Why Monty’s my firm favourite this Christmas


It’s happened to us again!

We’ve only just changed the clocks, seen Halloween through, dug out our big coats and dusted off our winter boots, yet when we switch on our TVs, Christmas has arrived!!

Yes, that’s right, the retailers have once again gone into war with their festive adverts, with John Lewis (I believe) being the first to unveil their seasonal TV offering.

I don’t know if it’s because it’s the first Christmas advert I saw, but for me, John Lewis’ has got to be the pick of the bunch this year.

It may not be majorly festive, but what it is about this year’s John Lewis ad that generated almost 50,000 Tweets in the first three hours of it being aired and got #montythepenguin trending within 90 minutes of the advert release?

For me, it’s a combination of things that make it so powerful. From the distinctive voice of Tom Odell covering John Lennon’s Real Love, to the universal appeal of penguins, all underpinned by the compelling story of cute little boy, Sam, and his buddy, Monty. And it’s all topped off with a magical twist at the end of the tale, how much better can it get than that?

You can’t help but want to see how the story pans out. Even though I now know how it’s going to end, my heart still yearns for Monty to find a partner every time I watch it. But how’s that right? He’s only a penguin?!

Whether you’re young or old, this advert really does tug at the heartstrings. The amount of sheer emotion and imagination captured in this two-minute tear-jerker makes it an absolute heart-warmer of an advert to watch from start to finish. And from a merchandising perspective, I can see plush Montys and Mabels giving those ever-popular Meerkats a good run for their money plus, there’s plenty of mileage to give us a part two to the story next Christmas. Monty and Mabel with a little family of their own perhaps?

I just wish I’d known to get my tissues at the ready the first time I watched it. One thing’s for sure, I’ll certainly be prepared next year!


Tower of London poppies: Why simple is effective


By tomorrow (November 12), nearly four million people are expected to have visited the Tower of London in recent weeks.

That’s a fair few more than would normally flock to see the London landmark.

If you’ve failed to see the news articles or spot the pictures that have been increasingly popping up on the internet and social media in recent days, it’s all down to this year’s marking of the centenary of the start of World Word One.

And how it’s been marked may be simple, but the end result is absolutely stunning and highly effective.

A sea of ceramic poppies has been ‘planted’ in the Tower of London’s moat. The first flower appeared back in July and the final one will be added on November 11, which is incredibly poignant. By then, the moat will have been filled with a staggering 888,246 poppies, each one representing a British or colonial death during the conflict, even more thought-provoking and highly-emotive.

This is a prime example of how such a simple idea can be highly effective. Paul Cummins’ Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red has clearly succeeded in its mission to promote the importance of the 100th anniversary of the war in a move that’s captivated people of all ages.

Creative genius at it’s absolute best.

Poppy or no poppy? Is there a right decision?


Oh dear, it would appear former pop star Jamelia is back in the headlines again. This time it’s not for her music, but her decision to not wear a poppy on daytime TV.

No big deal right?


Unfortunately for Jamelia, who’s reportedly made a donation to the RBL instead and plans to wear a poppy on Armistice Day – it’s caused a major storm on good old Twitter.

But Jamelia’s not alone in her non-poppy wearing ways. Janet Street Porter has also publically defended her decision not to sport a poppy. And let’s not forget good old Jon Snow who caused a stir for doing the same as Janet and Jamelia back in 2010.

But what’s the right decision? It’s a tough one to call, especially when stars have made a donation and ‘normal’ members of the public are ‘guilty’ of doing the same thing yet aren’t criticised for it because they’re not in the public spotlight.

It’s an interesting subject that I’ve no doubt will continue to erupt over the years as poppy-less celebs are spotted out and about.