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Happy 2012 (and be nice to your readers)

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Happy new year from Good As Gold! My Facebook newsfeed this morning is filled with complaints about sleeping badly, the miserable weather or returning to work (or all three). I hope you’re feeling more positive than the majority of my friends … although I suspect their updates may represent the mood of the nation at large.

One of my 2012 business resolutions is to blog more, so I thought I’d kick off with something that I tucked away this time last year.

Imagine my delight when, on 5 January, I received an unsolicited email newsletter from a leadership management company, with this opening:

Ahhhh the start of another year and all those New Year resolutions have probably already been broken. Back in the same old groove after just 5 days are we? Fancy a change? Fancy something new? Want to try something different? It will take more than a promise to yourself at midnight on New Years Eve after a couple of glasses of shampoo!!

Not only is this badly written, but - worse - it’s patronising, makes assumptions about the reader, and … well, it’s a teeny bit rude. I’d been to the gym that day! I’d eaten my five portions of fruit and veg! I even resisted that enormous slab of Christmas cake at lunchtime.

OK, I’m lying about the cake - but I hope you get my point. Be friendly. Be self-deprecating. Even be personal. Never insult your reader.

Here’s to an Olympic year ahead.

New Year 2012

More travel stuff from Marie

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

If you love movies and love travel, have you ever wondered what it’s like to travel the world making movies? I interviewed Hollywood producer Ned Dowd (who has perhaps the most enviable job ever) and he gave me some amazing pictures from his personal collection. Check out the one of Ned in a swamp with Kim Basinger and Richard Gere …

And here’s a piece I wrote for the Eastern Daily Press recently, about Yarmouth in Nova Scotia:


Can you spare £5?

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

A personal one, this. My brave/mad/masochistic husband Steve is running the London Marathon this Sunday, for Edward’s Trust.

The moment Steve’s confirmation letter from the race organisers plopped onto our doormat, he was determined to run for a smaller charity; one which doesn’t have the resources to buy up places in big events such as the London Marathon.

Having recently met Peter Dent, the father of a boy named Edward who died aged just seven years, Steve quickly decided on Edward’s Trust. Peter and his wife Hilary founded the Birmingham-based charity in 1989 to help other families deal with the pain of losing a child.

Today they support bereaved families and those affected by serious illness, as well as providing training services for teachers, parents and other adults who are working with bereaved children. You can read more about the charity at

The kite logo for Edward’s Trust was taken from one of Edward’s pictures, which he drew on pink copy paper. The charity has been kind enough to send Steve a white vest to run in on Sunday, as well as a T-shirt in ‘Edward’s Trust pink’ which Steve has worn for training every week.

It’s no small undertaking, a marathon, and the past few weeks have seen Steve nursing creaky knees, sore feet, grazed nipples (yep!) and various other chafed bits. He’s also diligently climbed into ice-cold baths after three-hour training sessions and abstained from curries and beers. No easy task, trust me …

Of course all these endeavours will be worthwhile when Steve crosses the finishing line on Sunday, having raised hundreds of pounds to help Peter, Hilary and their team keep up their excellent work in Edward’s memory. 

Thanks to the generosity of our families and friends, Steve’s not far off the £1000 mark. Can you throw in a fiver and help him get there?

You can donate quickly and easily online at If you pay UK tax, you can also apply Gift Aid and boost your donation, at no extra cost to you.

Thank you for your kindness. I will keep you posted on how Steve does!


Sunday was a day we’ll never forget. Less suited to running than to cheering from the sidelines with an icecream, I stood with Steve’s family and mine, marvelling at the supportive, festival atmosphere that pervaded the city. Meanwhile, Steve battled heat, blisters and bruised toes to complete the course in 4h 29m 27s, raising more than £1200 for Edward’s Trust. Well done, that man.

Steve completes the London Marathon

Twelve treats for Christmas

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Some golden nuggets especially for you … merry Christmas!

One German nutcracker museum

Four nutcrackers

Two funny Christmas customs
* The pooping log of Spain
* Krampus

The pooping log: Caga Tio

Three dreadful songs
* ‘I’m the Christmas Queen’ - Miss Piggy
* ‘Christmas Conga’ - Cyndi Lauper
* ‘Macarena Christmas’ - Los del Rio

Four Christmas creatures
Bunny in Santa hatKitten in a Santa hat

Rodent with a baubleRobin

Wind-up penguin toy from

Six disturbing decoration roundups
Fifty-four creepy, bizarre and geeky Xmas tree ornaments
* Nine really weird Christmas ornaments from Bronner’s
* Eleven weird Christmas tree ornaments
* Weird Christmas ornaments on Etsy
* Flickr: The strange Christmas ornaments pool
* Eleven hilariously stupid, strange and ugly Christmas ornaments.

Gherkin decoration

Seven silly presents
* Treasure-seekers’ shoes
* Sovereign ring mug
* Crime scene roll
* Belly button brush
* Toilet mat golf game
* Jim’ll Fix It soap on a rope
* Inflatable fruitcake

Eight vintage Christmas print ads
* Antique Christmas

Vintage ad: couple by Christmas tree

Nine ways of wrapping … 
Wake and Bake Dream Griddle Alarm Clock

Eleven lovely jumpers
* Hideous Christmas sweaters of the day (OK, there are more than 11 here but one can never have too much knitwear).  

Twelve Christmassy clips
* Santa announcement from Elf
* Home Alone trailer
* ‘Stop the Cavalry’ - Jona Lewie
* Christmas lights scene from Father Ted
* Last scenes of The Office Christmas Special
* Box of Delights
* ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ - Slade
* ‘Father Christmas is Indian!’ from Goodness Gracious Me
* ‘Fairytale of New York’ - The Pogues and Kirsty McColl
* ‘Walking in the Air’ from The Snowman
* ‘How to wrap a cat for Christmas’
* ‘O Tannenbaum’ by Vince Guaraldi Trio (from A Charlie Brown Christmas).

Gold bow

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous 2011.

Remembering Danielle Fleming

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

It’s been a year since the death of Danielle Fleming, director of Birmingham branding agency Positive K and a sunny, smiley face on the Midlands business scene. I just wanted to write something here, for everyone who remembers her, to say that I’m remembering her this week - and thinking of her loved ones.

I met Danielle in my very first week of trading with Good As Gold, at a seminar organised by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce. Danielle could see I was nervous and unsure of myself as I twiddled my thumbs by the coat rack, and she immediately took me under her wing. She told me my business cards were rubbish (yes, I started out with those flimsy free ones offered by an online printing company) and proceeded to rattle off a dozen useful design and networking tips before we were called to our seats.

We met for coffee the following week - and I joined Danielle at a 4Networking breakfast meeting on another occasion. I also attended a branding seminar at Positive K’s premises at The Bond in Digbeth, and she commissioned me to write a feature about Positive K for a local magazine. We only met five or six times in total, but I’d like to think we were becoming friends. Danielle was certainly an inspiration for me: she was less than two years older but had achieved so much, had boundless energy and a clear, authoritative (but friendly) voice that made me in turn feel more confident.

Danielle was killed in a helicopter crash on Saturday 1 November 2008, aged just 27. She’d won a big contract and been invited out for a flight with her new client, but something went tragically wrong and the helicopter came down over a field in Gloucestershire. When I heard the news I couldn’t speak for an hour, and I was just someone on the very periphery of her life. It must’ve been - and surely still is - a dreadful time  for her family and friends.

So this little blog post is for Danielle, to say thank you for all the inspiration and encouragement she gave me. I think she’d be proud of how I’m doing now, and I’d love to tell her that I’m thinking of getting my business cards updated for a second time. Danielle will never be forgotten.

Why big organisations shouldn’t ignore Twitter

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Less than two weeks ago, I posted a grumbly tweet on Twitter, complaining that my phone line was down and blaming BT. Within a few minutes, someone from the BT Care team had posted a friendly reply:

BTtweetI think the operative word here is ’someone’ - a real person! She sympathised with my situation (”Not so good”) and encouraged me to contact her privately (DM = Direct Message in Twitterland) to explain the situation. No waiting ‘on hold’ for hours; no being passed from one gruff person to another and having to explain the problem over and over again. Nope! She phoned my mobile straight away and offered to send out an engineer, keeping closely in touch until the problem was solved. 

I’ve had run-ins with BT in the past. It took my partner and me six months to get a phone line when we first bought our apartment. We suffered from missing equipment, wrong bills, rude call-centre staff, crossed wires (metaphorically and literally)  … I won’t tell you what we decided the initials BT stood for. But thanks to a forward-thinking approach to Twitter, the organisation has gone a long way towards redeeming itself in my eyes. Just as I used to moan about BT to anyone bored enough to listen, I will now tell the story of how it used Twitter to fix my phone line.

Big companies just cannot afford not to monitor what people are saying about them, in real time and in the real world (well, the Twitter world). Those that use online social networking wisely may get publicity far more valuable than any quirky advertising campaign: genuine praise from happy customers.  


Phone problems!

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009


Apologies, but the Good As Gold phone line has a fault (I thought it was peaceful here this morning). The phone rings at the caller’s end, but doesn’t ring out here. I’ve had a complaint … and now I’m worried about how many other people think I’m ignoring them. Thanks, BT! And sorry, clients.

Working on getting it fixed, but if you need anything in the meantime, please email (marie @ and I’ll phone you straight back.

Thank you for your understanding.



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