Thursday, August 24, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
There's no need to fear the wind if your haystacks are tied down - Irish Proverb
"Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement." - Samuel Johnson
As someone planning a trip to the isle with more shades of green than the faces of the passengers on the Swansea-Cork ferry, I was devastated to discover that the location used on the Magners cider ad was, in fact, in New Zealand.
Goodness me, they’ll be telling me next that cars can’t ice-skate. Or fly. Or I can stop looking around the fields next to my house for him. But I was never convinced of this ad. Man. Cleaning products. Nah.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Well done to Alex on her recent appointment. She had some lovely words to say about my blog recently which convinced me that she is obviously a woman of taste and distinction, destined to go far…
If I could just add a few words to her style tips for the unemployed. Bewise have a wonderful range of tartan pyjamas – just perfect for hiding those curry, cold baked bean and chocolate stains. Honest, I heard it on ‘Style Makeover’…or perhaps it was ‘How to look good naked’…hmm it could have been ‘Get a life.’ No, thinking about it now, I’m pretty sure it was on ‘Richard and Judy’…(or maybe ‘10 years younger?’)...
Friday, August 18, 2006
Seeing is believing
You wear a costume identifying you as, if not quite divine, someone special. - Irving R. Kaufman
I was quite chuffed this week when I was asked to help with the production of the next issue of Behind the Spin. OK, I know it’s the middle of the holiday season and there are very few other people about, but still…
Later, however, I suddenly realised the responsibility I’d taken on. Opening the emailed articles, I started to feel a bit like a museum curator unwrapping some very precious vases. All those sweated-over sentences lay in my sticky hands – ok, hard disk. I hoped I wouldn't drop them...or fall over my shoe laces.
During all this excitement – yes, excitement, I do live in Devon you know - I discovered that editing work provides a quick. if rather scary, way to refresh that grammar knowledge. With the blue pencil poised I suddenly became unsure of all those words I was previously confident I knew how to spell. Focussed or focused? Semi-colon or comma?
The theme of the next issue is the role of the visual image in PR. From what I've read it seems like it's pretty much key to the whole process. And it got me thinking about 'personal PR' and how important the way we look is still so important in creating that first impression.
I used to work for a small, start-up software company where the casual dress standards found in larger offices during an average 'dress-down Friday' were something the employees aspired to, but never quite reached. I was the sole female and, try as I might, I just couldn’t attain the running short, stretched T shirt and stained-trainer look my boss managed so well. I played safe.
My smartish appearance always attracted his derision. With all the wisdom of self-made management he used to proclaim: 'You’re not working for a big business now love,' as if I hadn't already gathered the fact, located, as we were, above a pet shop and blessed with toilets that regularly backed-up. (Which reminds me of his sole motivational quote delivered as he placed another stack of menial 'To Dos' on my desk: 'Sh*t always runs to the lowest point, dear' - Richard Branson eat your heart out).
However, when people called into the office they would always ask him if they could speak to someone in charge. Even when enlightened, it was always me that ended up with the business card, as if they couldn't quite believe someone in 50p Oxfam shorts could possibly run a business …
There are numerous other examples that prove that, even though we are repeatedly told not to read a book by its cover, first impressions are vital. The man who knocked on my door this week offering to do some gardening work. He looked presentable enough, but was sporting a blue-black eye. Blame it on my overactive imagination, but the thought flickered across my mind that he'd got it from an irate customer. Perhaps he would’ve done better just to post the leaflet through the letterbox?
Then there was the man who turned up to give me a quote for lopping some trees. It all looked good as he drew up outside the house at the agreed time in a smart looking pickup truck. But as he walked up the driveway I noticed he had a pronounced limp. OK, well I didn’t want to condemn him for that, as long as he thought he could get up an down my 40ft oak trees that was fine by me. However, when he started to make a plan of the trees that needed work and I noticed three missing fingers, I decided the nervous frenzy I would achieve simply by watching him swing from the branches in my back garden with a rampant chainsaw just wasn’t worth it. (I’ve since learned from other people he refuses to use sissy things like safety ropes and helmets. I wonder how he gets insurance certificate– hmm, what insurance certificate?…)
But, of course, first impressions can also have a sinister side. And the stereotype of a female, mature student, fitting in a degree between trips to the supermarket and coffee mornings is something all Laterstudiers should be aware of.
Behind the Spin - out sooner than you think. Read it, enjoy it - just don't find any spelling mistakes...
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Update on spelling
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Spelling just like my grammar used to make...
There has been a lot of tut-tutting recently in the media about the quality of spelling and grammar amongst graduates. Standards are dropping, it's all the fault of teachers/text-messaging/McDonald's/(insert your favourite scapegoat here). And it's not just the finer points of the English language. New graduates don't know the difference between its and it's. Can't see what is wrong with seperating facts from fiction. And it's affecting their future careers
Well, as someone with a foot in two camps: a mature student who has experienced old school methods (or should that be old skool?), and a mum of two children in secondary education, I've thought about what has changed.
In true Dr Who stylee, let me take you into my time machine and transport you back to 1971. Notice the blackboard and chalk? The cartons of milk warming next to the radiator? See the child with the scabs on her knees. Can you see her lips moving as her latest short story masterpiece flows from her pencil onto the ruled page? Talking to herself at such an early age - what a shame, you think. But actually 'The Cat in the Hat' book on the desk beside her gives it away. Our budding author is trying to spell the words as she says them. But move closer and it seems the good Dr Seuss hasn't got the answer to everything. What's a crocadil? or an idear? - well, she is from the West Country. Seems like she's going to have to learn the shapes of words, as well as letter sounds if she wants to become that top-flight writer. Never mind, those much loved Enid Blyton books will help her identify those word spellings - it's just a shame about all that class/gender/racial stereotyping she'll also learn along the way.
Come back after that delicious pre-Jamie school meal of roast mutton, cabbage and tapioca with jam sauce and you'll see the teacher give a fleeting lesson in grammar to his flatulent class. It's the basics of course. Full stops, commas, capital letters, paragraphs and commas. But it's boring, boring, boring...and the girl would rather get back to writing about that crocadil.
Take off that scarf, ( I always did prefer Tom Baker's version of the Dr) and fast forward thirty (very) odd years. Despite perceived advances in education, both my bright, chip-off-the-ol'-block children 'get' spelling at widely-differing ages using a whole range of techniques. So some things haven't changed. And although the head-shakers and hand-wringers say that grammar isn't taught in schools anymore, part of the preparation for my son's recent SATs involved a not insubstantial grammar revision book.
So what has gone so wrong? In my experience spelling and grammar are still being taught, but lecturers, including those at Marjons, and employers tell us standards are falling. Hmm have you got your Kwells?
'Miss 1970s' has got her story back and all misspelled words are underlined. She has to correct them using a dictionary. Find the difference between their, there and they're. Every missed full-stop has been noticed. And if she gets them wrong in her next story she has to correct it again. It's obvious. The teacher cares about this. It's important she gets it right. And checking is a habit that she continues into grumpy old womanhood.
When I was told that my daughter's work was being marred by poor grammar and spelling I went to see her teacher. Despite looking through her work no words were underlined. No capital letters inserted. I queried this and was told that they didn't want to hamper her creativity by the heavy-handed application of red-ink. A good sentiment I'm sure. Being a teacher must be a fine balancing act. And, of course, spelling and grammar is boring - but ultimately necessary.
So, are we sending the message loud and clear to young people that spelling and grammar matters in everyday life? Or do they feel that it is just something to learn for SATs exams and quickly forget?
Oh, I don't know. But I do have a great idear for a crocadil story.
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Sunday, August 06, 2006
Mama always says: 'Life is like a plate of scones and cream.....'
It's all right. Despite my earlier posting I haven't done a Forrest Gump - although I have been away. With the children packed off to a Granny set to 'full-spoil', I decided to fill up the camper:
and enjoy a few days in Somerset and Cornwall, away from the guilt of being a slacking, drain-on-society student - oh, life's hard.
Putting a fresh spin on a green idea, I decided to make it a Cream Tea Neutral holiday with long walks offsetting my consumption of clotted cream and cake. Here is a handy ready reckoner:
3 hour, 5 mile circular walk, Horner Wood = Exmoor Special Cream Tea (Tea, two scones, cream, jam and piece of fruit cake)
3 hour, 4 mile circular walk, Prussia Cove to Perranuthnoe = Battered Hake and Chips, (note: lamentable dearth of 'cream tea shopees' in Prussia Cove)
6 hour, 10 mile circular walk, Lelant to St Ives = Cornish Cream Tea, (Tea, two scones, cream, jam, slice of Hevva cake)
4 hour, 7 mile circular walk, Helford River to Frenchman's Creek = Double scoop Roskilly's Gooseberry Icecream with clotted cream and chocolate flake
I reckon I might have the makings of a new diet book here.....
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