Friday, March 31, 2006


The dreaded ‘12hr straight’ day. But I shouldn’t complain. Tonight I’m hoping to meet a chum who is stepping off a flight from New York about when I leave the show, and does this kind of travel like I catch the bus (or indeed walk down the corridor back at HQ). It’s his job and not for me to criticise, but one can only imagine the consequences to global warming of his business lifestyle. And this is the problem with so much in the media debate; there is such a disconnect between the ideal and the basic facts of life and living today. Though there is a certain pragmatism creeping in, though not so much from the environmental side.

For instance, I was reading another review of ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’, this time in the Evening Standard. I’d say the critic, Victor Lewis-Smith, is cut from the same cloth as Jeremy Clarkson. I’m not saying he’s a ‘mentalist-bashing shock-jock, but one of the few journalists who are not afraid to say what they think, think about what they say and actually articulate a decent argument, even though you may not agree with it.

Without having seen the show, he did make a few points to bear in mind. The best, I felt, was that it is not that hard being self-sufficient on a 3-acre farm. Most of us do not have the luxury of such resource, time or BBC support to live this dream.

I hope this will not end up as another ‘us ‘n them’ situation. I applaud another positive effort, but it does seem to shaping up as one where most cannot empathise with the protagonists’ situations.

And this was the core an interesting conversation I had with a lovely lady called Sarita, who works with in Samsung as a researcher for their Design Intelligence division.

Who knows where it may lead? But it was inspiring to find out that some mega-companies are really concerned with how the average consumer feels and reacts. And it doesn’t matter if it is for commercial reasons, so long as they have started to get their heads around the potential of going green in a way that rewards and engages all sides of the equation.

In leaving, she paid me the highest compliment I’ve had (personally, but also for the stand & site) when she said it was so nice to find someone so passionate, so keen to make a difference, with so many ways to do stuff… but without being preachy. That is exactly where I want us to be, and with luck where we’ll succeed… soon… please!

Had a bit of an adventure when the lovely Suzy from the stand opposite came over concerned because I looked tired, and in chatting I mentioned that my left arm was sore and my fingers numb. I suspect this was/is more than due to being tired, having a rotten posture and typing this hunched over a picnic table. Anyway, the next thing I know she’s brought over the medics and I’d been whisked off for a check-up. Other than overdoing it, I was given the all-clear, which was a relief. I wish my arm didn’t throb & tingle so much, though. So a big thank-you for all concerned for being… concernedJ


It is pretty obvious that I am an advocate of doing. But of course, there are a plethora of sayings such as ‘fools rush in…’, and the majority of my life experiences, to offer the caution that a little bit of thinking and/or chatting first may often be extra time well spent.

However, I remain fairly convinced that if you don’t ‘do’ something in case it goes wrong, it’s also a nigh on guarantee that you won’t get anything done either. Hence I will always tend to err on the impulsive and rely on my motto of ‘Do the right thing, for the right reasons’ (bet it would look great in Latin) to get me through the consequences relatively ahead and unscathed.


What do I/we do about the media? We seem damned if we don’t (get in touch) and damned if we do (follow-up). The show is almost at its end. We have had no meaningful coverage, nor the reassurance of any to come. What do I do? Politely sit here and hope. Or try and make things happen?

After all that has transpired (and much that has not), I do not feel any great debt to the show or its sponsors, and with no contact for several days now feel not only misled and let down, but pretty much dropped. Time to look at doing what is necessary perhaps?


Apparently the PM and leader of the Opposition were otherwise engaged yesterday. So Question Time was left to DPM Prescott and William Hague.

What was depressing about the farce that is Whitehall and politics of today was that their ‘clash’ was viewed as some merry japing joust by the pols and political commentators alike. Scoring points and making gags. Depressing, as no one cares (because they have realised they don’t have to to succeed) about actually doing anything worthwhile any more. A quick soundbite is all that’s required to keep the gravy train flowing. And sod those you claim to serve. At least one journo, Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail, managed to see this for the tragic game it has become for our future governance.


Just when you think you cannot get any lower, it’s always nice to find others are waaaaay further down there. And in this case it’s one of those ‘couldn’t happen to a nice bunch’ scenarios.

Seems ASDA is demanding huge up-front payments for its suppliers to guarantee future business. And we’re talking such as Unilever, Kellogg’s, Heinz, etc. Hmmn. A fight worth watching, as I suspect there will be no winners, including us.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Final Countdown...


Oops. Here I was talking about layers, and obviously has a few of its own! I decided to call Jason of Any Junk (see recent blog), and had a pleasant chat. With luck he may drop by to visit at the show this week as I see some potential between us. Of course I cheerfully offered him a slot on the site, and said they’re already on it! Next time I get adventurous I’ll check with Emma first!!!!

I went on one of my regular Cap ‘N Cork rounds yesterday, and actually had a not bad haul. Only from a minority, but it was nice when some faces lit up at my arrival and I got presented with a bag of carefully collected caps.

Looking through today’s paper, and stumbled across the lead letter of the letters page in the Daily Mail. Headed ‘plastic is turning me into a bag lady’, yet another member of the public expresses their frustration at needless waste. Coming on top of the similar themed article by a reporter in these same pages a few weeks’ back, we have fired off another cheery missive in the hope that we may yet see the coverage that seemed so hopeful at the outset of this show still materialise. It is one thing to be lost in the clutter of people gunning for the media’s attention, but we seem not only to be invisible but actively getting ignored, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why.


Following on, as they are related, I was reading some public feedback to the hugely successful ‘The Apprentice’. What caught my eye were a couple asking why some ‘contestants’ were patently not what was articulated as winning material. Of course, not being dumb they acknowledged that it made for good TV, which is actually the only reason for the show, rather than any genuine attempt to discover a talented business apprentice.

I really think that this description of such broadcast entertainment genres should desist. It is plain inaccurate as there is simply no reality at all.

And now I spy two more, brand new ones starting today.

One is about an educationalist, entitled ‘Don’t Mess With Miss Beckles’. I’m prepared to bet that this will not be an accurate reflection of the state of anything except a bunch of kids’ desires to be on TV at any cost. Harking back a long way, if someone turned up at my school with a camera, our behaviour was anything but ‘real’. I’m sure there will be a nice fight in the offing to spice up the ratings.

More promisingly, there’s another in our ‘zone’ called ’It’s Not Easy Being Green’. I certainly look forward to catching up with it once I return from the show. From the snippet I saw they are at least not preaching so much as trying to inspire by example, which is good, but I again wonder how such efforts would turn out should the resources of a film crew not be in evidence. ‘All these people have turned out to help’ sounds lovely and heart-warming, but to what extent this was altruistic remains to be seen. Having seen a queue of teenagers waiting for the cameras to roll before planting floral tributes at a dead ‘friend’s’ chosen lamppost of vehicular termination, I have a cynical view of most people’s motivations these days.

But then maybe this is now the new reality.


On one of my Cap ‘N Corks rounds I came across a stall selling a device that extended your reach and picks things up. Pretty useful for my task. They were £4.99. I asked if he could let me have one at a discount. No dice: full fare. Still, I bought it. On my travels subsequently, several folk asked me where I got it, but for some reason I couldn’t recollect. How much better for all concerned had the chap seen the obvious potential in helping me out.


A little detour this morning to the Science Museum to the press launch of their ‘Dead Ringers’ show, which is basically about recycling mobile phones. Read my review here []. I must say that these things are falling into a bit of a routine, with a lot of dosh resulting in a load of PR folk, pols, academics and a load of media being brought together for a few speeches and a press pack which then most likely get dutifully rehashed and lost at the back of the odd minor medium.

I actually asked a few questions and did not get many answers.

However, I did meet a few more ‘great and good’ from such as DEFRA, SITA, etc, which with luck will be helpful. One such was Prof. Sue Grimes, Chair of Waste management at Imperial College. Nice lady. I hope we may be able to communicate further.

Came back to find the show in full swing. ‘Busy but not buying’ seems to be the order of the day. In my brief trip from entrance to stand, I ‘assisted’ one lady who was trying to cram her water bottle in the paper slot of the recycle bin, and stopped by the loos to switch off two hot taps left running.

My frustration is building. There’s not much I can do about having being totally suckered financially with our presence at the show, but it still galls me that I was taken in by the claims about all that was being done to cut us a great deal because what we were doing fitted in so well with the theme. However, having just finished talking with – and apologising to - yet another person who came to visit because they saw we were attending on our website, I am set to ask some serious questions.

This lady had had great trouble finding us because we were not in the guide. One of the many dispensations we thought we’d been granted was not having to pay for the compulsory £1500 ad in the guide, which sadly meant we were not listed. Strange then that many of the highly commercial enterprises in our area also managed to avoid this, along with paying one tenth what we did for their pitches. I also suspect the few others scattered about who are dealing in green issues paid little, if anything at all for their massive pitches. I wonder what WRAP has to say about all this?

But where I am really not happy is the sheer level of tokenism being shown to the environmental cause by the show itself, and its marketing.

Of course I’m only getting a handful of people interested in our message, because you’d have to work very hard to find it being promoted in any meaningful way, if at all. I have no access to the site, but I doubt it is any more overt than when we started looking having signed up, and no ad I have seen anywhere makes any mention.

Meanwhile my positive efforts, while being ‘allowed’, are being treated as no more than a quaint indulgence. I honestly feel quite let down by those who saw only our money rather than our sincere intentions, and used the latter to make a few more cheap scores of the former to doubtless meet some target.

However, we are still seeing a steady stream of quality, which is some compensation for the total lack of quantity.

Yesterday I had the Corporate Director of Thurrock Council swing by, and he seemed very positive about what we are doing.

Meanwhile today I had a great chat with a lovely couple of businessfolk – Adam & Gail of [] - who had come all the way down from Bolton to check out… you guessed it… the environmental theme. They arrived disappointed but I hope left our little site at least a bit happier that some areas of mutual interest had been discussed. We identified a lot of synergies, and I am hopeful there may be a worthwhile relationship there to explore later.

YOUR WORLD. YOUR (well those of you who get chosen) SAY.

I missed the issue the day before that prompted it, but I bought the Independent that had the title ‘Your World. Your Say’, boasting an eight page special issue devoted to readers’ responses on how best to change the climate.

However, before I could wade into this mighty collation, I first had to remove, with a wistfully ironic chuckle, the twenty-four page Property section, with articles and ads advocating homes in Spain, Bulgaria, Dubai, etc. Bless.

This self-same section also has a green bit, by one Will Anderson. I quite like his style. There was some common sense and we must get in touch. And then, on present evidence, never hear back. But you never know.

Anyway, it was worth having a scamper through the thoughts of the UK’s great concerned, or at least those the Indy has chosen because it suits their editorial policy. We will be guilty of this too at, for it is just human nature, but let us never forget that nothing is ever without a level of spin.

Sadly , the result was... predictable. I learned nothing new. The majority were ‘isn’t it all awful, we must do something’, with very few actual suggestions (new or otherwise) as to what.

I was going to do a detailed analysis. Sorry, can’t be bothered. With a few… very few… exceptions of common sense, pragmatic un-PC parapet-popping and a couple of sensible notions that stand a s**t-show of being adopted by any of today’s polls, this was just a talking shop for eco-worriers to share each others pain, littered with a few loons from each extreme popped in to ensure the debate bubbles along, albeit fruitlessly. Frankly a waste of eight pages.


This was the mantra we used at my agency, and has served me well. In business, it simply is not possible to do all three and achieve a satisfactory result.

As my recent adventures have distanced me from financial issues (not in a good way), I have started to think that a trimmed down version without ‘cheap’ can be applied to what I am doing a lot currently, namely writing. You can write something quickly, but it is unlikely that it will turn out to be very good. One of my favourite sayings (which I may or may not have come up with) is that ‘Cream rises to the top. You can’t push it’. With such as these blogs, my haste to get it out there often results in something that is not as good as I’d wish it to be.

The issue of the readers’ responses to the Indy feature made me revisit this. Pretty much all were ‘via email’. Issue and response neatly concluded within 48 hours. I missed my shot because I simply had no window. It’s the era of the quick… or the unpublished.

But even if I had fired something off, it would have been an initial draft. Not crafted or mulled over at all. Sad really. And prevalent across every aspect of life. The demands of producing anything no matter what almost ensure we never make whatever it is worthwhile.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get back to when something is worth wait for?


Either there was not much on TV last night, or the critics are reading my blog. Anyway, the only programmes to get reviewed were the reality shows I mentioned the other day. And without even seeing them it looks like I was pretty much bang on! The feisty lady’s attempt to kick kids into gear has not gone down well. The green family fared better, but the Indy critic did pause to wonder how being a consultant in the defence industry squared with planet-saving. But hey, I still like to write ads. Better to have that as a day job and do what he’s doing to mitigate, rather than compounding the deal by not caring. Highlights the problems we all face juggling jobs, family... and our environmental impact.


Just a thought, but what is the point of all these targets? Seems ‘we’ just missed one to do with emissions, and the sum total of the response has been a collective ‘Oh well’, and simply setting another target. No one lost a job, and indeed no one was actually mentioned as being responsible. It just sort off ‘happened’.

But hit a target and the gongs are handed out quicker than you can say ‘peerage for sale’.

There’s the usual ‘we’re disappointed’ noises from the eco-groups, but about the best they can come up with is ‘must do better’. Er, how? If our Government can’t police itself enough to do what it should, what chance do the rest of us have?

Monday, March 27, 2006


I have a mystery benefactor! Yesterday I popped out to get a sandwich, and upon my return there waiting for me was a drink and piece of cake, with the message ‘A small present for an eco-warrior alone in such a consumerist environment Enjoy!’. All the guys around the stand deny all knowledge and don’t recall anyone, so to my very own Emerald Pimpernel, should you read this: ‘thank you!’.


That didn’t take long. Just reading a review of the budget with the heading ‘Efficiency Drive’, indicating that spending by four Whitehall departments ‘will be scaled back… to cut waste’. Eyebrow time! As there is no mention of how this waste will be trimmed, why do I suspect that all will happen is essential services get reduced still further before anyone gets around to reducing waste? I was talking to a ‘mole from the ministry’ just now, who was having a quick scope around on their day off, and my suspicions where pretty much confirmed: the EU gives the Gov some money to address waste; the Gov gives it to a not-for-profit quango, who then use it to build an empire with a nifty head office building, highly paid directors and staff with regional officers throughout the land (all with nice pensions), and lost of lovely research and investigative (conferences all around the world) budgets. And once that little lot has been established, they set about doling out the minute fraction that’s left to those initiatives that may actually make a difference. If I may paraphrase an old saying: “will the last person left who is not measuring, assessing, taxing or otherwise feeding off the economy, please find some way to generate the energy so all those riding on their backs have any lights at all to tick their target projection boxes’. In a world where all are chiefs, the Indian (Native American) may just get fed up and leave them in the lurch.


This didn’t take long either. Entitled ‘UNFurGIVEABLE’ I came across a fashion section. Actually quite a sincere, passionate piece pointing out that ‘the industry’ has a pretty short memory when it comes to fur. Apparently most designers have decided it is a fad whose time is over. Bad time to be a mink again, then. And if they can forget about ripping skin off live animals so quickly, I’m not too encouraged that ethical items will get much of a run either.

But to fingerpoint a tad, just by way of an eyebrow twitch let me quote the intro line from the vegetarian animal lover columnist’s introduction: ‘… Having just seen four weeks of ready-to-wear’ shows in London, Milan and Paris,…’. Now, I know this is how she makes her living, and her articles are part of how the paper sells, but it was... quaint… how this was the day after a piece by another columnist on how our predilection for scooting around the world at the drop of a haberdasher wasn’t helping too much. And as I didn’t see it claimed on the page (which if it was, it would be), I’m guessing these trips were not carbon neutralised. In the great scheme of things, would an animal be more worried about being hunted for its pelt or made extinct along with all other life on the planet? Just a thought.

Anyway, to lighten the mood a bit, here’s a new experiment as I’m at a remote location - my first Word.doc cartoon! - which I hope the girls can capture as an upload (yes Peter, it is placed at the start of this blog!, Emma)


Pretty busy, though I am fading again. I was looking forward to having the family for company. But typically there was another lesson to be learned about where we headed. After 3 hrs in a jam only a few miles away from Earls Court, PJ called to say she was turning back. That must make over 50% of the trips made here a complete bust. I really look forward to getting home, and not even trying to commute, by car or otherwise.

I did have an interesting chat with a lady about plastic caps. She was telling me that in her area a recycler said that if they collected caps equivalent to the weight of a wheelchair they were trying save up for a disabled resident, they would come and collect… plus donate the wheelchair! Not quite sure about the logistics, but this has to be worth pursuing. Sadly my caps collection is not going too well, but it was too little, too late and not coordinated or supported well enough to work. But I reckon we could turn a show like this into tons of pre-sorted items that would make any recycler salivate. I can’t believe no one has thought of this before, so there must be financial/logistical/inertial reasons why not, and it is worth finding out what they are and overcoming them. All of which is possible, but the ease of which will depend on the level of territorial, political and greed obstacles that stand in the way.


I just liked the title, which was in the Mail about a new Rolls Royce. A bit of a stretch to get to ‘green limo’ as they claimed, but it was interesting how elegantly engineers who are at last motivated to do so can harness wasted heat from car engines to provide more power and, hence, greater fuel efficiency. Shame they waited until now.


Another prompted by our PM-in-waiting. Seems Gordo is asking the EU to raise the duty-free threshold for long haul travellers. This seems uncharacteristically philanthropic of him. Especially as it will tend to be of benefit for those in the higher income brackets.

And perhaps more pertinently, I am unsure how encouraging people to jump in an aircraft to do their shopping is helping global warming.


I’m not sure, but I have to say that not only are there not as many people coming in as before, but those who are don’t seem to be the same either in terms of engagement. Having paid for the stand I should be as equally concerned, but the guys who tally up the tills each night are livid, and rumours abound. Some of these guys have been here for several years, and the consensus is that the numbers are down, and the wrong audience is being brought in. In fact, there is talk that a lot of free tickets have been issued to keep the numbers up, and people who don’t pay to get in tend not to buy either, and only hunt around for freebies. Then again, it may just be fourth week paranoia creeping in!

PJ & the boys did the Cap ‘N Cork round this morning, and it was not very encouraging. I fear that was an idea that either did not have wings or more likely the necessary oomph to get it off the ground.

The stand continues to attract quality over quantity, though it is getting wearing to be the one copping the frustration of those who visited specifically for the ‘Sustainability & Recycling’ theme. That said, at least they end up with us and no one else! Big fish, small pond ‘n all.

Popped across to see Oliver Heath do a talk. He’s another TV celeb who is in the eco-arena, much like Penney Poyzer. And a perfectly charming and interesting chap he is too. I bought his book (this is not working out quite the way I intended. The whole point was we would be given money having invested so much in the stand; not running around forking out more!) and we have another testimonial to add at least.

I must say that I believe I could do the job he did. It’s easy to forget that living this industry as we have does give one a fair spread of knowledge. Of course, I still sadly lack the ‘as seen on TV’ cachet, which is what really makes one worth the speaker gig.

And at the end even he was pushing products, which is where we have fallen down all along. We need something to sell.


Well, it was tempting. Come in earlier at 8.30am and pay peak fares to be told how we can secure a slot at next year’s event… or… stay in bed. I look forward to finding out if anyone attended, and if they did whether they were armed.

It will be interesting to see how they spin this, as the tumbleweed blowing down the corridors so far today has outnumbered the visitors. And I rather recall being told this last week is ‘when it really all picks up’. Having been held to keeping a presence on stand by the requirements of the contract, despite it actually detracting from its effectiveness, I’m wondering if there may not be some pressure that can be brought to bear for such a massive failure to bring in the right numbers of the right kind of people. The few that have come in because of the supposed eco-them have felt mighty cheated, as have I.

Some are blaming the marketing. I can’t really comment on the media planning or spend, but it does seem to have been all over the various papers I’m exposed to (Mail, metro, Evening Standard – all owned by the same guys, I believe), plus tube posters etc.

But, oh, the creative! Three executions (one with Zoe Ball, one with Graham Norton and one with Sharon Osborne) rehashed over and over, and with the most facile of headlines. Utter tosh. I could have done better in a heartbeat. Which, of course, I must now plan to do. Back to the day job!

So I’ve started to look at ads again quite critically, and we do seem to be in an era of truly woeful work, so maybe there is a chance… if the world is actually up for the odd notion of actually achieving something. Not just in creative, but ROI. Especially in the world of environmental promotion marketing. Sure you can hit a target if your throw enough money at it, but does anyone actually assess how much it takes to get there, and how efficient the media and/or messages are in doing so?


I have to say I look across at the npower stand(s) with some envy. For sure they have spent a lot on infrastructure and personnel, but their little Perspex towers are fair bulging with signed forms from people willing to make a huge (and not necessarily sound) decision on their energy supplier based on two free fluffy toys.

On balance I think should at least have had a system in place to capture on the spot registrations encouraged by some form of prize draw. The quality may not have been there, but at least we’d have had some numbers to float past a bean-counter.


Nice to see a ‘proposal’ that micro-power stations are to be encouraged across the land (ST article link ‘Homes to become mini power stations’). This I like for all sorts of reasons, especially as there are to be incentives attached. We must try and locate energy minister Malcolm Wicks and see just how all this will be happening in practice.


And oldie but a goldie! But it is hard to worry much about offending those who may be off help to us when we simply can’t seem to even get arrested when it comes to a product/service that so warrants mention when the issue of junk is discussed, as it is often these days.

I was reading a piece in the property section of the Sunday Times [,,176-2095505,00.html] about taking waste from London households. Most of the piece focussed on one Jason Mohr, and his company Any Junk? Sounds like a worthwhile idea and good luck to him. But how did he get such coverage? Reading his CV (City, solicitor, MBA) I rather suspect he has that crucial thing that still eludes us: who he knows. I think he may be worth a call to explore synergies. Any Junk? are already on our website. I just hope that he doesn’t already have a few layers of people in the way already.


I don’t know if it’s even true as a piece of zoological behaviour, but thanks to a lifetime of Looney Tunes cartoons I have a vision of the ostrich (under the misplaced illusion of) concealing itself from harm by sticking its head in a hole.

This came to mind with the latest religiously-inspired banning of something in the media, this time an episode of South Park. It is pretty amazing that it has taken this long for them to actually get so censured, but it seems that of all people the Scientologists have managed it.

Oh-no, they killed free speech!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Not the hugest of days yesterday. Having been snookered in my aim of pushing my bike around to bear the big red dustbin on my cap collection round, in true style I made myself a device that worked well and looked pretty much like a tea-pickers basket. Then I hoofed it around the show. The reaction pretty much reflected the show and the stand: a high-quality minority actively getting into the spirit, and a majority who couldn’t give a hoot. Sad. Still, maybe if I keep up a cheery daily presence it may pick up.

Another idea I had was to see about inviting a mobility disabled person to bring in their motorised wheelchair and do the collection on my behalf: a neat way around my problem, with some possible positive PR for the cause of a few other folks. I pitched it to the Daily Mail journo, but suspect the reaction so far may make it less of a story (unless that in itself is a story). He did at least indicate that the Vac:Sac feature may yet appear.

Otherwise a quiet day, and I think I get more tired by inactivity, because today has not been a real stretch but I feel shattered again.

Anyway, I did another Cap N’ Cork round, and the awareness does seem to be going up (the cries of ‘Yo, it’s Captain Cork’ as I make my rounds make it a worthwhile effort), so it is worth persevering. One reason I’m not getting many is that many are reusing their water bottles with tap, which I guess is a win, if only in another way.

On matters blogworthy:


There was a BBC expose in the news yesterday about estate agents. It made grim reading/viewing. Other than wondering how these folk could live with themselves, I also can’t understand why a lot more attention is not paid by the authorities to such financially ruinous practices rather than an obsession with petty fines for minor ‘offences’ by genuinely law-abiding folk. We really seem to have a skewed system these days. And no one culpable ever gets held to account. Especially when quite ridiculous cases get taken to law. Of course the legal profession always gets paid, and that needs addressing, as they have no incentive not to engage in such grotesque abuses as it fills their pockets no matter what. But there does need to be more accountability on an individual level for costs to the rate/tax payer when things simply should not develop to a court case (or pay out). Some teacher is claiming £1million because her chair made a noise. This should not have got any further than an internal conversation. And if anyone does get paid sorting this out, then those who allowed it to get any further (and especially her) should bear the cost of it being escalated.

Even in the show I get an uneasy feeling when I walk in prior to opening and see cabals of sales guys huddled around their managers at their morning briefings, sucking up the best ways to screw a sale out of hapless visitors. It’s bad enough that many ‘show prices’ are above normal retail, especially online, but there are some practices out there that leave a bad taste and taint the show and those of us here trying to do an honest job.

Sadly, it seems there is no limit to what a person is capable of to put a little more in their pockets. I understand the need to earn a living, but there seems to be a competitive culture that pushes people into darker areas of ethical behaviour with no real benefit to anyone.

It makes me appreciate my Dad all the more. He found a product he believed in, made by a company he respected, and made a massive career diligently selling it to people who needed it, wanted it and were happy to have him facilitate its sale and support to their organisations. And he gave his son a heck of a life and education on the proceeds. Thanks, Dad. I hope I can do the same for the boys via


I have to say I am appreciating my morning Metro. Not only is it a nice free way to pass some time on the tune ride, but there is usually a snippet or two of useful info in there (just like!). The news aspect is a little cursory (unlike but I will miss it as a digest of tips when I leave London.

For instance, in a remarkable example of Kismet, with the remains of Emma’s main CPU still smouldering, today there was an article about places to recover data (and we had lost the last week’s worth of sign-ups), and also some budget back-ups to consider. A bit closing the stable door, but better late than again.


Must confess I drifted in a tad late today. The show does seem to be a tad busier, but I truly dread the 10pm close tonight.

At least my recuperative lie-in gave me another chance to catch up on the news, and maintain the blog with a few more observations.


I’m pretty sure I’ve used this title before, but is one of my better ones (immodestly), and will always hold true.

Although definitely falling into the BTN category, not only are the news pages pretty full of the environment these days, but also the lifestyle sections too. Juts looking at the weekend Telegraph extolling eco-friendly ranges, and yesterday the mail had a piece on what to do as we’re not supposed to fly abroad. I just wonder how long travel and fashion editors will find talking about, and promoting, eco-versions ‘fashionable’ before they drop them in pursuit of newer, and likely less green fare in the near future. Today, camping near the Eden Project, tomorrow, a weekend break with [insert freeloading celeb here] at Ayers Rock (courtesy of [insert savvy travel agent who knows a few thou funding a freebie to get a full page article beats the price of an ad any day]).

It’s a bit like the Xmas pet ads: The planet is for life, not just a Sunday feature.


I could of course have a little swipe at the budget, but most news media have got there ahead of me. As I sipped my one luxury at the show, a morning cappuccino, it is rather silly to think that the price of one of these every few days will put off some Yummy Mummy from buying a Chelsea tractor. Was it worth even the sop?

But what did get me excited was another article I read, whereby the Chinese Govt (not usually know for its enlightened social policies) is popping a tax on chopsticks to reduce (and make some dough from) the 90 billion chopsticks the population throw away each year.

I’m not sure, but that smacks of having the prudent potential to really make a difference, rather than a few cheap points and a headline. Eh, Gordo?


More quality over quantity. I just had a great chat with a lovely lady who sought out our stand as the only oasis of real re-anything in the show (including the massive govt-funded recycling stand: ‘Useless’, she said, ‘a bunch of glossy brochures that don’t say anything’). Doesn’t help us much with our search for money, but I did feel a certain sense of vindication that we’re on the right track.

She was telling me about a thing called the Tank Exchange, which we must track down. Basically it’s a place you can buy massive bowsers that are used for importing Orange Juice, and turn them into rainwater collection devices. How cool is that?

It also got me to thinking we must do more to encourage people to share stuff on the site that we may not know, hence allowing us to let everyone else know about it and promote it. I think it would be best to re-design the Answers page to accommodate this, along with a new filed to locate their postcode area.

It’s funny, because even as I was writing this having just talked to the previous lady, another has asked me what she could do with her year’s collection of yogurt pots, which her council site rejects even though they take plastic.

Having now found out they can be tuned into kitchen units, I am pondering how we establish a financially and environmentally sound relationship via between consumers, local ‘reps’ and the recyclers/recycled goods manufacturers such that this refuse can become a profitable resource.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

And the Adventure Continues....


Well, I had wondered how I’d cope doing 12 hr days with no breaks, even at the weekend. And last night I found out. Hence I was not at my station this morning. I was shattered. But it’s amazing what a little lie in can do and I was in by lunch, well refreshed. Sunday night the ‘bring out your red (caps)’ mailing to fellow exhibitors had gone out, so we’re committed to this little PR effort now. I hope that we get a good response. I’m now pondering how to get a trolley rightaway to drum up daily support, and how to make a neat sign up for the red bin I’ll tote about. All good fun, and will keep me active on the stand.

Which I’ll need to do. One interesting aspect of my absence, which I’d half suspected, was confirmed by the lovely Suzy from the Loc8tor stand opposite; namely that more people seem to come through the stand when I’m not in it. No offence taken, as it’s obvious really. We are there to share information in a gallery setting. And with 599 stands trying to flog stuff it’s no surprise that some may be cautious about entering a salesman’s den.

Sadly, the show rules will not allow for me to absent myself from it, even if it would make more of what we’re trying to do. However, I think I can be nearby a lot on my cap-collection rounds.

A bit like the stand, my cap-collection idea seems to be so far attracting more quality than quantity. As a consequence of the idea I just had a visit from a nice chap working with ecover, who has a glass-crushing system called ‘Bottle Crusher’ []. Sounded good and we’ll certainly check it out and pop it on if it’s within our remit and appropriate to our audience, which I certainly sounds lie t will be. We had a good chat bemoaning the fact that guys like us seemed to struggle a lot with funding when those who need it a lot less seem to get it on a plate. But hey, who said life was fair?


I was preparing our application of the Observer/ecover ethical awards, so I moved the Mac to the demo table, partly for comfort and partly to ‘hide’ behind and see if it will encourage more folk to we’ll through. We’ll see. One consequence is that I can get a bit of PC-time in on the keyboard, so I have an opportunity to get going on some blogs as a consequence of some inevitable eye-twitching stuff and my Monday morning trawl through the Sunday papers. And it has all been a rich seam. Here goes:


Two days in, and I’m pretty sure the whole show has forgotten my cap ‘n cork collection plan. So I decided to drum up support. Bearing in mind the theme is ‘Bring out your red..’ (a play on the old plague cry of bring out your dead) I attached the big red bin to the back of the display bike, festooned with ‘cap ‘n cork collection signs’, with the attention of walking it around the show.

However, I did realise that I would need some kind of permission. Hence it was foolish to ask a man with a walkie-talkie, flak-jacket, gelled hair and the sound of guns in his head. Not only would he not allow me to do it, he would not even tell me who I could ask. Helf ‘n safety has become the curse of this country, empowering a wealth of nay-sayers to stop ANYTHING without thinking about how it could be done and meet all parties interests. In this I feel true empathy with Mr.
Clarkson (balancing JC blog follows shortly, no doubt). They win the battle for now, but I have a cunning plan…


As is the way of things, just as we are sending a horde of Junkk.comophiles to both the site and our in-boxes, the very computer that takes the messages died last week. So far, so typically frustrating. How fortunate then that we had invested in the 3-year 24-hr repair plan from the computer seller in question (see headline to guess name). Strange that it remains unfixed at time of writing, some five days later. Apparently, they didn’t get the email. Ponder that one. The largest PC company in the world’s customer tech support… didn’t get the email. Priceless.


We seem to get a lot of press releases these days at Towers from financial institutions who are trumpeting their going ‘carbon neutral’. Fighting the urge to wonder if there is an annual report in the offing that needs a quick CSR light green touch-up, we always write back politely to say that we applaud that at long last they have seen the merits as organisations of cutting down on their own wasteful practices, but… what would be a story is if they had something that served the environment AND their customer base more tangibly. Such as loans for enviro-related works at highly preferential rates. So far, no takers.

However, today I did read in my Metro there are at least (or just, depending on your view) three sympathetic mortgage providers: the Ecology Building Society. The Co-op Bank and The Norwich and Peterborough Building Society. However, the terms I saw did not exactly light my fire. A campaign beckons.


A long time ago in Asia, I was interested in a thing called an endless pool. Basically a very small swimming pool which had a water jet you swam against. Kind of a water treadmill. Having come back to the UK this was still a dream, but the cost of buying and cost of running (enclosing, heating, cleaning, etc, all not required out East) put paid to that dream. And we have a public pool right next door. Well, here at the show I’m surrounded by the things again!

And after a BBC ‘spot’ on their ‘popularity’ (another 10 minute commercial courtesy of the public broadcast network) recently, I thought the sales guys would be floating on air.

Well, it looks like the water companies are demanding pool bans, which may put a dampener (forgive the pun. You know, it hasn’t rained since I arrived in London) on the whole thing.

Looking to provide some positive angle, try this website: Plus it may be a good thing the Princess Di water feature is only good as a skateboard park.

There’s also an interesting book on all this that looks worth reading, called ‘When the Rivers Run Dry’, by Fred Pearce, which was reviewed [,,176-2086810,00.html] by Richard Girling in the Sunday Times.

What I do think may help a lot is not building a lot more houses where there is already a water shortage. Sure the people will still exist, but does it really make sense sticking a concrete structure on top of a field, which will then demand all those extra litres to water the lawn?


Metro has been running correspondence for a while about junk mail. Today I read a letter from the ‘other side’, which did give my cause to ponder. In response to a lot of quite ‘spirited’ ideas that mostly involved throwing it all back, the writer pointed out that the recipient would just be some poor minion trying to do their job and with little say or influence on company practice. It is worth bearing in mind the human element when drastic measures are considered, no matter how frustrated one may be or how warranted a fight back may be.

Look at the response to Anita Roddick selling (out, depending on your viewpoint) Body Shop to L’Oreal. The news headlines are full of calls for a boycott. People, she has got her money. If you are angry with her all you will do is hurt the employees left behind. And in any case, it may be that the principles of the Body Shop may start to influence, positively, those of the larger entity. Working from within can be just as effective as campaigning in the wilderness.

But if you decide on the high-profile, glam route of confrontation, just make sure you target the generals and not the poor foot soldiers.


This… I like. A millionaire businessman called Johan Eliasch has bought 400,000 acres of the Amazon rainforest to protect it. Best £8 Million he ever spent, I’d say. Big up to him. Hope a lot more who have the dosh copy his example. I just hope the motives are all pure, as the piece I read did hint at him being credited carbonally. Why? Just take the credit for keep a bit of green… green.


As you know, I have a bit of a roller-coaster set of opinions about Jeremy Clarkson. Mostly good. But this Sunday’s piece [,,27909-2084921,00.html]he wrote was not my favourite, straying as it did into shock-jock, bull-bating territory. While it was headlined, ironically, as an assault on the destructive health & safety culture we have, and which I have again fallen foul of at the show, I was saddened to see him also weighing in with both barrels against any aspect of environmental consideration in our travel choices.

Jeremy, you are a powerful voice, a role model, often skilled articulator of sane paths in an insane world and one hell of a funny, talented journalist. People listen to you. You do not need to play to the lowest level of the arena to get an audience.

It doesn’t matter whether it is true or not that what we do as individuals will or won’t make any difference, but as an engineerophile you can surely appreciate that it simply does not make sense to waste anything if we don’t have to. It is simply inefficient.

No one is telling you to buy a Prius. They are being built and offered as an option, and their use favoured to encourage a switch in behaviour. And as someone whose career is founded on access to media space and time, you must know full well that getting one’s biased point across is all part of the game. It just so happens that the ‘green’ message has a lot of supporters amongst those who make such decisions. I simply wish they’d accord those of us who don’t move in their circles a tad more access and opportunity.

Maybe you could help us with that?

Like you, I do not know what the planet will do next, but unlike you I also feel it’s worth changing a few behaviours just in case what we’re doing isn’t helping. That’s not an illusion of knowledge, just a precaution on behalf of my great-great grandkids.


I was reading about a new website called, which does exactly what it says on the URL. I see this as taking off quite well, and am pondering how we could work with this. Personally I am not in favour of shaming, especially in the environmental area, as I see it as polarising attitudes and creating confrontation. But maybe we can see a way clear to at least adding a complement that offers a method for the ‘shamee’ to turn things around and resolve the issue.


I’m guessing a few press releases have gone out, because the papers are full of Fairtrade. And typically they seem to fall down into slavish rehashes without a second thought, or the most aggressive digs into the ‘true situation’ that are enough to make you almost insist your next cuppa is made by a child labourer after they have come back after a 14 hr stint in a trainer factory.

But as you know what does get me offside and all eyebrow twitchy is when a celebrity starts telling me how I should be doing things. In this case there were hordes. But one did make me laugh.

One such was a blonde ex-TV presenter who has managed to snag a multi-millionaire who through birth runs with the Goldsmith set (whose famous son is now well in with the rather funnily dubbed His Royal Plantness). Lucky girl. She saves the planet by drinking a nifty ethical cappuccino. Plus a choice of wellies to coordinate with feeding the livestock at the private zoo. He drives a Range Rover and flies around the UK in his helicopter. Bless.

Is it just me, or is there a teensy danger that those who seem be tasked with, or taken it upon themselves to encourage us to live greener lifestyles are not, how do I say, like you and I?


So David Mills, estranged hubby of Tessa Jowell, has lost a wing mirror on his Beemer that will cots him £1k [,,176-2092506,00.html ‘The Painful Part of car Ownership’]. Hah! Our Golf glove compartment lock failed. After several months wedging it shut we decided to commit to a repair as I for one couldn’t see how to fix it. And we’re looking at around £170!!!! For a broken lock. Because the whole door needs replacing to fix the lock, and it will take 2hrs to do because of the design.

Now car manufacturers are pretty good with recyclable components, but these obstacles to home repair are a farce. GUYS, DON’T DO IT!!!! You might almost suspect you were not sincere in your CSR obligations and claimed intentions.


Sunday Times Doors, which sadly have ignored us so far in our attempts to get a plug, have a campaign against waste in the IT industry. Well, we’re not ones to bear a grudge and as we agree with them and what they’re doing will give ‘em a plug anyway. Find out more at Tell ‘em we sent you, though!


One consequence of our ‘caps collection’ idea here at the show is I am now ‘he who gets asked on all matters enviro’. Sadly, I am often stumped as we’re in London and I mostly know a man who can out West. So now I’m the proud owner of a growing pile of dud batteries while we try and suss out who in this postcode zone will take them. And I sure my little collection will not get them round. But boy is the show missing a trick here. How many exhibitors and visitors get through these every day? Enough, I’m sure, to make a recycler get interested. I shall seek a franchise. And the funding to make this work. Emma, we may yet find the immediate source of money we were looking for!

Monday, March 20, 2006

And Continues....

Thursday Continued....

Nice to have Emma here, as it gave me the chance to attend a bit of a ‘do’ held by fellow exhibitor (and longstanding diRE:ctory partner) ecover.

Met a lot of nice folk, and am hopeful of developing some good synergies. Reminded Lucy Siegle of the Observer that we existed, and bumped into Janey Lee Grace again. Ever-charming, she told us she’d mentioned us on Radio 2 yesterday… and we were not around to hear it!

One thing it did remind me of again… somewhat ruefully… is that our lovely rural location puts us very far from the heart of the vital networking one must do for business and PR. All the guys I met knew each other and a company rep was able to prompt a journo on a weekly basis of their news, keeping them top of mind. I probably got more done in those few hours than all the money and time we have blown in the last few months pounding out emails and sending out DM pieces. A glass of juice, a canapé and a ‘what to you do’ face to face works wonders.


Well, you can tell I’m not Irish, as I know St. Patrick’s day is around here somewhere, but I’m just a Guinness shy of knowing exactly when. The reason I know is I was reading about the celebrations, and it got me to thinking about how the e-consequences of anything fun can suddenly loom large. I was watching the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, which had a mighty firework display, and fell down on the ‘ok, why not?’ side, despite the extra airborne gunk. However, I think I must be turning into the Grinch (or at least a selective hypocrite) because I must confess that I find the practice of dyeing water (entire rivers in Chicago and our London fountains by all accounts) green to be a real waste. Not just in the making, but especially in the subsequent clearing up.

Though shaping up to be busy, I doubt today will throw up much ‘blogworthy’, so I’ll ponder instead a few things from my trawl of my two freebies: Metro & The Daily Mail. Passing quickly over the obligatory Prince Charles mixed messages “Climate Change is more serious than terrorism (well, Duh. It’s hard to terrorise a dead planet)’ vs. £3000 per month to fly a hairdresser around to keep the missus’ barnet bulletproof.

Keeping the vague link of things in the media being more based on celebrity these days than actual news value, I was reading an interesting interview with Steve Martin (ok, so he is a celebrity, but also a relative). This is a massive talent and star with a lot worth listening to, and he referred to another massive talent and sta also worth listening to: Kevin Kline. Intelligent celebrities. Sadly, he did refer to the fcat that another co-star, and massive talent (who does not have much worth listening to outside her records), Beyonce, was the only one the press really wanted to feature. So it’s a small consolation that we’re not the only ones with problems cutting through with a message. Still frustrating though. With luck PJ will soon be hitting Heat magazine.

Good news! It seems that my idea for a week long ‘collection’ from all the booths of their bottle caps has found merit and will be instituted. A round-robin is being issued by the organisers tonight.

Glad they were up for it.

Even though the show seems to be getting busier each day, I took an hour away from the gallery (more accurate a description than ‘stand’) to see Penney Poyzer’s masterclass demo. Very interesting, and even a few tips I (can’t speak for Emma, who always tells me ‘we’ve contacted them but no reply’ when I bounce back with another new product or service we can upload) for the site. It was also a relief to see her looking a lot better than last week, when she was taken poorly and rushed off.


A nice surprise to arrive and find Clare of Moondaizy ( waiting at the stand. She’d come in to help on the stand, which will mean a nice break for me to have a scope around the show. Especially with the arrival of my co-presenters in the form of the family.

Clare was more than up to the task, and I did manage a few ‘breaks’, out and about. Popped down the PR dept. to find they’d forgotten about my PR idea, so we drafted it up on the spot. With luck, it may actually happen! I have found that words and deeds in the world of media (from PR to journalism) can often stray apart in practice.


A glorious day, at least outside. In the show you may as well be in a submarine. But I did get a nasty surprise. Having bought a few more ‘knick-knacks’, not just at show prices but at extra special exhibitor prices, I opened my Sunday paper to find a mail order brochure with three items I’d bought a few pounds less! I must confess to feeling slightly cheated. I can only imagine how someone feels who has paid £15 for the privilege of paying more than if they’d stayed in bed and used the internet to do their shopping.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

And so the IDEAL journal continues...

Saturday 11th March

Not a bad day. A very different crowd, but still the main aim has been to buy ‘stuff’ at a show discount and not get one’s head too much around the concept of saving via a free site. So it has been more case of quality than quantity, which is really not what was planned, as the whole aim was to get the numbers. But the quality has been very high, and potentially useful. A lot of teachers who see as a great resource to bring to the attention of their schools and classes. Ditto some local authority employees who have said they’ll mention us to their colleagues in the environment sections. Plus a very nice chap from a media company who liked our idea so much he was going to see how he could help.

Could have been a lot worse. But by heavens I don’t know how I’m going to stay on my feet 10-12 hrs a day for another 3 weeks!


Nothing like a family affair! The kids came with First Lady PJ and helped all day handing out our unique flyers, which ‘turn’ into picture frames. Bless ‘em, no one could resist. And in their rest periods they happily played in the kids’ zone with all the ‘junk’ items from the bins, making all sorts of robots and tanks, etc. Not exactly ideas, but certainly enough to make the show visitors stop and walk through our gallery having seen what kids can be inspired to do when their imaginations are fed with the right resources.


Surprisingly busy, but again we were visited more by quality guests than quantity (both would be nice, really:0). Of course we need to drive up the numbers, but I’m hopeful that the many teachers passing through on an off-day break will be true to their enthusiasm for the concept and inspire their charges when they return to the class.

What was a bit frustrating was the Daily Mail (show sponsors and whose reporter had come by to interview us and take pictures on Press Day) had a major article in today’s edition entitled ‘What a load of rubbish’, which basically was pointing out the sheer volume of ‘waste’ packaging we produce as households. Was there any mention of us? Nope. I know there are going to be a lot of different journos covering differing beats, but this did smack a tad of ‘left hand, right hand’. Anyway, we are on the hunt of the journalist who wrote this to point out that there is already something in place to at least mitigate, if not solve this issue…!


Not such a busy day. But again those that did turn up were well worth it. Had a morning visit from a radio station based in Huddersfield, and was interviewed by their enthusiastic host live. I wish I’d known that at the time! I think our Northern user base may have had a few frank comments too many on the state of reuse/cycling in this country.

Also had a few of the young designers being featured at the show pass by, and all were truly inspired by what we are trying to do. We’ll be happy to put their works on the site, as I think people will enjoy a ‘Tomorrow’s World’-style insight into what ‘can’ be done, and this will serve everyone’s interests well. How is that?

Now desperately searching for some kind of foot insert as standing from 10am-8pm is really starting to hurt. Now, what in the repertoire could do the job???

Going home on the tube I picked up a copy of the Evening Standard, and happened across a commentary piece by one Nirpal Dhaliwal, entitled ‘What’s green, white and caring and makes me sick?’. It was interesting in as much as this was another extreme, and a sad one, that can be added to the ‘mentalists vs. Clarksons that I already see as an unfortunate diversion. This time it’s those who are either a) genuinely put off or b) see column inches in claiming to be put off by ‘reacting’ against, as the title suggests, ‘green, white caring’ bastions of how we should conduct our futures, though without silly things like mortgages and non-nanny families to get to & from the local Tesco Metro in Notting Hill. There were some fairish points in there, but it is not fair to hold someone accountable for their birth and circumstances, and in most cases these guys are trying to do something when their personal situations really don’t require them to be too concerned. However, I see a clash coming if the average Joe (or Nirpal) sees themselves being patronised with impractical or selective assaults in the media by such elites, who do tend to hog the column inches. And it’s a shame that the only other message that will be featured is a counter-tirade like this. Again, I have to hope (vainly, if you look at what happened or rather didn’t, to us on Monday) that there is a voice for those more concerned with positive action than negative hot air.


Joined again by Emma, who made it in from Great Malvern by train by 10am, which is proof that public transport is a great option (when it works) because driving back last week took her 6 hrs!

Getting into my eye-twitching stride again, I picked up my free Metro paper for my tube ride, and the front page was ‘CO2 levels ‘hit 30m year high’’, and, um.. that was about it. Yet another ‘doom & gloom’ with no solution. And yet again our Tone (Jupiter) from FoE saying how the Gov wasn’t doing enough and Sir Dave of the Gov helpfully providing some stats that support the headline. More soddin’ hot air from all concerned, though I have to wonder if the media decided to forget the useful stuff the might have added in favour of a ratings-grabber.

Because… interesting, last night I watch a programme about climate change on the BBC, and amongst more useless guff debating global warming, with no actual ‘dos’, the self-same Metro was singled out for a front page that took a report out of context for a cheap headline. I so need the media to get into the mass public domain, but am beginning to despair that any practitioner of the journalistic art actually cares about genuine, accurate, campaigning stories any more.

Which brings me to a snippet from the Mail on Sunday which I only just got around to, which shows our Environment Secretary, Ms. M. Beckett, and her new biodiesel Jag. Biodiesel: good. Jag… Hmn. Apparently it is favoured over a Prius for escaping from terrorists. An interesting dilemma on all sides should Greenpeace decide to chase her around, I guess.

On a very positive side, I today met Matt & Rat (don’t ask), who are working at other stands, but are now committed Junketeers. Matt has many connections in the green world, so hopefully some useful, mutually-beneficial synergies can be developed.


Speaking of campaigns, The Evening Standard is running one currently to save local shops in London. It wil remain to be seen how genuine they are in this, or whether it’s just a quick dabble to shift a few copies over a month. But it is valid, and speaking personally throws up some points of debate. I get out of the show at 8pm. The tube gets me to Richmond at 8.45pm. The only place I can buy anything is the Tesco Metro. And yes, it probably did kill off the local shop to get the slot. But would that shop have been open to 11pm, and offer me a couscous salad, Innocent smoothie and organic apple? Hmn. Dilemmas abound.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Well, that started well. It had been my intention to do a daily blog outlining the highlights of each day of the Ideal Home Show. Suffice to say it started Wednesday, it’s now Friday, and the plan was to include the actual last stages, which essentially was the point at which we had possession of all our ‘bits’ and loaded in the van to come to London. This was almost a week ago, and it has been 5am starts and midnight stops… shattered… ever since.

The Weekend - Sat 4 - Sun 5 March

Picked up the van Saturday Evening. All day Sunday filling it. I can’t believe at once stage I thought we’d get away with the Volvo, a roofrack and a trailer.


Emma arrived crack of dawn and after squeezing a few more items in we set off for London. We had figured that 3 hrs would get there in time for a nice 9 am arrival. Sadly the M4 delivered us there at 11am, throwing our schedule well and truly to the wind.

After a fevered unloading, stand construction and ‘dressing’ with items, we left at 3pm. Sadly the M4 worked its malevolent magic again and we did not get back to Ross until gone 6pm, which meant we had to fork out for an extra day’s rental. I really do not like motorways.

For me the day had just begun, as I swung back to PR/promo mode, catching up on emails and preparing materials to send off the next day.


Grabbed forty winks, and then back on getting signage sorted, etc. Plus sending off the newsletter, press releases. Another late day, but did hit the sack fairly early in anticipation of the ‘big’ day to follow.


Having had a nasty lesson Monday, and with the Green Catwalk event at 8.45am to get to Earls Court for, we were up at 5am. Well, we almost blew it… again. Despite the hour, the M4 was again a zoo. No guarantee a train would have been better, but we were 3 in number and carrying a load of last minute ‘stuff’, so the car was really our only option. Yet it was another horror story. I nearly lost it. But somehow we managed to run up the steps to be rushed to the Press show with about 5 minutes to spare.

And boy did we score. With Zoe Ball as MC, there was a select band of about 10 exhibitors who had a slot being exposed to the glare of the country’s press. Well, PJ did us proud, bouncing on stage and wowing the audience with her exuberant presentation. But the clincher was the Vac:Sac, with my design made gloriously real by Mel and Jim of innotec, who again managed to get our ‘star idea’ into the hands of our star First Lady with moments to spare.

Then it was a mad dash to the stand to do the final ‘dressing’ we’d intended to do before the show, but now had to do even with folk coming in. We were helped in this by several Junkketeers from various businesses already on the site, and by OLOV Pat.

Then… nothing. It went very quiet. The much vaunted Press pack did not appear, until thankfully a reporter and photographer from the Daily Mail appeared to interview me and take a lot of shots of PJ sporting the Vac:Sac. At least there is a chance of some major national coverage, though at time of writing none has transpired. Frankly I’m hoping for a mention in a Sunday supplement. Fingers crossed.

Sadly the rest of the day was a bit of a disappointment. And though we could obviously not predict the tastes and interests of the media, I was sorry for those who had turned up to support us in the hope of some coverage and saw little of anything that day. But at least they have stuff on the stand for the month and may get a sale or two

We also had a dubious taste of what is like to be on call, and on our feet, all day. It did not bode well for the next few weeks that I was exhausted and in a lot of back pain by day’s end.


Well, the day before was a long day, but at least it ended at 6pm. Today was until 10pm. Not much to say, other than a promising interview with a Radio station called Passion for the Planet. Sadly , the public audience was meagre (not just for us, but the show), even into the evening cheap zone.


I must say by now I was getting a bit dubious about the way things were going, as we’d gone from ‘Press Day is always slow’ to ‘Thursday’s can be quiet’ to ‘Just wait ‘til the weekend’.

Actually it was quite perky. So I was glad Emma was still with me. We had a call from BBC Hereford & Worcester, and carried out a phone interview, which was a nice boost. Then we were visited by Penney Poyzer, and her support was a welcome additional lift. Sadly she was taken poorly later on before her show, and had to be rushed away. She has weekly ‘masterclasses’ at the show, but is only 8 weeks off having a baby, so perhaps this was a bit too much for now. Selfishly I hope not as well for our sake, as she was most impressed with’s evolution and keen to help us using her influence. But for now we’ll just have to wish her a fully and speedy recovery.

Emma left mid-pm, so I was on sole duty. Depending on one’s view, it was a blessing that it was relatively quiet again, though I did have taste of just how tricky ‘manning’ a stand solus can be. Plus I rather suspect I will be buying the back massager from the stand over the way very soon.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Those who are about to exhibit salute you!

You may have noticed a relative paucity of blogs of late.

There's something about the imminence of one's own exhibition that
concentrates the amount of time one has to prepare exponentially.

I may have time, and access to the resources, to post the odd musing
during this period, but experience has shown that things do not
always work out as one had planned. With luck in a good way. Rather
than idly staring at the carpet it may be that the next month is a
blur of activity. If so, it can only mean people inspired to head for, sign up and particpate.

I hope so. We have all put a great deal into this adventure. Heres'
hoping we get a lot out in return.

Until the next time...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened... Again... At The Forum

I have mixed feelings on Forums. Both using them as an individual, and facilitating their use on

First the down side. Yet again, I have just left a Forum after a flame war started escalating into a global conflagration, with the original protagonists long forgotten as opposing camps launched ever more vitriolic assaults against each others' views and then, leaving even the original topic or anything remotely of relevance behind, each other. There were a few pleas for moderation in there, but it was just... nasty.

And the irony was that it was started by a a fairly innocuous post about some eco-issue, that somehow got hijacked by those with more pressing agendas and louder keyboards.

I really intend to stay on top of this with's Forums, as I truly believe that this minority drive away the majority who can use a Forum as a tool to do a lot of good in sharing information, offering advice, etc. Not sure how we do this, but I think we need some serious rules, very effective moderation and ruthless interception of abuse. And perhaps we also need to have a 'Smoking Room', where those who do wish to debate with passion can go to debate, but those simply wanting to play nice and interact in more factual matters can enjoy posting in peace without risking a sarky or nasty reply.

It's a vain hope in many ways. I recently tapped into a Mac forum to find out if anyone could help with why my Mini had suddenly started going to sleep and the first reply demanded why I hadn't referred to a similar post (and answer, which didn't help) some several months, and a couple of hundred posts, earlier. There is nothing wrong with being a newbie, dude!

Sadly such people create cliques and assume the rest of us should live by their lifestyles, which would appear to mean one is plugged into an online connection 24/7. I have better things to do. And while we can have frustrating repeats of questions already addressed on our FAQs, we will always reply with patience and good humour. Often it is something worth revisiting.

So let me end on an upbeat note. As a result of my participation in a recent Forum, ironically inspired by a Telegraph correspondent's frustration with some Greenpeace activities, instead of a major flame war I ended up as part of a very civilised discussion and exchange of views. Better yet, I am now in touch with Greenpeace in India, and looking forward to developing a relationship where we may be of help to each other in pushing forward new, positive, ethical initiatives between our two countries.