Thursday, January 29, 2009

odd pieces: cricket memories

I've got all sorts of written pieces popping up in all sorts of places at the moment - here's one that's currently the lead piece on Cricket Network.
Ahh, the smell of new mown crass, the sound of leather on willow...jumpers for goalposts.......

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Virgin: the brand's flying high

Clearly I have too much time on my hands this morning, but I couldn't resist sharing further this much-emailed piece of correspondence recently sent to Richard Branson following a traveller's flight on Virgin from Mumbai to Heathrow.

It made me chuckle (and heave) and made me wonder why oh why Virgin's normally super-efficient publicity machine would let this one out into the world....maybe they were keeled over laughing too! The full version with pictures is here - and I've cut and pasted a text version below.... enjoy!....(do I mean endure??)

REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008
I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit. Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at thehands of your corporation. Look at this Richard. Just look at it: [see images via link above].

I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the dessert? You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a dessert with peas in.

I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you’ll be fascinated to hear that it wasn’t custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It’s only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all. Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer. I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about. Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It’s mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird. Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard. By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation. It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above. I was exhausted.

All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point. Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on. I apologise for the quality of the photo, it’s just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson’s face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel.

Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I’d had enough. I was the hungriest I’d been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen. My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations...

Yes! It’s another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff. Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I’d done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard. So that was that Richard. I didn’t eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary. As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It’s just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it’s knees and begging for sustenance. Yours Sincererly XXXX

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Quiet...too quiet...for too many reasons

Okay, so the only thing passing across my desk this afternoon seems to be tumbleweed. I'm up to date with work - and I'm even up to date with my admin....with just a large VAT payment to send out this afternoon - yuk!

But I'm feeling tense, and can't really settle. Work has been ever so slow to pick up this month - I've got several projects on, but all are slow-moving, reflecting the fact that the corporates I'm working for have fewer people around being asked to do more. The result is that decision making is taking longer and every time I knock back a draft or a plan or an idea for consideration, I'm then sitting around for days before the clients get back to me and the projects progress.
I'm in one of those gaps at the moment. An article for a legal mag has been re-written by a lawyer (why have a dog and bark yourself?); it's now being pored over by lots of other lawyers and I should have an updated draft back by the end of today....or tomorrow. At that point I'm going to have to unpick a lot of the changes since it's now not in the style/tone of the magazine....and also has several hundred extraneous words included. Still, it's their publication, so unless it has moved miles away from the original brief, I'll clean it up, take the money and move on.
Meanwhile, another mag's just about to go to press and I'm waiting on my briefs for the next issue - so all's good there, but I'm now in the downtime 'tween issues. And it's the off-month for my other regular mag too...typical (pah!)
I'm also working on some newsletter guidelines and the training to go with them. The brief's moved around on this a bit, but the first draft's now back with the client....and waiting for a response.
Meanwhile, two other pieces of work - one web-based and the other case studies for a magazine have been promised...but not yet arrived.
So, in theory, I've got plenty on. The reality is that it's all a bit stop-start.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Newsletter advice still holds good

I wrote this in 2003 for my business website. In these cost-conscious times, it still seems to hold water......
So you want a new newsletter?
You’ve been given the job of communicating a major change, and your boss has suggested producing a newsletter. So what do you do next? Leapfrog’s advice?...........................
Now, let’s start again. You’ve been given the job of communicating major change. So what are the essentials you need to consider before you even reach a point where you decide on your communication mechanisms?

First of all, consider Why you are communicating. What’s the need for the work you’ve been asked to do? Write down a few paragraphs of background to articulate this need and to provide the communication context.

Okay, you’ve got a general need, and the next thing to consider is who you are communicating with. Who are your stakeholders – and what’s the impact of what you want to say going to be on them?

Right from the start it’s important to realise that communication is successful only if it creates the right impact on your audiences, prompting them into the action you want them to take.
And what are those actions? Well, they’ll be based on your objectives. What do you want to achieve as a specific result of this communication?

Again, write them down – and try to limit them to three or four things that are achievable – world peace is a bit ambitious for the average communication campaign. The key is to link them directly to your organisation’s stated business objectives.

Objectives lead directly into success factors. What will success look and feel like if you get this communication right? To drag communication kicking and screaming away from accusations of being nebulous and distant from the business perspective, these factors much be quantifiable – and thus measurable.

So we know who we’re talking to and why – and what it will look and feel like if our communication is a success. Now it’s time to look at what needs to be communicated – your key messages. Step into your audiences’ shoes to focus on what they need to know – not necessarily what your boss wants to say - to achieve your objectives.

Look at prioritisation so that you focus your maximum effort on winning the awareness, understanding, buy-in and commitment from your prime influencers. Don’t waste your time on those who are easy to reach but do little to forward your cause.

It’s only at this point that you consider how you might reach your audience. Make sure you’re aware of their preferences for receiving information and how they choose to share it.
Look at what already exists within your organisation and look for opportunities to tie into existing channels and mechanisms and share the load with other communication colleagues.
Define clearly the role of management through the line and, indeed of employees in any communication exercise. You may manage the communication channels, but your role is primarily to facilitate communication, not to own every piece of the jigsaw.

Normally at Leapfrog, we draw up a matrix with you at this stage, mapping kinds of messages against potential mechanisms to draw out what’s most effective for each.

You never know, the answer may even include a newsletter – though this is most likely to be a supporting rather than a primary communication tool.

The bottom line is that your communication will be far more effective if you’re prepared to invest time in planning it properly first. Then it’s a case of learning from what you do, and applying what you’ve learned next time round to ensure you get ever closer to your audiences’ needs – while directly supporting your business’ strategy.

Blogging overtakes the business site

I'm planning on taking down my traditional business web site in a week or so. It has served its purpose well over the last five or six years, but now feels a little tired, a little static and overtaken by the social media world.

Many more people find me through this site or even through my comments on other blogs and fora. So, in a time when I have to look at costs closely, another year of an online brochure site does not seem justifiable. Instead, I hope to make more of this blog and use it as a focus for the business.

I've been pleased with a lot of the content on my business site though - and some of it's worth carrying over to here.

In fact, here's one of the earliest pieces of advice/editorial I parked on the old site - it seems particularly relevant in the current climate:

It ain't what you say, it's the way that you say it

Well, that’s not strictly true, since effective communication means conveying the right information at the right time to create your desired impact. But you can fail totally if the message isn’t pitched at the right level for those on the receiving end.

I’ve recently had experiences of a French technical director presenting to a European-wide audience of non technical specialists. After reading his 58 hugely detailed slides to his audience, he asked for questions, and was surprised when there were none. I wasn’t, since most of the few brave souls who’d lasted the presentation were asleep.

But his mis-reading of the situation was knocked into a cocked hat a couple of weeks ago, when at a strategic conference for one of my clients, dominated by sober financial presentations to a sombre audience of senior financiers, one chap opened his presentation with a download of David Brent’s dance from BBC’s The Office. Wrong time, wrong audience, an uncomfortable silence followed by a speaker totally thrown off his presentation’s course.

I was asked to pitch for some work from a manufacturing organisation a little while ago. They showed me their current communication tools – mainly highly detailed technical and financial ‘memos’ that were posted on notice boards around the location, plus a quarterly magazine.

Morale was low, labour turnover was high and this company was looking to communication as a means to address the situation.

As part of Leapfrog’s background research, I talked to the on-site shop manager about what papers he sold each day. Over a week, it averaged out at 24 copies of the Mirror, 17 of The Sun, 19 of the Daily Mail, 11 of the Express nine of The Star, three Daily Telegraphs, two Guardians and a single Independent.

The sales gave a fair indication that the workforce chose to get their news from tabloid red tops, yet the company insisted on presenting its information as if it was straight from the pink pages of the financial broadsheets.

While the intent of the management team was to be open and honest in their dealings with workers at all levels, they adopted a single approach where the ‘one size’ that had to ‘fit all’, was fit for the board room, but lost its fitness for purpose when the message moved beyond the plush carpet of the executive corridor.

I presented this view back to the board. Its members listened intently, nodded sagely and then gave the work to a marketing copywriter with the brief to make the next raft of memos more ‘human’.

I wonder if there will be any humans left on the receiving end soon to hear the messages that the company – now subject to a hostile takeover – is pumping out.

Putting yourself in your audience’s shoes is essential as a communicator if you want to win them over or carry them with you. This can be a minefield if you’re working with internal audiences, especially when the messages you’re managing will almost certainly have an impact outside your organisation. But there are a few simple rules to remember:

  • One size fits all doesn’t work

  • Pitch your communication at the receiver – it’s not about satisfying your boss, or making someone up the chain look good

  • Know your audiences and the style and tone of communication that works with them
    Make the communication relevant to their needs

  • Involve line management – most people want to hear important business news from their manager, and share it with their peers

  • Create feedback opportunities – and complete the loop by answering questions – and publicising the fact that they have been answered and that issues have been acted on.

The upshot of those bullets is that there’s more work involved than meets the eye in getting a message through to your workforce – especially when you may be obsessed for the need of managing corporate reputation and ensuring shareholder needs are met. In satisfying the latter, you can damage the former, and what grates most is that awful dichotomy when you’re telling the investors and analysts that all’s well, while lining employees up for their redundancy notices.

There’s no easy way round hard messages – but getting the style and tone right, as well as the content, can reduce the backlash and even enhance your organisation’s reputation.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bloomin' Hest

My three-day Little Chef love-in is over. Heston and Ian almost kissed and made up; the new concept for Little Chef, being trialled at one roadside restaurant in Hampshire, appears to be loved by all - and Heston revealed that he knew what Ian was up to ...(free PR!!) though I suspect viewers knew all along.

The Times has been ecstatic in its review of Heston's new concept - brought to life in 50s American diner style by Ab Rogers - and the rest of the media has followed suit.

But what's going to happen when the PR fuss has died down, the trial is over and Pegler and co. have to weigh up the cost v profit equation in these troubled economic times?

I suspect it could still all end in tears.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sizzle or a new sausage?

I love a bit of car crash television and my taste was rewarded hugely last night by the first episode of Channel 4's Big Chef takes on Little Chef which pitched Heston Blumenthal, he of Fat Duck fame into that twilight world that is Little Chef.
Never has a chef's concept of great British food been so mismatched with an audience whose sole intention in walking through Little Chef's doors is to have a close encounter with a coronary on a plate.
Blumenthal's known for his scientific approach to food. Dishes take years to perfect, and a trip through the tasting menu at his three Michelin starred restaurant in Bray will set you back £122...per person.
In the other corner sat Ian Pegler, a failed B&B owner in his time, but a success at Dixons, M&S and, back under the Fortes, Little Chef. Pegler's focus is on delivering fast roadside food for as little cost as possible but has a vision of returning Little Chef to its status as the nation's favourite family diner - much as it was back in the 1970s when my dad would take my sister and I to one of their locations as a treat. The chips used to be great and the strawberry milkshakes a dream.
A decade ago when I worked for Forte, Little Chef was in the same stable, and I'd often break my journeys between our hotels to grab an Olympic Breakfast for lunch - especially as I got 50% discount!
But I haven't been in a Little Chef for years. They're dated and pretty grotty now; the standard of food has declined and most I pass look on their last legs. Blumenthal found that too.
Pegler clearly wanted good PR - the 'sizzle on the sausage' - a high-impact low-cost solution that would introduce new Blumenthalesque dishes without the need to change a style of cooking reliant on microwaves and a hot plate. Blumenthal's response was to suggest that he replace the sausage.....and everything else on the menu......and the pan-free kitchens too.
As HB put together a taster menu, the audience was definitely meant to be on the side of the celebrity chef. But as he put his ideas into practice, the programme delivered another delicious twist. Blumenthal's recipes for scrambled egg with salmon and an infusion of tea; lamb hot pot with oyster and chocolate orange sorbet with a chemically-induced mist did just that with the Little Chef clientele....they missed. Coupled with 'poncy' table cloths and gratingly arrogant chefs, his initial creations were so wide of the mark for the average Little Chef punter that you almost expected to find them sat on the opposite carriageway.
Pegler, the money-man did himself few favours either, refusing to discuss profit margins, staff wage bills and operating costs - making Blumenthal's task in creating a new, cost-efficient menu rather like fighting Joe Frazier with one hand tied behind your back.
The programme picks up tonight, and it'll be interesting to see if either protagonist has learned his lesson. Blumenthal needs to realise quickly that it takes a lot to wean the average Brit from his double sausage egg and chips, while Pegler has to wake up to the fact that he has pared costs past the bone and that he'll have no business to relaunch if he doesn't bring up food quality and service standards soon.
Given that this is TV, it'll probably all have a happy (eater) ending when the series concludes tomorrow -but last night's offering was a true British classic.
It's just a shame that the motorway services aren't still under the same business umbrella - then we could have had Heston takes on Heston!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Aw shucks

The print version of one of my regular magazines - Connections - for Badenoch & Clark has just come out. It's not online yet, though all the back issues are here.

I reckon this issue is the strongest to date, and it was great to get feedback from one of the interviewees who emailed my client and me today saying:

Hi Alison

I've just received the Connections magazine - I love it! Thank you for featuring us and for doing such a wonderful job on it - looks great! Hopefully lots of employers will call us as a result!

Mark - thanks for making me sound intelligent!!!!!

Kindest regards


Actually, she was a really nice, bright and positive person to interview and certainly didn't need me to make her sound intelligent.
Always nice to be complimented on the work though.

The drugs don't work...

Reading The Independent today, I was a tad startled to find that Ketamine - as far as I knew, a horse tranquiliser - is now the drug of choice for the UK's social users.

Now I grew up in between the hippies and rave and so have probably ended up both po-faced and drug free. There were plenty of drugs around when I was a student - in fact one of my flat mates greeted my dad for the first time by barking at him and trying to bite my ankle.... being mid-trip on mushrooms when we walked in the door. But, aside from a few puffs on a 'jazz cigarette' which almost ended up with me getting mugged in Withington, I've never felt the need to experiment with anything more mind altering than a nice bottle of Sancerre.

What got me about the article was the 'users's experience' - as a marketing executive from London explained: "I see it as a fun, sociable drug," he said. "I do it at house parties or if I'm having a big night out. I used to do cocaine, but I suppose I gradually replaced coke with ket. Coke is much more expensive and it generally makes everyone very loud and aggressive. Ket is different. It costs less and you use it in smaller quantities so it lasts a lot longer. The feeling you get is different too. It makes you feel anaesthetised to your worries. You forget about your normal life and everything is euphoric....."

He then went on to say: "I've got a proper job and a career and I don't want to lose that. Ketamine is a class C drug so if I get caught I'm probably only going to get a slap on the wrist."

Now reading the paper, it first made this bloke sound pretty daft. The way it's written in the print version says: 'DAVID FIRST tried ketamine as a 20-year-old student at university in London. Now a 27-year-old marketing executive, living in Shoreditch, east London, he still takes the drug once a month....'

So my immediate thought was...there can't be too many 27-year old marketing execs in London called David First, and there's his career gone! Reading the piece again online made it clear that he's called David, but first tried the drug when was 20...phew, anonymity retained!

Still, I'd say he's treading on thin ice on two grounds. For one thing, if I found out any member of my staff was regularly taking 'recreational drugs' they'd be shown the door. I simply can't see how such use, even only once a month wouldn't have an effect on their work for days to come. There's no way I could put someone dealing with the after-effects of a trip in front of a client. Second, no client, when push comes to shove, would want to entrust their marketing campaign to someone who regularly gets stoned. It may do wonders for creativity....but leaves a lot to be desired professionally.

When it comes to work, there's nothing sexy about drugs.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Time for communicators to challenge the expected

Cath Murphy from ChangeMaker International provides a good summary on HRZone this week on why organisations shouldn't neglect their employees in the economic downturn. She offers plenty of solid advice to leaders on staying agile, leading by example and relentlessly communicating.

It's all good stuff - but so often hard to do for leaders who are faced with the dilemma of satisfying investors while maintaining staff morale. It's a tough situation to be in, and many leaders too often confronted by the balance sheets rather than their front-line staff resort to command and control mentality, where all effort is focused on cutting costs to maximise profits. This has a tendency to be repeated throughout the levels of the organisation as teams are cut and those left inside the organisation are faced with more to do for no more reward.

Such a policy may provide a short-term fix for shareholders, but the downside is demotivated employees, haunted by the fear of not delivering enough - and the perceived consequence that this may lead to losing their own job. It's a downward spiral that tends to lead first of all to the best people in the organisation leaving, and second to the organisation being weak and exhausted even if it gets through the immediate recession.

I'm working on a training programme at the moment aimed at communicators who are dealing with those having to manage through the current economic mess. It's nothing revolutionary, but my experience is that many communicators have never had to communicate through bad times before in their careers - and too many are falling back into passive roles, simply doing what their leaders tell them rather than challenging the command:control fallback.

Essentially I'm covering:

  • How IC adds value in tough times

  • Assessing what the IC team does - and the value it brings the organisation

  • Maintaining your employer brand

  • Dealing with difficult situations - closures, redundancies, mergers etc.

  • Focusing on those left after redundancies etc.

  • Planning for the upturn.

Three things really jump out at me on this. First, the need to bring internal and external communication together so that all communicators have a complete picture of what needs to be done and can plan to address the needs of each stakeholder group in full knowledge of the impact on others. Second, the vital need to maintain the Employer Brand - it's far too easy to sacrifice all that's good and distinctive about an organisation when the going gets tough. Finally, my experience is that we're too quick to focus all our efforts on the people losing their jobs, and neglect the huge impact job losses, changing roles and reorganised departments have on those left to soldier on. Very quickly in the change process these people have to become the focus for our support and efforts - whether we're line managers, business leaders or communicators.

Overall, my view is that communicators have to be far more proactive both in counselling leadership and in understanding and militating the front line issues organisations face at present. Cath's plea for 'relentless' communication' shouldn't mean a raft of new media or costly events - or even wheeling out the big leadership guns without purpose. It's much more about being open, honest and doing a few things really well.

Find the communication channels that people see as credible - often face to face with direct line management - and give those directly involved the tools and skills they need to make such channels work.

I'll post details of the training package shortly.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A certain sense of deja vu

Back in 1996 I joined Barclays Bank as a communications manager within Group Operations and Technology. Between accepting the role and actually starting, the board director heading the division had left, and within weeks of me arriving, my divisional head of comms had joined him. A few weeks later, my fellow comms manager had been sidelined into a project, leaving me running a team of six people, semi-independent from the main Barclays communications complex.
I spent most of the next two years on a change project as GOT became GPOT (my new boss inherited Group Planning as part of his remit) and then split from an agglomeration of nine disparate departments into three separate Group service - corporate planning and strategy; an internal management consultancy and technology services.
Over that two year period we lost about 700 IT staffers - many contractors but a fair few permanent staff too. Many left from Radbroke Hall, the company's IT nerve centre grouped around a massive IT barn in Cheshire, which I visited on average about twice a week.
So there was a certain degree of familiarity in hearing the announcement Barclays made today that 400 IT posts are to go in a credit crunch-prompted review.
It seems that over the past decade, many of the cuts we made in 'Project Pride' have been reversed, and as technology has become ever more important to the bank, the little empires and cul de sac projects adding little value to the bank have crept back in.
IT is an area where it's hard for those on the outside to argue with those on the inside about the value of big ticket projects and so-called 'essential services'. Back from 96-98 we only got to the heart of what GPOT actually did by going to the division's internal customers and mapping what we did for them - and what benefits our work delivered.
That picture threw up many examples of duplication, work for work's sake and activities that could be delivered by other parts of Barclays (or external suppliers) at a fraction of the cost. We had a simple stop/change/continue methodology - and I was amazed how many activities ended up in the 'stop' column.
Perhaps Barclays has been through a similar exercise again....or perhaps it has looked at the issues in a totally different way. Large corporates don't seem to be terribly good at learning from the lessons of the past. Anyway, plus ca change.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Just another manic Monday....err, not yet

The world is very slowly getting back into gear with the first working week of 2009.....but it has started pretty slowly out this way. The snow's falling, the kids aren't yet back at school and all seems quiet in semi-rural Bucks.

It seems that way in London too - I've a few emails out to clients, but no replies yet as they struggle into work to pick up the threads after what has been for many, a two-week break.

I need to start earning my keep fairly promptly this month. The last three months of 2008 were pretty tricky and I reckon my income was about 30 per cent down. At least I had income - but the fun this week will be two fold: first getting payment for work done in November/December, and second turning all the possible work opportunities into reality. Thankfully, the last week before Christmas threw up a number of potential assignments - training for a private client and also through CiB; the next stage on an on-going sales transformation project; the opportunity to do some writing for a hotel group and more writing both for one of my existing magazines and for one I picked up only in December. Now's the time to find out how solid these pieces are - and get out and do 'em.

As ever, I'm raring to go - I just reckon it'll take my clients a day or so longer to get into the swing of this work lark. Anyway, 'til then I can watch the snow swirl around. It's very pretty!