Do cars still have indicators …?

20 June 2022

The Rolls was due for its service last weekend, so I duly popped along to the dealership and left it for its annual once-over. Okay, I don’t actually own a Rolls Royce – it’s just what I’ve christened my car. The morning had been planned down to the minute and once all the booking-in palaver […]

Simple things done well …

6 June 2022

Three years ago, two members of our team walked out of the office with a box of branded jotter pads and packets of sweets. It doesn’t sound like much, but they headed off to nearby industrial parks and trading estates with a simple plan … To visit as many businesses as possible, explain in 60 […]

Every little helps …

30 May 2022

Alert! Alert! Unidentified item in the bagging area. Alarms start ringing. People stare. Store staff rush towards you. And the next minute it feels like Scotland Yards’ rapid reaction force (all wearing size 14 Doc Martens) are sprinting over to apprehend you. As your face turns puce and your ears burn with embarrassment you realise […]

50 shades of grey it isn’t …

23 May 2022

On an industrial estate in West Yorkshire stands an imposing grey building. Behind a tall perimeter fence and a security cabin at the gate, 50 shades of grey it most certainly isn’t. Although you might find a copy of it behind those walls. Because inside that inconspicuously monotone building lies 373 miles of shelving that […]

Coming 2nd isn’t on the agenda

16 May 2022

The parallels between sport and business aren’t always clear. But Netflix’s outstanding Drive to Survive offers more than its fair share. Now in its 4th series, the main characters are well established, and Red Bull’s Christian Horner is, without doubt, the documentary’s steely-eyed missile-man. Staring straight into the camera and with a menace that would […]

What’s your favourite logo?

9 May 2022

A couple of months ago, the Bank of England (BoE) proudly unveiled its new logo. And all for a cool £51,594.49p An oddly specific number, you might think. But was it worth it? If you are keen to tick boxes like accessibility, inclusivity, and equality, then the BoE will probably tell you it’s money well […]

If …

3 May 2022

Waiting for our train on the platform last Saturday I couldn’t help but notice how people were whiling away their time. Almost everyone was glued to their phones as if even a momentary loss of signal would ruin their day. A scene which made me smile as I recalled how Rudyard Kipling is said to […]

Pride comes before a fall …

25 April 2022

After a long dismal winter, Spring has well and truly sprung. Lambs gambol in the fields, the cherry blossom is bursting out in hedgerows all around, and crops in the fields are greening up as the sun puts its hat on and comes out to play. Our lives run at such a hectic pace that […]

All the world’s a stage …

11 April 2022

Shakespearean scholars are very fond of debating his many works. One chap I once knew would spout endless lines of King Lear at the slightest hint of an audience which was when I’d usually head for the hills. But whilst we know a great deal about the great bard’s work, surprisingly little is known about […]

Three notes, one word, and a lesson from 1975 …

4 April 2022

Despite being released almost 50 years ago, the original Jaws movies still have the power to send a shiver down the spine. After all, who would decide to go for a spot of light surfing off Bondi Beach alone without saying a little prayer? Everything in the film is designed to create terror and suspense. […]

An apple a day …

28 March 2022

For some, the first day of Spring is the Vernal Equinox. For others, it’s the meteorological 1st of March. For the equine world, it’s the glorious spectacle of national hunt racing at Cheltenham. But for me, it’s apple tree pruning before my collection of Bardsey, Bramley, Nant Gwrtheyrn and Anglesey Pig Snouts burst into life. […]

Make my day …

21 March 2022

If just one order came in today, what would you want it to be? The type of order that would make your day. Last year I was asked that same question and unhesitatingly answered; a “Self- Published Book” Well, where are they featured on your website? Cue much embarrassing shuffling of feet whilst my steam-powered […]

Ink that wrote our history

14 March 2022

Any of us can go out today and purchase an ink cartridge – pretty simple task, right? In fact, we use a dry toner that arrives following an automated alert from our presses, which is about as effortless as it can be. But it wasn’t always that easy. Centuries ago, it had to be made […]

Drive to Survive

7 March 2022

If you’ve not seen Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” I wholeheartedly recommend it. The fly on the wall documentary peeks behind the glamorous veil of Formula 1, its drivers, cars, team principles. You can almost smell the petrol as the cameras record the fast-moving action – on and off the track. Its detractors say, however, that […]

Waiting for Godot …

21 February 2022

A wet shave is undoubtedly one of life’s great luxuries. And whilst we wouldn’t like to admit it, sourcing the right product is something which should never be rushed. Great time and attention are given over to this daily ritual without which we simply can’t face the day’s many trials and tribulations. After all, can […]

The £1.5bn power of paper …

14 February 2022

“We thought we had one box left, but we’ve run out! How quickly can you get us some more?” That’s how the urgent call usually goes. Now, ordinarily, we’re only talking about a few thousand Invoices or Letterheads – and we can get these run off in a day or two and out for despatch. […]

Ya wee timorous beastie

7 February 2022

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to know that the world can be a dangerous place. Even if you’ve only got half an ear tuned into the news there’s always some alarming development around the globe. Today it’s on the Russian/Ukrainian border. Tomorrow it’ll be somewhere else. But if you really want to experience […]

Cranking it up to the max

31 January 2022

The business pages in the Sunday newspapers don’t tend to be a barrel of laughs, do they? Let’s be honest, the articles as dry as chalk dust baked under the burning sun of the Kalahari Desert – I half expect to find tumbleweed rolling across the breakfast table. They are not the most uplifting of […]

Emergency Stop

24 January 2022

I just about remember doing an emergency stop in my driving test. It wasn’t much fun but, hey, I passed. What WAS fun, though, was learning to drive in an old Morris 8 out in the fields. The petrol tank had been removed for safety reasons, but we lashed a half-gallon mower fuel tank to […]

Little Hinges Swing Big Doors

10 January 2022

Made any New Year’s resolutions? Me neither. Save for one. I’m done with rushing around trying to change the world around me. Stick at it religiously and by the end of the year you feel like a slither of giant alien leeches have sucked the lifeblood out of you. I mean, boy does it take […]

Seek and you WILL find …

20 December 2021

Just in time for Remembrance Sunday, I finished a wonderful book called “The Searchers”: The Quest for the Lost of the First World War. By November 1918, the whereabouts of over half a million British soldiers remained unknown, and the book details some of the extraordinary searches for the missing which go on to this […]

Keep it Simple …

29 November 2021

Cast your eye over a map of the London Underground today and you see a thing of pure beauty. It’s simplicity personified with clear lines, well-defined colour coding, and easy to read text. In an instant, travellers quickly know how to get from point A to point to point B with the minimum of fuss. […]

A heart stopping moment or collector’s item?

22 November 2021

Printing errors: brown-trouser moments or collectors’ items? Anyone who has ordered print will know that goolie shrivelling experience when they spot a printing error … Sometimes it’s a nasty typo. Just try typing Shire and realising two weeks too late that you’ve hit the adjacent “t” key instead of “r” by mistake and you’ll know […]

Don’t tell me it’s gone up again!

15 November 2021

Paper merchants have been overdosing on blue smarties of late – or so it seems. Barely a week goes by without some hyperactive shroud-waving spokesperson announcing another double-digit increase in paper prices. And with fuel, timber, and just about anything you can think of ramping up in price, I do wonder what is really going […]

A message from outer space …

8 November 2021

I started my day like any other – with a cup of tea as I read through my emails. Everything was hunky-dory until my eyes gazed upon this subject line: “Access Type for Print Parameter and Proposal” Mystified but recognising the sender I thought I’d better take a look and find out more. Dear Business […]

Patting your head and rubbing your tummy …

1 November 2021

Patting your head and rubbing your tum at the same time is a game as old as the hills. I’ll be honest – I never mastered it. Some say it’s a learned behaviour but, to be honest, life’s too short and I’ve got better things to do. But the brain’s ability to process and send signals […]

I’m sure I came in here for something…

25 October 2021

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve rushed from one room to another to fetch something vital … and then completely forgotten what I was looking for. Some might call it amnesia and others absent-mindedness, but a scientist recently ventured that it was nothing of the sort … His theory was that as […]

The best way to plan for tomorrow …?

4 October 2021

Marathon runners feel it at around 18 miles. A wall of pain that feels like you’ll never break through it. But one foot at a time, you do. Work can be a bit like that too, sometimes. Last week my right-hand man was off for a well-deserved week away and I hit my 18-mile barrier […]

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water …

27 September 2021

Sport is probably as close as it comes to having a national religion. For some, it’s the most important thing in the world. And millions of us engage in it every single day. In the end, it’s tribal loyalty to their club or society … For me, I’ve always marvelled at the powerful lessons sport […]

Today is Monday the 20th of September 2021. Or is it?

20 September 2021

I know I stick rigidly to my Monday message because I’m a stickler for my diary and organisation. I can’t help it – it’s just who I am. But speaking of diaries and dates, there’s something a bit more pressing right now… And that’s calendars. I’ll be honest, there’s days when I’m not even sure […]

Chin Chin, Cheers, Próst, Ya Mas …

13 September 2021

Now, I’m as partial to a glass of fizz as anyone – but English sparkling? Delicious though it is, it’s got a few too many zeros on the end for me. Although if a generous host happens to press a glass or two on me, I’m not refusing! So, when a catalogue dropped through the […]

A touch of sightseeing in Kabul, anyone?

6 September 2021

For most of us, the holidays are over. Come rain or shine we’ve hit the road and explored the highways and byways of our beautiful countryside like we’ve never done before. The more intrepid have braved flights to foreign lands suffering the anguished 11th hour “will we”, “won’t we go”, verdicts determined by the travel […]

Brain teasing word spaghetti …

31 August 2021

To an expert, Sudoku is a mildly testing brain workout. To a beginner, it’s a devilishly testing unfathomable puzzle. But to all its devotees it’s like a highly addictive narcotic. Once you’ve had your first fix, you’re hooked. Historians believe that it originated in India or China in around 900AD, but it was the genius […]

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

23 August 2021

The heatwave’s coming back! Well, supposedly… A sunny Bank Holiday weekend would be the PERFECT way to end the summer – so, if anyone starts to talk about Christmas… you might want to reach for the smelling salts. Why do I mention Christmas, I hear you ask? Because the first signs of it are already […]

No such thing as a free lunch? Then read on …

16 August 2021

If I’d have succumbed to every takeaway promotion during lockdown, I’d have a waistline something close to the circumference of the London Eye. Thankfully, I didn’t, and I don’t. But it’s been hard. Takeaway meals from local pubs and restaurants were one of the great success stories of the pandemic and showed how the more […]

Taking the hump …

9 August 2021

A good racing camel can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. And watching one close-up in full flight is an unnerving experience. Poetry in motion they are not. Sitting atop one of nature’s more ungainly creatures as it breaks the speed limit must be rather like a ride on Oblivion at Alton […]

Whitewashing the coal cellar …

2 August 2021

Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it. With too much to do and not enough time to do it that webinar you signed up for bites the dust. It sounded interesting at the time but right now it feels as attractive as sawing off your right foot. You send your apologies saying that unfortunately, you […]

Tenzing Norgay was in the starting blocks …

26 July 2021

All I had to do was put up some fencing around a Scots Pine tree … And I’d made a bit of a Horlicks of it. If a fencing contractor has seen it, they’d have probably burst out laughing. But that’s without reckoning on Tenzing Norgay – also known as my better three-quarter’s goat which, […]

11 other snakes are helping police with their enquiries …

19 July 2021

For most of us, the loo is a wonderful refuge from life’s struggles. Once we’re locked in, all the horrors of the world are safely locked out … or so we like to think. That’s certainly what Walter Erhart from Graz in Austria thought recently as he settled down for the luxurious experience of one […]

Clarkson’s Farm …

12 July 2021

Euro 2020 might have been dominating the TV schedules recently but there’s something else on the telly which has been doing something quite remarkable. Clarkson’s Farm. Whilst Amazon won’t reveal any viewing figures, all they’ll say is that it’s definitely moved the needle. Management-speak for the numbers have leapt off the graph and are heading […]

Trebles all round …

5 July 2021

I think it’s fair to say that I’d probably be the world’s worst court witness. If asked about my whereabouts at 10:30am on the Monday before last, I wouldn’t have a clue and would probably pass a lie detector test to prove it. But whilst recent experiences are often lost in a misty haze I […]

The Fear Bubble

28 June 2021

For some, fear is jumping out of a plane for the first time and hoping to heck that the bundle of material strapped to your back is going to open before you hit terminal velocity. For others, it might be potholing and trying to ignore the millions of tons of rock above your head and […]

Selling lawn mowers to high-rise flat owners …

21 June 2021

It’s best to check first. Who you are sending promotional material to, I mean. And, more importantly, what you are trying to sell to them. Marketeers are always blathering on about how important it is to segment our lists. And I guess we all sort of know what they mean but nothing makes the point […]

Some people think it’s all about the football …

12 June 2021

So, the Euros are upon us and whether you are football mad or not, the tournament is sure to bring a much-needed feelgood factor to the nation. Some people think it’s all about the football but there’s an interesting takeaway for all of us in business too. Whilst much of the attention is on Gareth […]

Repetition is the key …

7 June 2021

An unexpected run of eye operations has led to some enforced and unwelcome time away from my desk. And whilst Audible is my trusted companion of choice during any down-time, the telly has provided some light relief – especially when concentration levels fall to the level of a 5-year-old who’s just gorged on a ton […]

Held to ransom …

1 June 2021

The Pepperoni and Chorizo wood-fired pizza we ordered from a local restaurant recently was lipsmackingly delicious and definitely one to order again. But it very nearly didn’t happen. It had come by recommendation so with the weekend coming up I jumped on to the restaurant’s website and searched high and low – but any mention […]

The “spiritual” power of print …

24 May 2021

Pilgrims have long trodden the path to holy places and surprisingly, these routes are more popular today than in medieval times. Although today as many travel to escape their hectic lives for a period of self-reflection as they do for religious reasons. Routes around the world abound. Destinations range as far afield as Tibet or […]

What’s 60,000 times faster than reading this subject line?

17 May 2021

The human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than words … A point worth bearing in mind next time you’re updating a web page or printed material because a well-curated image library is worth its weight in gold. No, your images don’t have to look like a Hello magazine photo-shoot – just well thought out […]

Why are 99.5% of all proofing errors are spotted AFTER printing …

10 May 2021

Campaigning for any election is a bloody hard job. Late nights, early mornings, and all day out on the stump. Harangued by unfriendly voters and snappy dogs, and there’s always a dribbling baby or two for an unenviable photo op. Yup, it’s hard graft all right but with the tantalising prospect of winning a seat […]

Einstein defined it perfectly …

4 May 2021

Scientists may be able to split the atom over breakfast or explain how much a neutron weighs – even if it is in largely unintelligible language. But they aren’t best known for crafting an adept turn of phrase. But Einstein was different. Not only was he a genius but he understood human behaviour. Never more […]

39 years and four days ago, today

26 April 2021

Shortly before midnight on the 30th of April 1982 Flight Lieutenant Martin Withers gently eased forward his four throttle levers. The four giant Olympus engines behind him began to howl in response and all 93.75 tons of XM607 gently started to roll down the runway. Their target; Port Stanley airfield on the Falkland Islands. As […]

What business are you really in?

19 April 2021

Ask anyone what business they’re in and you’ll hear replies like hospitality, manufacturing, construction, sales. Delve a little deeper and depending on how good a conversationalist you are, and you might get as far as an outside events manager, supply chain management or senior buyer. Hmm? We might be getting a little warmer but not […]

A submariner’s tale …

12 April 2021

How many of us haven’t railed against lockdown recently? For a very lucky few it may have been a blessed relief but for many, it has been pure mental torture. For the most part, at least we’ve been able to venture outdoors for a little exercise and freedom from our temporary imprisonment. But for some […]

The cost of everything and the value of nothing …

6 April 2021

Never look a gift horse in the mouth – so the saying goes. But then again, it’s not such a bad idea to give it a bloody good dental check if you get the chance. Not a million miles away from what seems to have been happening to poor AstraZeneca these last few weeks. Agreeing […]

Are you asking the right questions …

29 March 2021

Albert Einstein once said: ‘If I had one hour to solve a problem and my life depended on finding a solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask. For once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” Our lives may not […]

Face Masks … they’re so 13th Century

22 March 2021

Throughout 2020 debate raged about face masks. Some love them but many loathe them. Some experts said they were essential whilst others said they didn’t do any good at all. In any event, they were a new experience for many of us working outside the medical and research fields. Considering how long they’ve been in […]

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

15 March 2021

There are three types of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics – so said Benjamin Disraeli. But then, he hadn’t heard about Google Analytics. Packed full of stats and overflowing with real-world information your first dip into Analytics can be a bit daunting. But there’s no need to wrap a hot towel around your head […]

Terrible table manners …

9 March 2021

Watch any professional tea taster, or wine taster at work and the amount of slurping and gurgling would put a toddler to shame. You can imagine the fearsome scolding from a parent as a toddler polishes off their juice with a lip-smacking relish sucking up as much air as they do liquid. These terrible table […]

Catch me a Tiger …

1 March 2021

In deepest rural Dorset there’s a rather large shed. Tucked up safely inside is one of the deadliest weapons of World War 2. The Tiger tank. Sure, the tank is interesting but how it was captured and brought from Tunisia to London is one of the war’s most epic tales. The Tiger was one of […]

Have you got the keys to the Rolls …?

22 February 2021

“I never invent anything, because inventors go broke.” So said, Sir Frederick Henry Royce, he of Rolls Royce fame, to anyone who would listen. When we think of this most famous of marques, Rolls is the name which usually springs to mind. But it was Sir Henry Royce who was the engineering genius behind their […]

Patience is a virtue …

15 February 2021

It’s an astonishing thought that the summit of Mount Everest is made of Limestone. Which means that around 450 million years ago it once formed part of the seafloor. With the summit now standing at 29,032 feet, that seafloor has moved an awful long way over those mega-anna (*) and continues to do so at […]

Is Professor Brian Cox thick?

8 February 2021

Is Professor Brian Cox thick? The professor of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester? Of course not! The guy’s a genius. But the interesting thing is that he only got a D in Maths at school. This is the guy who could split the atom while he’s […]

Who cares about your logo …?

1 February 2021

Honestly, who really cares about your logo? And I wonder if anyone asked the Royal British Legion before they splashed out close to £100,000 on their new logo and endured an alarming flurry of brickbats last week for their troubles. I bet they wished they’d never bothered. Sure, we all want to show it off […]

50 Shades of Grey it is not …

25 January 2021

Lockdown may be wearing a bit thin but one its blessings has been a little more time to curl up and get lost in a good book. Tales of adventure, derring-do, travel, history – all there for us to lose ourselves in whatever magical moments of me-time we’re lucky enough to grab. One mighty tome […]

Horse delivers images quicker than broadband …

18 January 2021

Last week we talked about the cost of being invisible in the marketplace. Whether you are using Google Ads, SEO, Leaflet Drops or whatever, getting your message out there doesn’t come on the cheap. Sure, if you’ve got a big budget and are prepared to fire money at the problem like it was going out […]

Are you as invisible as Captain Mainwaring’s wife …?

11 January 2021

Dad’s Army ran for 9 years and 80 episodes and in all that time Captain Mainwaring’s wife never appeared on screen. As invisibility goes, that’s pretty good going. The writers deliberately played on the fact that Elizabeth Mainwaring was never seen, and it became an amusing sideline in a show brimming over with subtle interplays […]

Royal rogues and rascals …

4 January 2021

In the rich tapestry of our royal rogues and rascals poor old Queen Anne seems to have been a bit of a dull old thing. But who could have guessed her obsession with candles would have such a profound influence on our retail landscape? For those living on a shoestring in the early 1700s, tallow […]

Are we nearly there yet …?

21 December 2020

On a balmy summer’s afternoon in 1977, Voyager 2 sat quivering on its Cape Canaveral launchpad.   Everyone at Mission Control on hyper-alert, the myriad systems all in contact with each other and all totally focused on the serene form waiting patiently on the launch pad for the command to go.    At 14:29 precisely […]

Short Cuts Deserve a Second Look …

14 December 2020

If you enjoy the occasional slurp of red wine, you’ll probably know that a glass of Italian Amarone is a wonderful treat. The trouble is that it comes with a rather hefty price tag. Which, given the process of making it, is not surprising. Harvested by hand, the grapes are picked, sorted, and carefully inspected […]

The Japanese Tea Ceremony …

7 December 2020

Nuts and bolts can be a bit of a hard sell. As Chris and I soon found out whilst discussing some new copy for his brochure and website. We’d only just met so I was new to the challenge but it was clear that he’d been wrestling with the conundrum for a long, long time. […]

The Dashing Count …

16 November 2020

On the 18th of December, the dashing Count rocketed across the finishing line and into the record books. Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat had just set the first land speed record of 39.24mph and the date was December 1898. And his car? An electric-powered Jeantaud Duc, apparently. Who’d have guessed that EVs were all the rage […]

Hungry PC’s 80mph crash …

9 November 2020

After a tiring 12-hour shift, PC John Byrne was looking forward to getting back to the station and clocking off. Just as he thought he could relax his phone buzzed and a message popped up on the screen. One he couldn’t ignore. As the adrenalin surged through his veins, on went the blue lights and […]

Calendars: the unbreakable rule …

2 November 2020

They say there’s nothing new under the sun and they’re probably right. Adverts for 2021 calendars are arriving thick and fast. Big ones, little ones, wide ones, and tall ones – all with one unbreakable rule which I’ll tell you about in a mo. But one caught my eye – waxing lyrical about its amazing […]

I blame Lewis Hamilton …

26 October 2020

Whether you are a Formula 1 nut or not (I’m not, by the way) you’ve got to admire the way they use data. Because the pointy heads in Formula 1 certainly know how to use it and it’s a lesson which should resonate with anyone serious about the success of their website. The reason this story stands […]

Don’t build a lighthouse in the desert …

19 October 2020

For over a millennium the great Lighthouse of Alexandria shone out over the Nile Delta. Flames leaping skyward atop its 350-foot stone tower to guide ships into the bustling port of Alexandria. As one of the Seven Wonders of the World it is undoubtedly the most famous lighthouse in antiquity. The world over, lighthouses have […]

Carrier pigeon might not work …

12 October 2020

Every week I chat about something which catches my imagination. Something to help you promote your business more effectively and … help you steal a march on the competition. But the chances are that it’s not always about what’s on your mind right now. So, that got me thinking. They say that to get the […]

A ticket to nowhere …?

5 October 2020

Boarding a flight to nowhere and landing right back where you started from isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. Most of us, if truth be told, prefer to land in a different place from where we took-off. And with airlines and their planes Covid-clamped that’s not quite as easy as it used to be. But who […]

What did the Egyptians ever do for us …?

28 September 2020

It may be rarely talked about, but the Rosetta Stone is one of the most famous objects in the British Museum. It’s more than 2,000 years old but it holds a very valuable lesson to anyone sweating over fresh content for anything from a web page to a new brochure. Created in around 196 BC […]

Your Secret Sauce …

21 September 2020

Soon after my Monday posts have been broadcast the “out of office” replies come trickling in. They’re brief and business like and completely devoid of any personality, but they’ve been designed to do a job and they do it well. But last week one stood out like a beacon in a sea of grey. It […]

Please keep my details on file …

14 September 2020

An email I received just after New Year grabbed my attention right away. I think it was from a guy called Pete, but I can’t be sure. We’d been thinking on and off about how to solve a dilemma and the email which had just pinged into my inbox suggested that he might have an […]