UPROOTED AND UNDILUTED: ZE book!

Mrs Playmo posing for a book picture. Unfortunately she had already finished her umpteenth glass of undiluted Merlot.

Mrs Playmo posing for a book picture. Unfortunately she had already finished her umpteenth glass of undiluted Merlot.

MM is quivering with excitement. Mrs Playmo is nervously chewing her claws and glugging down buckets of rosé at the window of her mansion. Yes, something mysterious is afoot in MM’s world… Want to know more? You know you do. Read on to find out why.

One morning in the not so distant past, I went downstairs in my pj’s to discover Mrs Playmo leaping and bouncing around my laptop keyboard like a Lilliputian on crack. Slopping coffee on the trackpad, she turned a grinning face towards me. “Oy, MM, get yourself over here!” she bellowed. “Fame… at last!” She extended a claw and jabbed excitedly at my laptop screen. “Say yes! Say yes! SAY YES!”

I squinted at my email inbox, and examined its daily crop of messages offering to upsize appendages I don’t have. Gleaming in the midst of all this mediocrity was the gem of a message that had got Mrs Playmo as revved up as Berlusconi on the front row of an underwear catwalk.

Opening it up, I discovered an invitation from a bunch of lovely bloggers to take part in the creation of a book. An expat book. A book to make people snort, giggle and belly laugh, and raise money for charity in the process.

MM after reading the email.

MM after reading the email.

Once I had scraped myself off the floor and leapt around the kitchen singing with Mrs Playmo, we wrote back to say yes, yes, yes and yes.

Because there’s more. Although Mrs Playmo is in this purely for the fame and the alcohol, MM was thrilled to know that all the proceeds from this gobsmackingly entertaining book will be donated to charity.

Uprooted and Undiluted is an anthology of humourous posts by ten nutty and adorable award-winning bloggers living across Europe (details of the motley “U + U crew” will be up shortly on a separate page dedicated to ZE Book). We have got together a concentrated collection of uncensored posts which strip expat life abroad down to its hilarious short and curlies. With this little corker in your pocket, you can travel Europe in style without leaving your seat (and make your neighbour jealous as you giggle your way happily through the pages on the number seven bus).

Are you are tired of the sterile, rose-tinted spectacled vision of classic travel books? Do you long to peruse an honestly refreshing portrayal of life as an expat in Europe that will leave you smiling for the day? If so, prepare to grab a copy of “Uprooted and Undiluted” as soon as it comes out (date to be revealed shortly). Forget the world of tepid armchair tourism, and dive into this palpitating, laugh-a-minute insight into expat daily life, including the dark labyrinths of administrative red tape, the perils of learning the lingo, culinary catastrophes, romantic rendez-vous, expat parties, and lots of other exciting stuff that you just don’t find in mainstream travel literature. Pop it in your bag, and be prepared to explain why you are grinning like a demented demon after reading it. Don’t forget to buy a few more to share the joy with your friends and family at Christmas, for their birthdays, or just because you want to show them up when they laugh so hard that their British Rail coffee comes out through their nostrils in the quiet carriage of the train.

Mr Playmo being told in no uncertain terms that he has the choice between buying a copy of

Mr Playmo being told in no uncertain terms that he has the choice between buying a copy of “Uprooted and Undiluted” or sleeping on the couch.

So those of you who said that you would like to have some of MM’s witterings in print now have the opportunity to (as one would crudely say) put your money where your mouth is.

Now it’s over to you. The new page coming up imminently on the blog is entitled “UPROOTED AND UNDILUTED”, and gives more info about the who, where, when, why and hows of our upcoming masterpiece. Check it out. Anyone who understands the magic of hashtags can use this one : #uprootedandundiluted

I am proud to part of this blogging world initiative, which shows just how wonderful blogging is. Please help us to spread a laugh across the world, and raise money for charity in the process!

Sent from my i-kitchen table, with the help of Mrs Playmo (who jumped on the keyboard to type the bits about herself).

 

Blogging around the world: Multifarious Meanderings

Blogging around the world: Multifarious Meanderings.

Rochelle from Unwilling Expat contacted me just before the family storm hit, and asked me if I’d like to answer a few questions on her blog. I naturally shied out of the limelight leapt at the opportunity, and talked so much and so fast that the poor woman will never be the same again. Bonus of this interview: a rare photo of MM in all her spine-chilling glory.

Rochelle is a wonderful “blogess” (copyrighted word invented by Rochelle) who lives in Sicily. She’s a feisty Australian expat with a good eye for a beautiful photo. She blogs about literature, life in Sicily, writing, her love for her Antipodes home and even traces around cyberspace to introduce us to other blogs and bloggers.

So I recommend checking her blog out!

 

RAWR FOR RARA!

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” George W. Bush.

I often reiterate my firm belief that the best things in life are both free and priceless. The friendship that results from blogging is one of these things – from a jumble of words in cyberspace emerges the miracle of communication, complicity and trust linking human beings across the globe who smile, laugh and cry together.

Recently, this friendship was essential to me after a death in my family  – I shed hot, humble and grateful tears when I saw the support and concern expressed by my blogging friends. This is proof that blogging friendship is anything but virtual – it is a real, reliable rock to which I willingly clung. So thank you. (MM wipes nose on sparkly Diva dress.)

Today, I am asking you to extend that support to a fellow blogger.

On your travels around the blogosphere, it is highly probable that you have bumped into Rara. Rara is the world’s most beautiful dino-blogger. She doesn’t roar, she RAWRS. She knows how to write like no other dino-human, but she doesn’t stop at that. Rara has an incredible talent for creating a lasting relationship with her readers. She is sweet, kind, fun, optimistic, creative and just downright rawr-some. I never saw the slightest trace of negativity on her blog -she boosted my day and inundated my soul with optimism. Yup, all that.

Until this weekend, when I discovered a post that made me choke up and cry. It was a good-bye post. Rara has been accused of theft, and is in jail until her court hearing. You can call me naive if you wish, but I can only base my opinion of Rara on what I have read and my contact with her… and it simply doesn’t add up.

Rara has helped me in the past. So what could I do to help her? I wanted to rent a T-Rex to save her from jail and bite her accuser on the butt, but all the T-Rex stock was already taken. I can’t pay her bail.

T-Rex Dinosaur

A T-Rex like this one would do just fine (Photo credit: Scott Kinmartin).

But I can write. So I sat down with my notepaper and wrote a letter to Rara. Words are like hot chocolate, but better. They have the power to soothe, to nurture hope and smiles. A letter is warm. Reassuring. It offers an escape route you can travel again and again. Friendship. Humour. The simple fact that someone, somewhere, has taken a few minutes to write that letter can momentarily make life better: it tells the recipient that he or she is not just anyone, but really somebody for someone.

So if you can do one thing today, please be that someone for a blogger who is not just somebody, but really something.  If you know Rara, please write her a few lines. If you don’t know Rara, write her a few lines tooTHE ADDRESS CAN BE FOUND HERE.

The best things in life are free – and support and friendship among bloggers is one of those miraculous, precious things. Alone, each of us is just one person. But add us together, and we can make a big difference for one person and her family – today, that person is RARA.

Those who can make a financial donation to help, or send a care parcel to her husband Grayson and their cats, are welcome to do so. Follow the above link to Rara’s blog for more details.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Real Friends in a Virtual World: Thank you.

Have a glass of rosé, people! I had a surprise a couple of days ago – I discovered that it was my blogging birthday.

The war-torn veterans of this blog may know that MM has been polluting the blogosphere with her multiple meanderings for two years now. When I started out, I wasn’t sure how long the blog would last, or where I was going. I wasn’t seeking fame and fortune or trying to sell myself. I just wanted to get my writing out of my kitchen – somewhere other than in my head. When I clicked on publish for the first time, my heart practically leapt out of my mouth.

Then I got my first follows and comments, and I was dumbstruck. I hadn’t expected anyone to come across my blatherings, let alone read them. And when I saw the same people coming back again and again, I suddenly realized that I had become a tiny part of a complete stranger’s routine. A stranger who looked forward to reading more. It was scary, but I liked it.

I have pressed that “publish” button umpteen times since, and still get the same thrill out of it. But the most beautiful thing I have discovered is the unexpected support and friendship that has grown out of this blog. I started this for the writing, but meeting you wonderful people and reading about your lives on your blogs has become the best part of blogging by far. Although I’m trying hard to balance it out, I still feel that I have got so much more out of the blogging world than I put into it – all thanks to the human contact and input of the blogging community.

I used to say “thank you for the follow” when I started blogging. Two years later, I’d like to rephrase that as “thank you for the follow-through” – the humbling proof that real friendship can be found in a virtual world.

So happy birthday to us. To celebrate this milestone, I would like you to watch this. I suspect that if I was a nun, I’d be more a Sister Act than Mother Teresa. This young Sicilian nun is a reminder that you should never give up on a dream because of your choices in life, and that we should never judge a book by its cover. Just amazing.

MM NEEDS YOU!

English: Uncle Sam recruiting poster.

HAVE YOU VOTED? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time for a brazen, unabashed plea for help. Yup, I know, I need help.

Today is the last day for voting on the Expats Blog writing contest. Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who have already taken the time to read and comment on my entry. I will love you all for ever and ever.

Anyone who missed my previous pleas for help: I will, of course, also love you for ever and ever. But you can still put a vote in by clicking on this link before 21h GMT tonight, and I’ll share my Smarties with you too.

http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/832/ten-beret-good-things-to-know-about-france-and-french

Ten Beret Good Things to Know About France and the French.

This is the title of my entry in the writing contest run by Expats Blog, which has just gone on-line and closes at 21h GMT on 20th December. To get your dose of MM fun today, please click on the link below.

Ten Beret Good Things to Know About France and the French.

Although I don’t generally run after trophies, I must admit that if my little blog was awarded a gold, silver or bronze award, I’d be a very chuffed cookie. So if what you read there floats your boat, I would be eternally grateful (and tell you lots of stories, and share my sweets and playmos with you at bloggers’ playtime for ever and ever, amen) if you could leave a comment in the little box below the article – success is directly dependent upon the number and quality of comments for each entry. There’s an email verification on comments, so if you comment don’t forget to confirm that it’s really you who wrote.

Still wondering how important it is for MM that you take part? It’s this important.

Story Time: The Topless Tale.

All right, children. It’s time to put your things away and come over to the story corner. My last post sparked off some requests to elucidate the mystery of my half-naked sprint down a public road. So here’s your story, boys and girls, told in true Jackanory form with my best Joyce Grenfell Infant school teacher voice.

Quiet, now. Elaine and BW, please put those midget gems away, or I will have to confiscate them. PN, please stop fiddling with Mrs Sensible’s feet, or I’ll send you to the corner again… and no, I’m afraid you can’t sit beside OAC for story time today, because last week you dared her to bring home-made limoncello to school in her Thomas the Tank Engine flask, and you passed it round while we listened to WWN’s story about camping with  black bears. You don’t want to clean up the vomit in the Lego box again, now, do you? Fine. Now, children. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we will begin…

Once upon a time, before childbirth increased her waistline and diminished her neurones, MM was a wild young thing. She accidentally kicked a sexy Frenchman’s leg several times during a slide show about the Irish coastline, fell head over heels in love, and resolved to follow in his wake wherever he roamed…. Yes, that’s right, Tric, just like a seagull following the spill from a deep-sea trawler.

So when PF announced that he was to study for four years in the South of France, MM bravely slathered herself in goose fat and struck out across the English Channel behind him in an admirable quest to survive on no more than love, French wine and precarious TOEFL teaching contracts.

Old Sydney March 19, 1950. Bathing costumes ha...

MM posing with the girls before chasing PF across the English Channel (Photo credit: Alpa)

One of the advantages of their situation was the closeness to the beach. At weekends, MM traded in her suit and text books for a bikini and a towel, and she and PF drove to the beach in their faithful VW to partake in a tad of sunshine and a quick dip in the urine-saturated surf of the Med.

That fateful day, they parked up at the beach. MM cheerfully said “hello” to the holiday maker sitting on his deck chair at the side of the road – many people did this (-sitting in a chair, not saying hello-) because bad guys sometimes broke into their RV’s in their absence. MM should have taken this as an omen.

Our lovebirds wandered through the dunes to the beach, which was already teeming with  examples of humanity at its best. Do you like the beach? MM didn’t. She only ever seemed to see oily, sunburnt beer guts toppling over lycra swimming trunks, and bored children with a dual carriageway of fluorescent, sand-encrusted snot running down their faces trying to draw circles in the sand with their own urine. Poor MM.

Now, have you ever noticed that tourists on a beach are like buffalo at a watering hole? The closer you get to the water’s edge, the higher the density is. So clever MM and PF stretched their towels out at the top of the beach to avoid the crush. They planted the parasol at a rakish angle, then stripped off. And this is where MM made her biggest mistake. She tidied up. I shouldn’t tell you this, children, but tidying up can sometimes have terrible consequences in life. And in MM’s case, putting all her belongings into her rucksack and neatly closing the top was a very silly thing to do.

Our couple hot-footed it through the hoards of sunbathers before the soles of their feet burnt to a crisp and the insides of their nostrils were scorched by the cocktail of nicotine and Ambre Solaire fumes. They ducked under the waves and swam out to sea, scampily scantily dressed… No, TAC, MM didn’t have her bikini top on. Why? Well, because MM was an eternal optimist, and didn’t want white lines messing up her non-existent tan.

Suddenly, from her privileged vantage point suctioned to PF’s back, MM was horrified to see two olive-skinned young men appear from the dunes and sit down under her parasol. She grabbed PF’s ears and pointed his face North before blowing the whistle on the beach space invaders, dismounting and scrambling to save her belongings.

Pamela Anderson as C.J. Parker.

Pamela Anderson showing off her integrated buoyancy aids.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, children. Who has watched Baywatch on TV? Who remembers Pamela Anderson, running up the beach with her buoyancy aids bouncing in her swimsuit and her designer rubber ring tucked under her arm?… Ah, well done, Duncanr; you do. Well, they cheated when they filmed it, because running up a sandy beach is about as easy as swimming across a pool full of baked beans wearing a ball gown and a pair of lead-lined Doc Martins. By the time MM and PF had got to the top of the beach, dodging inert bodies, screaming kids, sand castles and inflatable crocodiles in a half-naked impression of the Normandy landings, the bag and its thieves were disappearing through the dunes towards the road.

Dripping and furious, our anti-heroes gave the 100 m dash their best shot, PF taking the lead. A coach load of tourists applauded MM as she pelted barefoot down the burning asphalt, gesticulating and screaming like a banshee. It was only when she was awarded an enthusiastic thumbs-up from a car driver awaiting a parking space that she realised that her feet were not the only bit of her that was bare.

The thieves had disappeared into the labyrinth of dunes on the other side of the road, and PF returned for an emergency summit on the side of the road. A master plan was put into action. As PF continued to comb the dunes with all the determination of Hollande sniffing out something new to tax, a red-faced MM jogged back to her car. The sunbathing RV-dweller was surprised to be faced with a scantily dressed English girl asking him to intervene if a complete stranger tried to disappear with her car, keys, papers, clothing, cheque book, credit card, and house keys. Beaming vacantly at a point a few inches below MM’s chin (those were the days), the tourist assured MM’s onboard lactation facility that he would be happy to help.

MM then returned to the hunt. After 30 minutes, the bag was found, hidden in the shrubbery at the bottom of a tree. Empty bags belonging to other victims were littered around the ground. The contents had been rifled and the untraceable stuff had disappeared – MM’s watch and the hard cash.

So the moral of this story is…. don’t take anything to the beach with you that you wouldn’t donate to a complete stranger. And never leave your keys in your bag, children… or you might have to hitch-hike home… in your underwear.

The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking

(Photo credit: c@rljones [modelling])

Should we let sleeping blogs lie?

I don't have any photos of a sleeping blog, so here is my sleeping dog - Smelly Dog.

I don’t have any photos of a sleeping blog, so here is my sleeping dog – Smelly Dog.

Every so often, I drop by to see you. I’m concerned, but you don’t know. You are comatose, frozen in time. Your stats line bleeps in surprise at my occasional visit, yet no beautiful nurses run in with Dr Carter to wipe your brow and call your family. Nobody does that for a blog. You are a sleeping blog, hanging in the void – waiting to discover if you will be reanimated, remain in creational hibernation, or disappear with a simple, decisive click of a mouse.

As time ticks by, I think back to when I first discovered you. You were one of the first blogs I followed – your positivity made me want to get up, get down, get out, get going and otherwise groove, James Brown style, as I read the latest batch of posts over my morning coffee. You were among the first real people (as opposed to robots) to send shivers of pride down my newbie blogger’s spine when you not only “liked”, but commented on my efforts.

Then suddenly, your posts ceased. I still pop by from time to time, and sigh as your post from six months ago fills the screen, the comments politely paired up below with their replies, like happy couples waiting for a table for two at the diner. I feel like a drug addict, staring through the chemist’s window at his fix of happiness on the shelf.

Never underestimate the effect a good blog post can have on the start of MM's day. You count.

Never underestimate the effect your blog post can have on the start of MM’s day.

I often hope that something wonderful happened to you. Maybe you had another baby, won the pools, inherited a Swiss chocolate factory or got swept off your feet by the working mother’s answer to George Clooney (with or without the coffee machine). Or has something awful happened? Maybe you got the dreaded blogger’s block. It was impossible to conceive that blogging could have fallen out of favour – if I love blogging so much, then surely other bloggers do too… or maybe they don’t. Maybe your life has evolved and changed, and your need for blogging has passed.

My finger has hovered over the mouse so many times – should I write a new comment, and see what happens? Would a quiet nudge in your cyber-spatial ribs revive you?

Thus the question reared its ugly head: should we let sleeping blogs lie?

Hands up if you have ever clicked on that email contact form to check if a fellow blogger is ok… I plead guilty. I nudged a favourite blogger in the past when he uncharacteristically stopped writing. I admit that I was concerned – was he ok? On the other hand… was it really any of my business? Why was I concerned about a person I had never met before? It could be perceived as rude – after all, who was I to get pushy? But could I do without my fix? No. I was uncomfortable to realise that my reasons were also selfish: I missed his posts and the interaction on his blog.

As you follow a blog, you inevitably become involved. You follow a life story, and strangely enough, a bond is created between people who don’t know each other from Adam. Two bloggers who chat regularly in the blogosphere wouldn’t necessarily even recognise each other if they sat side by side on the bus, yet they may bring a necessary smile to each other’s faces on a regular basis. The anonymity of sharing and discussing through the written word means that we are sometimes more prone to revealing our fears and feelings to our readers than we do to those who are close to us in our everyday lives. Welcome to the paradoxical blogging dimension, where people are both friends and complete strangers at the same time.

The Fox Tames The Little Prince

The Fox Tames The Little Prince (Photo credit: Pictoscribe)

This made me realise that blogging involves a risk – one described so well by Antoine de St Exupéry’s “The Little Prince,” when the fox tells the prince:

“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….” 

Without being as melodramatic as the fox, who has never blogged and never will do, it’s true that building a relationship with someone, even when you have never met them in person, makes them part of your world. And however small that part may be, you notice when it disappears. Whether it’s a regular reader who suddenly goes off your blog’s radar, or a blogger who stops writing, something goes missing. Or maybe it’s just me? In that case, some of you are probably thinking it’s time to back off from MM’s blog incase she starts getting too demanding. But I don’t think I’m the only person who believes in the fabulous human dynamics of blogging.

So here I sit at the head of your blog bedside in the home for sleeping blogs, hoping that you will come out of your cyber-coma. I miss you. If you’ve stopped blogging for ever, thank you for sharing part of life’s journey with me. But if your stats monitor suddenly bursts into activity, Carter, the nurses and I will all be waiting for you.

Roll up, roll up….

 The Daily Prompt caught my eye this time: “As seen on TV. Write a script for a late-night infomercial — where the product is your blog. How do you market yourself? What qualities do you embody that other “products” don’t? What are the benefits of reading your blog?”. Here’s my entry – it was harder than I thought to blow my own trumpet!

MM loves playing with figurines.

MM  has Peter Pan syndrome, and loves playing with figurines.

Do you need a break from 24/7 news and long for an escape route to accompany that glass of Chardonnay and bar of chocolate in the evening? Could you do with a quick fix of humour to blow away the blues? If you’d love to have a good laugh without having to invite friends around for dinner and getting all the washing up to deal with too, then switch off the TV and get over to Multifarious Meanderings to poke some fun at everyday life.

 Penned by an expatriate mother of three who is not only one can short of a six-pack, but is proud of it too, this no-nonsense collection of life’s experiences will titillate your funbuds and leave you with a smile on your face.
Travel through time in MM’s archives, and discover the author’s mishaps as she strives to communicate in the States, finds truffle-hunting dogs under her neighbour’s tractor, copies off Wonder Woman at parent-teacher meetings, examines the perplexing issue of the Lost Sock Dimension, discusses Herr Hormone and his PMT henchmen, and much, much more.
Learn about nature with MM, who gives you the low-down on the migration of the lesser-spotted boob, and reveals the true, grim story behind Larry the Louse’s regular visits to your child’s scalp. Her recent symptom-checker for Peter Pan Syndrome has turned up trumps for many readers, who are now finally able to put a name on their condition and will meet one day in a cyber playgroup to play Lego together.
And there’s more!
MM provides, free of charge:
  • A humourous glimpse of her everyday life in the south of France.
  • The reassurance that things could be worse as you discover MM’s run-ins with the world.
  • An opportunity to chat with some lovely bloggers from all over the world who regularly pass by, and to check out their wonderful blogs too.
  • A reply to your comment on her posts (MM is a blogger who enjoys interacting with her visitors).

So head off to Multifarious Meanderings for an unlimited trial period now, and double, triple or quadruple your order….. It’s all free, fun and without any commitment on your behalf. All you need is five minutes of your time, and your chucklecard number. See you there!

An Open Letter to my Phantom Follower.

The phantom follower.

The phantom follower.

Dear phantom follower,

WordPress recently sent me a mail informing me that you have subscribed to my blog – once again. Although I am flattered by your repeated attentions, I am also somewhat flummoxed. I have lost count of the number of times you have signed up over the last few months. I am at a loss to understand why you feel the need to subscribe on such a regular basis; most people subscribe just the once, not once a week.

I am aware that changes of heart can happen; after all, everyone has probably made the decision to unsubscribe from a blog at some point in their blogging experience. That’s life, after all – a blog that initially has the literary attraction of double chocolate cake can lose its appeal and transform into the reader’s equivalent of rice pudding if the reader and/or the writer’s personal interests evolve in different directions, leading to an inevitable rupture as the two bloggers’ paths each go their separate ways.

Such is life. However, changing your mind then changing it back every other week is a surefire sign that you either have no clear idea what you’re after, or you’re a trouble-maker (bloggers call them “trolls”). I did wonder if you get an inexplicable thrill out of hitting that follow/unfollow button – some kind of very sad attempt to control people’s feelings at the press of a button. Surely not. Maybe you have problems with your eyesight and are confusing it with the “Like” button, but it would be very pretentious of me to suggest that. Oops, too late.

You piqued my interest enough to google you, for the same reason that I google numbers that appear too frequently on my mobile phone. You don’t appear to be a blogger. Herr Google informs me, however, that you have a personal diet plan. This put a new slant on the mystery – maybe your hunger pangs wake you at night, and you subscribe to the same blogs again and again in a desperate attempt to counteract your craving for calories. If this is the case, may I suggest that you open the fridge and succumb to the temptation of a large, creamy yoghurt instead? Alternatively, you could busy yourself with some scrapbooking – apparently it is one of your interests. How do I know? Herr Google relates that you have followed and unfollowed a scrapbooking blog until the blogger was so ired that she posted about you in a name and shame campaign. I won’t be naming you, nor shaming you. The first in case you are looking for free publicity (goodness know why) and the second because error is human and you may just have very bad keyboard skills.

I’m sure you don’t want to drag this kind of bad reputation around. Please feel free to read my post “The serial liker” to get a better idea of my attitude to blogging etiquette. Although technically speaking you are a serial subscriber, you’ll get the general gist. And without wanting to be rude, when you’ve finished reading, please make up your mind and stop sitting on the fence. You are free to sign up and read……. or to have a chocolate biscuit or two in front of the telly instead. I promise I won’t tell Herr Google.

Thank you.

Bloggingly yours,

MM.

Written in response to “The Daily Post”, 13th August: “The Art of the Open Letter”.