Saturday, 30 September 2017

Ode to the Beaten-Down Employee

The valued employee is encouraged to “think outside the box”
You are told to “know your place”
Their ideas are “original”
Your ideas are “ludicrous”
They are “creative”
You “lack discipline”
They “have talent”
You are “being awkward”
They are “delightfully eccentric”
You are “being difficult”
They are “honest”
You are “derisory”
They are “in earnest”
You are “just being cocky”
They are “motivated”
You are “fanatical”
They are “taking a break”
You are “idling”
They are “highly skilled”
You are “overly-qualified”
They are “passionate and committed”
You are “overly emotional”
They have “sound experience”
You “carry too much baggage”
They require “assistance and support”
You are “seeking to be spoon-fed”
They are “critical and constructive”
You are “being scathing”
They “communicate effectively”
You are “just being stroppy”
They are “taking an important standpoint”
You are “being stubborn”
They are “witty”
You are “sarcastic”
They have “earned their success”
You “just got lucky”
They are “on a well-deserved vacation”
You are “lazy and work-shy”
They are “a devoted employee, with a great career ahead”
You are….fired…doh!
(Agitation, adverbs, adjectives and graphics by me..)

Friday, 25 August 2017

The Wearing Experience of Fitflops....

Many times in this column, I have waxed lyrical over the virtues of comfortable footwear on feminine feet. However, in spite of their voracious publicity, I had always managed to avoid buying purchasing a pair of Fitflops ™. My day footwear is of such quality that, I reckoned, I did not need yet another pair of podiatrically-approved pavement vehicles. But recently, with my plates of meat reduced to raw steaks by much summertime stomping, I gave in to custom and purchased a pair of silver Luna Pop flops and – wow! Another quality shoe brand has taken me heels over head. In addition to their sheer design, the faintly art-decoish styling of sole and upper, the wearing experience has been like stepping from hot bricks on to cool and pliable cushions – or “microwobbleboard comfort”, as the heel tag proudly exclaims. It is early days, but my foot feeling is that this is the start of a long and beautiful relationship with the delectable
Luna Pop.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Relaxing into grrrrreatness: the wonderful everyday lion....!

Have you seen the latest IKEA advertisement? It features - OMG - a great, big cuddly lion, golden and fluffy and spouting such profoundities as "just waiting for the right moment" and "relax into greatness", in addition to explaining why relaxing more than eighteen hours a day is not lazy. Now, there's an animal I can identify with, the glorious cat family reminding us that the best folk achieve most with the least apparent effort. After all, it was a bunch of bankers working around the clock that crashed the world economy and so much to-and-froing that pollutes the earth and the oceans. Yet, the glamorous lion reclines hours a day (or more) and still manages to be king of the beasts - I call that grrrreat! No wonder the "wonderful everyday" has chosen Leo as their icon. Watch this space for images of my shiny, new Billys, with all my junk in place, when I finally get organised. Right now, I am all set for my summer slumber....zzzz....

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Dancing with Delight in....Charleston!

Just recently, three friends and I had a glorious day in the Sussex countryside. Among the delights we witnessed were a cow and her new-born calf in a farmer’s field. As an afterthought, we visited Charleston, the cottage purchased by those foremost scions of the Bloomsbury Group, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, in the early 1900's. Over time, the couple placed their personal stamp on the cottage interior by decorating it in the Bloomsbury style, painting abstract and floral patterns on walls and across fireplaces, and upholstering fabrics in their own printed fabrics. Novel features include the use of painted, upturned kitchen colanders as light shades in the different rooms of the house. An entrance fee is payable and alas, photography of the interior is not permitted. However, the adjoining garden is open to the public, and is filled with plants and sculptural surprises. I do recommend going to Charleston.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Essence of Summer

The shopping mall is filled with bustle,
Peeling skin and bright-red faces
Van McCoy is playing The Hustle
Sun-browned limbs in public places – suddenly, it’s summer.

Refracted vistas; walls that waver
Bright-blue sky and plane delayed
Lip sunscreen with fruity flavour
We only find respite in shade–that’s just summer.

Braided hair and straw sunbonnet
Rose-pink dawn and evening stars
A broken flip-flop, jewels upon it
Melting tarmac, dusty cars– bring on summer.

Long, bright days and ice-cream sundae
Salty snacks and cool, sweet drinks
Short, dark night and boredom, Monday
Flaming oranges, shocking pinks –good ol’ summer.

Bright-green salads, dressings oily,
Polka dots on painted nails
Strawberries, cream and paper doily
Stripy beach bag, wind-blown sails – celebrating summer.

Swimming parties by the river,
Gentle breezes, yellowed grasses
Icy water makes us shiver
Clinking cubes in cocktail glasses: we love summer.

Sweaty nights and shirts are sticky
Lightening forks and violent thunder
Broken sleep with dreams so icky
Downpours sudden and – no wonder; it’s summer.

All too soon, maybe tomorrow
The bright sun fades, the darkness conquer
Season’s joy will turn to sorrow
And that is when we will long for – summer.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Unibond United.

My Unibond AERO 360 dehumidifying device has been in place for over four months now and I must say, it is doing a job of sorts. It has been a fascinating experience, placing that chemical tablet thingie in the plastic unit, letting on to guests that the contraption is a postmodern ornament and seeing it slowly dissolve as the tank underneath fills with blue water. The packaging tells us that said water is “salty” but I haven’t had the courage to taste it, so I take that on trust. The tablet supposedly lasts up to three months, but my tablets have dissolved all of two months – does this mean I was living in a fish tank before I put Unibond in place? Allow me calculate; the half litre that the tablet collects over eight weeks translates into three litres per year. This means that in the just over ten years since I’ve lived in my present pad, almost 30 litres of excess liquid has splashed over my carpets and curtains, has fugged my windows and run down my walls, saturating my books and furniture – I thought it felt uncomfortable in here. Multiply that figure by the 20 million or so households in Great Britain – minus the minority that uses Unibond Aero - and we are talking the Second Deluge. According to the Unibond folk, excess moisture provides ammo for “condensation, mould and mildew” and other antediluvian horrors – and it does make one think: just what is breeding out there? This could provide an explanation for the stranger organisms evident in public life – I rest my case. In spite of Unibond Aero, I still find the odd spot of mildew in my living quarters – but at least the device will stop it evolving into something nastier. Let’s unite with Unibond, now.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Calling all Colouristas

The idea for a book combining colour theory and Greek mythology, which has always held my fascination, occurred to me just over two years ago, and I have now launched Mythical Colouring. The majority of colouring books provide colour enthusiasts with patterns for essays into pure colour. However, even imagination requires a helping hand when matching and contrasting shades. The introductory notes and the guidelines that accompany every story serve as a springboard for the aspiring colourist. Each story consists of two images, an A4-sized image and a smaller – though enlarged - detail from that image. Many enthusiasts may prefer to experiment on this detail before moving on to the full-sized picture. I have also provided blank squares at the outset of the book for pure colour experimentation. Beginning with the story of a prehistoric deluge, the reader is taken through a montage of scenes from the lexicon of Greek mythology that include the pastoral worlds of Hyperion and Endymion, to the subterranean realm of Medea and the adventures of Hercules. In the accompanying guidelines, I explain how to attain the requisite atmosphere through the use of colour, and reminding the enthusiast that he or she is free to experiment.
Know the difference between shading and hatching
Hatching is useful when filling in small, concentrated areas of colour. Best done with a fine point, it is the process of drawing the pencil or crayon in short, rapid strokes. Drawn close together, the strokes will fill an area with colour. However, giveaway traces remain that suggest movement in a particular direction. Shading works best in large areas of paler colour and is usually done with a slightly blunt pencil point. Soft, blendable media give the best results. When choosing colours for each image, decide if you want to create a harmony of cool colours – blue, pink, violet, green – or warm colours red, yellow, orange, brown. You can create contrasts by placing complementary colours alongside one another, for example, blue against orange and pink or red against green, yellow against purple. You can create naturalism by colouring in earthen tones – dark and pale browns, beiges, cream and the occasional dash or orange to pick out details. Or you may want to create fantasy by adding dashes of gold and silver to create brilliance. One good way to explore colour contrasts is to look at bowls of fruit. Warm oranges, red apples and yellow bananas, lie alongside cool limes, green grapes and green apples. Look at how artists contrast warm flesh with cool marble, lay green and lemon leaves and multicoloured blossoms against blue skies. See a warm, earthen-tone boat bobbing about on a chilly blue, green and purple sea. Buy a copy of Mythical Colouring