Sunday, April 18, 2010

Good Luck, Penelope

Penelope Trunk, ace bloggerette, ties the knot today after what feels like a lifetime of ups and downs with her Farmer. Along with about half a million other people, I wish them both a lifetime of growth and happiness.

La Trunk is an enchanting writer, and has become a part of my routine like my favourite slippers (before the dog ate them) or evenings at the fencing club (before kids revision schedules got in the way). I seem to be running short of cozy routines. Happily, her blog is still there (twice this week). So I do feel a tiny thrill of linkage to this event, thousands of miles away among people I will never meet. Especially as she arranged it for my birthday.

I may not be the first to notice that you can slip into someone's head with different levels of subtlety.

1. Use my name for a straightforward, open approach


If you use my name in conversation or writing, you switch me into "greeting" mode. It's like knocking on the front door: I'll come to meet you courteously, ready to think about what you are offering me. Usually, this is what you want.

2. Grab my attention with a special date

Then there is the special date. For most of us, the most special date is our birthday. Seeing this date triggers unreliable memories of gifts, meals, parties, excitement, happiness and love.At least, it does for me. Even if the actual events may sometimes have been objectively disappointing, I remember them as they should have been. This hoard of memory sits surprisingly deep. It's as though the inner lizard is actually a sleeping dragon and this is his treasure. He is very attached to his hoard, and any reminder will wake him up and get him interested.

In other words, it's a shortcut to my happy place.

3. Do something clever with my name


On a memorable visit to the Indigo specialist printing company in Israel, I got back to my hotel room after the first day to find a calendar pushed under the door. On each page was a landscape photo with my name spelled out in some way. (The first was an Alpine scene where the skiers spelt "WILL". And so on.) This slipped straight through the open back door into the kitchen and poured itself a cup of coffee, as it were. Apart from being amazed at the technology (there were eighty people on the visit, and we each got our own personalised calendar), and though my thinking mind knew that this was no more than a mailmerge, I did feel rather special.

They had taken the step beyond routine good manners. Like the person you meet at a party who looks into your eyes and repeats your name. Hint: as people expect less courtesy, the bar is getting lower. These habits are easy to practice and are available to all.

4. Blow me away with a wordless image


Finally, you can surprise me with an image. Done well, this is very, very powerful. Possibly slight overkill to encourage people to pay their TV licences, but this (*) is exactly the response I expect when news of my blog leaks out beyond the discerning few. (Stick with it.)





(*) I am grateful to Jon Moon for this link. I've mentioned him once before. He won't help you organise your life. He won't inspire you to brilliance. He won't lead you safely through the maze of social media marketing. He  will simply show you how to design your documents for clarity and impact. You can find him here, with lots of fun stuff. He sent his fans this DIY Hero link.

He has done a lovely version of the Downfall subtitles, "Hitler Hates the Sales Presentation". What is it about these particular four minutes that make it such a great spotlight for all the stupidities of modern life?



(Today is shaping shaped up rather well, since you ask, with blogging first thing, a beautiful bright morning which will probably draw drew me out of my pit before I finished and good wishes from family and friends.Then rather a good adaptation of Robert Harris's The Ghost, birthday tea and a couple of games of Carcassonne with sprog 5 - honours even. Rounded off with a little quiet blogging and pigging out on Whittards plain chocolate orange strips.)