1. Simon Harrison jewelry designer extraordinaire and Karen Jones publisher of the powerful online magazine CityWealth
2. With Mayor Boris Johnson at a conservative lunch where he had everyone laughing with his splendid speach
3. Dr Alan Meddoza, Gisela Stuart MP and George Grant at the House of Lords cocktail party hosted by the 'Henry Jackson Society"
4. Motcombs street party - see if you can recognize anyone in the group
5. Lyndon York and Hanna Morton at the Eccentric Club party held in Mayfair The club was founded as a society of original thinkers founded in the 1800's and has recently been re-launched.
6. Myself, Sally Farmiloe and Tricia Walsh Smith waiting to see if Sally's book was chosen at the book awards.
I have been looking through my photos and reminiscing over the summer and some of the splendid parties I attended so I have included them in the photographs above. I have to say that working with this magazine and all the invites I receive has made my social life very lively.
Simon Harrison launched his first collection at his spacious multi story new offices near St Paul's at 54-58 Bartholomew Close. This is where they design, make and display their beautiful jewelry. Simon's designs for such fashion designers as Vivienne Westwood, Ted Baker and many others. A choice of pink and white Champagne flowed throughout the evening and we were able to try on the wonderful jewelry. One lovely piece was on the front page of the FT "How to Spend It" magazine and a wonderful necklace I tried on was worn by Posh as a Tiara and featured on the front page of 'Hello 'magazine. Interesting people milled about including Bafta award-winning film producer Simon Elliot, whose latest film was Nancy McGee with Emma Thompson. Andrew Logan's sister was also there. Andrew is known for his Alternative Miss World competition. The goody bags at the end of the evening where splendid. There was a lovely ring and necklace that was adorable.
Cocktails at the Commons
I could not resist an invitation from P.R. Valerie Blondeau to join her at a cocktail party at the House of Commons hosted by "The Henry Jackson Society" for MP's to celebrate the start of their summer break, which is considerably shorter this year owing to the new coalition government. The Henry Jackson Society is a wonderful organization whose focus, amongst other things, is the pursuit of a robust foreign policy. Go to the website to learn more.
There were many familiar faces enjoying this special evening, including David Trimble and Gisela Stewart, newly elected MP for Birmingham (see photo). I also met Eric Pickles. He was just as you'd expect – no surprise there. The guest speaker was the German ambassador to the UK who gave a witty and informative speech. It was a busy night at the House of Commons with three cocktail parties at the same time and everyone mingling from all political parties. When you see the amazing historical surrounds of Westminster, we can only hope the new government will do this institution proud.
It has been a strange year for many of us, a year that is fashionable to say "I am cutting down". A year to tighten our belts, a year where most people have been looking at their expenses and checking where they can save. Even Posh and Becks have made major cuts in their lifestyle by seriously cutting down on their staff and residences.
When I went through my accounts I was horrified to notice that one of my credit cards was charging 20.09% interest rate. I had just seen a programme on the TV - an old police drama in the 70's - and one of the loan sharks was charging 20% interest. The detective was shocked at such a high percentage rate and said it was criminal!!! And it sure is. I am now paying them off speedily and using my debit cards only. I know most of my friends are doing the same and I do believe that in two years the credit card companies will be begging us back with an otherwise normal rate of 5% interest. They seem to have forgotten that the masses can make or break them. A similar thing happened with the banks in the 80's. They called in people's loans without warning and good people and secure businesses went bankrupt. It was only a few years later that the banks had to practically beg masses of people to come back with cuts in interest and free banking.
Deformities and Gigantism - The Future?
It looks like the food producers that are creating the 'frankenfarm' food have room to celebrate and have finally won their battle. The contracts must be huge to so it really isn't too much of a surprise to find out that the FSA board - who are made up from a collection of food industry, scientific and consumer representatives - rejected the idea of setting up a regime to identify and trace clone farm animals and their offspring. Our so called protectors have taken away the peoples' right to know what they are eating. Since clone food now seems to be in the shops in the UK as they cannot control it we may not just become fat but degformed. The problem is it cannot be tested for how it will affect us in the future because it has just come into the shops. However, when we start seeing deformities and gigantism in the future population it will be far too late.
As if cloning isn't enough, 'New Scientist' magazine had a report about genetically-modified fish. The bad news is they have already been developed in a secret laboratory in Panama that could be the set of a James Bond film with its barred windows and motion detectors. AquaBounty Technologies are the producers and they are expecting to have it on our plates very soon in fact just just waiting for FDA approval. These fish grow to be twice the size and if they find their way into our oceans, like many farmed fish, then we may no longer have natural fish to choose from just tampered with food. That and a recent report that is predicting our meat will be grown in large vats by 2050 it is all very scary. So enjoy organic food while you can because it may not be long before you will have no REAL food available to buy.
Healthy Free Accommodation
An alternative to unhealthy eating, with free accommodation, is now available. Just surf the web and check out these ways to find free accommodation around the world due to a variety of social networking. This practice is called WWOOFing. One rather interesting site, founded in 1971, that caught my eye was one where you work on an organic farm in return for board and food. You also learn about organic farming. One of the volunteers says that organic food is the one sustainable path forward whilst another says that food is such a basic thing that she doesn't think we should let anyone else be in charge of our food. And seeing what the producers are doing with our food now she is absolutely right. So if you want to get away and have the added advantage of getting healthy, check this site out and it's well worth watching their presentation video www.wwo of.org
Servas is another site but rather for cultural exchange. Established in 1948, and they like to call themselves an international community of friends working together on a volunteer basis to create a climate of mutual understanding and tolerance. They were originally called "Peacebuilders," and have an impressive 15,000 plus homes and institutions in more than 125 countries on six continents. They say that their members believe that by meeting new people in our own homes and sharing our everyday lives with them, individuals have the power to build the necessary foundations for world peace. www.usservas.org
Free Couches is also catching on and CouchSurfing, which began in 2004 offers couches worldwide. They prefer to consider themselves as more of a social movement and their goal is to enable people to have adventures and develop friendships says its founder Daniel Hoffer.
It is an international non-profit network that connects travellers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Since 2004, members have been using this system to come together for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. Today, over a million people who might otherwise never meet are able to share hospitality and cultural understanding.
Their mission is to create inspiring experiences: cross-cultural encounters that are fun, engaging, and illuminating. These experiences take many forms. CouchSurfing's initial focus was on hosting and "surfing" (staying with a local as a guest in their home. Their vision is a world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter. www.couchsurfing.org
A Final Word
And last but not least, did you know that the internet is rewiring our brains and making it impossible to concentrate anymore, according to a new book 'How the Internet is Changing the Way we Think, Read, and Remember" by Nicholas Carr. A couple of years ago he wrote an article entitled "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" showing the negative side of the internet and he was talking about his lack of concentration, how he can only concentrate on anything for a few moments at a time and he found that many of his friends had stopped reading books altogether. Children have shorter attention spans and find it difficult to concentrate for more than a short period of time. Just a small warning to watch for the future.
I have all my books selling on the iphone now so just type in my name and I have around 12 to choose from ranging from 'Hypnotize your Bank Manager' to my 5 books both in print and audio form. Adding more each week.
Eds Note: VALERIE AUSTIN is an author of six successful self-help books including SELF HYPNOSIS (Thorsons), journalist and trainer with an international reputation in the field of hypnosis. Her best-selling books and training help people achieve their full potential. She founded the Austin Corporate Stress Management Company focusing on reducing stress and anxiety amongst executives and CEO's. She is also founder of UKRAH (1992) The UK Register of Advanced Hypnotherapy. Valerie has also worked as a consultant in hypnosis at the Priory Hospital, the UK's equivalent to The Betty Ford Clinic, which specialises in food addiction and alcohol abuse. Her work in the film industry (Hollywood) interviewing movers and shakers, producing TV news segments and publishing celebrity magazines in London gave her invaluable experience for her current Harley Street practice.