Picnics by the motorway, anti-royalist rants, naked ramblers and other reasons to love England

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There is an argument that the English are in fact the least nationalistic people on earth. While our Celtic cousins celebrate their saints days with raucous displays of invariably alcohol and food fuelled patriotism, April 23rd St George’s day generally passes by with merely a shrug of the shoulders.

We are even slightly embarrassed about our flag too, just ask Emily Thornberry.

But that only tells part of a story and doesn’t stop (some of) us loving a country which has given so much to the world over the years (and yes taken it away too).

So today I asked my Facebook pals to come up with a list of what is wonderful about England and being English. I have cut and pasted the list below.

It was simply too good not to share and is for anyone who calls England home.

So Happy St George’s Day – personally I don’t care about a Turkish dragon fancier, but I can always celebrate Orwell, Harrison and Formby!


All the English things I love: the stones, the kinks, sandwiches, shit weather, kooky fashion, our silly class system, our beautiful gardens, Kate bush, roast dinners, exmoor, Isle of purbeck.


The Beatles, Smiths and Pink Floyd, Suffolk beaches, Cambridgeshire meadows, art deco lidos, our obsession with cycling, the bittersweet nature of a winter in London, Orwell, Patrick Hamilton, Powell & Pressburger, Ealing comedies, understated country Anglican churches and pubs, lots and lots of pubs, oh and the fact that most English people were foreigners at one point too


Greasy spoons, standing stones, bleak moorland, chalky downs, well dressing, cheese rolling, sitting on our coats, picnics in the car, cheering in the pub when someone breaks a glass, dance music in warehouses, beat music in cellars, mushy peas, Aloo Gobi, loving our eccentrics, the naked rambler, the seaside pier, a bag of chips, a pint of bitter, and (despite Nigel Farage) being a country with a proud history (largely hidden) of being progressive and tolerant.


Kate Bush definitely. Northumberland Coast is a largely unknown treasure. Rugby. Shakespeare. Nick Drake. Sand dunes, salty air etc. Panto. English Ale. And definitely the fact that most English people were foreigners at one point too


Lost gloves on walls. Trainers thrown over phone lines. Badly painted numbers on wheelie bins. Zebra crossings. Curry & chips. All items of value have been removed. Picallili. National obsession with potholes. Net curtains. The co-op. Pick n mix. Black pudding. Pantomime. “Fair to middlin’.” “Not three bad.”


Gripper Stepson, Roland Browning, Zammo on smack

Vaughan Williams

Putting the kettle on when things get stressful


National parks, wooly pom pom hats, sand in your sandwiches, stewed tea in a force 5 looking at the beach, chips in paper, gingham plastic table cloths, kiddies roundabouts, parish councils, playing eye spy….


Lush green hills, valleys and parks, seriously long history, crumbling castles and city walls, being able to walk to your ‘local’, always time for tea, the changing of seasons, a myriad of regional accents, the BBC, free art galleries and museums, stunning cathedrals, Cath Kidston, proper cider, proper mayonnaise

1- pretty villages
2- cities such as Cambridge which are beautiful and historic
3- a thriving capital – London
4- freedom of speech and belief
5- a rich history
6- cricket
7- cream teas
8- tea!
9-fish and chips, shepherds pie, Sunday roasts
10- classic literature
11- rich music heritage
12- Cadbury’s chocolate
13- beautiful places like Cornwall and Lake District
14- national health system
15- educational system from primary to iconic places as Cambridge and \oxford (and i will slip in the boat race there!)

Thanks to Matt Hill, Vic Ruffy, Geoff Crawford and lots of others

Can you help make a very brave girl’s dream come true

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Pls help, especially if you have connections with EMI, the O2 or Katy Perry’s PR.

My youngest daughter Astrid has recently finished her treatment for ALL Leukaemia. Throughout the two and half year period when she was taking chemo everyday, endless operations and hospital stays, one thing that kept her going was the music of her hero Katy Perry. We’ve got surprise tickets to see KP on Wednesday @ the O2 and it would be Astrids’ absolute dream come true to meet her. If there is anything you can do to help make this happen I (and the entire Norris clan) would be unbelievably grateful. Here are some pics of how she was then and how she is now and a video she recently shot about her hospital ward @ Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity Thanks so much for any help at all.

And here is a bit of her story

If you can help email me ashleyatshinymediadotcom

Do brands deliberately mess up on social media? Even Mastercard?

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Just a thought after seeing Mastercard’s woeful attempt to get journalists going to the Brit awards to tweet in a certain way.

Either it is because they have marketers who are utterly clueless about the way the media and journalists work. This does seem to be happening a lot and some of my more cynical journalist friends believe that it is because there is a generation of marketers who understand how social media works from an operational perspective, but have come from an ad agency background and don’t understand the sensibilities of journalists. In this instance though the culprits were House PR, a well established PR company. UPDATE – apparently another agency handles the press accreditation not House!

Or maybe it is this?

Did you know that Mastercard was sponsoring the BRITS – nope me neither. You do now though. And you can bet that the hash tag #pricelesssurpises is going to be used a lot more now that it would have been had Mastercard not been so cheeky.

As a fellow journalist tweeted – How else would anyone care enough to tweet about the Brits these days?

There are examples of brands who have suffered massively because of this type of of social screw up, but not many. In the short term it might make Mastercard look silly, but when everyone from Mashable to Metro starts writing about it the brand gets a lot of free publicity…

Why do Mars get football so wrong?

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Ok, so we can all breath again. Roy Hodgson’s team did the business last night and courtesy of a Rooney header and late bit of Stevie G magic I can fantasise that come summer 2014 I’ll be watching England in the World Cup final at some lovely new stadium in Rio.

There was however one thing that took my attention away from what was actually a very absorbing (for England) game and that was the rubbish advertising that Mars displayed on the boards around the pitch.

Talk about cringe-worthy! It gave the impression that it was displaying messages from real punters, presumably harvested from Twitter (I think there was hash tag there) cheering England on. Now they might have been real – but the names like Dave C!? were so generic it seemed unlikely.

Even worse was the content of the messages. They were mainly of the trite Good Luck England variety. In fact one was so bad it became etched on my memory – it said ‘Qualification is our goal.’

Quite honestly which self-respecting football fan would tweet a Mars hash tag such nonsense. It smacks of something rustled up by a Mars marketing executive who really has absolutely no understanding of football and its culture.

I thought the days of ‘dad on the dancefloor’ social media approaches from brands were at an end given that we all understand that brands need to be sincere, genuine and authentic these days. It appears not.

BT’s content marketing strategy – why it needs a bit of relevancy

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What’s the first rule of content marketing? Well you could argue that it is ‘keep it interesting’, or ‘don’t undermine your brand’, I do however think that there might be a case also for ‘keeping it relevant’ as being the place where brands need to start.

There ‘s a very interesting post on Mediatel today from Dominic Mills, the one time Campaign editor and now freelance journalist/media strategy guru, that highlights why relevancy is crucial. In it he takes a pop at BT for filling its BT.com website with largely irrelevant content.

Mills says that he went to the site as he moved house and needed to make amendments to his BT account, But he couldn’t easily find what he was looking for as the site was chock full of largely irrelevant content from the Press Association.

He says

What I discovered when I logged in – which they insisted on telling me about before I could get to my BT e-mail – is that this involves full-on lifestyle coverage across areas like news, entertainment, technology, fashion and beauty, TV, film, video games, family and home (and on and on and on).

Yes, dear reader, there are approximately 50 of these channels including, believe it or not, motoring and home and garden.

So the big question is: WHY? And that leads to all sorts of other questions you think BT should have asked itself first, such as: why do people go to BT.com? What do they want to achieve as a result of going there? And what makes BT a legitimate or credible provider of this sort of content?

Well I do wonder if BT has fallen into the trap of not really thinking through quite what its users really want to read about. It reminds me of the time a decade and a half ago when BT amongst others, hired hundreds of journalists in a bid to help them become media portals which would rival News International etc. It become obvious very quickly that the net benefit of creating huge amounts of news copy was largely not useful to BT’s core business and the company, and indeed many of its ISP rivals, canned their services and shifted away from content.

Now with every Internet consultant worth their salt repeating the mantra that content is king and that it is editorial which keeps consumers amused and engaged BT, among others is heading in the same direction.

It isn’t that filling a site with content per se is a bad move – I am sure it has huge SEO benefits for a start, and while you are mulling over your BT Sports subscriptions you might want to read a few football stories. It is just the unimaginative way in which BT has undertaken this. Grabbing a few store from the Press Association along with a few viral  videos, hardly makes for a compelling editorial destination. That man on a bike on the M1 story has been everywhere today. If you have looked at a news site you will know all about it.

The content needs to be more relevant too. An intriguing tech channel might be more useful to consumers, and why not get a few high profile journalists and bloggers to deliver interesting opinion pieces which will help engage the company’s business customers.

BT also has some the potential to create some compelling content of its own, Surely a look behind the scenes look to see what its boffins are up to in its Suffolk research HQ is worth a hundred celeb stories which could be read elsewhere?

Where brands have succeeded in creating engaging content portals they have done it by delivering content that it relevant to their audience. It helps cement the relationship between the brand and the customer – which really is the main reason why brand undertakes content marketing in the first place.

Maybe BT  will evolve a content strategy that is both interesting and innovative as time goes by. Here’s hoping.

28 Piano Pieces By Children For Children – unique book raises money for cancer charity

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** Update – book now available here from the lovely people at Olive Loves Alfie

New piano pieces by children for children

A new book which features piano pieces composed by children for other children to play will be published at the end of November. 28 Piano Pieces By Children For Children includes compositions from young Londoners, with each of the composers also performing editing tasks such as note checking, adding finger numbers, illustrations, cover design and deciding on which order the pieces should go.

‘Children become particularly enthusiastic to sight-read and explore new music when they realise that the pieces have been written by their peer group,’ says the book’s co-ordinator, Lola Perrin, Composer/ Teacher in Residence at Markson Pianos. She adds, ‘The pieces in the book are varied and fun and beautifully illustrated by the composers. We hope other music teachers and their pupils will be inspired by this book to create their own books’.

The book also includes an interview Lola conducted with Peter Vizard who co-ordinates an annual piano festival for young pianists at the Conservatoire Frederic Chopin in Paris.
Profits from the book, which goes on sale on 30 November, will be given to the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research charity.

The launch date was 30th November 2012. We had a successful private launch, hosted by Markson Pianos, at The Vortex, London. The book is now available to purchase from our exclusive worldwide distributor Olive Loves Alfie.

84 Stoke Newington Church St, London N16 0AP | Tel: +44 (0) 20 7241 4212

£10 + £3 p&p

* How you can support and promote the book:

The book has a Facebook page at
http://www.facebook.com/28PianoPiecesByChildrenForChildren Please like the page and share the content on it.
You can also listen to some of the pieces on the book’s Vimeo page here http://vimeo.com/user14484233/videos

* Some information about Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research:

Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is the only UK charity solely dedicated to research into blood cancers, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Our life-saving research is focused on finding causes, improving diagnosis and treatments, and running ground-breaking clinical trials for all blood cancer patients. Blood cancers including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma affect people of all ages from babies to grandparents. We need to be sure that we reach all those touched by leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma and give them the best possible chance of survival.

More information http://leukaemialymphomaresearch.org.uk/

* More about Lola Perrin:

Lola Perrin is a composer, pianist, publisher and contributor to International Piano magazine. She has played live and been interviewed on various radio programmes including Radio 3 In tune, Jazz Line Up, Radio 4 Science Matters and local BBC radio stations. She has performed extensively in the UK in recent years at venues including the Design Museum, London’s Jazz Café, Latitude Festival, Henham Park, 2010 and the London Jazz Festival. In 2011 she played a seven date concert series hosted by Markson Pianos dedicated to her eight piano suites. Lola has published eight books of solo piano music. For more details please visit www.lolaperrinsheetmusic.com

Lola Perrin is also Artist in Residence at Naim Audio. For information about the Naim Audio Lola Perrin Piano Competition please visit http://lolaperrinsheetmusic.com/pages/piano-competition.html


Kids piano book raises funds for cancer research facebook.com/28PianoPiecesB… Pls like and reweet thanks


Lola Perrin

Deborah Cass

BuzzFeed swaps the kitten videos for long form essays – sort of

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I must admit that not being obsessed with kittens or aliens means that I don’t spend as great deal of time on killer viral site Buzzfeed. But I do know people who spend as much time on there as they used to on Facebook.

I do find it heartening though that the site has just employed the former editor in chief of Spin to pioneer a section of long-form journalism on the site.

How on earth they expect to make any money from serious essays – and the ones they have run so far including a profile of Mitt Romney’s father are serious stuff completely at odds with the catchy songs about pizza and Obama crying videos that is the site’s bread and butter – remains to be seen.

How they present the essays too will be interesting. The essays so far like – Can you Die From A Nightmare? http://www.buzzfeed.com/doree/can-you-die-from-a-nightmare are just scroll down affairs that probably work much better on tablets than they do on the web. Maybe we will see some HTML5 type magic like Pitchfork – http://pitchfork.com/features/cover-story/reader/bat-for-lashes/ which incidentally freezes my PC each time visit it.