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Monday, January 29, 2007

It was amazing.. we had SNOW...

Sorry but it's not normal to have snow that SETTLES in London anymore. Global bleeding warming.... Anyway, I took some piccies of the snow, and of Monty being cuddled. Aw...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Or not..

READ FROM THE BOTTOM UP - this chap had written a rude letter to us about a graph that he thought was irrelevant... See our formal response to him - and then see his rude comments. Exasperated, I penned the below... READ FROM THE BOTTOM UP

Dear Sir (note, this is how one generally begins a formal letter, even if it is sent by email)

Thank you for your wondrous insights into the world of publishing and design. It is evident you have an alternative career in front of you should Brewin Dolphin continue with its phase of redundancies following the split cap mis-selling debacle which almost scuppered it two years ago.

I am not, however, referring to your insight into graphic excellence, as you call it, but into your ability to pen your thoughts. May I suggest reading a book, which has been read by more than 12 million people since it was first written many years ago - “How to make friends and influence people”. I think you will find it insightful.

One chapter is about knowing your client. This includes spelling people’s names correctly, for example the commissioning editor of, say, a leading trade body publication (just out of the top of my head, hypothetically speaking). These things do matter, especially in complaints, when you, for example (again hypothetically) may wish to be taken seriously instead of having the recipient start daydreaming about various ways to staple your tie to your forehead.

Also, please remember, graphs cannot be “miserable”, unless you have also read Radlett Barnard’s (Phd) mighty tome on the Anthropomorphosis of the Inanimate in Literature. (Maxwell & Butler, 1975, 2nd edition 1992). A graph can merely inflict misery, but only if you look at it.

I apologise if we have inflicted misery on you and ruined your whole, entire, pitiful little life by publishing this graph. I am devastated to think we may have started you on the path to madness. Please please please do not start bombarding the director of BT, or the chief cashier at Tesco’s with letters about stray apostrophes in the word “tomatoes” or the lack of decent pavement in St Ives.

May I suggest, lest the offending graphic cause you more pain, that you stick a post-it of a smiley face over it until we publish the next S&IR. We have another bar chart in there too, which I think you will find most satisfactory. Unless you have an obsessive compulsive dislike of the colour red.

Have fun at your colleague’s leaving drinks, and try to pay more attention to more urgent matters, such as calculating and advising clients on Splits more carefully. To paraphrase a great man: “It is also hard to achieve and takes art, science and time.”

Now please feel free to reply, I am more than happy to have a debate. And I can see you now from my van.

S Girard (MA, (Hons with distinction) score one up to me).

Forwarded by **************
His letter...........

Thank you for your response, however one phrase rather grates: "The graphic that you found so unsatisfactory".

This intentionally implies that it is only I who finds it "so unsatisfactory" and that this is therefore a subjective and personal issue. You seem reluctant to internalise the fact that the graph was miserable.

Graphical excellence is that which gives the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space. It is also hard to achieve and takes art, science and time.

There are a variety of other things wrong with the graphic in addition to the failure highlighted by XXXXX Gasgoigne, but to be honest I don't have the appetite for a debate - I do not ordinarily make a habit of corresponding with journals. I refer you again to Edward Tufte's "The visual display of quantitative information". Once this has been absorbed the failures and indeed the solutions to presenting the data graphically will be readily revealed.

Please do not feel the need to respond.



From: T
Sent: 22 January 2007 13:40
To: M
RE: S&IR January p.14 Graphic


Thank you very much for taking the time to write. The graphic that you found so unsatisfactory accompanies an article which was written by XXXXX Gascoigne, who is the magazine's commissioning editor. I therefore asked her to comment and she has replied as follows:

"I am sorry that you thought the graphic on p.14 did not deliver sufficient value to the article. On balance, it clearly would have benefitted from having 2 x-axes so that the variation (or, indeed, lack of it) in MBO numbers was more pronounced.

I felt the CBI's graphic was relevant in principle to demonstrate that, although the number of MBO/MBI deals in the UK has remained reasonably static in the past six years, the value has fluctuated considerably - mirroring a point made in paragraph 3, concerning continental Europe's private equity deals.

I hope you feel that the rest of the article accurately conveyed opinion concerning an aspect of the current private equity market, to which we will no doubt be returning in the near future."

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to comment further.

Kind regards


Monday, January 22, 2007


Name your two favourite animals.
Cats and Penguins (not technically an animal, but...)
Monty says: "kittens and those funny small furry meercat things on TV that make me squeak!

Name your two favourite drinks.
Peppermint tea & apple and pear juice
Monty: Water from mummy's bath and water from my bowl

Name your two favourite colours.
Purple and azure
MB: Black and ginger (of course)

Name your two favourite pairs of shoes.
My brown and gold, and my silver OZ shoes
MB: Anything I can bite and stick my head right inside for a good sniff

Name your two favourite books you read last year.
BIBLE (he he) and He Gave Me A Valley *helen roseveare
I wasn't really born much last year

Name your two favourite instruments.
Piano and mandolin
My own vocal chords at 3:30 am and the percussion (batting the window blind at 4 am)

Name your two favourite seasons.
Winter! Pretty Pretty and Summer... nice and warm
Beef oxo when mummy cooks my chicken in it, and rosemary on my lamb

Name your two favourite ice cream flavours.
Toffee ripple and raspberry meringue

Name your two favourite t.v. shows.
Ugly BEtty and Room 101
Anything that has squeaky things on it that I can try to BITE

Name your two favourite magazines.
Private Eye + HEAT!!!
Petplan Update and anything I can pee on when mummy leaves it on the bathroom floor by my tray - well how was I s'posed to know?

OK... here is what you have to do.

Check my list of 10 top annoyances. Think of your own top 10. If any of mine match yours, you have to add new ones to your list. Then post them to my blog. Any future post-ers will have to add 10 new ones too. My aim is to come up with THE DEFINITIVE LIST OF THINGS THAT REALLY NAFF ME OFF (today)*.

1) Pedants
2) Ditherers on tube stations
3) Cars that rush through puddles at you
4) Slow cyclists in the bus lane
5) Running out of milk the very day you need a coffee
6) Stubborn people who refuse to admit, even in the face of facts, that they are wrong
7) James Blunt
8) Russell Brand. What is the point of him?
9) Endemol (no, not a brand of ex-lax, although the stuff Endemol produces is about the same as what Ex-lax produces)
10) Forgetting to drink tea when it's hot

*these are obviously subject to change...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

One should not laugh, but........

Fame in the land of my Alma Mater!

I always wanted a position in the Yorkshire Post. Now it seems I have. They wanted to reproduce my article in their business supplement at the weekend. So hopefully all my former lecturers at Leeds School of English, as well as some former boyfriends who might be loitering up there, will witness my new-found fame!

Here is the link, for anyone who wishes to read some of my new-found fame!Yorkshire Post Article

Happy reading!

Monday, January 15, 2007

If music be the food of Love, Play on!

except I can't play on. I need to upload to my iPod shuffle which THE BOY bought me as one of my chrismas presents, but am trying hard to decide which songs to knock off my favourites list. Which songs are essential? Which fit together well? I've got space for 240 songs (unlike an 11-year old girl at my church who got a new iPod Nano for Christmas, in pink! 1500 songs. Can you get 1500 Kylie songs? and how long is she going to keep her iPod? I give it six months to get lost, broken, scratched or stolen. You just don't NEED 1500 songs!!!! For example, I have been spending the past week compiling song lists and I've only got to 120 of ones I really, really really like... and some that I don't own but want to add into the list, like Lily Allen's Smile and LDN)

Where was I? Oh yeah. so I am looking for the best playlist for my shuffle. I don't want jsut to whack all my fav songs onto it. I'm not going to end up having 4 U2 albums and hardly anything else. I don't want loads of 60s or funk or rock all in a row. What's the point of that?

I'm thinking of these songs for starters: (not necc in this order)...

Mony Mony
leading into Crocadile Rock
leading into Don't know why I didn't come

then maybe a jackson 5 song which I love but can't remember what it's called; I had it on my Jackson 5: best of CD which some thieving arab scoused off me at Uni. Lyrics sort of went: "I have been all through this world, seen the evil and the good, I've been waiting for a waking from this dream... " Any help greatly appreciated.

Other songs I'm considering: play that funky music... dont feel like dancing... Karma Coma... Van Deman's Land, Living on a prayer, Bohemian Rhapsody, Purple Rain, Karma Chamelion, Wake me up (before you go go), Spinning Around.... Bootylicious...Beyond the Sea, Mac the Knife (Sinatra Version), some Vonda Shepherd covers/originals... Daydream believer... Blackbird... The Boxer.... Downtown (Petula Clark version)... Faith (George Michael)... Still haven't found what I'm looking for... Summer of '69... Sex Machine... closest thing to crazy... Wasn't it good (from Chess)... Crystal Lewis (anthem "I believe" and her rendition of "To God be the glory") Some elvis... oh my word this really shows my state of mind.... HELP!

Any suggestions?
Curry and Football

A boy's favourite things? Well it certainly is the favourite of THE BOY. So he must have been delighted when my friend Angela invited a batch of us from THEC to come out for a nice curry at Thornton Heath's secret jewel the Taj Mahal.

Obviously it is not the real Taj Mahal, and the pool of water in front of it is usually the result of a broken drain rather than a sculpted pool. Be that as it may, and notwithstanding the eye-stinging nearness of our table to the open door into the kitchen, that had to be one of the best curries I had consumed in a long time.

THE BOY was particularly pleased with his choice of food, or rather, Angela was as she had managed to eat his rice and leave him with her one instead. But he was able to sit next to Dip and Steve, who talked about football and investing and all that boy stuff. Angela and I discussed which public figures we thought were good looking. Her latest one is some car racing driver from the 1970s whose name escapes me. She's reading his autobiography now. Sadly most of the people we think are lush are dead, or nearly dead.

For example:


Cary Grant
Errol Flynn
Young George Best

Nearly Dead:
Peter O'Toole (gratuitous picture here)
Robert Redford

Brain Dead:
Brad Pitt
Orlando Bloom
George Clooney

Most Likely To Say Yes to: George Clooney

Most unlikely to say yes to: Russell Brand. EWWW! Get a hair cut you matchstick loo brush! Can anyone honestly say that this (pictured below)

is anything as sexy as Clooney?

Of course, the boys then started to mock our conversation, like we were even bothered to join in to discuss whether Reina had past his peak as a goalie, or whether Wenger really did have the better strikers. BOVVERED!

Cue one of the classic Angela-isms of the evening: "THE BOY, why don't you become a professional footballer? Then Mermaid could have loads of money." I think I choked on a chili at that point.
THE BOY: "Well, you have to be really good to be a professional"
Angela: "Really? You have to be that good? I wondered why more men didn't go into football with that sort of money. So you have to be really good?"

Ho hum! Anyway a picture of Angela and I will shortly appear below, with a pic of three of the chaps attending our New Year Curry. Ho for the Taj Mahal!

Friday, January 12, 2007


This morning, I woke up early to help mummy get up for work. How was I to know it was only 6 - 1.5 hours before her up time? So she shut me in the bathroom.

Anyway I forgave her because she cuddled and fed me. But then she ran out of the "accompaniment treat" of roast turkey so all I got was processed ham. Poo!

THEN I wanted to play football but instead of kicking the ball, mummy's hard and bony heel accidentally thumped me in the face, which made me scared and I had to run and hide under the bed while mummy cooed after me and tried to tell me she was sorry.

Anyway I forgave her because she cuddled me. But as she cuddled me she stuck worming paste into my mouth. I thought I was clever and spat it out on her hand, but she wiped it on my paw and without thinking I licked it off. EUGH!

Anyway I forgave her and then went to see where she was. She was in the bath. I started purring happily because I love mummy. I got confused. I jumped up on the rim of the bath, but it was wet.

At least my tiny head did not get wet when I fell into the deep, bubbly water. Mummy fished me out and wrapped me in a towel and although she was cuddling me, I think she was laughing because her shoulders were shaking. I was all bedraggled and wet and mummy tried to dry me off with a big hot whirry scary thing but I just decided to ignore all her efforts and sit on the floor shivering instead.

Poor ME! She then took a picture of me all wet and feeling sorry for myself, which she said she would get burned onto disc and then put up on the blog. Mew!

And THEN THE BOY/Daddy will come around tonight and shoot me again with a foam ring gun thing. I am having a bad day. Poor little me. Poor kitten....

Friday, January 05, 2007

A little Story

Once upon a time there was a drama queen who decided to write her autobiography. Although she sent it out to all the courtiers, advisers, friends and subjects, believing she had nothing to hide, everyone complained so much that she cut out all her jokes, anecdotes, personal comments, barbs, moans and anything that really reflected how she felt until it no longer represented anything she felt, said, did or thought. So she decided not to write her autobiography anymore and everyone else was happy. But then she could not explain to anyone in person what she was feeling because everyone had an opinion and kept giving advice rather than letting her just talk things through. So instead of hiring a publisher, she hired a hit man and embarked with him on a bitter killing spree until everyone was dead. She then published her book but there was no-one around to read it so it sat on the shelves next to Vanessa Feltz's diet tips book.
There Is a Friend Who Sticks Closer than a Brother"

I've not really introduced any of my friends, apart from Catty and THE BOY. There is also Oscar's Staff (see Oscar's Thought of the day) Oscar and Anonymous, mother of three kitties, prefer to be nameless so they can post cheeky comments. There is a site for Anonymous's Paddy Cat which you can find here.

But here are some of the people I've been friends with for YEARS... literally. I was at a 30th birthday not too long ago, for Emma and Laura aka "The Twins". I've known them since I was about 7 or 8. And they still invite me to stuff. Either they have the patience of a saint or they have amnesia. Which reminds me of a funny story about Douglas Fairbanks Senior. DFS (I DOUBT MOST OF YOU HAVE EVEN HEARD OF HIS MORE FAMOUS SON DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS JUNIOR. HE HAD AN AMAZING MOUSTACHE. I AM DETERMINED TO EDUCATE YOUR LIMITED KNOWLEDGE OF ANYTHING PRIOR TO 1970. AND TO STOP USING CAPITAL LETTERS).

Anyway, He had a senior moment so to speak, when driving with a companion through the countryside on a scorchingly hot day. He saw a well-dressed man struggling along the dusty road, so he ordered his chauffeur to stop and give the poor man a lift. The man, grateful, greeted D. Fairbanks (Snr) as an old acquaintance. Slightly taken aback, DFS (not to be confused with the eternal double discount sofa dealers, may their cruddy Linda-Barfder stock catch fire and/or damp rot) soon found out that this man not only knew him well, but had also been to his house, as he knew it and the staff well. So they chatted animatedly for a good quarter of an hour, laughing, guffawing and patting each other on the back or whatever well-to-do chaps did in the early 20th century.

It was only when the man got out, that DFS turned to his companion. "You know George, I have no idea who that man was."
George replied: "I thought so, as I was very surprised that you should be so friendly with the butler you fired for stealing your silverware."

All of which has led me to my own senior moment. I can't remember where I was. Oh yes, THE TWINS. (Put in Caps, that looks quite terrifying... they came from Poland... and now they are at a Cinema near you.... THE TWINS. BEWARE). So here's some pictures of their birthday party in December.

Eloise (friend from school and mutual friend of THE TWINS) and her squeeze Graham

Me, my belly and Laura

Laura, Emma, Emma’s husband and their little sister Caroline (foreground)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Here he is!!!!

The long-awaited Monty B Truffles. Named in honour of Field Marshall Montgomery. He is the cutest, dearest, sweetest little thing in the whole wide world. He was a present from my best friend Clare.

And I am going to publish every picture I can of him, because the cute video I have of him playing on his scratching post cannot load up. Or else I am too thick to do that. Any suggestions gratefully received as to how to load MOV onto the system.

Anyway, here is the static shot of him next to my mobile looking small and sleepy. AWWWW !