Yes, – it’s Personal.

The emotional turmoil of people starting a new life in the UK – is exemplified by our Interviews with Vlada and Danylo, two leading members of the United Ukrainian Ballet corps, as they do their standout Giselle performance at the London Coliseum. Irina Dinch gets behind the mask, and listens to their stories.

The Interviews were informal, and conducted in Ukrainian. An English translation follows below…

Об‘єднаний український балет- це трупа, до складу якої входять танцюристи з національних театрів Києва, Львова, Одеси, Харкова. Танцюристи належать до  різних шкіл танцю, різного рівня підготовки, різних методик але працюють разом як єдиний колектив, підтримуючи і допомагаючи один одному. І така злагоджена робота стала можливою не лише завдяки таланту всесвітньо відомого хореографа Олексія Ратманського, а й тому, що кожний член трупи розуміє ту високу місію, яку уособлює кожний з них.  В цей трагічний для нашої країни час танцюристи Об‘єднаного українського балету   не лише демонструють свою майстерність, а й нагадують миру, що Україна бореться, відвойовує кожний метр своєї землі. Наша культура жива і несе миру радість від спілкування з прекрасним. Але ми, як і кілька місяців тому, потребуємо підтримки мирової спільноти. Мир не має відступити, забути про війну чи втомитися від неї. І це їхня лінія оборони.  

Дивлюся в очі Влади та Данила, вони дуже молоді, на вигляд років 19-20, по суті ще діти, але них є своя історія, як і в кожного з нас в цю важку годину. 

Влада – танцюристка «Національної Опери України», відновлювалася після операції, яка відбулася рік тому, і була вже готова повернутися на сцену до репетицій, як почалася війна. Вона не збиралася від’їжджати за кордон, але родина та близькі  наголошували на від‘їзді, бо  без постійних тренувань і репетицій на кар‘єрі можна було поставити крапку. І вона поїхала, спочатку до Словенії , а потім, отримавши запрошення в Об‘єднаний український балет, переїхала до Голландії. 

Гарна, тендітна, струнка українська дівчина. Але така сила в її рішучому, безкомпромісному погляді темних очей! І коли чуєш як за останні півроку змушена стати твердою, рішучою , що відбулося в житті переосмислення цінностей і має вона зараз брати більше відповідальності за свої вчинки, ретельно обирати з ким спілкуватися, то розумієш, що немає вороття. В цьому віці надій, мрій помилок  та сподівань у Влади вже є сумний досвід, який загартував і  зробив міцною. І все в неї буде гаразд, тому що вміє тепер розпізнати де добро, а де  причаїлося лихо.

Данило закінчив Київську муніципальну академію танцю імені Сержа Лифаря.  На початку війни знаходився на реабілітації у Литві через травму руки. Коли почув що почалася війна, став волонтером і почав допомагати українським біженцям, але саме усвідомлення  цього жорсткого акту насилля вибивало із колії. Тренуватися не виходило, гіркі думки не давали спокою. І він прийняв рішення. Сів на волонтерський автобус, який прямував до України, з наміром піти на фронт воювати. Дзвінок матері пролунав вже у дорозі: «Я відправила до тебе брата, завтра зустрічай». На це Данило не розраховував, та і родині про свої плани не розповідав, але залишити 15-ти річного брата самого без підтримки не міг, тому вирішив повернутися.  Соромно було перед людьми в автобусі, але  добровольці поставилися з розумінням . 

Наприкінці квітня він повернувся до тренувань, а потім звільнився зі свого театру і поїхав на гастролі розповідати про Україну в різних країнах світу. Балет «Жизель» мав справжній фурор  в країнах Латинської Америки. Натомість, а  ні в Чілі, ні в Перу не чули про війну в Україні, дуже дивувалися вони цій новині, і для Данили це було боляче і дуже незрозуміло. Тому і вирішив він приєднатися до Об‘єднаного Українського балету, щоб розповідати миру про криваву  жахливу несправедливість, яка відбувається в Україні. 

Олексій Ратманський, відомий хореограф, який звільнився з «Большого театру» у перший день початку війни та створив нову інтерпретацію балету «Жизель» для Об‘єднаного українського балету, сказав в одному зі своїх інтерв‘ю британському видавництву, що український балет завжди був в тіні російського балету , артисти з України втрачали там свою ідентичність. 

Я запитала у Влади і Данила чи вважають вони створення  Об‘єднаного Українського балету першими шагами до відродження українського балету та виведення його з російської тіні ,  але вони мають своє бачення. 

Влада наголошує ,що зараз відбувається не «виведення з тіні», а робиться акцент, що український балет існує і завжди існував окремо від російського і завдяки Об‘єднаному українському балету зараз закордоном відбувається розуміння і переосмислення ролі українського балету в всесвітній культурі. 

А Данило, як танцюрист та майбутній хореограф народної хореографії, дуже пишається тим, що наша народна хореографія одна з найсильніших і найяскравіших в світі. Виступи наших колективів завжди мають фурор закордоном і дух захоплює як танцюристи на сцені вдало показують український характер та культуру. Педагоги навчили їх відкривати душу в танці і це багато говорить про талановитих українських викладачах 

А тим часом у Лондонському Колізеї зі справжнім фурором пройшла вистава  балету «Жизель» у виконанні Об‘єднаного українського балету. Бурхливі овації,  сльози, надія… щирі емоції від дотику до прекрасного високого мистецтва. І за всім цим невтамована, наполеглива праця наших танцюристів, їх віра в майбутнє і жага показати світу, що Україна – понад усе! 

United Ukrainian ballet – is a troupe that includes dancers from different national theatres from Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv, Odessa. Dancers belong to various dance schools, different level of methods and training, but they work as a single team supporting and helping each other. Such coordinated work became possible not only owing to the talent of the world famous choreographer Alexey Ratmanskiy but also due to the deep understanding by every member of the troupe the importance of their mission.


In such tragic for our country times artists of United Ukrainian ballet not only demonstrate their skills but also they do remind to the World that Ukraine is fighting for every piece of its land. Our culture is alive and brings the joy of communication with the beauty. But as well as couple of months ago we need support of the World community. World should not step back, forget about the war or get tired of it. And this is their line of defense.

I look at Vlada’s and Danylo’s eyes, they are very young, look no older than 19-20 y.o, children so said, but they have their own stories as well as each of us has in difficult times like these.


Vlada is a dancer of National Opera of Ukraine, she was recovering from the operation that she had one year ago and was ready to get back on the stage to trainings and rehearsals when the war began. She didn’t want to go abroad but family and beloved one insisted on her leave because without constant trainings and rehearsals she could put an end to her career. And she left Ukraine and went to Slovenia, and after receiving invitation from United Ukrainian ballet she moved to the Netherlands.

Beautiful, tender, slim Ukrainian girl. But there is so much strength in her resolute, uncompromising look of the dark eyes! And when you learn that for the last half a year she was forced to become firm, determined, she has revaluated her views and became more responsible, she chose carefully who to talk to, you understand that there is no way back. In her age of hopes, dreams, mistakes and expectations Vlada already has got hard experience that made her stronger. And everything in her life will be just fine because now she knows how to recognize the good and reveal the evil

Danylo has graduated from Kiev Municipal Academy of Dance named after Serge Lifar. When the war started he was in rehabilitation with hand trauma in Lithuania. Immediately he became a volunteer helping Ukrainian refugees but awareness of such brutal act of violence was knocking out of the way. He failed to train because bitter thoughts has haunted his mind and finally he made a decision. He took a volunteer bus going to Ukraine to fight. But his mother’s phone call reached him on his way : “ I have sent your brother to you. Meet him tomorrow” . Danylo didn’t expect such turn of events and his family wasn’t aware of his plans but he couldn’t abandon 15 y.o brother alone without support so he made a decision to get back. He felt very ashamed in front of other volunteers but they understood.

At the end of April he restarted his trainings and then quitted theatre where he was working and went on tour to tell about Ukraine in different part of the World.
Ballet “Giselle” had a real splash in countries of Latin America but neither in Chili nor in Peru haven’t people heard about war in Ukraine and they were very surprised with a such news. This fact was very painful for Danylo, he couldn’t realize it. So he decided to join United Ukrainian ballet to tell the World about bloody terrible injustice that was happening in Ukraine.

Alexey Ratmanskiy the world famous choreograph who has quitted the “Bolshoy theater” the first day of war, created the ENO interpretation of ballet “Giselle”, said in one of the interviews to British press that Ukrainian ballet always has been in the shadow of Russian one, artists from Ukraine were losing their identity there.

I asked Vlada and Danylo do they consider the creation of United Ukrainian ballet as the first steps of revival Ukrainian ballet and taking it out of Russian shadow? But they had their own point of view.
Vlada pointed out that it wasn’t not really “taking out of shadow” but emphasizing that Ukrainian ballet always existed individually and now this realization and rethinking of the role of Ukrainian ballet in World culture is taking place in foreign countries due to the United Ukrainian ballet.

And Danylo as a dancer and future choreograph of folk choreography is very proud that our folk choreography always has been one of the most powerful and brightest in the World.
Performances of our Ukrainian dance troupes always have a splash abroad, the way our dancers successfully demonstrate Ukrainian character and culture in a dance takes your breath away. Pedagogues teach how to open your soul in a dance and that says a lot about talented Ukrainian teachers.

Meanwhile in London Coliseum ballet “Giselle” performed by United Ukrainian ballet had a splash. Standing ovations, tears, hopes….sincere emotions from the touch of a beautiful high art. And behind there is tireless persistent work of our dancers , their belief in future and the thirst to show to the World that Ukraine is above all!

In our Digital World – have we lost sight of the Patient?


EIDO Healthcare is the UK’s market leading provider of informed consent services in healthcare, with a 20-year pedigree. At a time when everything digital is seemingly blessed with gold dust, we ask Phil Evans, EIDO’s Director of Partnerships, where he sees the future of the consent process within the digital landscape.

They say that what goes around comes around. I am sitting at my iPad and the good people at Apple tell me that – wonderful news! – I can now do “mail merge” into something called “letters”, print them out and send personalised documents in something called “the post” – to individual people.

This is indeed exciting news. Originally this was a standard feature some 10 years ago, in Apple Pages version ’08. They then removed it and, after everybody complained, put it back into Apple Pages version something else, many years later. Progress is a wonderful thing.

Which raises a question. EIDO made its name by producing hard copy surgical information for patients, to support shared decision making prior to surgery. At the time of the upcoming HETT Show 2022, and now that EIDO’s widespread content is also available digitally, is it “job done” as far as digital consent is concerned?

Phil takes a second and then looks at me across the screen. We are chatting on Zoom. He is wearing a simple grey T-shirt, and has a serious expression.

“Absolutely not”, he says.

“True, we live in a digital mobile world, and we have become accustomed to immediate access to information. And the EIDO model fits nicely into this. But the “delivery” of content is only one part of the informed consent puzzle. More important is how that content has been tailored to the individual needs of the patient in question, as well as being able to evidence a patient’s engagement with it.”

“We strongly believe”, continues Phil, “that consent is a culture. So EIDO’s role is not just to supply tools that take a paper process and turn it into a digital box-ticking exercise. It’s our responsibility to perpetuate a good consent culture. Because ultimately, it’s not about the technology; it’s about the people using it, and their desire to genuinely improve what has historically been a deficient process. If we can introduce clinical time-saving and resource- saving efficiencies into it (and we believe our software can), then that’s a welcome by- product.”

“The question organisations need to be asking is not simply ‘Who can do this digitally?’ but ‘Who can do it best?’.

The conversation turns to the “how” of EIDO’s proposition…

“What makes EIDO attractive as a solution is our ability to meet a hospital wherever it may be on its digital transformation journey. Is it looking to deliver content digitally but continue taking consent on paper? We can support that. Is it looking for a full digital consent service with no more paper in sight? We can support that too, and everything in between.”

“In addition, what stands us apart is our partner strategy, where we link seamlessly to other solution vendors that are also specialist in their own areas of expertise. In that way, we are being much more focussed on giving the patient and the hospital the exact consent process that it wants to have. This can be a mix of many styles of delivery and can include a variety of data sources.”

We take a pause and start to look to the future. The topic of Net Zero comes up, and how the shared decision-making process needs to adapt to align with strategic NHS targets. Digital consent pathways can play a significant part in reducing the carbon footprint of the NHS, not only through the elimination of paper, but also in the potential reduction of unnecessary patient visits to hospital.

Phil continues “We will be at the HETT Show at ExCel London this September, on Stand C48, where we are inviting individual Trusts and partners to meet us and discuss the consent-related pain points they are trying to address. Defining the problem is important – it allows us to understand what is important to an organisation, and present a tailored solution to them.”

It’s a good place to end our chat. I switch into my Mac apps and print my Notes. I click on Send – and a copy zaps across to Phil.

POLITICAL INFLUENCE AND HUMAN NATURE

Is there a link between our everyday noise from politics, that we think we can ignore, – and the way we live our life? And should there be one? And if so – is this a Good Thing? Our random Interview at the Triple Chocolate retail store in Halmstad, Sweden, is a bell – weather of our time.

Tricky questions, all of them. And not so much because we cannot answer them, but because we underestimate the damage that continual negative political news can have on us. We are so used to bad new surrounding us, that we have grown used to it.

But on the other hand – at what point do we as individuals say to ourselves; “enough is enough”. That the arrogance, corruption, lack of concern, happy abandon of ethics shown by politicians for the people they are supposed to lead – drives us quietly to a point where we stand our moral ground and stand up for our basic human values?

Tricky stuff indeed. Or maybe not.

Perhaps the alternative view is the more concerning, – that we are all so immersed in the non stop unhappiness of news broadcasts and hypocrisy of our politicians, that we really are immune to it all. We just carry on our individual lives. We cannot do anything. We do not need to do anything. Concerning, because if we are not affected by these daily broadcasts, then indeed we will not mind that we are losing our barometer of right and wrong, good and bad, ethical or corrupt, of democracy or dictatorship.

Hardly a discussion for the corner shop. Or again, maybe not.

Susanne steps into her sales area behind the counter at the Triple Chocolate retail shop. It is situated in the high street, a narrow lane between narrow houses, each pastel decorated, in the seaside town of Halmstad in Sweden. It is a boutique compact counter, full of trays of artisan chocolates. The chocolates are all individual specialities, they are works of love and care. I point to a small box of items, which are in a tastefully decorated box, tied with a ribbon. Hardly a centre of political activity.

“I’ll have those”, I say.

Susanne is not listening. She arrives with a small bunch of yellow roses, and puts them on the counter.

“Ok, … I’ll have those too”, I say.

“No, – no!” Susanne cries. “The roses are for everybody. They make the shop look nice”. Yes, I know that – it was a simple moment of humour, and we both laugh. And then we get talking. We have never met each other before.

“ I am not voting this week”, she says. It is the Swedish national elections in a week or so. “It really makes no difference who I go for, because we are a 50/50 population, whoever wins cannot deliver for the other half of the population. And for that reason, the promises are never fulfilled”. Gosh, we are in difficult territory now.

But the ambience has subtly changed. It is a recognition that despite the lovely little shop, the nice arrangements, the care shown – it is not extended into being able to make a difference for the people as a whole. The most she can do, is put out a nice vase of flowers.

It is a negative position, and wholly understandable, and misses the point. For two reasons; because, if you care enough to display some beautiful flowers, then by definition you are caring about humanity and its values, it is on display. And if you care enough, somebody by happenstance, will also see, and also care.

Susanne laughs a little. The fact is, the care about bijoux chocolates is the symbol of care for society. “You just have to have faith”, I conclude.

I walk towards my hotel, and call my wife, I have an idea; “do you fancy some chocolates?”, I ask.

“Oh, I just love some chocolates” she happily responds. Sure, the constant flow of negativity of our media and surrounding content, does indeed affect the motivation of our life. But there are deeper values at play here, that sometimes we forget are part of our routine, and that can restore our morale.

Morale indeed. Have faith, and eat chocolate.

Triple Chocolate can be contacted on +4635122444

BUY SOME TIGHTS. SAVE THE PLANET

We look at the sudden arrival of the FourTwentyTwo company from North Macedonia, and their range of biodegradable tights and hosiery and ask – are Millennials going to buy this?

The phrases “ecologically friendly” and high volume fashion – don’t really go hand in hand. Cheap as chips ladies fashions, designed to be thrown away after just one or two outings, even if they last that long, – are the hallmarks of so many teenage buying patterns with their limited budgets. And the focus of high level brands with their focus on “technology”, usually comes at a high price tag, because it’s high tech. It’s cool.

Or maybe it isn’t. Launched just a few weeks ago in London, the FourTwentyTwo company message is that is that ecological and looking after the planet is a millennial focus, and that their biodegradable range of tights with aloe vera extract – and their antibacterial tights with green tea extract – are spot on in the current mindset of people of all ages.

Sure, there are some compelling stats; the Presentation that Sanja at FourTwentyTwo sends me, has a solid business case for where this aspect of fashion is going. And it has one big advantage over others, which is that the Four Two Two range is both fashionable, but it is also a volume business that is in tune with our desire to lower fossil fuel and plastic consumption.

And whilst there are plenty of domestic producers of plant based garments or food, they tend to be hidden away, almost niche. This launch, looking for retailers and commercial partners – is bold and open.

Full details of the FourTwentyTwo offering and their discussion about plant use, can be seen at: https://fourtwentytwo.eu/ 

Registration opens for Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2022

Nicola MacDonald has written to us to tell us excitedly about the upcoming Food Fair in London. I’ll drink to that. What she says is this:

Visitor registration has opened for Speciality & Fine Food Fair as the event prepares to welcome the speciality food industry back to Olympia London on 5-6 September 2022, with visitors able to register to attend here. 

Speciality & Fine Food Fair is an annual trade show celebrating independent, artisan and craft food & drink suppliers from across the UK and internationally. Each year the show attracts quality buyers from key sectors in the speciality and fine food industry, including key decision-makers from the worlds of retail, catering and wholesale. They have the chance to meet with new-to-market businesses in The Discovery Zone, unearth sustainable businesses in the Sustainability Zone, discuss the latest speciality food trends on the Food for Thought Stage and explore an unparalleled collection of unique suppliers across the show floor.

The Fair will invite independent retailers, farm shops, delis, high-end caterers, speciality wholesalers and more to discover the very latest new products and trends in the world of speciality and fine food & drink and to enjoy an industry-leading seminar programme across three stages.   

As always, the event will be an unparalleled showcase of innovation in the British food & drink market, from established speciality brands to start-ups in their early years of operation, plus an opportunity to meet with unique international food & drink brands from countries including Belgium, France, South Korea, Italy and the Netherlands, plus regions such as the Caribbean and West & Central Africa.  

Speciality & Fine Food Fair Awards judge, management consultant Bruce Langlands, comments: “Speciality & Fine Food Fair is the annual event that has become a focal point in London’s food calendar. It is an amazing platform for producers, suppliers and retailers to launch new products and share industry knowledge.”  

One of the Fair’s most popular returning features is the Discovery Zone, an area dedicated to food & drink brands which have been operating for less than three years. The bustling Zone has become one of the most highly anticipated gems of the Fair and has served as a launchpad for many successful and well-known businesses. 

Speciality & Fine Food Fair Event Manager Nicola Woods explains: “The Discovery Zone is a must-attend for visitors to the Fair. It’s a fantastic opportunity to discover unique, new-to-market products and see first-hand the innovative start-ups beginning to make their mark on the industry.” 

Among the businesses taking part in the Discovery Zone 2022 are G&Tea, a tea-distilled gin brand, plant-based chewing gum Oh My Gum, luxury free-from ice cream producer Mama Dolce, and blueberry wine Blue Aurora.  

The Food for Thought stage at the Fair returns to cover some of the most pressing issues facing the independent retail and speciality food community, from the power of a personalised customer experience to the road to net zero, and from 2022’s supply chain challenges to making the online model work post-pandemic.  

Visitors to the event will have the opportunity to hear insights from a wide range of industry experts and business owners including Charles Banks of thefoodpeople, Jan Robijns of The Broadway Deli & Grocery, Paul Hargreaves of Cotswold Fayre, Stephen Minall of FDReviews, Ben O’Brien of Session Kitchens and many more.  

New for 2022 is the Taste the Trends kitchen, where culinary consultant and chef Steve Walpole will be welcoming a host of industry experts to explore the latest trends, flavours and opportunities in global cuisine and using a range of products from the Fair to cook up some delicious dishes.  

Among the sessions and demonstrations in the Taste the Trends kitchen are ‘East meets West’, a look at the influence of Japanese and Korean foods and flavours on western cuisine; ‘Striving for Plant-Based Perfection’, exploring some of the revolutionary products in the plant-based space; a session with the Great Taste Supreme Champion (revealed on 5 September) in partnership with the Guild of Fine Food; and World Charcuterie Live, showcasing some of the quality cooked meats on offer at the Fair.  

“I can’t wait to be back at Speciality & Fine Food Fair, cooking up a storm with some amazing guest speakers,” said Walpole. “Join us on 5-6 September to discover some of the most exciting trends in food & drink and to sample some of the best products on offer at this year’s Fair.” 

As fantastic new drinks products continue to launch onto the market, the Drinks Cabinet at Speciality & Fine Food Fair is a one-stop-shop for visitors interested in everything from soft drinks to low & no beverages to quality spirits and beers from thriving independent breweries.  

At the centre of the Drinks Cabinet, the Inspiration Bar will see in-depth sessions across the two days from Mixology Group providing advice and guidance for visitors looking to make the most of the drinks products they stock.  

Zoe Cunliffe, Director at Mixology School commented: “We can’t wait to head back to Speciality & Fine Food Fair this September to help the Fair’s food & drink buyers learn about the very latest trends and products in the drink sector.” 

“There are a huge number of new products on the market and our session at the Fair will give retailers and wholesalers the tools to make the most out of these exciting and creative drinks offerings.” 

A full list of exhibitors and products on offer, is on the Speciality & Fine Food Fair website, where you can also register for your free ticket.

FASHION IN JULY. WHY CAN’T IT RAIN WHEN YOU WANT IT TO?

We spend the day casually talking with exhibitors at the new Pure London and Pure Origin FashionShow at Olympia London.

I am walking my dog at silly o’clock in the morning near a beach somewhere in Devon and one of my neighbours passes by.

“I’m taking the train to London, to a Conference”, I say.

“You must be out of your mind”, he says.

This is the Monday 18th July, and I should have visited the Show yesterday, but yesterday was the hottest day of the year, and even the trains weren’t running, so no – let’s go today instead. And they have promised free drinks and food at the end of the day.

Today is even hotter. I am already sticky. This is the first day ever in the UK where we have a red danger warning. The train companies say we should only go “if our journey is absolutely essential! ”

What wimps. I remember my student days working in a textile factory in Prato Italy in the summer. God that was hot! No, London will be fine. The trains have airco.

The Pure London and Pure Origin Shows, combined, are having a makeover, a resurgence, after two years away. Billed as a Show with “Real Wow Factor, and everyone is very excited, it is the start of the buying season for retailers and their suppliers, new and old.

It is a pity about the weather. They do have airco on my long distance train, but it arrives 1 hour and 40 minutes late into London. The tube also is cool. But the bus from High Street Kensington is steamy and overcrowded. The 200 yard walk to the Show entrance is stifling.

The organisers have done their best; I already have my Invitation which included the Catwalk and the free cocktails and the two courses of canapés, and the girl at Reception insists she gives me a voucher for a free cold drink.

The 200 – or so Exhibitors are fabulous. There is an immediate splash of colours and long flowing garments.

But it is 14.00 and already, nobody is interested in having any conversation whatsoever. It is not insufferable, but it is just too much of a trouble for most of the exhibitors to get up and try to be excited. Only one Exhibitor that we talked to, had an Order pad on their knee.

Yet, hidden away, in plain sight, there were some jewels of excellence.

Best was The Wicher company, a two-sister Partnership, where Inez Wicher, the designer, proudly showed me the spectacular choice of dresses and styles. Her flowing dress pictured here is one of their favourite pieces. It is their first time at the Show, they are launching in the Uk from Poland.

“People said we are expensive”, she said, worryingly. I said no, “you should focus on perceived value’ – the actual cost is not important”.

Tasha at SuzyD London, was far more pragmatic. “We are already international and it has taken years from the ground up”. We talk about everything, including scary movies.

Salvador Wowenicki, owner of the Nosugar Clothing label from Poland, had brought his young daughter to front the Stand, as she was the designer of their range. Completely different from others, they had a range of sharp women’s suits.

Zoe at the Bl-nk Stand was deep in her paperwork but had a super range of long garments, and introduced me to her design team. She smiles at me and looks up. They had done this before, they knew their customers.

Ruben at Marie Mero was a little more hesitant. “We are not sure about this” he says. The stand is deserted. But his team are smiling, and it is not anybody’s fault. It is just hard work getting up the energy to have a meaningful conversation, and so many stands are just talking among themselves.

People gravitate towards the Catwalk at 17.00 – Suzanne Ellingham is already delivering a sharp and flowing small speech and video about their plans. It is all great stuff, convincing. We exchange cards.

But I am already tired. I take a glass of Prosecco – thanks – but I can’t face another 5 hours on a train for my return journey, so I skip the canapés and the live music. I snatch a pasty from the bakery shop at Paddington station and call my wife to say I should be home sometime after 23.00.

Will I go next year? Yes of course. This Show has tremendous potential. The trick is to link it to the Wimbledon Tennis, where, as we all know, it rains every year.

IS I.P THE GLUE THAT HOLDS COMPANIES TOGETHER?

As the need and acceptance back to 2019 levels, to meet and discuss things in person, grows with every company , we visit the latest IQPC Conference on IP Management; and as the delegates told me – it’s been a while.


The view from the 7th floor of the Brewery Conference Centre, as it looks out past Sodermalarstrand, to the famous City Hall and its Blue Room – is one of the best in Stockholm.

True, local cognoscenti, or “new money” – would probably prefer something more sedate and subtle, in Stureplan, politely rubbing shoulders with chi chi shops or private client offices around Biblioteksgatan. But if you are going to invite 140 of Europe’s top experts in Intellectual Property, to congregate face to face, and give their views – then you need to show that their views matter. Nowhere does it better than a standout view of the home Nobel Prize arena.

And matter, they do. With a tag lines and discussion sessions focussing on statements such as “Bringing the IP Portfolio to Life”. And the even more direct “Creating an IP Culture which pursues, protects and leverages IP as a Core Element of Business Strategy” – these are marketing driven perspectives that despite the legal nature of the subject matter – are already embedded in the commercial future of each company.

It is a message that, if you had arrived late on the opening day, even by just a few minutes, you could have missed. Maria Mellgren, IP Director at the Essity company – stood up at around 10.00am and delivered one of probably the top three reach – out discussions of our two days together, and what she said was two fold – that companies do not recognise the importance of brand protection as part of the IP function, that if you are acquisitional, there can be a struggle of management to see where each new brand can play its part.

Or. More important, which, of your portfolio of patents – will play their part. Sure, they are all good eggs – but which are the ones that will fly?
These are commercial discussions. Ingrid Vitanen, VP of Legals at Nokia, talked about “brand enforcement” – that this was a “work in progress”.
This was a Conference where even by lunchtime on the first day, it was clear that each delegate, each protagonist, wanted to play their part. There were no shortage of provocative views, despite the friendly ambience of the occasion . And whilst, for the first few minutes of Day One – there was a clear recognition that if you are going to focus on IP – then Sweden and Stockholm is the place to do it, and the relief of being able to get back together after all these months and years – people were here not to reminisce, but to say “ok – where is this all taking us”?

For the moment, as we moved into an after-lunch discussion – the Conference moved subtly away from Commercials and into the area of Risk. Several Patent Attorneys talked to us in the earlier break, about “financing risk management”. Heidi Adler, Director International Property Rights, at Orion Corporation, spoke for several minutes about “Risk Mitigation”. We are in the Nordics after all. We don’t immediately reach for our Lawyer.

And then there was the more philosophical question – “well, why do we have IP issues at all”? Are they not suffice gently regulated?

As the day progressed into Day Two, slowly this became a discussion about risk, and reward. And is the move towards open standards, ie, where everything fits and we can each benefit from the others developments or intellectual property – the term was FRAND was mentioned several times – and the notion that, as far as legal protection was concerned – there is no simple answer. We just have to pick our battles.

Ok – fair enough.

It took way into the Conference before Felora Mofidi, Global Head of Intellectual at DSX, voiced something that many of us had been thinking, but few had mentioned sufficiently – that, – if we believe in the value proposition commercially of our IP, then this demands a change of culture. Only 30% of delegates seemed to “get” this point, but it remained one of the standout moments, subtly thrown in to the mix of argument, but it represented the journey of IP from the purely legal patent management, to the realisation that corporate value depends on everyone getting on the same train, so to say.

It was a key moment, and fitted the direction of the Conference as a whole. As Day Two talked about “Capitalising on Future IP Opportunities “ – I quietly slipped away.. I had an evening meeting further north.

QUESTION; WHY IS THE PUB ON THE CORNER, THE CORNERSTONE OF LIFE IN GENERAL?

We review the revival of the Puccini opera “La Boheme”, at ENO in London just a few days ago,  and ask – is this a simple story, a view from a distance so to say, where you and I are looking on almost against our will, through some window  – or a classic love story, that has stood the test of time?

Perhaps it is both. 

I never thought during this performance, that I was in the grip of a serious romantic affair, as say I have been in Madame Butterfly, or Carmen. But I did feel that I was a voyeur, and unable to change any of the outcome.  I knew Mimi would die. And the facts are these:

If you are looking for an Opera that mirrors life in all its seediness and lack of hope – then the Puccini classic, “la Boheme” would not be a bad choice. Created just a few years after the Emile Zola equally classic novel “L’Assommoir” (the boozer…), if you want to get down and dirty amongst the very poor, well Paris in the late 19th century, is where it’s at.

The story is simple enough. Art for art’s sake does not pay the bills. Mimi, who by that time, is already freezing to death, finds love with Rodolfo – who then gets jealous, – and it doesn’t end happily ever after. It’s an opera, after all.

For once, the tension that we normally expect and associate with ENO production, did not readily surface until Act 3-  and yet all the classic ENO properties were there; very tight production, wonderful orchestra; great melodic delivery. For me, it took the arrival of Louise Alder, as Musetta, before things started to happen; her approach is almost Mozartian, very staccato and pin-point, it cuts through perhaps the saccharine lines of her colleagues.

And that’s unfair, because this production has stood the test of time. My graphic above shows the programme of La Boheme in 2010, and nothing has changed. 

This is an Opera and performance where you can take anybody who does not know about opera, but wants a classic music evening. Obviously, there is a new class of performers, if you like,  a new generation.  Ben Glassberg  excelled in the power of conducting the ENO orchestra. And there was great interplay, particularly Act1. If I was feeling distant in watching the story unfold, then it was also nice to be entertained, as opposed to be educated. 

The thing  is – the story, and its delivery, just works almost on autopilot. You sit back and let ENO deliver. And if there are questions, such as; “are Mimi and Rodolfo actually in love?” – well, could be….  And “why does Mimi have to die”? – well, that’s what happens, it’s the wrong part of  Paris at the end of the 19th century. It’s a story, and these are the facts.

IT’S HOLIDAY TIME – ON A BIG BOAT!

As gaps are starting to appear in the COVID stranglehold – we look at the background to getting back on the water, with a visit to the CRUISE SHIP INTERIORS EXPO in London Excel, – and what we can expect when we travel.


If you are going to have a Conference about Cruise Liners, then basing yourself by the side of the Thames, and just two tube stops down from the O2 Arena, is not a bad place to start. Adjacent also to City Airport, and equally close to Tower Bridge and some of the richest mooring spots in an already wealthy city financial area – it’s not hard to see why the organisers of this new Event, chose the Excel as their stopping off point.


They all had a party, the night before. If they say that every vertical market is like a small village – everybody knows everybody – then this was the ambience as you walk through the frankly deserted hallways of Excel until you come across Hall 3, and step inside the Trade Show area.


Perhaps the exhibitors and organisers, were expecting more? It didn’t help that just two days earlier, the UK went into a new series of COVID travel restrictions. More than one exhibitor confided that they had to fork out more than £100.00 on a sudden PCR test, that had not been made apparent before travel.


The chaotic travel scenario alas extended into the event itself. And this was a pity. Because CRUISE SHIP INTERIORS EXPO 21 – was actually rather good! There were some very, very inventive new products in the space-saving category, clever hospitality devices rubbed shoulders with travel agencies – and every Stand had at least one major decision-maker resident. Every conversation, was a productive experience.


I loved the Nautilus bedroom pod from Matalika; and the rather interesting invention from Icecooldesign, The nice lady at Franz Fertig showed me how to create a sofa-bed, without pretty much lifting a finger.


People come to Trade Fairs, to do business. There were far more European vendors, than British, and they had travelled there for a reason. There were more conversations in Italian – than English. Everybody was happy to have a chat.


The comparative lack of people created an intimacy – you could progress in a conversation beyond the usual “meet and greet”.


For that reason, although the Fair was not large in size, by comparison to others at Excel – this was a more worthwhile experience.


There was enough space not to need absolutely a mask, all the time. Just to be on the safe side, I put mine on, when re-emerging onto the Excel hallway. I think we are in for the long haul with COVID into 2022, but hopefully long gone by the time we all get back for the same event in 2022. I’ll be among friends.

CAN NEW ENERGY THINKING, SAVE THE WORLD?


We interview Paddy Young, Director of Enlit Europe in Milan this November 21, and ask – if Energy has had a bad press from Global Warming, who will listen to its voices now?

Paddy Young sits back, across the screen from me. He is wearing a blue sweater, very relaxed in what appears to be an office environment, the image is a mix of social cool but also business mode. We are all chilled now.

As the “bringer to the market” of the first major event for the energy industry since European Utility Week & Powergen Europe rebranded into Enlit Europe and COVID planning took over – this is a milestone, that, following on the footsteps of COP26, are we going to see big announcements, big differences?

“No – this is an energy transition event”, he says. The big misconception of you and I, say, is that we want everything all at once”. Paddy continues; “Big gestures, grand concepts, will not themselves be necessary. But what we are looking for, is targeted integration from old to new”.

It is a valid point. This Enlit new-brand of event, is bringing together a segregated group of specialists, ranging from start-ups, through to established voices, each given their “area” or “hub” so to say, to talk about, guide, and show, where an energy future can go.

It is a practical meeting point. And Paddy himself is no specialist. He is a realist, He delivers events in vertical markets, where he can make a difference. His background, from studying in Bucks in the UK, to a global journey of delivering for large corporates, including being the messenger for a global water crisis for so many countries, his remit is to bring to our attention those aspects that we have passed over, but need to change.

The difference, between now – and former years – Paddy explains, “is that we are now entering an age of consumer empowerment. You and I do not have to buy this energy brand or that one. The success of which energy process succeeds will depend on the brand and its ability to engage with its market.”
“People may well choose to pay a bit more” he continues, “if we can start to “love our energy company”.

The fact that people can now make choices, “is that we are all together on the same journey, instead of being a supplier and a reluctant consumer”.

Enlit Europe is spread over three days. It is enough time for people to meet and link with the partners of their choice. We have finished our 30 minutes together – but could have gone on for much longer. “Very stimulating discussion”, he says.