Sorry this is late everyone! I am going to whizz through it all this week, so you have the information, and attempt to be much better organized next time, so it's less speedy.
First, it was Philip Wilkinson, who wrote The High Street, an exploration of everything the title suggests. He was a very nice man, knowledgeable and friendly. Which is how, we decided, shopkeeping should be. Shops need to have a niche, or at least know what they're doing, and they should be nice to customers. Simple, yet hard, especially for the man who was on his mobile phone the whole time I was in his shop recently.
And then on to old favourites, E17 Designers. They're back! Well, they never went away, but they have been busy crafting away behind the scenes while I haven't been talking about them. The result will be the excellent E17 Designers Market, happening on 26th and 27th November.
Then the amusing corner Christmas tree from M&S came along and I devoted quite a bit of time to it, because I just can't work out whether I think it's brilliant or terrible to have such a trick of optical illusion at Christmas time.
But it's not just any trick, it's a Marks and Spencer trick. I'm out of the debate, really, because I will only have real trees (I grew up in a forest, artificial will never entice me), but hypothetically, would I go for the pretendy half a one, to make the corners easier? I probably would. All the spare decorations could then be fashioned into some kind of hip maxi-decoration that would show how creative I really am. As it is, I just hope that last year's debacle isn't repeated: as I discussed with Robert, the tree I brought home almost immediately became a dark pastiche of its cheery purpose, branches drooping, decorations hanging by a thread off a bare branch pointing floor-ward. Tim Burton's type of set dressing.
Keeping with the Christmas theme, charity cards were next on my list. It seems that not all high street 'charity' cards are necessarily what you might think. In fact, it's possible that only 1% goes to charity - and, as the Charities Advisory Trust says, you wouldn't be allowed to call something a meat pie if there was only 1% of meat in it. Read their SCROOGE AWARDS report to find out which high street stores to avoid this year. You can be guaranteed, though, that if you buy Christmas cards from Card Aid, all profits will go to charity. Buy online, or go to one of 30 temporary shops across London. I got mine from an ad-hoc stall in the BFI foyer (check here for other locations). They sell cards given to them by lots of different charities. Here's one pack I bought:
...an extremely unsatisfactory image, thanks to me, because I can't work out how to turn it around. I will endeavour to, but in the meantime, you can see how lovely it is. £4.50 for 10, and all profits to deafness research uk.
Then there was Outline Editions, the place to find excellent graphic artists and illustrators. It is, as usual, online, but there's a temporary gallery at 94 Berwick Street until 31st January, where you can go to see the Into The Forest show in person.
I risk sounding pretentious saying this but I probably am: it's a nice space.
Finally, I told everyone to go to Bust Craftacular, where you'll find the handmade revolution is still going strong.
On Sunday 28th November, from 12-6pm, at York Hall (5-15 Old Ford Road, E2), 70 stalls will be laden with things to buy, made by the people serving you. Which is a nice circular way to finish, given that we started talking about the Victorians who were really into all that hard work ethic.
And that was the show! It was fun.
Keep in touch - I never get a comment, but I like to say that as a sign off, so it's staying.