‘EARTH has not anything to show more fair;Dull would he be of soul who could pass byA sight so touching in its majesty….’Wordsworth’s lines come in to my mind every morning now as I round the corner from the tube towards our new office in St Thomas Street and see the Shard looming ahead of me. On my way, I also pass the house where John Keats, ‘poet and apothecary’, lived while studying at Guy’s 100 yards beyond the office.Poetry aside, our new offices are fabulous and will offer lots of new opportunities for us to work closely with all the other Four practices. Do come and see us if you’re in the London Bridge area.A major focus for us in the last month has been the Man Booker International prize. You may remember that we celebrated the announcement of the ten finalists – writers from all over the world – at the Jaipur Literature Festival in January. For the first time in the history of the prize, the finalists for the award gathered in London for the winner announcement ceremony.First of all, they took part in a well-attended public event chaired by Jim Naughtie as the launch event for the 2013 London Literature Festival. The awards ceremony took place two nights later at a glittering dinner at the V&A where Lydia Davis seemed to be astonished to be named the winner. A high point for me was witnessing the reunion of the Indian writer, U R Ananthamurthy, and the Pakistani author, Intizar Husain, who greeted each other like old friends after years of separation.
A former winner of the annual Man Booker Prize, Howard Jacobson, had been announced as the winner of the 2013 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction two weeks earlier. Over and above the jeroboam of Bollinger, Howard also won the honour of having a pig named after the winning book. As he joked ‘I am only sorry my pig has to be called Zoo Time. It feels a bit tactless. But it could have been worse. It could have been Bring up the Bodies’.The pig presentation was made to Howard at the Hay Festival. Truda Spruyt was there representing Four Colman Getty for the week and had a busy time with various Man Booker International finalists’ events as well as with a number of Unbound author events. For once she was able to leave her wellingtons in the wardrobe for most of the week since, while the sun wasn’t beaming down, Hay was not its usual mud bath.We have worked with RHS for a number of years and this month’s Chelsea Flower Show in the charity’s centenary year was a great success. Coverage this year was, if possible, greater than ever. I was particularly interested in seeing the B&Q Sentebale ‘Forget-me-not’ garden. Sentebale means Forget-me-not in Sesotho (the language of Lesotho) and is a children’s charity founded by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho.The garden, designed by Jinny Blom, was a riot of pale blue flowers and undoubtedly helped raise awareness of the charity, whose role is supporting Lesotho’s most needy and vulnerable children, many of whom are victims of extreme poverty and Lesotho’s HIV/AIDs epidemic. The show is one of the highlights of my year and I’m now looking forward to the next RHS big shows at Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Park in July where we are once again working on the publicity.Next week sees the launch of a fascinating and rather unusual book, Nick Wise’s Celebrity Vineyards. I was surprised to learn that lots of well-known people, from actors and musicians to artists and sports figures, are buying vineyards and embracing wine-making as a second career. Nick Wise has travelled from the hills of Napa to the mountain slopes of Piedmont seeking out these ‘celebrity turned winemakers’ including Francis Ford Coppola, Dan Aykroyd and Antonio Banderas for his book. It’s a wonderful combination of wine, celebrity and travel - and a fascinating read to boot.It may be a year since Olympic fever was rocking the UK but the legacy does continue. We’ve been working with Legacy Trust UK, the funders of over 100 projects in communities across the UK during the Cultural Olympiad. They organised a RSA debate, with a panel hosted by Olympian Jonathan Edwards and including Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson. The purpose was to launch the findings of a major piece of research amongst young people on their experiences of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and what they hoped for the future.Another survey which attracted masses of comment and coverage this month was the research conducted by our client, ILM (Institute of Leadership & Management), into office bugbears. The results seem to have struck a chord with disgruntled workers nationwide offloading their personal pet peeve. ITV1’s Daybreak kicked things off with their own viewer phone-in but it was a BBC Breakfast viewer, fuming about a colleague who brings their taxidermy mouse to work, who won the prize for weirdest office irritation. Fortunately ILM’s chief executive Charles Elvin was on the sofa to talk about the importance of keeping the peace and offer advice for achieving workplace harmony. The survey certainly got the Four Colman Getty chatter going too!Finally, our congratulations to long term client Foyles who have won the National Bookseller of the Year award for the second year running. As the judges commented ‘when you think of what a really excellent bookshop should be, you think of Foyles.’ I couldn’t agree more!More next month.All best,Dotti