Sunday, 31 October 2010

Tall Hairy Yarns for Hallowe'en

Our first stop in London was Harriet and Andrea's mama's. Beyond all measure of kindness Jean accommodated your gypsy protagonists for two nights. But more than that, she cooked us roast chicken, took us up to a fabric depot called the Curtain Factory Outlet in Finchley and only elected herself Head of Hats by sheer dint of initiative. We showed her an idea for headwear. Not even 24 hours later, lo, it had been knitted! In fact, two had been produced, one in a shiny jersey that gave it a not entirely fashion forward do-rag air, but the one that was executed in wool - slightly off-centre though it may have been - sent a frisson of milestone excitement through the dining room: we had our first prototype! So that style, when it reaches production, will be known as the "Jean-beanie".

We then hauled ass and baggage back to the Ritz (or ever so slightly behind it), and it is from there that I write to you now. As a thank you for her hospitality we took Elisabeth, my gracious 89-year-old godmama, to have her hair done by sexy Rupert at Nicky Clark. She used to see John Frieda when he first set up shop with a little salon at the Ritz. Rupert learnt his craft there and said it was very probable that he had washed Elisabeth's hair as a junior. As his styling took inches off her silver hair, so did the decades fall away. She left utterly sprightly-delighted. On the ensuing days, Mark followed the skein of the knitwear idea, encouraged by the boxes of yarn that arrived from Paris grace a Carolyn. An old and cherished friend of Mark's, lovely Lesley, came to meet us and after a little while, I left the two of them to catch up. They went to the knitting shop on Lower Marsh in Waterloo and made a plan for production involving the exploitation of old ladies.

Or so we thought. Turns out the Old Ladies make the Teamsters look disorganized. So Lesley has taken up the challenge of knitting the samples, a one-woman wonder. Meanwhile, the other wonder, Lawanda, from Max Studio in California, has been corresponding as has Chris Capone, boy wonder of Cosa Nostra. We threw open a host of new communication channels this week, went a bit so'med' potty, opening a Twitter account -!/NewsfromBedlam - and taking lodgings on Facebook -

Last night we schlepped east and attended the birthday party of Rob Diament, one of my alumni from Westminster University's Commercial Music Degree course - in my previous incarnation as Music Biz Bod I was inveigled to mentor a dozen students a year. We toasted his third decade and were delighted to prop up the bar at Shoreditch East with Julie Verhoeven, a fellow South Londoner and celebrated illustrator of fashion -

We had an encouraging chat with Rob's papa who is a master at raising capital. He was as generous with his contacts as you would expect from such a gentleman and proceeded to introduce us to his pal Hamish who is only the master of Bastard the Dog - only the very same pedigree pooch Mark led down the catwalk at the Child of the Jago A/W 2010 show! Yes! Hamish also has a wife, Pearl, but I suspect that rather than being mastered, she cracks the whip there. Seeing as she managed Aerosmith and Motorhead, and other celebrated chamber music outfits of the electronic age, she must have learnt a thing about keeping rowdy boys in order.

On the way home to St. James' the streets and Underground were thronged with ghouls and other ghastly visitations. It was fantastical, marvellous, and to a degree such as I have never seen in London before, being more used to US extravagance for Hallowe'en. We dressed up to Skype-fright Mark's little boy - papa wearing a particularly gruesome mask with buck teeth, while I went wolvereine, donning a black fox hat bought from some Mongol horseman in the market in Moscow when Sneaker Pimps played there back in, oh, whenever; the vintage gloves Mark's mummy gave me that look like bear paws; and the boxy stole in inherited from a friend of my mama's. Here Mark does a house visit to outfit the Adams Family at their last known resting place, Pere la Chaise cemetery, in Paris.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


As the Bewick swans flew in from Siberia - bringing winter with them, some three weeks ahead of schedule – it did seem that the season had switched as abruptly as when Mark went back to France, taking summer with him.  

Me and Mr Wesley (sic) rendez-vous’d in Paris on Thursday evening, to stay with Carolyn, on the Rue Faubourg de St. Antoine. This runs off that famed hub of demonstrative discord, La Bastille. My visits never go unmarked by less than hordes of people taking to the streets with banners and megaphones to broadcast their opinion on my presence.  I was there the weekend Sarkozy was elected and was treated to burning wheelie bins and tear gas canisters.  At that time, I remarked upon the highly economically literate grafito around the column of La Bastille – “Sarko – fils de macro”. I took that to be a reference to macro-economics. “Macro”, I was duly informed, is slang for “whore”. Maintaining the restless tradition, thousands took to the streets on Saturday under a brilliant blue cloudless sky to protest against retirement being pushed back. Meanwhile, Marco and I, we just want to get to work.

Carolyn looked over the portfolio properly for the first time, even constructing a smaller, less cumbersome one for us – a more portable portfolio. She is practical, hands-on, get-it-done.  Her late grandmother's catchphrase was “Never mind eh?” The old lady lived in England over sixty years yet that was pretty much the sum of all she learnt, or perhaps needed, to say. We should adopt it to apply to the let down in funding. Repeat until feel. 

Carolyn proposed we hone the collection around jersey, which would keep production at one factory. We went to meet her at the Kenzo HQ for lunch one day and production manager Corinna joined us. She told how, as of the last two-three seasons, even fat accounts such as Kenzo / LVMH have to pay for samples from the Portuguese factories, and that three times the price of production run was quite standard.

Carolyn presented Mark with a huge chunky scarf in mustard and gherkin and matching mittens she had knitted. I received a silky cardie in Schiaparelli (or, to keep with the theme, beetroot juice) pink. We were glad of them at Pony Club in the Parc de Vincennes on Friday night. My godson Marcello has just started lessons there. His class split into two teams for a game - horseback tag. His opponents elected to call themselves the "Golden Dragons", a name of some inherent intimidation, while Marcello's gang opted for - "Salad". Reversing expectations, Team Salad established a cracking lead only to it away at the end. But as frankly they won hands down in the name game, we consider them to be the victors in the League of More Interesting Choices. 

The cloudless sky meant that the temperature dropped dramatically on Saturday. The moon was ice white as we celebrated Carolyn's birthday.  Her movie star mate Karin Viard (who won a César for Exceptional Interpretation of Interesting Choices no less) and her husband were guests, along with many mummys and daddys from school including a bright, athletic American lady called Maggie who kindly advised me on blogging. Her own is a well-followed journal of the perils and panics of having your singular identity held hostage by your children –
Here's Carolyn's husband Jean Christophe looking Tres Pack de Rat in his Antonio Marras suit with Mark in his gardener's jacket and mossy Ralph Lauren plus fours that I found at a vintage store in Venice Beach:

Also present (am I sounding like Tatler mag's society correspondent?!) were photographer Marge whose wonderful building site studio at Alexandre Dumas we visited (link to her work on an earlier post); the beautiful house model from Kenzo who, I was pleased to note, scoffed cake; and Catrina, one of Carolyn’s closest pals and designer of Jean Paul Gaultier’s jewellery line for nearly twenty years. Maybe it seems like the best of both worlds, when you are creative, to get a long-term tenure with a regular salary, but you risk forfeiting the satisfaction of those beyond the inner circle knowing your name. For all glory goes to the Artistic Director of the house.

Someone who seems to have navigated the rocks and whirlpool of that trade-off is Peter Dundas. He also worked for JPG for a long time, then Roberto Cavalli, before being made DA himself at Ungaro. Now he has hit his Viking stride at Pucci. He sent Carolyn an enormous bouquet as he was in Miami tonight. Moving is progress, and you can get comfortable in the security of a job even if it is deciding that “purple goes with blue” (as Carolyn’s brother teases her). If progress were measured in miles, Mark and I are doing pretty well. Here, Catrina and Karin are the fragrant flowers on the sofa beyond Peter's bouquet:

Lunching in the Marais, I thought I recognised the gentleman at the table next to us, wondered if he was perhaps a former neighbour of Carolyn’s seeing as we were in a restaurant on the corner of her old road, Rue Elzevir. The apartment there must have well designed ley lines - when she left there Peter took it over. Now he is installed in the Pucci palace in Florence. It turned out the man is a famous TV presenter in Greece - not that I watch Greek telly or much of any telly at all come to that. He said he would wear our clothes on the box and get his best mate, top Turkish TV presenter-actor, a Mr Okan Bayülgen, to do the same. So we have Byzantium sewn up.

Before we left for London we went to meet Vincent Smith, formerly a London punk and uncle to a little boy called Soda Pop. He is the menswear pattern cutter at Kenzo and consults for Chinese fashion companies.  Now he has a Neapolitan gig too - he sets up in a hotel room for a day or two and measures up the locals. Maybe he allows a little extra cloth to the left or the right of a jacket, according to where they pack a pistol, I wouldn’t want to say. Someone mused, “Smith and Wesley – guaranteed a lifetime” and like a vision, the logo of scissors drawn appeared suspended before me. His studio in Montmartre was immaculate. An older gentleman was pressing sections of fabric and then running them under the sewing machine needle. He is well into his seventies but comes to work every day because he loves it. He was not on the march on Saturday.

We showed Vince the mini-portfolio and he said he would help if he could when we were ready to tackle the tailoring. We walked up the steep steps of Montmartre to the Marché St. Pierre with five floors of fabrics (more demure than the “five floors of whores” boasted of by the Bangkok brothel "Angelwitch"!) before bobbing along under the Channel on the Eurostar back to London.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Courting moguls and mobsters

I mentioned that my folks run our press clipping service. Only, we haven't got any, so they save stuff about other people for now, that may be of interest / inspiration.  One such article saved from the weekend's Sunday Times Property Section concerned Leon Max, the Russian-born American citizen billionaire clothing designer. He has just restored a grand old house in England in preparation for the expansion of his retail empire in the UK. I was a regular at his Max Studio stores when I lived in LA, they gave me a VIP card no less: they know how to make a lady feel special. The equivalent over here might be Karen Millen - where you go for a classy party look. So after the leaden news was delivered, and Mark pronounced he was off to get plastered, I made like a mini cab and dropped my parents off at their classy party at the House of Lords (a Diamond Wedding celebration) and went home to strategize. The article mentioned that Mr and Mrs Max are connoisseurs of architecture and that they used to have a fine modern house in Pasadena. Googling the company HQ gave me a Pasadena number - I figured I was on the right track (have recently been reading Raymond Chandler, another Dulwich kid, so if a sleuthy style seeps like a bloodstain on a plaid car rug, the one hurridly stuffed behind the spare wheel of the two-toned Buick Roadmaster, you'll know why). 
A young woman answered the phone and I pictured her at a desk in a tastefully grand reception area, temperature controlled to the perfect nuance in long sleeved fine knit over silky shirt to repel the chill of the air conditioning that was itself fighting the midday Californian heat. Despite that ongoing conflict, it was calm and quiet in the back ground. She gave me her full attention as I explained how I would appreciate so much (fluent as I still am in West Coast) if she could let me have an e-mail address for somebody who could convey correspondence onto Mr Max. She regretted that she could not give out his e-mail. I totally understood, but if there was a personal assistant perhaps, or some other executive even with whom I could communicate - essentially, anyone whom I might address personally, who was not an "info@", who would be kind enough to forward my message on, that would be simply marvellous. 
"I could be that person," she purred. 
Lawanda, she now revealed, was her name. And to me, at that moment, she was La very Wonder(ful).
I duly crafted my cold calling introduction to Mr Max and tried to explain in three paragraphs who we are and what we need and that if there was the slightest chance he might be interested to see some designs they could be sent for his appraisal prior to his hauling us out of the pooh with a golden winch.

The weekend hours went by, I sang at a wedding party, France played Romania, the temperature soared back up in London and the sky turned Pasadena blue. By Sunday night there was no reply but I had sent it at 4.55pm Pacific Coast Time on Friday evening. I stuck my head in Facebook. 

Now, back in January, Mark and I were in New York City to launch a collection he had worked on. Through the a propos connections made for us by our friend Brian we were invited to present ourselves at #4 Times Square, to wit, Condé Nast head quarters, yes, to Vogue magazine its very self. Stepping out of the Chelsea Hotel - where we had taken the Sid'n'Nancy suite (see photo above), scene of her violent demise - Mark dived into the deli next door for a pack of nervous smokes (don't let it be said that nothing good came of smoking). We got talking to a gentleman who was waiting on his tuna melt, we petted his little lap dog and he introduced himself as Chris Capone - scion of Scarface HIS VERY SELF. Dressed in a sheared mink jacket, he offered to take us for a shot of courage in the bar next door and would present us with a signed copy of his autobiography. Forward a few fashion months and Mark designed some drop crotch gangster striped strides with mogul-mobster fur collared jackets in honour of the meeting, part of the dandy criminal theme for Autumn-Winter 2011 - obsessive compulsive criminals are often fastidious in their attention to personal appearance after all (not wishing to suggest that Signor Capone or any of his line were obsessively involved in anything other than the benevolent redistribution of liquor). Criminally debonair or simply insanely stylish - so sue us for that. Chris is liking this article on how Prohibition gave Capone the publicity that made him a star:
Incidentally, when my grandma spent a lot of time in Philadelphia during the Roaring Twenties, they had a hooch still in the basement of their house on Walnut Tree (or was it Peach Tree?) Avenue, just off Rittenhouse Square anyway, and the Chief of Police would call round with his flask to be refilled.
Sunday night I saw that Chris had posted an hilarious trailer for a show about his roots and I was suddenly reminded to show him a picture of the suit, hoping it would please him although it may not now get made. He wrote back with the same positive, life-enhancing energy he had exhibited when we met him. How wonderful, he said, that I should tell him all this just as he was considering Capone Clothing. How much money, he wondered, was required?

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Relative wealth

Mark has internet at last and so we talked on Skype. Surely that is one of the most benevolent companies in the world? Distributors of free joy. Facilitators of communication. Mr Skype I salute you. If you are about to tell me that you know for a fact that they exploit kittens and use the technology to pollute drinking water then don't, please. Come at me with that another day, because this one brought enough disappointment. Mr Wesley was hyper-productive and positively charged after his I.T. triumph, showing me new designs and a first draft of his monogram stamp (see above) that I love (because he has been resistant to using his own name and this shows him starting to approach that. It looks like a brand, in the old sense of seared with ownership). What's more he was a gnomic vision in a funny brown wooly hat.

Then one of our potential investors called to say he was minutes away. I got myself together, went out to the street and fed his meter for him. But once inside, he declined my offer of refreshments and that, I sensed,  didn't bode terribly well. He got out the CF, P&L and haha BS spreadsheets. But they sat unconsulted on the table. He said it was not good news, he was afraid. The JV for film production they have ("JV??" I asked. "Joint Venture," he replied) has made a lot of progress very suddenly and they will be needing all money and focus for that. We are unfinanced. He hadn't wanted to say it on the phone, it was better face-to-face he thought.
"Should we talk with Mark?" I asked, "We can Skype."
No need, he considered, and then was gone.

I went back to the computer. Mark appeared instantly, but not wearing his funny gnome hat now, looking rather super fly. I had to tell him. We talked it through. He said he needed to go for a walk. I did too, and walked over to the garage. Tonight was a crazy roll-over jackpot on the Euro-Lottery - over one hundred million pounds. That would cover a couple of sample sets. I thought it was a pound a line so when the man asked for two I didn't have enough money. I begged him not to throw it away and said I would run back to the house and come back with the rest. Then I discovered I'd walked out without door keys and was now locked out. I stood ringing the bell to no avail. I luckily had my phone so called and that my father did manage to hear. Back at the garage, I triumphantly handed over the extra coin.

Later on, I checked the numbers. I shrugged and was about to screw up the paper. But then I read down the page - you didn't have to have EVERY number, you can just have a few and still win something! Who knew?! Holy Macaroni, Mr Wesley had two numbers and a star, which qualifies as the first rung of cash prizes. We are now funded to the degree of Six Whole Pounds and Eighty Shiny Copper Pennies! We are on our way.

Friday, 8 October 2010

raw fish, raw data and nerves of the same suit

"You sound like you're underwater," Mark said earlier. I think he meant the phone line was bad, but I had to wonder how I made it home this evening. It did feel like walking on the bottom of the sea. Talk about a cue:
The message was clear - "No trudging! Flip your heels and gargle a cheery song through a megaphone!" What it actually inspired me to do was eat some raw fish to avert a dead faint and go straight to bed for a nap when I got in. Now I've woken up and can address the shameful gap in postings.

Since the end of last week it's been all about the "cash flow model". My beloved old friend Dibble said he would do it but I had to give him the "raw data". Obviously. That involved pricing up collections over two years from prototypes to full production runs - figures completely at the mercy of a zillion variables - and budgeting for agents, PR, photo shoots, travel to factories, trade shows, office admin, anything I could think of and a ton I bet I forgot.

Anton has got back to us with some suggestions for PR companies. I liked the sound of one operation where the founding execs had backgrounds variously in First Division Football and a well-known sex shop. So Mark will hate that. (Not).

It's now Paris Fashion Week. Carolyn was duly at the Kenzo studio over the weekend til late every night. It's their 40th anniversary so their show will start with a retrospective. When not required for styling she was taking refuge at her desk and going through time lines with me - when stores place their orders, what month they pay up, how many times we need to visit the factories a season. Were we doing a Cruise Collection? Er, not quite yet, a Booze Collection maybe. So that information was all passed back to Dibble who then decided we probably ought to present the investors with a two-year illustration. That way the pattern of dips and peaks is clearer and it's not so alarming when all the money required to cover production leaves the bank account. Then I realised Holy Crap I'd been saying "wholesale" when I meant production costs, so we worked that out and bingo, he hit me up with a spreadsheet each for Cash Flow, Profit & Loss and the BS. Balance Sheet. My pa got out a bottle of champagne to give him as a thank you for being such a wonderful, numerate friend. Dibs refused to accept it. He said as and when the deal was done we'd drink it then. Are you getting the "beloved" bit now??

A recently rediscovered gem of an old pal, Chrissey is on stand by down in Brighton, primed to do the "parked" website (remember? So there is at least a home page with contact information). She deigned the flyers for my old West End club nights. I am anxious not to have more people give up their love and talent until the light goes green. But it's a damn fine feeling to know they're poised.

Heard back from the factory broker that Tim Bailey provided, kindly saying to use the LK Bennet name. It worked. Bulent Alkanli wrote to say he would be in London this week and so I went along to meet him at their London HQ. In the Woolworth Building on Marylebone Road his English colleague, a designer called Samantha, joined us and I was with them for over an hour. Li-Fung have eighty offices around the world and source from many hundreds of factories but would aim to keep all our production in Turkey. If, said Bulent, we can get there, to Istanbul, next week, for the first of three or four trips required for this collection, he could have delivery of samples by Christmas. They are used to clients ordering thirty-odd sets of prototypes, we are looking at three, maybe four. Due to that, he explained, costs for prototypes would be three times - not twice as I expected him to say - the price of the production costs. Which skews the figures of course. I factored in TWICE. Holy Crap, again.

After the meeting I made my way to Marble Arch. My computer bag felt heavy. I was trying to explain screen printing set-up costs down the mobile to Mark (who knows very well all about that as he has run that business for years) and was getting in a muddle. He didn't think it could be right. He started talking about laser printing and I walked into River Island for some respite from the shoving of Oxford Street. He was worried about the triple cost thing. We still have a bunch of other people, and factories direct, offering us their services, but there was such an air of competent efficiency about the place today, without being at all sterile. They do a lot of work for River Island. I stared at a sweater and peered at the legend on the label at the neck. "What is obtained through love," I read, "is retained for all time." How I do hope so.

I called one of our investors to see if he had a response to the P&L, CF and, haha, BS. It went to voicemail so I sent an e-mail as well. Harriet intercepted me on Bond Street. Waiting for her, I popped into Browns again and said hello to the menswear buyer - must take care not to make people nervous with over-zealous dropping in. Mark's little boy was home from school by now and had opened his birthday presents. "You bought me POKÉMON cards! They are my favourite!" he said down the phone.
"Did I get the good ones? Hope so!"
"Yes! Yes!" he answered. Keen to get back to his haul, he gave me back to daddy.
"Have the investors got back to you?" he asked.
"Not yet," I replied.
"I've got to take him birthday bowling now," Mark changed the subject.
"Don't forget to take your thumb out," I offered.
"You're meant to say 'Hope you win!'" he informed me.
"I hope you win. You will tell me tomorrow that you did."
Harriet ordered me a glass of wine before promptly leaving for an appointment so I sat there drinking alone, a bit shakey now. I paid up and walked down Bond Street, which reminded me tomorrow is the deadline to put a painting of mine up for auction. Christies and Bonhams are both keen to have it. I made it to Piccadilly, but feeling quite faint cut into Soho for sashimi. "DON'T HAVE RICE," hectored my nutritionalist (yeah right) Taffy down the phone, "just protein, rice will bring you down."
It got me home. I got into bed. The phone went.
It was one of the investors to say they were looking at the P&L, CF and, er, BS, tonight, and that he will come over to see me tomorrow to discuss.
Holy Bowling Balls.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Cyber-rights and sybarites

Late yesterday afternoon I received a communication from our potential investors. They had had their own meeting with Mr Dell, the broker of agents, and reported the same confidence in him as we had. Now they require a "cash flow model" from me to move along. These are not words that are ever going to leaven my heart but one of my oldest friends has offered to help once I have all the "raw data". I was instructed to factor in salaries for Mark and myself. I looked that word up in the dictionary and have to say I am rather taken with it. I rolled it round my brain for a while and then it knocked on the inside of my skull to beg the question of who is employing who. And so I was minded to double check that the original proposal for the structure of the company, which we had found untenable, had been revised. I am being a little circumspect here but I am sure you can appreciate why that would be so.
Meanwhile, Mark's little boy is excitedly awaiting the arrival of some Pokémon cards I have sent him. The lady in Hamleys assured me that they were the very newest set and if they are new to her, I am trusting they have not yet reached the playground half way up a mountain in Provence. Mark told me he is trying to explain to his son that he will be holding a high value hand. Because he is so little, he doesn't understand what they are worth and so trades at a disadvantage with the bigger boys.

Rolling with the theme of ownership I registered via Google, thinking that if you do that via them it might speed up "recognition" by their search engines. Later I was reliably informed that it makes no bloody difference. Anyway, Google actually divert you to Go Daddy. So as they were a little cheaper when you go to them directly I decided to grab up the rest on their site and got thoroughly swept along registering; .org; .net; .info and adding on all sorts of gadgets to instill confidence in us as the latest residents of Cyber Street. I went nuts protecting this, privatizing that and certifying the other. I was looking for Go Daddy to "park" the site for us temporarily, until we build a proper one - just a page with a logo and contact details so that you have enough presence for people to confirm you exist - but all I could see were packages for full-on hosting. I didn't know what I was doing. Then I saw the total in my "cart" and emptied the lot in terror. There is something to be said for relinquishing ownership and having someone else pick up all the bills. Lord knows there will be plenty of others.

Blessed our we with our mates, for we have our own web wiz on hand. I found Howard on his hands free, driving home after a long day at work dealing with grotty people who are too stupid to figure out their own domain problems (ooops). He stayed on the line, talked me through registering with his favourite and said we could worry about all the other permutations later down the line. He cautioned me not to fall for "up-selling". I certainly nearly did Ollie. So thanks to Big H, I spent around twenty quid, instead of two hundred, securing a small webspace for twelve months. Twenty quid is coincidentally the amount Mark was try to convince his dad to invest in getting the internet connected at their house in France. "TWENTY QUID?!" he exploded (allegedly),"A MONTH??!! I'd rather have a shed."

I also spent some time trying to secure a small living space  - shed's considered - as we need somewhere of our own in London. My saintly godmama had guests arriving from Romania and I have vacated our frosted glass refuge. I am quite exhausted from moving around, grateful as I am to those angels who accommodated us. There is a new tower at the Elephant and Castle. I never thought I'd want to live in a tower that wasn't in the middle of a forest and bound about with ivy but this one has had me fascinated - its top looks like an owl with three eyes and little pointy feather ears. It is a sign of great unsophistication to need to anthropomorphize things I understand. I hope to view an apartment there in the morning.

Every now and again I applied myself to the gathering of "raw data" and asked two friend for quotes for photographic shoots. Marj's work is supremely feminine. Sometimes the mood is soft and misty, the models like nymphs, Naiades, Dryades and Oreiades - beautiful spirits of the rivers, woods and mountains; in other shoots the girls are glossy goddesses, sophisticated sybarites. She won the Best Fashion Photo prize as judged by Karl Lagerfeld a few years ago and is excitedly preparing her new studio in Paris. Because Mark's work is strongly male, I can imagine it might work, the yin and yang, and she has started doing menswear as well. Take a look: 
Another candidate is my godbrother Piers' project, more commercially orientated:

Other business:
We have had a couple of complaints. One from our readership in Los Angeles (hello Cynthia!) and one from the Control Centre at the V&A that the white print on black is killing their eyes. So you may expect sweeping changes tomorrow. For yes, the rumours are true - it gives me huge pleasure (HUGE) to now confirm the appointment of David Miliband, no less, as our reader care interface executive. It will be his job to implement any reasonable suggestions that you care to put forward. I'm sure you join me in welcoming David. 

Pip pip for now.