’s not quite that sort of plan." You see us right-brain thinkers tend to be more fly by the seat of our pants, scribble something on a napkin and a post-it note sort of gals. We like mind mapping and sticky-backed plastic. We don’t like to be constrained by neatly engineered and documented organisation that tells us exactly when to think and what to think and how to think.

While I do have a plan (or else, my employers might wonder what on earth they are paying me for); it’s much more fluid and is full of words, emotions, thoughts and ideas rather than hard data bound in chains to milestones. I like to be able to adapt at a moment’s notice, go with the flow… I’m a believer that there is no right or wrong way to make a communications plan as long as you deliver the end results – meeting and preferably exceeding expectations. I was very fortunate that my last boss was very much the same as me. He knew that while there was no gant chart or visio diagram indicating all probable lines of enquiry and procedure there would certainly be a flow of creativity and that projects would be unique and delivered on time. Now, I just have to explain this to that accountant…

* I once went on a course to learn MS Project - fortunately with a like-minded colleague. We left the training session shuddering and muttering the word Why? over and over again...

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Brand spanking...

I always like to put a bit of thought behind my post titles, but this one just made me smile in a naughty kind of way! Tonight, I shall mainly be blogging about... you guessed it... brands and I shall be very gentle and cuddly with them - no spanking or smacking up - the title was purely artistic licence!

This post is specifically a reaction from a rather delicious little book wot I read by those lovely chaps at Innocent. If you are unfortunate enough to be reading this blog and living in a country where you can't enjoy the world's tastiest smoothies (and thickies), then book a ticket to Europe post haste and head to the nearest food emporium. My current favourite tipple is a pomegranate, blueberry and acai superfood smoothie - rarely is anything so tasty this good for you, so make the most of it!

I won't blather on about the book because frankly if you are interested in the company then you should definitely read it. As business books go, it's about as easy and entertaining a read as you're ever going to get and, if nothing else, is guaranteed to send you out in search of the nearest smoothie before you get half way through. (Yes, I did actually make a trip to Tesco yesterday JUST to buy a carton of my fave - and ended up spending an additional £23 on various other things that just hopped in the basket, but that's another story!).

Finally we get to the point. The power of brands. One of the first words my son learnt to read was a brand name. "That's Carlsberg" he yelled from the back of the car as a lorry drove past. Before anyone reaches for the phone number of social services, the reason he was quite so familiar with a beer brand was because I worked for them at the time - we consequently had lots of branded items around the house of a non-alcoholic nature (as well as a few cans of lager) - shirts, magazines, glasses etc... Next up on the reading was Weetabix. Beer and food, looks like he's got his priorities sorted already.

He is also a big fan of Innocent though he doesn't actually know their name, but what he does understand is their brand! When the book arrived in the post and he helped me unwrap the parcel he took one look at the cover and said "that's the nice drinks people, they're really good for you Mummy, very healthy".
He's 5. He is just learning to read. He can just about manage 'in' - the 'nocent' would be a bit beyond him. He recognised the brand from the logo and plain packaging on the book cover, he understood the natural values and somehow he's picked up (from me presumably, but I don't recall mentioning it) that it's a people company. When we're in the fruit juice aisle in the supermarket he seeks out Innocent from among all the other brands and sneaks it in the trolley (it usually stays there, I let him think he's got one over on me while salivating in anticipation). Innocent conjure up an image of trendy young things hand-squeezing mangoes and mashing bananas to a soundtrack of Paolo Nutini and possibly Kid Creole and the Coconuts. Vast factories just don't figure in your smoothie dreamings (a £100m turnover probably squashes these thoughts but hey ho...).
I am sure that my son is by no means the only 5 year old evangelist of this brand and it got me thinking again about brand tribalism. Seeing as my last post on the subject was such a cop out, I'll try and weave it in here again to give my buddies at The Alternative another plug! Reading the book just reaffirmed my opinion on the guys that run this business. They refer to and pretty much treat their customers as an extended family or at the very least jolly good friends; their chieftains inspire and lead with passion and engagement is as natural as their ingredients; their history, though short is celebrated, with totems treasured (wait til you see The Tapestry); they recruit like-minded people that they know already live their values and enter whole-heartedly into the Innocent mindset. They listen to their customers and their colleagues and allow them to help form the future of the tribe - and they do all this while 'behaving themselves'. Yes, they may be a cog in the giant wheel of capitalism but their grease ensures things go a little bit smoother for those way back in the fruit & veg chain and they do their best not to leave a nasty stain on the environment (which is pretty impressive considering the amount of purple berries they use - have you ever tried to get blueberry juice out of a white t-shirt?).
Well there you go, it's getting rather late and I want to go to bed now. I can't leave this post however without my quick claim to fame. More years ago than both he or I probably care to remember, I did actually work with Adam, one of the founders of Innocent in his McKinsey consulting days. I think I may still have the wooden spoon he presented me and my team with as the worst treasure hunters on a corporate day out. We may have got lost more than anyone else but I doubt anyone else had as much fun that day... Ah memories... Remind me to tell you about the random golfer standing in a country lane we accosted and my kidnapping debacle.

Monday, 22 June 2009


I must say I'm really thrilled to be getting all these great comments on my blog. Hello readers!!

This particular one from Jamie Ridler (leader of the Journal Wrecking gang) really struck a chord with me - thanks Jamie :)

“And I loved seeing how your boredom with something inspired your creativity and wondered if that inspires you elsewhere and always.”

Do you know, she's right and, what is more, this was the proverbial kick up the bottom that was required to set me back on the right track at work. Boredom can and does inspire my creativity – “How can I make this more interesting?” is a phrase that has frequently stood me in good stead. So, I went to work today and dreamt up a fun communication involving a parody of Hello! magazine; I looked at how we could utilise YouTube at work more; I tried to find transmission towers interesting. Oh no, now it’s not working again…. Yes, I can and will find transmission towers interesting... I shan't let this renewed sense of purpose drift away. Just let them left-brainers wait... they don't know what's about to hit them...

My journal wrecking has already taught me a thing or two (other than learning that I'm a freak for taking my journal for a walk!). It's something that many of us wreckers have been blogging about - and I guess is the whole purpose of the exercise. The letting go thing; the realisation for me that what I create doesn't always have to be perfect enough to be published or take pride of place in a picture frame on the lounge wall. Creating can just be for the joy of sploshing paint on paper or words on the screen.

So, last night I put my money where my mouth is and sat down at my very messy dining room table (if you don't believe me, take a look at last Friday's vlog!). I wanted to paint but I was tired and didn't have much time to plan and detail, so I just 'painted'. I let the paintbrush do the talking and, without too much consideration, let the wild side of my muse rip. I took myself off to the Highlands and let the sounds of the pipes carry the smell of sweet heather and the cries of the clans onto the page and the result is as you see. It's by no means perfect - but I enjoyed every second. In fact, so carried away was I that I had another go! This time, in an English country garden I really just sploshed and sloshed in an impressionistic sort of way with the eventual plan to tidy it up a bit (aka have more fun) in Photoshop, so one palette knife filter later and we have our riotous flower bed.

So, what have we learnt here. Well, a reminder that boredom can be the gateway to creativity and that perfection is not necessarily the end we are looking for. At work for example, perhaps they are not yet ready for my idea of perfection. I've mentioned before that they wanted to make 'small improvements' so perhaps a little experimentation may go down well after all...

Watch this space!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Sunday evening syndrome

Nearly 8pm and the gloom sets in. Perhaps I should have opted for a career that involved shift work, one of those four days on four days off type things then Sunday evening syndrome would be a few and far between experience. Or of course, if I ever managed to put pen to paper in a more lucrative fashion, maybe I could be that professional writer/creator of my dreams and work whenever I damn well felt like it! Tonight, not even the pleasure of writing (or seeing that I had 18 comments on my last blog post - thank you everyone!), can quite lift the cloud of despondency settled firmly upon my bonce. That's the trouble with weekends, they are just so much more fun than going to work. I can also look forward to at least an hour of tossing and turning in the bed, unable to nod off and obsessing about how tired I'll be when the alarm trills into life at 6.30am (ouch!). Is it just me or does everyone have trouble sleeping on a Sunday night? Still, look on the bright side - at least I've done the ironing* and who knows, there may just be something worth watching on TV ... and the England ladies won the World Twenty20 in the cricket!

* Speaking of ironing - that Keri Smith has a lot to answer for... Thanks to her great idea, my ironing (YES KERI, THAT'S MY IRONING - NOT MY PAINTING OR WRITING OR DOING NICE CREATIVE THINGS) took me much, much longer than usual. Why? Well, could be something to do with picking off tiny pieces of pulverised paper pulp from my darks' wash? Tear this page out and put it through the wash she so thoughtfully suggests. What a wheeze. I even smeared it with some suitable stains to see if Persil really does wash whiter. When I unloaded I couldn't find it anywhere. It certainly wasn't in the trouser pocket any more or tucked in a sleeve or sock. I stuck my head in the washer drum, spun it around a few times in a most perplexed manner (the drum that is, not my head). Then I noticed the tiny specks of white adorning my black t-shirt; my son's school sweatshirts; my best new skirt from Monsoon; my new lime green top....

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Going round in circles

A little vlog to show you a few pages to get things started, but I like writing about it more so writing is what you'll get! Apologies on the film for describing every page as my 'favourite' when clearly that can't possibly be true - blame it on camera nerves! Also, I thought about saying sorry for the words 'pick your nose' on a page, but this journal is about being naughty isn't it?

The tag I wrapped comes from this lovely Cornish artist.

It's been a liberating week in more than one sense. Firstly, was my failed attempt on Monday to lose a page on the London underground. Well, it finally happened today and I have the photographic evidence to prove it, though the adventure wasn't without its mishaps. This morning the tube was running a bit delayed so consequently was packed tighter than the ubiquitous can of sardines. I barely had room to breathe let alone rummage in my bag and then think about photography composition. The return journey was a little quieter but still enough bored travellers to watch with interest as the girl in the brightly coloured top stuck a torn piece of paper on the advertising and took photos of it (while avoiding eye contact with any passengers!). I timed the exercise to coincide cleverly with arrival at my stop so I could do a quick runner. Unfortunately though the guilt kicked in when a recorded voice announced "please ensure that you take all litter with you".

"It's not litter" I say. "It's Art!" I held my head high, the strong-willed journal wrecker that I am and left my page to enjoy its liberation on the Victoria line.

It's a social thing this wrecking. I have both my son and boyfriend involved as well as some total strangers who doodled on a page for me. 'Paint with glue' was crying out for the attentions of a five-year-old.

Boyfriend kindly chewed and ripped a bit but he needs more practice...

Even tried to get the cats involved. Had a discussion with Leah about cat attitude. You know what they're like. Leave a magazine or paperwork around and they'll instantly sit on it - UNTIL YOU WANT THEM TO!

My cats are Olympic Gold Medal winners at rubbing in dirt. They do enjoying leaving their mark around the place, so I thought that smearing a few footprints on a page would be a piece of cake for them... I strategically placed said journal under catflap, yelled out their names and waited. Photo says it all...

Some of my wrecking has a sort of plan to it, I am collecting ephemera and ideas as the week progresses. 'Fill the page with circles' was a perfect outlet for me. I didn't want to just draw round things, I wanted some real brightness and colour. As luck would have it, in my blanket box rummaging I found an old birthday card I'd kept simply because I loved the bright circular pattern. So, this was my basis, then I pulled out all manner of interesting papers and cards I had been keeping for 'creative moments'. At last I was using them - wonders will never cease! At first I was actually afraid "what if I need it for something?" Nah Lisa. I think you'll find you need it for this and if you haven't found a use for it in the last five years...

The more observant among you will notice that a square has sneaked in (you can even lift up surrounding circles to view its sharp corners!). Ah, but I thought it was a bit of fun - a square tomato on a page of circles - why not? At the back of my mind though was always the notion of wrecking and destruction. Sticking pretty circles on the page is a bit tame I suppose. Maybe if I cover up the instruction a bit rather than leaving it on show... How about a bit of overlapping of the edges..? Hmm, could get clever with the page number... Now, I have a pretty page. Do I have the guts to actually destroy it? Eek. And, as you know, I'd been saving some of these scraps for years... Well here we go. I'm thinking bold paint circles, reckless, free...

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

What was it again?

I've talked before about my brain being too full of ideas, and this trait continues apace with an alarming side effect. Now, if I could just remember what that side effect was... ah of course, I keep forgetting stuff. How can it be that I can lie in bed at night dreaming up the most intelligent of blog postings, creative artistry and original journal wreckings and then forget them all by morning? It's like all these thoughts run out of my head, tumble over the pillow, then roll across the carpet and squirrel themselves away in little hiding places waiting for some tiny jogging of the memory to have them reassembling themselves in coherent form possibly days later. As I snuggle down under the duvet in a cocoon of creative thought, I even find myself thinking "there's no way I could possibly forget that, it's a fantastic idea", or ... at least it was... as by morning it has retreated into hiding.

After much frustration, I took the natural course of action and installed a notebook and pen within easy reach. FOUR TIMES I had to turn the light on last night... Was there to be no respite from this cavalcade of recordable thought? Could I not just have pressed fast forward and got it all out in one go?

Eventually sleep claimed me and this evening I picked up my notebook (the contents of which I had naturally forgotten) ready to be inspired into creativity this evening. I switched on the pc, flexed my fingers and readied myself to pour forth...

And the moral of this story: ideas that come to you in the small hours aren't necessarily good ones. There is a reason that you normally forget them by morning!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Maybe it's because (I was) a Londoner...

One of the things I love about London is the ability for its inhabitants to dress as eccentrically as they wish without anyone paying undue attention (unlike Northampton where such behaviour would have you cast as a lunatic). Is it a trait of acceptance from Londoners? Or perhaps an inbuilt tolerance of creativity when surrounded by such magnificent art, buildings and culture? I would hate to think it's simply because there are so many other insane souls wandering around that nobody notices another.

You may have surmised from this musing that I was in London today and you would be correct, though it was but a flying visit to talk comms with a fellow creative soul (although worryingly we are both aware of the existence of this website - don't worry Bill, your secret is safe with me!).

I have to keep making the pilgrimage to our capital as it feeds my soul. I'm lucky enough to be making the trip twice this week which is just as well as I had a disappointing journal wrecking experience. I had carefully torn out the 'lose this page' in readiness for disposing of it on the tube and sending it on a journey of infinite possibility. Regrettably, once I was seated comfortably on the Northern line (Bank branch) I discovered that though I had remembered my journal, the page had somehow been either lost (which would have been OK after all) or simply left at home. It was the latter so we shall attempt to say our farewells again on Thursday. Perhaps is just didn't want to be left on the Northern (misery) line as it used to be called in my day and hopes for a a more regal class of travel on the Victoria later in the week.

I chose an unusual photo with which to illustrate this post tonight but it was deliberate. Stand in the general vicinity of where I took this and you see age and neglect one direction but modern shining Gherkins in the other. It's a part of the essential character of London. Yes, I know you get this with other cities, but allow me to indulge myself... it just inbues more meaning for me somehow because I am so in love with the place. When I'm rich I'll have a place in Hampstead (close the Heath, Vale of Health perhaps) with a blue plaque on the wall (I'll want to soak up their creativity!) and a country manor with acres of meadows and woodland to frolic around in; preferably not too far from the sea...

Friday, 12 June 2009

Freaky Friday

I've used this word a few times in the last week or so, once indeed to refer to this journal wrecking malarky. This evening it was lurking in the antique wooden chest in my lounge, just waiting to give me a big warm hug. I was rummaging around in this lovely piece of old furniture looking for my watercolour pencils which I probably haven't used in about 20 years...

First aside... Wonderful people (that's you!), the reason I was digging them out was YOU! Yes, you and your journals. When I stumbled upon this project less than a week ago I was desperately searching for an outlet for my creativity. I have so many ideas, materials, emotions, words, characters and just STUFF I want to express, I didn't know where to start. This little book seemed just the ticket. Follow the instructions and let go and see what happens, how perfect.

After a frustrating week harrassing the poor postman it finally deigned to appear on my doormat today. And this is where we return to the main story - why I was looking for my coloured pencils.

I thought they would be just the perfect medium for giving a spot of colour to my meerkat on page (oh, hang on, it hasn't got a page number yet... one second.... page...) 1027. As I was rummaging, my first thoughts were "It's working already!" Yes, I'm only on page 1027 and already I'm taking creative inspiration from different sources. It doesn't have to just be about neat floral watercolours; let's dig out the tools of my youth!

Now there's a lot of stuff in this chest:
  • Top layer = lots of interesting bits of wrapping paper that I plan to do some sort of collage or decoupage with
  • Bit further down = old curtains and a blanket (well, I think it is actually supposed to be a blanket box!)
  • Bending over = wedding photos (I got married 10 years ago today and divorced around 1 year ago today... moving on...)
  • Starting to get back ache = what's in this envelope?
Oh wow! All sorts of treasures from my past. Some photos, a genuine fake bank note from when I worked on the set of the first Batman film, my gymnastics and swimming certificates (pretty basic, don't think I was some kind of wunderkid athlete) AND..... Finally we get to the point.... an old journal from when I was age 6, 7 and 8 (according to the flysleeve). Aside from the joy of rediscovering an old friend on such an auspicious occasion, I was also overwhelmed by the contents. You see, dear readers and fellow journal wreckers, it bears a startling resemblance to journal age 39.

We have pages of writing written sdrawkcab; a page of random scribbles; pages stuck together; pages entirely coloured in; secret code; as well as some just plain old weird stuff. And do you know what is so great about it? It reminds me that it doesn't matter what you create... it's all in the fun of creating, so just get stuck in and let the creative juice flow.

Before I shoot off, allow me to share some time-travelling journal with you as I must return to 'colour in' my meerkat (and possibly share him with you) before bedtime. You might actually get to see more of Wreck this Journal 2009 than just me throwing it out of the window eventually!

Oh go on then, here's a sneak preview of the page... not finished yet but I need to go to bed...

Learning how to film needs more work...

Just view it with your head on one side! More later, I have much journal wrecking to do...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

And the antidote?

Why, creating, naturally. What do you think of this birthday card I made for my friend? Very excited to be using my new purchase distress inks! The butterflies came from some old wrapping paper I've been hanging onto for about 8 years for just this little project! Feel so much better now... apart from all the mess I've left scattered around the house.
PS: Wrecking journal still not arrived yet... anticipation builds...

Stress barometer

I know it's time to de-stress when pizza flyers landing on my doormat REALLY REALLY BEGIN TO ANNOY ME... DON'T I HAVE ENOUGH TO DO WITHOUT PICKING UP MORE RUBBISH? I DON'T WANT YOUR PIZZAS OR KEBABS (not even if they're the best). GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE... please

Monday, 8 June 2009

A new religion?

I've been reading a tonne of blogs lately - mostly my new-found journal wrecking buddies who all tend to be doing their book destruction on the other side of the pond. Being a bit short on time, I confess to skim reading and noticed a number of these creative types referred to themselves as SAHMs. Hmm, must be some kind of new-fangled US religion methinks as she zooms onto the next paragraph without giving it much thought. Finally, the penny drops - stay at home mother! Aha, enlightenment dawns and I feel suitably foolish (though not on the same scale as having to consult the driver's manual to figure out how to start my hire car this morning!). So, what does that make me? A GOTWMBWRBAHCIAAFHN?

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Been there, done that...

Yeah well, three days to come up with a new chocolate brand and market it to the industry. What a load of old tosh. Yours truly managed it in an afternoon. Once upon a time, on a team building event, we were challenged to create a prize winning box of chocs and given nothing more than some chocolate drops, food dye, tissue paper, glue, scissors and cardboard. I confess to a slight competitiveness when given this sort of test. There was going to be no sitting back gorging on chocolate and getting sticky in my team. I wish I could remember the brand name, but a description should suffice - think Ascot, think hats. A delightful display of head gear nestled within the velvety confines of a taffeta creation to rival the cream of Philip Treacy. Think multi-coloured jockey caps, felt-textured bowlers, floppy sun and romantic dreamery. And did we win? What do you think?

If you didn't watch the Apprentice, you may be slightly confused. Or, if you did, and like me was tempted by all the cocoa talk to indulge in a bit of the sweet stuff, then you might be feeling a touch nauseous, especially if you put away three-quarters of a bar of Green & Black's finest milk. Let's just say the only reason I didn't consume the remaining quarter being simply because I'd eaten it yesterday!

Well done Yasmina, I knew you had it in you girl...

On an unrelated topic. I was driving in Milton Keynes this afternoon and something strange caught my eye. Would someone please explain what the people dressed as the Mad Hatter's crockery were doing hanging around the concrete cows. Unless I can find a solid explanation, I fear I may just slip into quiet insanity...

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Journal wrecking - a fortunate discovery

Another serendipidus moment! I've been thinking today about how I really need to prioritise my creative projects a little. Things are getting somewhat out of hand. I've got my novel's characters threatening to go on strike (I caught them making little placards the other day and packing sandwiches); a shop's worth of soap and bath bombes scenting the house out; numerous collections of ephemera getting me ready for my mixed media collaging and a fresh watercolour sketchbook screaming at me from the drawer I hid it in while tidying up in readiness for a parental visitation.

Today was the day when some sort of list making (and formal organisation of limited free time) would be in order. In fact, son and I tackled the day's main activities and chores rather successfully in this manner with reading practice included in ticking things off the list (talk about clever multi-tasking).
So, while the little fella watches Lightning McQueen learn a few moral lessons for the 50th time, I thought I'd just pop on t'internet as a valid excuse for not making my creative priorities lists. In fact, what better way to distract yourself than by delving for yet more inspiration from one of my favourite blogs. My muse is herself off to be inspired by joining a book blogging group. The concept behind it being that a community of bloggers work their way through a book together, sharing their experiences by posting on their own blog and by reading what other participants are sharing. And the book in question?
This little beauty. A hands-on, get stuck in and make yourself dirty, have a go, creative journal. The theory behind the destruction is that the reader/creator is guided through the creative process via a set of instructions that encourage brave experimentation, letting go and allowing the inner muse free rein. Materials required are everything from 'grass' to 'happenstance' and 'grease' to 'gumption'.

So, how will this reckless abandon possibly help me in organising my artistic 'to do' list? Well, it's about getting stuck in, receiving a spot of direction and igniting that creative fire. Burn baby burn and watch this space!

Friday, 5 June 2009

And now... something a bit shorter and rather nonsensical

As a budding writer, I would like to contribute two additions to the Oxford English Dictionary:

news-ly [nooz-ley]
1. both recent and worthy of news
'the newsly skinny Fern'

clink [klink]
1. err. it's where you can't be bothered to write click on this link so you clink instead

Thursday, 4 June 2009

New brand tribalism ... and some other stuff

This is going to be a really tough assignment. I'm about to blog on an event I attended on Wednesday knowing full well that the guys who created said event (and then proceeded to get me drunk afterwards - hic!) will be reading this with a critical eye. "Hello, by the way and great to meet you yesterday!" Before I go any further, I must tell you that I have already quizzed one of the commercial directors at work on the subject of pride as we discussed yesterday. In fact, I put him on the spot in a room packed full of new recruits eager to be inducted into the world of broadcasting. My card is no doubt now marked as a trouble maker! There the poor chap was answering nice safe questions about what his area of the business did and patiently trying to explain what a Mux is, when some smart arse in the second row asks him how challenging he believes it is to instill pride in a brand that few outside the company have heard of and is actually made up of such a complex mixture of legacy companies that sometimes it feels like working for about ten different businesses. The poor fella looked like an apprentice in headlights facing Alan Sugar in his roller. Well, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration, but he did try and bat the question in the direction of the internal communications department. "Aha," says I. "That's me! You see I think that the business is facing a real challenge in this area but it's one that we can overcome and have a lot of fun in the process". [see the man back slowly out of the room wondering why he ever agreed to present at induction...]. Was fun. We had a very nice chat later and I was not quite as bossy as this may sound and nor was he in fact the slightest bit scared! This tone may be because I have just watched Mr Sugar's mates grilling the poor candidates on the Apprentice and boinged straight from TV to PC. Curses to my company though. Having missed the programme on Wednesday, I thought I would watch it on Catch Up TV naively believing I could somehow avoid discovering who left the show with their tail between their legs. Naturally this was not to be as I wandered into some sort of TV monitoring studio at work to see the three of them appearing on This Morning with the newsly skinny Fern and dashingly silver Phil. Tish!

As an aside, I'm a bit worried about the sadistic nature of my company. They put people in dark rooms for 12 hours a day and force them to watch daytime TV, poker and Eurosport.

Speaking of being ensconced in a dark room all day, perhaps I should return to the original point of my post. It was actually a real joy to spend my Wednesday with such like-minded thinkers and believers. Creative people are good for the soul dear readers. I advise you all to hang around these right-brained thinkers.
Tribes... that's what we talked about, more specifically new brand tribalism. It's about recognising the basic need to belong whether as an allegiance to a football team or a bunch of engineers who fit transmitters. How do these tribes behave and how can we use them to form the right culture for our business? They brought the theory to life with an inspirational case study from Lynn Arrowsmith -Head of Internal Brand, Communication & Culture at Orange. But do you know what, I'm not going to write anything else about the day because I guess that would defeat the point. The team at The Alternative are developing some great new ideas for communication, engagement and culture. Why not let them tell you all about it and experience for yourselves some of their drive, energy and creativity!

Monday, 1 June 2009


I love that word, both the meaning and the sound - seeren-dippidy doo dah.

Yes, well, moving on... So, here I am thinking creative thoughts and pondering trying something new. In my mind is a collage of texture and words, colour, movement. From this mixing bowl of the imagination springs a fairy cake called poetry. Dashing to the bookshelf, I make a grab for The Nation's Favourite Poems and open randomly at pages 46-47. A poem sits on each page waiting to be chosen. The first glance (page 47) does not look too good. Anthem for doomed youth (Owen). No doubt a first class piece of literature, but frankly the mood I'm in, I need cheering up and allowing the horrors of war to leap off the page laden with tragedy at me is not good for the soul today. In a panic (because I was convinced this ruse was going to be incredibly creative), I turn to the verso page (see the printing experience behind me!).

Who is waiting? What pleasures await the senses? Why none other than a fine gentleman by the name of Rudyard Kipling. In Victorian times was there a celebrity baby-naming fad akin to that which we suffer in the 21st century? Named after a lake, we should perhaps be grateful that his famous cake-making parents* did not spend their summers at Bodensee (aka Lake Constance), for at least Rudyard is a suitably masculine sounding name.

Seeing as this is starting to sound like a Ronnie Corbett monologue, I should perhaps get to the point. Cop an eyeful of this:

From 'The way through the woods'

Yet if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods...
But there is no road through the woods.

Ah, now if ever there was some inspiration to be had to a potential fantasy fiction writer then there we have it. Already my characters are lost in the tangled vines of the forest, seeking a trail hidden for centuries yet regularly traversed. They feel but cannot see the presence of others, not knowing if they are merely hidden or from a different time. What songs do the trees whisper? What brushes so gently against the skin that only the instinct can sense? The air is alive with the crackle of magic, anticipation as thick as treacle. What mysteries lie in wait, what treasures twinkle in the twilight?

*Before anyone writes in disgusted at my lack of literary knowledge, I am fully aware that Rudyard Kipling's parents did not make cakes commercially. I am not even sure if they made them domestically, but why let the truth get in the way of a good piece of writing. Perhaps I should get a job at one of the tabloids? In fact Alice and Lockwood(!) Kipling were respectively a 'vivacious woman' and a sculptor/potter. It would be nice to be simply described as vivacious I think...
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