Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Perception and authenticity - who to believe

A few weeks ago I met a friend of a friend who said: "We never met then, but I remember you from uni. You used to wear big hats."

I had a vague recollection of wearing hats - being always watchful of suntanning, melanomas and unwanted freckles and a little bit fashion conscious in my younger days. I did not recall wearing them to lectures, but after she said this I did conjure an image of myself striding purposefully into LA307 - Land Law (?) under a broad and capacious brim.

It was not an unpleasant image. A happy and care-free time? Somehow hats seem to speak of poise and confidence and a certain devil may care approach to things. Alas, no snaps to share.

The remark came only days before another friend (let's call her Ethel), asked me what she should do about someone who advised her not to be too friendly with me.

At first I thought it was merely a theoretical or hypothetical conundrum - along the lines of: "what does one do if a friend is out of favour with another friend?" In my role as coach/blogger/agony aunt I get these rather a lot. But it transpired that I was indeed the subject of unsolicited, whispered advice along the lines of  "steer clear of Springgirl. She will only bring you trouble. She will twist your words against you." After I stopped laughing at the rather tragic comic image of myself in wide brimmed hat playing  hateful and conniving Scarlett O'Hara meets Lady Macbeth, I was flabbergasted. The person who was recommending that Ethel think twice before being friendly with me (let's call her Mildred) has exchanged perhaps 23 words with me in my life - I know her vaguely as a mother at the off-Springs' school, and have met her over coffee with not less than 6 and possible as many as 11 other women. I recall nothing but school related chatter about curriculum, holidays and the parents' association. Oh and I plugged my book - but that was after she said I was bad news, though I did not then know anything about it.

Knowing what she thinks of me certainly explains why she has avoided my glances and smiles for several months. I had just put it down to a European thing. Being Australian and fairly democratic in my disposition I only recently realised there is an entire subtext that underpins intra-European relationships; class and ancestry being just one factor. Regional affinities is another. There was I blithely assuming that we were all happy expats mucking in together. Lo and behold, I discovered that I am oblivious to myriad European nuances of acquaintance, friendship and familiarity, not to mention cold war, enmity and dislike. I guess that several centuries of close proximity with potential foes can result in greater national allegiances, this of course exacerbated by football, not so long ended wars, generally not very good weather and economic problems. We Aussies are like little kids hanging around outside the fence of the big kids' playground...

Still, even allowing for subtleties and jingoistic concerns, I want to think well of everyone unless there is clear reason not to. I have not really found a reason to think ill of a lady dropping her child at school, engaging in mild chitchat at the gate, smiling benignly at other parents and children. Having said that, even after 5 years as a school mum - in London and Australia, note - I have not managed to work out just how this making friends with other women at school thing works. 

But as I said, I tend to be mildly (by no means aggressively or loudly) friendly to everyone. Though I am rethinking my approach now. Clearly what I though was pleasant, wry and self self-effacingly funny has been interpreted as something else entirely - mean, untrustworthy and sinister?  I am prepared to accept that my humour may be the cause of the perception Mildred has that I am "trouble". It took a while for the whole thing to settle in my mind. You see, there are many things I will put my hand up to - self-promoting, a bit gossipy and gym obsessed, I would accept. I would not be taken aback if accused of parenting as if it were 1975, defensive (when confronted by wide eyes and shrieks of "three boys? how do you manage?"  - I am never sure whether to be offended on behalf of my sons or on account of myself, you see), or old-fashioned. I would even be reconciled with being labelled holier than thou or prone to talking the moral high ground (from time to time). But two-faced or untrustworthy? Not typically among my repertoire of shortcomings. Indeed, they seem to describe another person altogether. 

So what? I know you are thinking, "let it go already. Who cares what some bored housewife thinks of you." Indeed, I could let Mildred and her views go. I fairly easily dismissed the entire episode drawing on my three pronged 2 minute analysis process which goes something like this:-

1. That's so odd! Assuming this story is true then who or what is to blame? (Blame first, ask questions later!)

2. Attribute the perception to ignorance, mismatched sense of humour and temperament. A misunderstanding repeated too often? The wonderfully unifying human trait of gossiping about a common enemy perhaps gotten out of hand?

3. Pause to wonder just why Ethel felt it necessary to share Mildred's views with me.

You see, while I am at heart an earthy pragmatist, there is within me a somewhat sentimental girl. She operates very happily in Springland where no one has a tv, children go to bed on time and everyone loves reading and bracing country walks. In this place, coffee is prized, as is dark chocolate, ideas and laughter. Gossip is idle, not malicious. We are happy to proven wrong and talk is intended to elucidate, amuse and foster understanding. In this place Springgirl wears big hats and is generally liked and respected. It is a convivial place. It smells of lavender and sea air. The day time maximum is never higher than 24 degrees celcius. Books are free and cool breezes blow in new ways of seeing and perceiving. 

Springland abuts central London though. And the neighbours can get fractious and wilful and capable of nasty thoughts. Some even host noisy parties til the small hours and lurk outside windows swearing drunken obscenities. In London strangers touch your children and have no idea how to share the pavement.

And in central London, as in many parts of the world, indeed anywhere where communities "flourish" cheek by jowl, there is the capacity for ill-informed judgement, intolerance and ill-will. 

So no, Mildred and her views are not important; they are inconsequential. But they do raise at least two interesting issues for me. And one or two less interesting ones, admittedly (like, just how many people was she poisoning against me? - think not Macbeth but Hamlet, if you will).

The first interesting issue is  that one can see how misunderstanding or gossip can create suspicion, enmity and even hatred. People sometimes say that wars could be avoided if women ran the world. I actually don't agree. Sure, the wars would be waged differently (you can ponder that!) but there would not be greater harmony or accord.

The second issue is more personal. It has several parts. First, is Mildred justified in her view? Second, are Mildred's views merely the tip of the iceberg? Is Ethel in fact doing me a favour, by gently trying to raise my awareness that I am in fact the object of fear, loathing and derision? Is Ethel the self- or indeed, officially - nominated spokesperson for the "real world"? Flowing form this then, am I truly delusional; more at home in Springland than the "real world"?

How do we reconcile our real and authentic selves with the image we project? Because, if one thing is clear it is that we cannot do much about the perception of others. We cannot control the audience or their reactions. We can but put it out there. We do not often find out whether we are recognised and seen as we truly intended to be?  Assuming we have any intent at all, of course.

It seems that in a world in which brand, labels, trappings of success and status can hold more sway and have more influence than connections with others, true human relatedness and even trust, all we can hope for is to stay true to ourselves.

This means first finding the self and then holding on to it, preserving it or its essence amidst all of that noise: the chatter and gossip, the advertising and name dropping, the "hot lists" and the wish lists, the must haves and the must dos... 

I am not espousing that we get clear about who we are and what we value, and rigidly hold to that. No, for there are no walls or bolted gates around Springland. There is always room for a little self doubt and uncertainty, for new ways of seeing and interpeting ourselves and our world. Nothing is cast in stone, not least us.

So, whether we relate best to Shakespeare or Pixar, the key is to find our own truth.

At the end of the day I suppose actions do speak louder than words. Mildred can have her words. While I have sympathy with the sentiment of Robert Burton in The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) Part I, Section II, Member IV, Subsection IV:

It is an old saying, "A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword:" and many men are as much galled with a calumny, a scurrilous and bitter jest, a libel, a pasquil, satire, apologue, epigram, stage-play or the like, as with any misfortune whatsoever.
I am sure now that you cannot be remembered as the wearer of big hats and not be misunderstood by someone. 

I am indebted to Robert Burton for his writing on Melancholy and promise to share more of his wisdom in the future:
The Anatomy of Melancholy (Full title: The Anatomy of Melancholy, What it is: With all the Kinds, Causes, Symptomes, Prognostickes, and Several Cures of it. In Three Maine Partitions with their several Sections, Members, and Subsections. Philosophically, Medicinally, Historically, Opened and Cut Up).

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Summer time malaise? Time for black out curtains and a kind word.

I have been a bit remiss with my blog posts this past few weeks. Blame it on the summer!

The Off-Spring are awake later and later every night. As my avid readers would have gathered by now, I am a strict believer in bedtime. 8.15pm is about my limit, and that is a 30 minute extension to the winter time cut-off.  By 8.30 I want the three boys well on their way to the land of nod, lavender on the pillows to soothe them on their journey, story told or read and teeth brushed and polished. Yet, most nights now I am just settling into "my work" at 9pm when a little voice chimes out or a little face appears. Number 3 seems to be having a growth spurt and seeks more food after lights out and the last kiss is blown (and the last threat delivered). Number 2 then slinks up the stairs to my pseudo office space (one end of the living room sofa) to inform me that sleep eludes him. This can be up to 30-40 minutes after the third and final "be quiet and go to sleep or you will not be able to wake up in the morning and do good work and play well!". When finally silence is assured and no one needs attention, any creative urge, juice or energy I may have been about to summon an hour previously, is now evaporating like a tiny shred of vapour into the outer limits of the stratosphere and I find myself once more resorting to The West Wing reruns for company.

In itself this is not a bad way to spend my time.

But I had wanted to blog twice a week, so I feel disconnected with the process and worst of all - my thoughts - which for me was the truly amazing and delightful part of the whole blogging thing. Admittedly not much has happened lately so finding a topic is something of a challenge. Though, having said that, I do have a long list of potential topics stored in a draft blog somewhere behind the scenes here, so I suspect it a question of motivation and energy, plus squeezed time, rather than a lack of inspiration that is to blame for the parlous lack of output of late.

So what have I been doing with my time? As most of you know - time is elastic after all and we tend to make use of what we have somehow.

A Stocktake of why I am not delivering to Springgirl's timetable:

1. PTA chairmanship involves a lot of talking even before the role is assumed. I have been focussed on fund raising ideas for the Off-Spring's school for the next academic year. This involves political manoeuvres to quell discontent, build good will and engender support, while fact finding and information gathering.

2. Job hunting and attendant interviewing is a distraction. Needing to earn some cash (books and coaching do not a fortune make, alas) I am offering my services to law firms. I had thought that I should try them first since I am a lawyer. Who better to train, coach and teach lawyers than the only people they tend to respect - other lawyers. I am hopeful. Thankfully, living in London, exposes one to a huge market should none of the lawyers want me. My passion for engaging talent and developing leadership and potential will surely find a good home?

3. Attempting to create an e-book out of Tess and the Seaside Girl - a picture book I wrote last year and illustrated over Easter - languishing on my laptop for three months, is very time consuming for a non-Gen Y/ non-computer trained/non-geek. Tess is a lovely story and deserves to be told. Indeed, Tess has many more stories yet to tell. But if the seemingly insurmountable technical issues surrounding uploading, downloading, embedding fonts and finding a way to read a book online are allowed to get the better of me - the whole thing will have been in vain. Hence the need for a job. With a steady income I can pay someone more savvy and efficient than I, to do it for me!

4. But getting to know the character, Tess, was not in vain. Indeed, Time and Blog-motivation Depletion Factor 4 is the fact that she has been speaking to me a lot. No I am not bonkers, hearing voices and such. Rather I have been inspired to create a new website oriented towards women, the young at heart and anyone interested in wellbeing and enhancing their quality of life (all of us!) full of Tessisms and tips and hints for living a more Tessish way. Who is Tess, you ask? I will tell you soon, but not yet.

5. The West Wing - 14 episodes of Season 2 - stand between me and my last good blog post. The programme is the epitome of class and intelligent tv writing and is frankly, addictive. Why have I let it get the better of me now? I have watched it at least 4 times over - Love Film has me on their preferred and frequent borrower lists - and yet it never gets old. With the seasons of Good Wife and Brother and Sisters coming to a close, what was I to do?

6. A strange incapacity to blog during the day. I think this is partly due to creative energy being greatest when one is feeling the most relaxed and partly due to the day being filled with such lovely things that I hate to forego. I am free every day from 9 to 3 when the Off-Spring are at school and yet I manage to fill those 6 hours with chores and grocery shopping, gym and fitness, socialising and keeping in touch with/abreast of the world. It has to be said that Virgin Active have some amazing instructors and excellent classes and like The West Wing, it is hard to stop at just one some days. Indeed, pilates and aqua aerobics in deep water are incredibly therapeutic while toning and strengthening without causing perspiration. The fact they appeal to the older female members may also have something to do with it. 

7.  A sense of hiatus. Last week I was struck by a huge sense of grief concerning my mother's death 14 months ago. The reality that she is not just on a cruise or in intensive care (two handy delusions; I recommend them highly) has been hitting home. I still cannot comprehend it and the sense of loss is perhaps even greater now than it has ever been. I shall divert some time to the stages of grief (again) and see what might be lurking around the corner. The fact that I seem to have done denial for so long is a bit of a worry... But while a sense of loss or grief seems to come from nowhere it is not in fact a freak storm that no one could see on the horizon. One chooses to ignore the warning signs of course. One keeps the hatches battened down against the little breezes of sadness or malaise that blow through. Then suddenly in the middle of the gym floor while leg pressing some 50 kgs one is completely overcome with sorrow. Folk are funny.

8. Feedback. I have been chewing over some feedback on my book, "Spring to Mind" - or more accurately lack of feedback from certain quarters. I can attest that some of the comments made have humbled me and moved me immeasurably. One acquaintance told me she had to stop reading it on the tube due to the tears it was occasioning her. Another described the goosebumps she felt in certain bits. Another says it is her book of the year. The laughter and amusement it brought to my oldest friend buoys me still, as does her kind reviews and support. Nevertheless, and despite all the positives, I was grappling for several weeks with a deafening silence from a few close friends. Funny how one lets those little niggles get in one's way. And yet...  

Writing, like art, is an expression of the self. An interpretation of experience and the world and the human condition. Whether a comic book or a Christmas card, the manifestation of the thoughts or ideas of the author are valuable. We may not agree with everything or indeed, anything, said, but we can at least accept that something has been said. Can't we?

Accordingly, I have struggled with the silence or non-engagement. Are they trying to be tactful, to spare me? Are they just too busy or just no interested? And if the latter, why should they be? So this lack of engagement opened up for me an internal dialogue about "feedback". The challenge has been to interpret the silence in a helpful way. When I trained to become a coach, the course involved some focus on giving and receiving personal messages. Not - "love your shoes" (although I did hear that quite often), but things like "I appreciate x, y or z about you", or "it was helpful when you did or said such-and-such". Anyway, at the time a relatively high proportion of the attendees declined to hear the feedback about themselves. I was startled - being an attention seeker from way back I was revelling in a moment of spotlight. Not only that, but we had been told to only give positive feedback - I was champing at the bit to both give and take - but several colleagues were overcome with embarrassment, dread and fear at the very thought. This was a great learning experience for me. Maybe all those years of debating, fighting my corner in a big family and becoming a lawyer did me some good after all. Because it would appear that many people really struggle with giving and receiving feedback.

So, in the face of that, the silence, left me pondering. Would they ignore news of a new job, new partner, new baby, a holiday just taken?  Surely something one is excited about tends to be a suitable topic for discussion with friends?

Was I being too precious? 

A new friend who I met through writing advised me that writers need to be impervious to all feedback. She said this includes disinterest. 

Finally I made my peace with it. Not consciously as is so often the case with life's imponderables - but through sheer effluxion of time (and boredom). I disagree with the idea that one should be impervious to feedback. Good feedback is rich and valuable and meaningful. And by good I do not mean "favourable". An absence of interest is also those things too. Confronting and disappointing, but informative and enriching too.

And that of course begs the question - am I too, guilty of this lack of interest or care? Have I delivered or failed to deliver feedback thoughtfully or respectfully? When is silence the best response?


The papers report that July is our grumpiest month due to high humidity and resulting lack of sleep. Perhaps that accounts for my procrastination. I do long for some chilly days. And these long twilights can be too much. Once Wimbledon is over I am pretty well done with summer.I think we should skip August entirely and have two Septembers  8.30pm is late enough for the sun/son to be up and about. And those horrid little flying ants that appear from nowhere on hot still days - euugrh. That is one creature I am happy to walk on.

So where does that leave me. Shall I sum up?

Stocktaking is a very useful way to clear out the detritus of old thinking and living.

Hiatus and loss come in many forms. It is enabling and energising to find ways to accept those experiences and put them to positive uses.

During times of lethargy The West Wing is balm for the soul.

One should never overlook the kindness of strangers or those with a word of support or a smile of encouragement.

Blackout curtains that allow for decent air through-flow are a must for all, especially mothers. (Note to self to buy, make or invent.)

Feedback welcome!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Pondering life's little pleasures

When I was studying at Cambridge in the mid-90s I became very interested in language and linguistics. I recently came across an interview with Noam Chomsky.

Among the many topics discussed therein I was taken by his views on modern themes:

"What does Chomsky make of stories about undergraduates at British universities having to be taught grammar in their freshman years? To a linguist, one whose own literary style favours phrases such as ‘generative transformational grammar’, that must seem an abomination.‘Yes, there is that. It is probably down to the texting culture. The use of textonyms and so on. But it is also to do with the way young people read on screen. The digital age cuts back reading and, as a consequence, young people are losing the ability to think seriously. They get distracted more easily, breaking off to check an email. Speed-reading is exactly the wrong thing to do. You have to think about what you are reading.’ He gives me his sideways look. ‘You have to ponder.’ "

To ponder a phrase, a book, an email, an article is surely a pleasure.

I watch the Off-Spring as they ponder things. No haste, no stress; pure unbridled self-indulgence.

Most of you know all too well by now that pondering is one of my preferred pass-times.

Pondering the things I like to ponder amounts to musing over life's little pleasures. It is not the huge and daunting mysteries of life that one "ponders". Rather, a turn of phrase, a look, a suggestion, the plot and characters of a new and wonderful book. In many cases, the subconscious mind reflects and ponders constantly. Our attention drawn again and again to a film, a place, a person, an idea.

So this post is about the things that give me pause; pause not occasioned by confusion or provocation or worry or logic. Rather - lingering for the joy of it; to revel in a delightful hiatus.

So I give you:

Springgirl's Non-definitive List of Life's Little Pleasures - pause and ponder and tell me yours.

The gurgle of a happy baby
The thud of the post through the door
The crunch of a fresh baguette
The first sip of crisp, cold, white wine
The key in the door
The glimpse of a loved one in a crowd
Climbing between cool, fresh sheets
The first barefoot moment of the Spring
The squelch of wellington boots in sucking Autumn mud
The sound of rain in the night
The smell of rain at the end of a hot, steamy day
The aroma of coffee as a new tin is opened
A soprano's dulcet tones drifting across the cloisters on a summer night
Little cool arms wrapped around one's neck
The wonder of a child who discovers he can do something for the first time
Driving in the country with all the windows down
The taste of bitter sweet dark chocolate on the tip of one's tongue
The first cup of tea of the day brought to one in bed
The sound of wind rustling leaves
Floating in deep clear water
The smell of a new book (even better if one wrote it)
The view from on high
Sea water splashing one's legs
Picking over old family photos
The crinkle of tissue paper
A seat in business class on a long-haul flight
The smell of new leather/new cars/new carpet/lavender
The hug of someone dear
Climbing into bed and resuming a good book
getting home
The crack of teeth into a perfect meringue
The scent of lavender on one's fingers after rubbing them
Long afternoon shadows at the beach
Bright, clear Autumn skies
Muscle aches after an amazing workout
Establishing rapport
An unexpected compliment
Drifting to sleep in fresh air
The delight of knowing the baby can sleep through the night
All clear on a biopsy
A mother's voice on the phone
The sheer pleasure of knowing one is loved 
The peace and majesty of a huge, wide landscape
Paint on canvas
Crisp, chilly days inside a new, warm coat
The joy of an accomplishment

I had better stop. This is but the tip of the iceberg...

Interestingly, I tried to draft a list of life's little horrors or displeasures. I could not come up with too many. Walking in dog mess was there. Stuck inside a hot, crowded airless train carriage also sprang to mind. Death of a loved one. Pain. Ill-health. Debilitating uncertainty.

Not to sound too Pollyanna-ish, but it is hard to think of the negatives after pondering the positives.

Might be time for me to get out a bit more...

To that end, today I offered to chair the Off-Springs' school PTA next year. I would like to find a co-chair if any of you are available.

I dare say that the part of me that longs for a challenge, some attention, centre-stage and a forum for my ideas is crying out to be heard right now. I could have just finished the novel that is waiting for my attention on my laptop -in draft looking for an ending. Or I could renew my efforts to find a nice suitable job. 

But no, for a range of reasons the PTA chair seems to be calling me. Will I delight in asking people for donations, help and time? Will I navigate the troubled straights dividing culture and mindset among disparate parents? Will I listen? Will I still have time to go to the gym? 

I know my dear mother would say - "Steer clear of that! You are not good at politics and you will just get impatient with all those women talking over each other. Charity begins at home." 

I think that sometimes one just has to see for oneself. If nothing else, I hope to find some more little pleasures to savour in the new experiences as they unfold.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Brand Power

There is a lot to be said for the power of brands. If you have seen any news of late you will not have missed the stories covering Apple's newest products - the i-Pad and the newest i-Phone. I am sure many of you will own one of these if not another Apple product. A friend told me last week that hers is an Apple Home. I smiled at the time. So happy for her.

I then pondered the great mysteries of what else Apple might get it's teeth into. Pardon the muddled pun there.

I am personally not a big brand follower. I like to take the path less travelled in these little choices, no one really knows or cares what anyone else sends their e-mails on, do they?

In any case I do marvel at the brilliance in design, marketing and branding that has led to the global cult-like following of these items.

So, since I am something of an innovator - if I do say so myself - I thought I would share some of my ideas. Remember - there is nothing without first the idea! I want to gauge your appetite for a range of electronic devices that will literally take you beyond the realm of electronic, hand-held and even virtual experience as you now know it. Ambitious yet grounded, this range will make daily life a joy; freeing you to engage more fully with your on-line identity, friends and employments. No more tedious real life chores to inconvenience you. Hobbies and neuroses accommodated as well. These ideas are truly cutting edge and life changing (and by definition, confidential).

First, for the gadget addict, the user so attached to their phone, music player or computer that everything else has to wait - I bring you - the I-Pii. This amazing device (which plugs right into you phone) frees you to truly remain obsessed with your electronic life. It tells you when to go, reminds you how to go and even where to go - with a built in sat nav and state of the art Snifferoo (Trademark pending), the I-Pii can find a clean loo within 30 yards of you. Future models will also boast a mini-mobile I-Pii hand held device that will save you a trip to the loo entirely. We are very excited about this - environmentally friendly and yet so timelessly appealing to young and old alike.

For the animal lover the best thing since domestication of dogs (at least 14,000 years ago) is just around the corner: the I-Pet. This is similar to a soft children's toy in many regards but with unique mirror "animons" to ensure that you have a moving, animated, reactive pseudo-pet that will not only look real, but sound and feel real too. Kiss it and it will lick you back, stroke it and it will snuggle it's warm (39.5 degrees Celsius), organic faux-fur against you. No more dog hair on the sofa, no more late night walks around the block with too few baggies, no more fines from the Council when Fido fouls the pavement again, no more interruptions when those emails are waiting for your attention, no chewed slippers or waking the neighbours. This little mutt will give you all the love minus the mess, the worms, the vaccinations and the heartbreak (when a real one dies, that is). Cheaper than an actual live critter but with optional motion detector and built in burglar alarm, the I-Pet is your guard dog and your companion. Destined to change how we view man's best friend forever!

For sporting heros tired of the Wii, we bring you the I-Putt. This device is indispensable for any golfer or wannabe pro. In one small tee shaped packaged we have incorporated a GPS locator for lost balls, a voice activated score card, a partner finder where we match you to players that little bit better than you in your area to team up with to help you improve you game as well as a detailed and high res countour mapping software programme that find all the undulations, damp areas and lumpy bits on any course that can sabotage your game. GPS Golf balls sold separately. Matching polos, caps and plus-fours available on request. For the learner, your game will improve immeasurably as the built-in 15 megapixel camera will record your play and the I-Putt system will analyse and correct your stroke. Like having a private golf pro in your pocket, day and night!

For the health conscious I want to introduce a revolutionary diet and health analysis tool that will change the way you cook, eat and select your foods - the I-Poop. The I-Poop also uses the amazing Snifferroo (Trademark pending) technology to give you in-the-moment feedback on the workings of your digestive system. Pro-biotic health drinks took us part of the way. The I-Poop will take you the rest of the way towards complete health. Understand your body, allergies, intolerances and appetite while having the nutritional content of all you imbibe or consider imbibing to hand, 24-7. The I-Poop is amazing in that it helps you better understand what goes into your body and what comes out. This will change how you view your diet and health. Rather than reading food labels, worrying about your mother-in-law's penchant for oil based sauces or stressing over hidden trans-fats, simply wave the I-Poop over a food item and see the calorie and nutritional information displayed in gorgeous high res text on the super high-tech glass and aluminium screen. Accidental poisoning or allergic reactions will be a thing of the past as the I-Poop will break down any plate of food, any can of drink into its constituent parts - as if you had the recipe before you! Best of all the I-Poop is  tiny - discrete and stylish and fitting into any empty lipstick container. Potential mates will never know you are calorie counting as you nibble those prawns and sip that mojito!

Last, but by no means least, will be the I-Pun, my personal favourite. The I-Pun is designed specifically to address the challenges of the modern day by bridging the old and new styles of oral communication. Drawing on the prose and verse, traditions and style of yesteryear, the I-Pun helps users to come up with scintillating small-talk and chatty dialogue sufficient to entertain and delight anyone over 35, while also helping the more mature to craft succinct and pithy "announcements" to allow for greater access to and connection with the young folk used to communicating in "short form". Whatever your challenge - witty repartee, crude one-liners, idiomatic and nuanced translations, the I-Pun is for you. Dictionaries only do so much. A large vocabulary won't make you funny. But the I-Pun will transform how you communicate. Imagine: the Bard does SMS!

So - I ask for your feedback? Are these products appealing to you? 

Will these - together to be marketed at the I-Pent (5) - indeed make life better? 

(Responses by text pls.)