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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Hello Evie Mae...

All my life I've loved words but sometimes - just sometimes - no words are necessary.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


  It's official! Former artist and ballet dance Pamela Synge is the first of the famous 'Aero Girls' to be found, and she still has the earrings to prove it..

Pamela Synge featured in The Times

Pictured in The Times today, 93-year-old Mrs Synge looked just a glamorous as she did more than fifty years ago, wearing the same hooped earrings as she did in the original sitting. Hers was one of  a series of  portraits commissioned by Rowntrees, now Nestle, as part of a post-war advertising campaign to encourage more  women to eat chocolate. Back then she was a 'young artist, fresh from a painting trip to Venice,' completely unphased by her fame.  And, it seems, nothing has changed.

 In the living room of her home in Belgravia, London, where the sister painting to the original still hangs, Mrs Synge  appears immune to all the fuss.

Not so Kerstin Doble who, along with Francesca Taylor is leading the research project into the portraits at the Borthwick Institute for archives in York. 'The fact that she is also an artist and owns the sister painting a great twist in our quest to unravel the Aero Girls' mystery,'  says Kerstin.

Though these wonderful portraits lined the walls of the company's offices for many years, no records were kept of the women. I wonder who will be next to come forward?

Meanwhile, ageless octogenarian Yoko Ono  was also featured  in times2 yesterday, admitting to being a 'control freak.' This didn't capture my attention so much as the heartache  John Lennon's widow suffered before she married one of the most famous singer/songwriters in the world. Yoko has a daughter, Kyoko, from her marriage in the early sixties to American art promoter Tony Cox.  The couple split when Yoko met John and so Tony vanished, taking the eight-year-old Kyoko with him. It was twenty years before they  would see each other again.

Mother and Daughterwere finally reunited  in 1994 when Kyoko, who is now 31 and has two children of her own, finally got in touch. That, surely, is the real story?


Wednesday, 16 October 2013


Were you an Aero girl? This is the tantalising question being posed by one of the world's most famous confectioners and yes - they could be looking for you!

Who were the Aero Girls?
Photograph courtesy of Visit York

According to archives of Rowntrees, who were taken over by Nestle in 1988, several  sitters were commissioned for oil paintings featured in the company's advertisements for Aero between 1951 and 1957. Chocolate, it seems, was still a luxury at that time and the manufacturers wanted to appeal to a broader range of customers.

These wonderful portraits lined the walls of the Rowntrees offices for many years though,  amazingly,  no records were kept of these women. Now  Alex Hutchinson, archive curator at Nestle, is trying to discover who they were.  As most of them will now be in their eighties he's understandably eager to make contact now before it is too late. Think what a wonderful story these women would have to tell, particularly about the social etiquette of a time that is already firmly sealed in history.

Aero first went on sale in 1935, ceasing production during the war, becoming extremely popular again when sweet rationing ceased.  And I was one of its biggest fans!As a child in the sixties I remember thinking someone must have spent a great deal of time adding all those bubbles...

This week, until October 20 York is staging The Chocolate Girls - an exhibition of original art work and advertising material used in Terry's and Rowntrees campaigns between 1950 and 1980.

Apparently the display focuses on the link between women and chocolate....Now that's something that really hasn't changed at all.

If you want to know more go to and find out about the many chocolate events going on in the city right now.


Thursday, 10 October 2013


Journalists around the country smiled a few years ago when Prince Charles asked them why they didn't print good news. One enterprising national newspaper printed a whole front page of  riveting reports including how many millions of people got to work on time, how many trains weren't delayed and  the flu epidemic that wasn't expected that winter.

Everyone - including Prince Charles apparently - admitted it didn't make very good reading.  Now comes the revelation that  the Government's  attempts to regulate Britain's much lauded free press have failed . The sad  fact is that the newspaper industry's own proposals for a system of self-regulation have been rejected.

Under the proposed plan the independent regulator would have had a right to impose heavy fines on newspapers, as well as insisting on the correction of mistakes and inaccuracies.  Instead, our three political parties are going to make a final decision about the Royal Charter which will be imposed on the industry, with or without their agreement.

Even Lord Justice Leveson himself has admitted that Parliamentary involvement might be perceived as Government interference.

Every one of us in business, as employees or employers, has been guilty of making a mistake. But we don't let it stop us doing what we think is right. We live in a free country where, thankfully, we can choose whatever we want to read. So please, please,  don't take away the freedom of the press.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


I met Jilly Cooper when I was 18. I had just started as a trainee reporter on my local weekly newspaper and she was a highly successful columnist on the Sunday Times.
      'Where do you work?' she enquired politely, before the talk she gave to a roomful of captivated women.
      'The Express' I mumbled.
      'The Daily Express?' she asked.
      'The Lytham St Annes Express,' I managed with as much confidence as I could muster.
       It's a moment I've never forgotten.
       During that speech Jilly made a confession that has also stayed in my mind: she always looked through people’s airing cupboards when she visited the bathroom, to see what the family were really like. Excellent research for a writer, of course, but I've often wondered how she got away with it!
        Jilly has written so many best selling novels - with titles like Riders, Rivals and Polo - that even she must have trouble remembering them all. Now in her seventies the author has announced  she plans to keep on writing blockbusters for as long as she can. The reason? To pay for round-the-clock care for her publisher husband, Leo, who has Parkinson's Disease. Jilly herself has had a minor stroke, but nothing it seems, can stop her writing. And all I can say is – good for her. She’s been through some difficult times, not least when Leo had a much publicised affair with another woman, but she has always held her head up high and got on with life.
        Her only concession to her age is that her latest novel is ‘not as racy as the others.’  It does, she says, get harder to write erotic scenes in old age!
I don't believe it for a minute. As far as I'm concerned Jilly Cooper will never grow old..