Saturday, November 15, 2014

 Are you a RULE BREAKER - 
and PROUD of it?

Do you slavishly follow instructions from
someone wearing a white coat?
This morning, with my first hot chocolate of the day, I watched an episode of Dr Phil. It was about a psychologist being given free rein to investigate people's rooms and then follow up with an interpretation of their personality type. 

Dr Phil's wife Robin was described as a ‘rule breaker’ and I was struck by how proud she appeared to be of the label.

There are two sides to any character trait. For instance, on the positive side, the rule breaker is unlikely to administer painful electric shocks to innocent humans simply because someone in a white coat has told him or her to do so. 

Do you automatically challenge rules?
However, on the other hand, the rule breaker, when presented with a rule or instruction, or even the details of a social arrangement amongst family and friends, will automatically challenge it and fight to change the goal posts to gain control.

Without the rule breaker’s drive to defy convention, question authority, challenge beliefs and imagine possibilities beyond learnt knowledge, there would be no progress. 

But on a day-to-day basis, he or she could be seen by others as a selfish child who always wants to get their own way!

Do you mess up others' agendas just for the fun of it?

Rule breakers might give these points some thought:
  • That it might be worth following a rule to see what it feels like.
  • That non-rule breakers might simply be displaying better manners and more concern for others’ feelings than you are.
  • That you might be messing up someone else’s agenda just because it isn’t yours?

Look out for my next blog. I’ll be posing the question: Are you KIND-HEARTED or a bit of a WEED?

RECIPE: NOVEMBER



Friday, September 19, 2014

MILESTONE MOMENTS


Sitting by a milestone near my East Sussex home
It was late afternoon in central London on a chilly Saturday in August. We were a flagging party of seven in need of refreshments. We wanted tea (English Breakfast and mint), sandwiches and cocktails. Little did I realise that just around the corner in Kensington Court one of those ‘milestone moments’ in life was waiting for me. 

Outside The Milestone Hotel
If, like me, you prefer older, solidly posh and comfortable London hotels, then you will love The Milestone Hotel. Of course the interior is very nice and cosy, as you’d expect from a 5 star boutique hotel, but it is the staff members who make The Milestone Experience special. They are fun and  friendly. They do everything they can to fulfil requests. They are tirelessly efficient. They are an example that should be followed by the serving staff in a restaurant we visited earlier that day (see my previous post!).

Mine's a White Russian, please!
We were all deeply satisfied with our food and drinks – excellent sandwiches are crucial to profound happiness and I will be discussing this in a future post – but what ultimately transported us to heavenly clouds of bliss was the unexpected addition of Chef’s Biscuits served with our tea. I don’t think any one of us will ever be quite the same again.


With friends in the comfy Stables Bar
When Moira and I have published our novel, Small White Dog, (which is in its third rewrite due to Moira’s weak plotting ability) we shall have a celebratory lunch at The Milestone. We may even decide to live there.


Do try it out for yourselves and let me know what you think!


Transported to a state of bliss by Chef's biscuits
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Tina's Shortbread Chocolate Chip Cookies


Tuesday, September 9, 2014



THE GARDENS OF BABYLON


Bored by an onion & goat's cheese tartlet
I promised in my last post that I would tackle two of the foremost issues for humans: Love and Mating. But I’ve changed my mind! (I will be coming back to the subject soon.) 

Surely the topic which takes the No 1 spot with both our species is … FOOD.

I decided it would be fun to write some food-related reviews, particularly as I've recently been home to the UK. 

Imagine my delight when in mid-August I was invited to a birthday lunch at Babylon in Kensington High Street. Unfortunately, there were disappointments in store for our party. 

Thinking about the future of human existence with Mr Alan
The first came when we were told, less than a week before our booking, that we would not be allowed in the gardens because they were being used for a wedding. Naturally, we had all been particularly excited about seeing the roof gardens and thought that since we were barred from this key component of our Babylon experience, a discount might have been offered. It wasn't.

The second disappointment was that we only had our table for two hours and then it would be needed for a later booking. In fact, we weren’t moved from our table - but understandably we were less relaxed than we might have been had we known this. 


Ms Tina and I wondering if tomatoes constitute a main meal
The third disappointment was a choice of only two mains for vegetarians – a risotto and a dish that was mainly about tomatoes. Both were tasty, I was told, but the general consensus among us was that these vegetarian options were weedy and unoriginal, although at least the clich├ęd onion and goat’s cheese tartlet didn’t dare show its face!


We had a nice time anyway 
We had a very nice time, all the same, and the views from the restaurant are lovely - but since Babylon does sell itself as something rather special, we felt it had fallen short on this occasion.

Have you been to Babylon? I'd love to hear about your experience.

Favourite Recipe - Spoon Bread Souffle


Also known as cornbread souffle








Saturday, August 2, 2014

RUSSELL RENAISSANCE


At the Assembly Hall in Royal Tunbridge Wells,
speaking to a packed house
Hello –  I hope you’re as happy to see me again as I am to see you. It’s been many months since my last post and it’s been a busy time for me. I’m always very much in demand as a motivational speaker and there are disappointed, aimless humans everywhere who’ve been benefiting from my advice during my world tour.

As many of you know, last year I co-wrote a novel, Small White Dog, with Moira Waugh and I expect you'd like to know how we've been getting on with that. 


Meeting members of the audience
While I've been away, Moira's been sending samples of the m/s to London literary agents and one top agent actually asked to see the whole novel!

Sadly, they decided not to represent us after all but I managed to motivate Moira to undertake an extensive rewrite and now she's starting to submit to agents again.


Helping people can be tiring
Now that I'm back from touring, I have started collaborating with Moira on a new novel, Dangerously Smudged. I don't feature in this one but I think it'll be fairly readable anyway. 

Look out for my next post which will be about Love and Mating!

BTW, if you need top notch music for a film you're making or a project you're working on, you couldn't do better than to browse this excellent site: thinkrootrecords.com

FAVOURITE RECIPE
Custard slices (anything with custard really).



Sunday, September 15, 2013

POISON AND PARADISE
a Small White Dog special!


Hello everyone - I’m back ‘on the blog’ with a SWD special post to celebrate the end of a fine summer and the beginning of autumn, my favourite season.

Just recently I’ve been staying with friends Mark and Moira in Florida and two things occurred to mar my usual enjoyment. The first was a slight buzzing in my ears, which had me wondering if I’d developed tinnitus; the second was the discovery of tiny wings scattered in the utility room. Could they belong to dead fairies?

Luckily it turned out that my hosts’ house was riddled with termites. I suggested that they treat their compulsory, three-day evacuation from their home as a mini-holiday rather than a disaster. But where to go?

Immediately I thought of my friend Randy down at The Lorelei Resort on Treasure Island and that’s just where we headed for sea, sun, breakfasts out, tranquillity and starry nights. If you find yourself in this part of Fla., you couldn’t hope for a better, value-for-money stay than at The Lorelei. You can see how we spent our mini-break below:




I'll be back with another Special Update soon. Meanwhile, Happy Autumn!

Song of the Season


















Recipe of the Season
Peach & Raspberry Crisp
Photo: Melanie Acevedo



















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Friday, July 12, 2013

MIND THE GAP

Taking a walk with my best friend,
Anthony Woodgate
Mind the Gap is the message played on the London Underground when you're leaving the train and you can follow the link [in the title above] to hear it for yourselves.

It's also a way of telling you that this will be my last blog post for some time although, of course, I will let you know when Moira's and my novel, SMALL WHITE DOG, is accepted by a top literary agent. More of that in a moment.

First, I'll return to the subject of my last post [28th June]. Here are my recommendations for handling the situation:


You didn't bring Monkey, did you?
  • step away from it. Tell the receptionist you can't wait any longer and will call to reschedule an appointment; OR [my personal choice]
  • make a stand. Take up a position where you are visible to your stylist and his clients. Maintain a taut stance and low growling for about a minute, then walk away in a dignified manner and return to the sofa in the reception area. Sit on the sofa and stare fixedly at the stylist and his selfish clients until they get the message. Repeat as necessary.
You can employ these strategies in many different situations.

Back to the subject of my and Moira's proposed sabbatical - I'm very excited about the prospect! Moira has come up with a new idea for a novel and she has invited me to collaborate with her again. 

With Moira in Hampshire
This will be an interesting experience for me, as I won't be featuring in the story and I will have to use my imagination this time. However, Moira believes that my insights into human behaviour will, once again, prove invaluable and we will be retreating to my country house in Hampshire to begin work next month.

I knew it. Monkey!
I hope you all have a very happy time over these summer months. If you are thinking about good reads to take away on holiday, I recommend Broken by Daniel Clay and any of the Jim Stringer Mysteries by Andrew Martin. And SMALL WHITE DOG when it's published!






RECIPE OF THE WEEK




MUSIC OF THE WEEK
Pieces of Manderley by Loveshadow (feat Reblaw27)



I'LL BE BACK ...


Friday, June 28, 2013

PET HATES 

My client was still upset by the incident weeks later
Pet hates: What are they? Well, everyone has different criteria; or so you might think! My human clients repeatedly bring the same ones to me, albeit in diverse guises. 




Personal boundaries being pushed or ignored + feelings of powerlessness and insignificance = Pet Hates.


The teenager had an unruly mop
Example: My client couldn’t shed her anger over an incident that had happened weeks before. She’d arrived punctually for her hair appointment. Her stylist was working on a fidgety teenage boy, cutting his unruly mop into a trendier, shorter style while his chatty mother watched. 

When the stylist had finished, the boy looked at himself in lots of different mirrors and asked about coping with his new hair and styling preparations, while his mother followed him around and told him how handsome he looked.


A shorter, trendier style
By the time they’d moved into reception and paid, they’d taken up 20 minutes of my client’s appointment, which was further disrupted by the teenager coming back to ask the stylist yet again about how to use a pot of hair gel. 


There was barely an apology from the stylist for keeping my client waiting and she suspected her own cut was rushed because he was now running late.

What could my client have done to handle the situation?

  • Asked the receptionist to remind the stylist that his next appointment was waiting?
  • Complained directly to the stylist (risking a tense atmosphere and bad cut)?
  • Informed the stylist she couldn’t wait any longer and walked out?
  • Gone over to the mother and told her to put a sock in it and tipped the boy out of the chair saying, “My turn!”?

I would love to read your suggestions, so please use the comment box below. I’ll offer my own answer in my next post. Have a very happy, stress-free weekend!

RECIPE OF THE WEEK


I love watching Ina Garten's cookery programme when I'm in the States!

SONG OF THE WEEK
To Win My Heart by Dan-T (feat Patricia Edwards)


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Friday, June 14, 2013

WE'RE FINISHED!
With Moira at The Cheesecake Factory in Tampa
I am very happy to announce that Moira and I have finished editing the novel we've been collaborating on, Small White Dog, and earlier this week we began submitting the opening pages to top UK literary agents. 

My grandmother, Ada Brophy (pictured in my post for 8th March), told me as a puppy that if I always did my best, then no one could ask more of me. This is good advice as far as it goes. 


With Ms Tina and Ms Toni on a picnic in Hampshire
Unfortunately, Nanny Brophy wasn't a worldly dog and in real life, you can do the best you can and very often more is asked of you! Even if you are talented, work hard and follow the best advice, you still may not achieve your cherished ambition.


With Ms Daisy Dailey at an ice cream parlour
in downtown St Pete's [we're just good friends]
So I'm going to add my voice to my grandmother's maxim: When working on a project, always have another in the pipeline you can turn to next. It helps to keep you hopeful and safe from crushing disappointment.

However, I'm very, very excited that Moira and I have completed what we set out to do a year ago and I have taken a break from coaching humans and been celebrating with some of my closest friends. It's always worth giving yourself a pat on the head and acknowledging you've done well. Then it's time to reward yourself with food and friends!

With Ms Susi at her house on the West Coast of California

SONG OF THE WEEK
LILAC by Timberman

RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Knickerbockerglory










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Friday, May 31, 2013

CREATIVE WINGS
The cover for my rock album The Russell of Wings -
considered groundbreaking in its day
My good friend singer/songwriter Kara Square posted this recently on Facebook:

Alright... I'm out of juice. Hey creative people - when you run out of inspiration, do you force it or just stop...?

Judging from the many responses she received, this is obviously something that creative humans find a conundrum. I'm happy to say that I never suffer from artistic anxiety. I have fun with my ideas and I don't feel any pressure to be original or 'the best'. [I'm only competitive over food and toys.] It immediately struck me as a good topic for my blog, though, and I have gained some interesting insights.

The first human I approached was Moira, who is writing a book about me called Small White Dog. "I make myself write whether I feel like it or not," she told me. "Actually, I never feel like it. I'd rather watch television and drink coffee. It's no good fannying around waiting to be inspired. Just get on with it! Set yourself a time limit, stick to it and reward yourself afterwards."

A bit uninspiring, perhaps, but it obviously works for Moira and it could work for you. 


Me being Pam Swann summoning that elusive inspiration!
Next I spoke to two former clients, self-styled romantic novelist Pam Swann and artist Robin Snow. 

"One must be most particular about one's creative environment," Pam commented. "One can only capture that elusive element, inspiration, by working in, say, a first floor, south-facing room which overlooks a lake. One needs absolute quiet. One can be frightfully affected by the noise made by other people's children or pets." [Pam isn't a published author as yet but she hopes to finish her debut novel within a year or two.] 

Talented - yet having lots of fun!
Artist Robin Snow has a very different approach. "I just get pissed, ducky, slap a bit of paint on the canvas and see what happens." [Robin's work is currently being shown in galleries in New York and London.]

So you see, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to creativity. It seems you must just find out what works for you. I'd love it if you'd share your methods for getting inspired by leaving a comment below. Have a happy and fulfilling weekend!

SONG OF THE WEEK
A Book of Empty Lines by Loveshadow (featuring myvanillaworld) 

RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Angel Food Cake Stuffed with 
Whipped Cream and Berries


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Friday, May 17, 2013

SCRATCHING THE SURFACE


A group discussion about an unpopular person - perhaps
because they take more than their fair share from the buffet
If you are a human reading this, I’m sure you’ve spent a lot of time in your life wondering why you dislike a particular person so much. You’ve probably done this inside your head and also in a group with others.




But have you spent as much time analysing why you like someone? A person you like can potentially do more harm because you let them into your life and you confide in them. Humans prefer to find altruistic reasons for their actions, when the truth is that you are drawn to certain people because they fulfil a specific emotional need.

I have a client who has a pattern of befriending bullies because he was bullied as a child. He is subconsciously flattered that the bully wants to make friends; and experience has taught him it’s safer to be in the bully’s pack than outside it. This is not a good basis for a friendship.

It’s also unwise to form an alliance with someone simply because you both dislike the same person. This kind of friendship is very negative, unsatisfying and unlikely to last.

Helping Anthony with mowing by being a cheerful companion
My friendship with Anthony Woodgate is a good example of a healthy relationship. Anthony pays for everything and in return he has unlimited access to my philosophies and life coaching skills. We give each other equal amounts of attention and we enjoy the same kinds of activities. This positive combination has led us to become Best Friends.

Top notch choc chip cookies and
mini milk chocolate bars
Moira (who is writing a book about Anthony and me called SMALL WHITE DOG) had a friend who only liked her because she kept a tin of top quality chocolate biscuits on a shelf behind her desk. This is also an excellent foundation for a friendship.



Have a happy weekend and remember: Be careful whom you like! 

[You can now subscribe to this blog by email - see below.]

SONG OF THE WEEK

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

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Friday, May 3, 2013


'BROKEN' & BREAKING NEWS
AFTER: Tony 'Velvet' Russell
This week I’m making some special announcements. The first is that I’m now sporting my ‘summer look’ - velvety rather than soft ‘n’ scruffy. I’ve lost my beard and moustache [that wasn’t meant to happen] but I expect they’ll soon grow back and become interestingly decorated with food and foliage again.

My next two announcements relate to the novel SMALL WHITE DOG which Moira Waugh and I have been writing together. Following extremely useful feedback from Daniel Clay (best-selling author of ‘Broken’), Moira and I have decided to follow his advice and change the name of our main character [who is my best friend Anthony Rover]. His new name is Anthony Woodgate and this will avoid the possibility of readers thinking that ‘Rover’ is the talking dog and ‘Tony’ the human and getting thoroughly confused!


BEFORE: scratch 'n' sniff
Moira and I are now embarking on final editing of the complete manuscript before we start submitting it to eager literary agents. While we are focusing on this important stage, I shall be writing posts once a fortnight instead of every week. If you enjoy my blog, please note that you can now subscribe by email [see below!]; otherwise, I shall still be linking new posts to Facebook and Twitter and emailing my Small White Dog circle of friends.

Song of the Week

Recipe of the Week
Chiffon Cake with Strawberries & Bavarian Cream



Have a very happy weekend and don't forget that email subscription option is now available!











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Saturday, April 27, 2013

HOLIDAY PACKS!
Visiting Monte Sacro above
Orta San Giulio, Italy
I've been thinking about holidays. Spring's been a long time coming this year and millions of humans are craving sunshine and warmth. Most of us can't afford the kind of holiday we'd really like, yet it's still possible to have a wonderful time on a small budget if you ask yourself one key question:

Who is good company?

It seems obvious, I know, yet many of my clients don't give it any thought and they end up having disappointing holidays. If you are someone who likes browsing around shops and markets, long lunches, afternoon naps or reading, cocktails and dinner at a harbour-side restaurant, it would be unwise [even if this describes your partner] to plan a holiday with someone who likes cycling or fell walking for hours on end, who greets a downpour as an excuse to try out their new cagoule, and wants to end the day with a huge meal and several pints at a pub. 



Experiencing the pleasure of a cream-filled choux pastry
in Hampshire with my friend Ms Toni
Being a dog, I don't have partners but I have many friends and I must say I think group holidays are the answer - especially as I love being one of a pack. Why not try it this year? My favourite holiday activities are visiting interesting local sites; eating; exercising on the beach and buying one or two new things to put me in that holiday mood!

Remember - everything you do will be more enjoyable [or more bearable] if you are sharing it with the right friends.


On the beach at Hastings with my friends [left to right] Roy, Anthony,
me and Penny in our new sunhats
As always, I'd love to know about your favourite holidays and what made them particularly special, so please leave your comments below.


Sharing coffee and 'kaka' in Stockholm with my friend Mr Per

ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Tierra by Vicente Amigo