Right Said Fred

Those of you who regularly frequent this space will know I quite enjoy a cuppa. For the last few years I’ve seen other people expounding the joys of a TEA ADVENT CALENDAR: considering my dietary restrictions at present, this is an idea I was really ready to get behind. Therefore, starting tomorrow, I’ll be using Instagram to record my experiences, and this blog for some reflection.

It’s also going to be an obviously blatant exercise in brand awareness.

This presentation box was not cheap, and was bought using the last of my birthday cash. However, it has the potential to be recycled after use on my bookshelf as storage as part of one of the New Year Endeavours (more on that in the week) so in that regard, it is already paying for itself. There’s already been a sneaky peek into Drawer One and the surprise I didn’t realise existed is that there are other gifts than just the teabags.

We’ll be employing an ACTUAL MARKS SYSTEM too for this exercise: these are Whittard’s teas (in the interests of full disclosure and use of their Twitter tag on Social media) and will be considered on a number of Laughing Geek criteria:

Drinking the Tea Advent

LOOKS: To be fair to the experiment, and as there’s two teabags per day to work through, we’ll brew one the way the experts do (nice white cup so you can see what the stuff looks like) and drink it without milk. However, as a rule, I’m a milk gal (with the obvious exception of herbals and greens) so if I can stick the second bag into my daily routine with some semi skimmed and honey, I will.

SMELL: I have sniffed a fair few teabags in my time, and this for me is a decent indicator of whether any enjoyment will actually follow via drinking. Smell will be important. I’ll have to see if I can work out exactly what’s in a blend… and then whether that smell translates into something I would actually consider drinking.

FLAVOUR: Some of these teas are gonna be stuff I’d never normally consider quaffing, and that is where I suspect flavour will really come into play. There will be lots of open-mindedness too: just because I’ve never considered a blend should not exclude it from fair and objective consideration. Most importantly, as I’m not doing this for advertising or promotional purposes, there will be honesty. If it’s awful for me, I’ll say so.

RESULT: Would I drink this again? Is it worth buying a whole packet? Those are the two questions to be asked first, after which I suspect there’ll be some thoughts on mood, productivity and satisfaction. All these thoughts will, unsurprisingly, be recorded on PostIt notes for your perusal on Instagram, and I’ll do a slightly longer write-up here. If anything, it could work as decent feedback to Whittard on their current range.

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We’ll start on Monday, with posts Wednesday and Friday. It grants some much needed regular content into my month that isn’t exercise (more on that later) and is a nice side project away from writing.

You never know, I might even enjoy it.

Swimming with Sharks

I have a new writing gig. It’s voluntary, but is rather important because of what it is and where it reaches. I really don’t give a flying fuck about getting paid for a lot of what I do (as we have discussed at length) and part of me would be happy to do this forever. However, what this means for the grown up bit of my brain is a new communication platform to get the head around. For my current Writing and Podcast gigs I use Slack, which is a marvel for someone on GMT who’s basically working to US timezones, or who often does stuff outside of ‘normal’ office hours. Yesterday I was introduced to Discord, which appears to use Slack’s functionally with voice comms on top. However, there’s a problem which has nothing to do with the people I’m working with and pretty much everything to do with me.

I find these platforms disconnect me terribly from the job they’re supposed to do.

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Here, have a Dick Pic.

Twitter’s a real-time chat conversation I started, and therefore I feel more comfortable in that space. I am not new to the territory, and can at least make a lame pudding-based gag without thinking everybody is staring at me. When you come into a large, established group of people who clearly know each other well? How do you deal with this as a grown up without running away screaming? I tend to stick close to the people I know, and only get involved in conversations when a) its necessary and b) when I have a decent, universal gag. Otherwise, I am the Introvert in the room.  Actually, that’s what I am regardless, and maybe I ought to stop trying to live up to everybody else’s expectations and just settle with my own level. Then I remember I’m supposed to be working on change, and it all gets a bit difficult to cope with.

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Except, and this is also the case with Twitter like it or not, you still have the disconnect to a point, unless you break the surface of the platform and actually reach out to the people who you communicate with. And therefore, yesterday, an idea was born. I’m going to reach out to people through a common interest, and see where it takes me. Obviously I’ll need to trust the people concerned, and as a result I’ll be communicating with a select group of Twitter ‘friends’ with whom I’ve already made a connection. However, this is a chance to create summat special and unique for a lot of people and to share writing with people in a manner in which was the case for all those years before the Internet happened: letters. It also by definition is a means to reach out to the World, which I need to do far more than currently happens.

Needless to say, Watch this Space.