Wednesday, September 30, 2009


This is Philip, Area Contest Chairman, last Saturday.

It was only a few days ago, and it seems so far away now!

But the next day, after the contest and the 25 pictures I published from it - also only from the video taken by my son, 5000 people come to visit my images on flickr that day: I can not even envision them or understand. I did publish now, the whole video of my speech in the Area contest on (Julie70).

There are many unexplained things that happen on the web, for me at least, difficult to understand.

discussion at pause
Yesterday, Dorothea, put my picture and mentioned my name, in the LondonSpeakers blog, as one who went to the Contest event. She is everywhere representing the London Toastmasters: helpful, always there in need and so modest at the same time!

Yesterday, also, I made my "persuasive speech" which is the number 9 in the Competent Toastmasters Manual, trying to persuade those present (we were not so many as I would have hoped) that telling a Story in a Speech is very important, and in general, in our life too.

After some arguments "logical?" examples of those whom life were changed or changed life using personal story in their speech, and the impact of them, and an exemple taken from the Toastmasters Magazine, (all 10 speeches can be personal stories! or contain them) - I told, of course, a story.

A personal story, about a Turning Point in my life.

A story in a story, too about the beginning of my father career as seller, when he begun to introduce, going from "pharmacy to pharmacy" the Hudnut cosmetics into Romania, about a hundred years ago.

I was not totally understood.

Was it because I did "fumble" a few times, or because here it is called "Chemist" not "pharmacy"? I knew it, but I forgot at the moment to change from one to the other, to adapt it to British listeners. Of course, my accent is not the best either, also my voice was strong and distinct: I have the podcast and will publish it here, with all the mistakes I made while telling.

When I prepared it, I have given a best ending, but I run out of time. My story in story was too long, relative to the time I had, even so I run a but more then seven and half minutes.

My evaluator said "but I was convinced of importance of story before" so what? Some did begin to study Storrytelling because last time I recommended it, this time my speech gave more impact to it, only the time will tell how much.

The time is not important with a story.

My story was about a story my father told me when I was 14, helping me when I was 44 and in need of reinforcement. I remembered what he told me and it gave me idea and courage for what I had to do. (My first speech in French, my PhD thesis before public in Paris).

What I did not have time to explain, but I can do it here, it is that I just realised yesterday morning, while retelling my speech and recording it, before I told it in public that five years later, when I came back from America and again, was without work, then founded a company on a similar box, containing not cosmetics but micro computer adds-ons, again from America, and as I was going, like my father, from store to store to offer it, sell it, introduce it, I remembered ALL the stories my father told me one at a time, about how he did, in his beginnings.

My father has just died a few month before, and I told myself "his spirit of businessman" entered me, and so I become from Researcher Paid by others, Distributor, Business woman. Only yesterday morning, did I realise, that there were his stories, which I did not consciously remembered, that helped me, then.

Storytelling, not only can be a gift to others, it can bring better understanding of our own lives!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Corporate Challenge Grand Final

At St Mary le Bow, near the Bank Station, yesterday night, I assisted to the Public speaking challenge 2009 final, ten very different interesting and well delivered speeches on the same subject:

Recession, the light at the end of the tunnel

It was really stupefying to hear so much different can be ten 6 minute speeches on the same given theme!

I was also happy to see, that some of those who organized it, as some of those who assisted to it, I knew already or they did knew me from other conferences and speeches!

I did not felt lost and alone!

I specially enjoyed the conference of the winner, Paul Carroll, who begun with what Marx got wrong, and ended, speaking about how private initiative works so well in the capitalist, democratic system.

I'll try to put here one or two speeche fragments and/or links to fragments of them, to give a "taste".

And today, it is me, who speaks again, too, at the Meridien Club, about the importance of Personal Storytelling in a Speech and in human contact with the audience.

For the moment, a slide show of some images I took there (my camera is not good enough in bad light conditions, as in that church, but some, I do like)

Monday, September 28, 2009

End of the Humorous speech at Toastmasters

This is NOT the middle, but the end... I'll have yet to rework a bit the middle

Video by my son, and making it was not my important goal, so I did not turn a lot towards him...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Toastmasters Area Contest short video

Here is a two minute video of the beginning of my humorous speech recorded by my son. I won : experience, and a diploma of attendance. And, I think, some friends which is wonderful!

This morning, I woke up, thinking it over and mostly not about what I did, but what I left out. Unhappily, I left out some people that I mentioned in my first speech, the same but modified for the occasion. In the initial speech I did speak a lot more about the club members and the speeches they gave before me (I was the last to speak then) and this time I wanted to include the more clubs present.

That was done well and impressed those from other clubs, but I fear alienated those from my own club I did represent in this occasion. This is my regret more then not having won this time, I did not expect to win anyway. But I was also more stressed and less letting go then in the club, and perhaps did not look either far enough to people at the back of the room.

So, mostly not what I have done wrong, but what I did not do. Good lesson, again. "Dare to fail" and learn from it, then you did not fail, just learned from it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I received two new books yesterday.

One is 'Made to Stick' by the Heath brothers. They study and explain what makes something, stick in our mind. Why do we remember one story, one parable, one advertisement, and not the others.

I am just at the beginning, but already I feel it was a worthwhile book to buy. Of course, the points seem easy, to do it is less, but already knowing can help. And again, "tell a story" is between them.

The second book was written about the time I was born, more then seventy years ago, and it is still modern and actual. "If you want to write" by Brenda Ueland, is not only about writing, but other creative endeavours. We all have it in us, and we all should give it room and work on it, not let it kill by fear, critic, insufficient self confidence, either by judging it by money or fame it produces.

"Even if not a page gets published, do not stop." Of course, it is easy to speak about Van Gogh, whose life I would not have wanted to live, whose example inspired me yes, but what good made him the millions now his painting are worth, when he died so poor and in an asylum? It is a good example for not giving up, not giving so much importance to outside critic, inside doubts, trying our best, keep trying. But not of the life we lead at the same time.

It is a book that will inspire me to other speeches, give new ideas to express some of mine's. Yes, we are all unique and we all have something special to tell, weather by writing, painting, speaking, or gardening. We all grow, understand better, by doing them, going deep, daring.

Dare to fail - the title of my speech today, at the Area contest in Lewisham's Speaker's club humorous contest, did begin not as a humorous tale. I wanted to remember and revise for others all my "Competent Toastmaster" Manual speeches, one by one, and what I did wrong each time. And of course, make understood, without telling explicitly, then doing it, daring, I learned and changed to better speaker.

Next week the 9th speech, then in October, the 10th. After that, I can do any from the Advanced manuals. I have already a few in view, one about the Iron Courtain, but I do not see when and how can I speak about that. Also, now is the time: the 20th anniversary the Eastern Block stumbled down. It is important to remember the Wall and what it stand for, the Iron Curtain, and how real alas the metaphor was.

Some ideas and realities are worth learning to speak, to tell them better.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Safe or sorry?

Safe of sorry, that was the question yesterday, at the Topics Contest of Croydon Communicators Toastmasters.

I loved this topic!

Most, answered "Sorry" and linked it to having fun.

I would tell, that playing it safe is our instinct, but it does not make us happy to play it too safe!

Safe or sorry, that is (NOT) the question!

Even if at the end, I was sorry, I did not regret the things I dared to go into. They gave me satisfaction al least, happiness often, even if it was only for some time. I do not regret any of my loves. I would not have wanted to have missed them!

Of course, going to USA 33 years ago was not "safe" either, and coming to London, at age 74, changing language again, not only city and place, was not a "safe" choice either.

I am very happy I did!

Just hope, it will be very long time (if not never) that I become "sorry" if ever. I had lot of up and down in my life, at least, it was interesting. At least I did live instead of vegetating!

I had good contact at Croydon Communicators meeting yesterday, took lots of pictures too, they even thanked me! Alas, they could have been better. My flash do not reach far enough!

But this picture was taken after the meeting, from near. I love them! How wonderful ladies!
The spirit of Toastmasters
This image I entitles "the spirit of Toastmasters."

A participant who is learning to fly, applause, diploma of participation: he dared and did his best telling us funny stories! Yes, he has still to learn to use more his body (also he did use it) and his voice too (also I did understood all he told and I was at the back.) Did he win or not? By participating, he already won.

He dared, he did not play it "safe"!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Meridian Speakers Humorous Contest

And the Winner is:
the president of our club, Steve Archer with a funny speech about how he hates the hesitant ones on the queue in the supermarket, or the bad sellers on a shoe shop, how he does not mind.

Also, he imitated it so well, the seller in the Greenwich market "come sweet, I'll give you more, and..." I still hear him telling it.

Dave Longley was a great and funny Contest Chair (in all the images).

Matt Collins, our Vice president of Education, got the second prize, with a Tall Story about James Bond coming to live in his house, to share the price.

Great storytelling skills!

Meridian Speakers Humorous Contest (18)

After the break, we had the Table Topics contest, and I won, between eight others, the second prize, but in fact we all won: we did go out, we dared, we were there: so she won too.
Meridian Speakers Contest (16)

David Thomson won the first prize, he was the one that in March asked "who is ready to go to another club and give his or her Ice-breaker, so 5 evaluators could speak about it in the Evaluator's contest?" I do! I did.
Meridian Speakers Contest
That is how I begun my "Toastmasters career in London. Thanks to him.

That was Tuesday.

Today, I am going to another contest just to lend hand, keep the time. Every time, I do remember how afraid I got, that first time, when I show my time was up and I was not yet finished with my text!

Saturday, I'll have to speak again, along (and not against) all the others who won their club's 1st prize recently. We'll be six. Being there is for me already "winning" and not "failing", but also, this night, I got lots of new ideas how I can use the same speech, just a little changed for other occasions.

I feel, it is also a persuasive speech, an inspiring speech, not only a funny one. So, I'll try to give it a few times, with different occasions and in different environments. Each time, adapted to the occasion.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

See differently

We went together to visit a farm near the Thames IN LONDON, not far from the Canary Wharf, in the Isle of Dogs.

I become to rain.

A cow continued to graze quietly, as all of us surrounded it, admired, photographed, under umbrellas.

The cow was less interesting to me then the people and their interaction to it.

Looking, seeing differently is important. That is why yesterday, I got the second prize on Table Topics contest at the Meridiam Speakers Toastmasters. But mostly, each of us are unique, and feel, see differently. I did not see any other's picture taken there, but for sure they are not like mine's, because we see through our own viewpoints.

I have so many images that I could work some more, and take out more of it! I should do it, instead of going all the time farther and farther, taking yet another one!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On Storytelling

Once I understood how important Storytelling is, and mostly "Non Fictional" based on personal experience or those we know, in different settings, whether family, work or politics, in general in Public speaking also, I begun to study it.

The first book I found about it, The Power of Personal Storytelling by Jack Maguire, told me why they are so important, then how to find them, and mostly how to learn them. I am still reading it again, as just reading it once was not enough, even if I learned how to remember and not read.

The second book was The Story Factor, by Annette Simons, who tells about her experience in introducing Storytelling Techniques in Corporate settings, and different strategies to use it to influence and persuade. How to and how not to.

The third book was Improving your Storytelling, by Doug Lipman, a storyteller, himself, whose life is to learn better to tell them, and gives an impressive glimpse of how to do it better, once one decides to do it, how we can improve each time on the last and how much important is to incorporate the needs of "this" audience into the telling.

The forth, I just got yesterday, is The Leader's guide to Storytelling, Mastering the Art and discipline of Business narrative, by Stphen Denning. I was almost repelled by it when I got it. Do I need this? Yes, I did. I do. Also I am only at the beginning, I already learned a lot of the deep reasons of different stories, and why we should use this or that in different circumstances and goals. But also understood more about the reason of the "flat" story in a popular tale or parable of bible. The reader, listener can then better put herself (himself) into it and identify with it.

So each book adds some to the edifice of my understanding of good storytelling. Good meaning appropriate to the goal and the occasion, to each of us and the audience.

So much to ponder, and then, because storytelling cannot be learned otherwise, to practice. Creating, modifying and delivering them, again and again.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bournemouth, again

I am still living there, using the images to remember Saturday, and my notes to bring back all I have learned at the interesting conference organized by Brian Jenner.

This lady, first told me "No, do not take a photo of me" and this is the photo when you can see it telling me, also I like it better then the next one I took of her, after she explained me where to walk on the seaside, and about the white cliffs hidden in mist that morning. After we spoke, she consented to have her image taken, but I was this time the one confused and the portrait came out blurred.

Surprise, can be good or can give bad images too, or bad speeches. One has to be prepared, but most of all have self confidence, with both.

I was stunned to hear the MP's have to give Maiden Speeches. Maiden! And that first time they speak, no one interrupts them, told us Tobias Ellwood, MP from Bournemouth East. He also explained me, when they address, later their colleagues, interrupting me, so unlike for me then in the French Parlement, they do so addressing the Speaker, not the MP they are interrupting.

He also told us how important (as me too) finds the Pause, and how much better is to speak without notes. And a very funny personal story about someone walking left and right having stuck small notes all over on the benches behind which he walked. How important a memorable on line can be. And so much more!

He finished by remembering us that we could take a situation and making most of it, using it and bending it as much as possible in the direction we need it.

Then, Mat Atkinson, speechwriter and coach, "coached" us about some very important speech elements. Reminding first the big differences between written and spoken language. "It is only some 4000 years ago we write..."

How much CONTRAST used in a phrase makes us remember it: to be or not to be of Shakespeare, and lots of other great examples. I was pleased, most of those examples, I did knew already.

Add POETIC ELEMENT, that is metaphors, alliterations, stories, and here again, it is only Tony Blair "the people's princess" that I have not heard yet. The importance of repetitions and puzzles and pause.

The RULE OF THREE - he told us to observe we do expect them so much even in conversation, that when we stop at only two, people waits for us to finish, and when we want to give four, we are often interrupted after the third. To try on someone!

The most effective, is to combine those different techniques in some way. For exemple, three then a contrast for surprise.
UK Speachwriters Guild Conf.-7
Dr. Johan Siebers, opened a Curse of Rhetoric at Lancaster University. He told us that finally the way they spoke in Roman and Greek towns did not change so much till today, and all we could learn from them. He has a module of Rhetoric of Narrative and Image devices and Storytelling. As nowadays, because of the web, we are used to be more directly involved, not only spoken into.

He has great ideas and if I was young, I would hurry to take his class!

Martin Shovel and Martha Leyton then told us about the importance of words, the body language and voice variety being so important, after them mostly when one speaks about our feelings. The most important I got out of his speech is the personality coming out "keep it authentic" and the huge importance nowadays to be able to find so many speeches and their transcript on the web.

After a buffet lunch and possibility to speak to each others, Dr Susan Jones spoke about "a great British speech", she does examine speeches AND the audience reaction to them. She also reminded the importance of "good old storytelling" not only telling anecdotes.

I have to admit, I am still pondering on the differences between those two.

She also reminded me, the importance of mentioning people by their names, show we care. and tell our feelings, passion. She was the one who admitted it is not so easy to decide what we "really want" to tell, what is our deep meaning. But so important! Then we are genuine too.

Then it was Phil Collins tour, what a great speaker he also is, I'll write a whole note about him, tomorrow. Finished, our conference with Phillip Khan-Panni, who told us important things too, but I did hear him already talking about them in his workshop in Croydon.

It was a great conference, and it will help me speak better Saturday, I'll try to address more of the Area's Club members, personally, for example, and finish more forcefully.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

One only from many

Bournemouth Center-21Bournemouth Center-20v
In my stroll, center Bournemouth, I spoke with a few nice people, women or men, here is one who explained me how to arrive to the sea side.

She was then so happy I wanted to take in photo her tatoe! And you know what, after so many "yes" or even "yes, thank you" I still often hesitate to ask, to discover again and again, people love the attention.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, Saturday: Bournemouth

Bournemouth Adieu-14After an interesting Humorous Toastmaster contest in Bromley, Thursday evening, the next morning from Waterloo station to Bournemouth, 100 miles south west of London.

I had the delight to participate to a UK Speechwriters Guild first annual conference, wonderfully organized and not only great speakers, but also very interesting participants.

I'll have to read again, but what I remember just tonight, is the importance of Rhetoric, the even more importance of being himself and thus showing authentic passion, and hearing a lot about how to, write, deliver, speeches, not only how to connect to the audience, but what devices are more effective to make them remember.

A very shabby hotel, a bed all in bumps, but today, in centre town, I discovered a French market, a nice park and a beautiful sea side with fine golden sand. I took about two hundred pictures today, and did not put yet, on flickr more then half of them.

Most pictures are not from the conference, because I was to absorbed to listen, write down, participate, instead of looking at it from outside, like a photographer.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

That was Wednesday

Photos by Winston Marshal from the Contest night in Lewisham Speakers club.

Humour speech contest 2009

We begin in our club, some of us, speak, and the judges decide who between us goes to the Area level contest, when speakers from five or six club come to give their speech.

Me, in a contest? No way!

This is what I thought only in January and even in Mars. Besides, the other three of us five, were "old hands" experienced, and really English, understanding better the British humour then me.

Probably the reason I got the first price in our club at Lewisham Speakers yesterday night, was because I did believe what I said in my title "Dare to Fail": I was convinced I cannot win, I did only want to try if I can make laugh again an audience.
"Dare to Fail"  1st place

It is so sweet to hear them laugh!

I still remember ten years ago in a small France village when for almost 20 minutes all the members of the audience (French and English writers) roared in the night, laughing at my text about my nose and how I did not cut it... finally.

Yesterday, I got also lots of laugh and that is the most important.

Now, I will have to give my speech again, in a few days, again.

The best thing is to concentrate only on my audience and not do not think about "running in a contest". The contest is already daring to be there, daring to speak in English and also, telling real stories about myself about how every time I failed in my speeches - to slowly improve at the end.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


One can tell the story of a short but interesting walk, with images, or one can invent a tale, a story around it, using it or its surrounding, or something that happened during it.

Yesterday evening, I went to a Storytelling group, not far from where I live.

We were seven storytellers telling our stories, for children, for adults, invented or personal ones. Very different personalities and voices, all with great telling abilities, as soon as we got into it.

I also had the possibility, not only to tell my Hungarian folk tale, but they did listen - and loved even more I think - my personal tale, where my father's is embedded in mine's. 'Yes, they told me, tell it like this, it is perfect!' They told me there are many tales embeded in each other, they should not be following the time, and they did understand and could follow mine, without any problem.

From now on, at least once a month but perhaps more, I can go there and listen to their tales and tell mine. They do also some public storytelling in museums I think.


Poking fun of myself, I got used not to take myself seriously.

Which image from this series would you take and tell a story, spin a story about it? The real animals, or the wall art one's: I do love them, so funny!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

1st photowalk by Roger & U3A

Great few hours even (or because) of the rain, walking and taking photos with the group Roger organized, in the University of 3rd Age.

He was the only man, and his wife made the "secretary" asking each of our "number". Who can remember so many numbers! We all have a name, could we not be remembered by our names? Most of us did not know or have with us the membership card, but we were all members of the University of third age.

We started at the Lewisham DRL station and went with train to the farm, but accross the road we could see ships passing and the huge buildings of the Canary Warf.

The cow did not cooperate too much, he turned his back to me, but Roger farther away explaining how to for one of us, here, I took around 50 photos, here are only a few of them.
1st photowalk with Roger & u3a-29
But here it is his face, on the farm's wall.
1st photowalk with Roger & u3a-55

This is the funniest I think, I was following the black and white horse when this happened and my camera took it instantly.
1st photowalk with Roger & u3a-39 d

We did not go farther today as the Farm's cafee, because of the rain, but it was a very pleasant meeting and all of us, I am sure, like me too, look forward to the farther walks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why we go into it?

St Martin's Lane early morning-26
We do go into things with a goal, often we do gain something very different, or more then we did expect from it.

From my Toasmaster Club, where I have to prepare my speeches, for hours, days, weeks, I also gain a better understanding of myself and my past. More then writing or taking photos. Or, at least, differently.

Connecting with the audience, directly, does to me something special, it is like a love affair with my public, with each or some of them. It give me more incentive to look very deep into myself, to understand our common fears and joys. To think more of how to enchant them.

Yesterday, I went to Dorking, 50 miles away with my car, and first time with my new SatNav, satelite navigator telling me the way to go. On the way I thought "is is worth to go so far for a workshop?"

Even there, I was not sure.

I did not get what I wanted from it. I did get a lot more! A lot more important. Listening to the three very different speeches of the three presidents of Toastmaster clubs, given to us after the speech explaining how to judge a contest, explained it to me better than anything could do. Completed the workshop, rounded it.

Of course, the cafeterias and % of each are important, the body language and voice of the first speaker was excellent, and he had worked a lot on them. His presentation was great, even if long time I did not understand where he want to take us. But he did not personalize it at all, and spoke "down" to us, preeching, rather then "we are in the same situation".

So, his excellent ideas and speech left me cold.

He did learn the different lessons from the manual, but there is something beyond, that was not in it. Was it personal implication? Did he take note of everything happening around him, like I do, I did not really knew at the end.

The second speaker, a woman, about the same age as me, was very low key speaker, relative to the first. Voice did not carry a lot and movements very subdued. Yet, she begun with a personal experience, and lead to us through her speech to what she wanted to convey. Finally, I did note her higher. Her emotion carried in her voice, her smile conquered.

The third speaker told us an enhanced personal story about a red shirt he suddenly felt he should have. It was not to "teach us" or "persuade us", mostly to "entertain" with a lot of humour but also personal feelings and emotions we all have. We all are indecisive some time, we all want to please, be center of attention, most of us look how much we spend.

But what I realized only this morning, his tale, based on some facts, changed to make it more interesting, got to me (and all the others and the judges) most of the three. For me so much, that I was transported in his story world, seeing the images, the film he painted in my own mind eyes, forgetting about Toastmasters, body movement, voice projection or pitch, all the technique was there probably, surely, but so well that it did not stand out.

That is what makes a really good speech, a really good story.

To see the three, to compare them, to look at the wonderful presentation and great topics after the speeches, yes, I did not go for nothing to Dorkings, did not do all that long road - the first long trip with this car and in a year, for nothing.

I have yet to discover other reasons for doing it. I also got confidence "I can do it" - I mean drive, even after 75 and this car, and in UK. And I can strive to speak so well that once, my audience will forget all other then the world of my tale.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


18 self expressions for storytelling, at least telling a special story, I had fun trying to take photos of those two personages at different stage.

I"ll have to work more on them.

One cannot always smile warmly as in this one!

But usually, I can try.

I would like to be always like this, understanding others, warm, sure of myself, but sometimes, my mouth hardens or my eyes open huge, or my eyes change, most of the time without me knowing it!

Two characters

The old old woman scared - and the Death telling "no"
at the beginning of the Story, I published some days ago
it will take effort and wit and guts to outwit the Death!

Friday, September 11, 2009

St Martin's Lane early morning

I did not see the sun coming out Thursday, but it was somewhere there. I did like a lot this narrow street, but it seems more interesting to me with this man going to work early morning.

Using the half an hour that I arrived "too early" to the meeting, not knowing for sure how much it will take me and how far the place I have to go is from the Tube (metro) station, I decided it was better to be too early then late.

What a pleasure it was to walk St Martin's Lane from Lancaster station to the Trafalgar Square and back before seven in the morning, and also take pictures. Taking pictures makes me look with more attention to everything that is around.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Early birds speakers

Today, I went to London before the dawn, out of the house just after five in the morning. The light was up, but just barely when I arrived the Lancaster Square, near which the Early birds speakers club holds its meeting, every Thursday morning at seven.

Because I did not know yet, how to go better, I believed the change at the Green Park Tube station would be faster, instead, I had a long corridor in form of a Tube: but I took great picture there. And also, arriving too early, a lot of images of the St. Martin's Lane, which is simply a Theater lane between the National Portrait Gallery (near Trafalgar Square) and Leicester Square.

I learned a lot in a few minutes of the meeting. Each club is different, and some of how they did, I would like to see in our club also. They all had huge etiquettes prepared with their names, for example. And a special speech "to learn something useful" : this time it was about Voice.

We had also a wonderful Chair, The Toastmaster of the Morning (not Evening): George Metcalfe, what a wonderful enchanting smile while he introduced and listened to the other speakers! And also some very good, very useful advices!

It seems, there is the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of the Human Rights, I do understand so well now, why the Soviet Union and Satellites did not join and when they joined of course, they did not respect it.

We had a table topics about some of the points: each mentioned was not respected in the Communist Romania where I lived that time.

We were not born equals: I was considered born from "bourgeois" parents, which was enough not to let me go to university. Middle class parent's children were not equals of worker's class one, who were considered better.

People could be arrested, and one never knew where they were taken, as for my father for seven month. They could not defend themselves, they were considered guilty as soon as some one, wanting for example their place of work "denounced" them.

He was not effectively tortured, but his cell mate was burned day by day, to tell where he had hidden his jewels. My father was "only" taken night by night and instead of sleeping, asked to say again and again his story, answer to the same questions.

I could not tell any of them, because only a few old were asked (or those they knew already better) to answer at the Table Topics. But I would have had what to tell!

I have yet lot of tales to tell and I'll try to do so with time.

Tube slide show, with 21 images, can be seen HERE.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Speakers corner

Yesterday, at the Toastmasters meeting, I was TopicMaster, and we did play "Hyde park speakers corner" inside the pub. It was fun!

I asked the present people imagine we were at the Speakers corner, step up, speak louder, get used to eventual interruptions, try to retain people to listen, tell personal stories about the objects or topics I gave them.

It was too much to ask.

But some did. Others, spoke louder, indeed. In all, we had fun!

The best compliment I got, was from a guest who did not want to speak, and I not ask her out. After the meeting, she told me "if I knew it will be so much fun, so easy, I would have spoken too, I regret I did not do it."

So my idea did work, even if I could have introduced more every object I gave them to speak about, or reminded them again and again, (I did sometimes) "we are at Hyde park speakers corner" not a Toastmasters meeting!

Anything can happen, anyone can interrupt you, mock you, or even worse, go away... You have to handle all of that, whatever it comes. But I asked only one or two very accomplished Toastmasters to be interrupted. And they were a lot less then us, at the park.

I loved how we could learn to handle people interrupting us, and will have once to play it again, better, so that we all learn how to handle it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jay from China

We come to London from so many different places!

Jay come seven years ago from China.

I do not think the "real" Brits understand what that means, how difficult must still be nowadays, and it was even more so before, to go away from a still Communist country! Not the "far away" and even not the huge amount of money it takes, because salaries are a lot less then here, but to obtain the right to travel and to have the courage to decide to go.

I did meet her at Hyde park corner, she is a Toastmaster too. I do not know much about her yet, but as we did decide to take a photowalk, soon, I'll know her better then. But already I can imagine so much!

And you can see from this photo above what a nice person she is!

Yesterday, I went to a Storytelling event, personal Storytelling. Only one, a young girl, also of Chinese origin, told us a story, the others read it. There were interesting and well written, but more literally then oral stories.

Not what I have expected, hoped for.

The public sit around tables in the dark, the tellers, there were eight of them, on a podium, and their tale was recorded, only their voice, no movements. But they did not move and few looked to us. Reading stories is interesting, but when one expects "telling"....

I was invited to tell (read) also a story, the next one is about "Now or never." That made me to think, of my "now or never" tales, but of course unless I'll take about Breakups, "There is always yet another chance!" Still, I remembered stories about my life and new memories come up to the surface.

Do I want to perform before a paying audience who sits in the dark? Just seven minutes? It would be a challenge of course, but 5 October it too early to prepare!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hyde park speakers corner

What an adventure!

Going out on the Hyde Park speaker's corner, to test our courage to speak, the volume of our voice and how we continue despite possible interruptions.

We passed all that test!

We did have our interrupter, our public having also their say, and our voice was heard by those stopping to listen to us, despite the buses, taxis and cars passing not far from us.

What a fun and great adventure!

Our first table topics master, to Break the Ice, had come with different vegetables about which each of us had to begin to speak. I spoke about Aubergine. Others of green pepper or the leek: I did not know this last was a symbol for the Welsh until now.

The beginning of Mat's speech (VP Education of Meridiam speakers club.)

And perhaps, they did not learn how to prepare the Aubergines until I told them.

Mostly, I told what I was prepared to do, about remaining young at old age inside, and telling them to do the same, but also what I was not prepared at all, about how drinking too much can kill and how it did kill my husband.

You have to tell what is true, but no one has to tell "all the truth" so I did not tell that he was at 52 when he died already "ex" husband, and only my "first ex".... that not being relevant of our subject at all.

He did drink, towards the end more then 6 litres of vine, by day, alas and it is true that his liver did not take it well. He died so young! I told that to our drunk young listener, who was otherwise a wonderful mime too, contributing to the adventure we had speaking outside, speaking in the park, speaking for those who did not have to stop or stay if they did not want to.

Broadgate speakers club, had a great idea, I hope, my clubs will do one day the same. It was a memorable day!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The old woman and the Death - Hungarian folk tale

Death and the very old woman

Once upon a time, far away, at the other end of the mountain and the ocean, there lived a very old woman. Almost a hundred years old! She was always doing something, lots of things, never stopping, all day long occupied so much that she did not even had the time to think of death.

But the time come, nearer and nearer, and finally there he was, the Death arrived at her door.

- Well, old woman, you lived enough, now pack up and come!

- Oh, Death, dear nice death, I am just not ready, let me wait until I finish this!

- Impossible! What to wait? I take you now!

- Oh, give ma ten years, five years, at least... one more year!

- Out of question!

- Give me at least one day, only yet another day.

- Impossible! answered the Death.

- Three hours more then... let me remain at least until tomorrow!"

Well, what he could do,said the Death to himself, so much the old woman argumed, pleaded, ah, she spoke so well! Finally the Death was persuaded "let's give her a bit more time to finish what she was doing".

- Well, until tomorrow then.

- Dear Death, my memory is not so good, my eyes see less, please write on the door with big letters: "I'll come Tomorrow!"

The Death wrote on her door in huge letters "I'll come Tommorow" and left.

The old woman went to bed and lay more relaxed. But too soon, the next day arrived and the Death was back.

- So, old woman, I am back to take you! But now, not a word! You come with me!

- Oh, Death, just look at my door! There it is written clearly, that you"ll come only tomorrow!

Aie, the Death reads: on the door it was really written "I'll come only tomorrow".

Death went away and come back, day after day, for seven days, until he had enough. I am not coming back again! he said and cleaned off the words from the door.

- Now you come with me!

- Oh, give me at least one more hour!

- Well, if you have lived so far, I can give you another hour, to live. I'm leaving, but after an hour I come back, and I take you for sure!

The Death went away and the old woman begun shaking like a leaf. Everything rattled, her bones and remaining teeth. Oh, how to get out of this, what to do now, where to hide?

She had a barrel of honey and slipped inside it. But there was a hole on the bottom: that's not good. "If I can see out of it and see him, he will see me to, he'll find me. So she scrambled out of the honey barrel, and decided to hide inside her quilt, she tore her feather kilt and hid inside it. Even her hair, everything become fluffy the feather clinging to the honney.

Will that be good enough?

The Death arrived.

- Where are you, old woman?

Looked around the house. He did not find her anywhere.

The feathers clinging on the honey, the old woman was covered with them on her face, her hair, everywhere and could not breath any more so she rose out of kilt, rose suddenly from the bed. The Death was so frightened of hte feathered Monster rosing from the bed seeming bigger and bigger, that he ran away. He ran and ran far away, accross the mountains and the ocean, and he never again dared to return to take the old woman.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Impro night for London Toastmasters

Asst Div B Gov (PR), the new Editor The London Speaker, Dorothea Stuart, and her friend, Toastmasters from the Riverside Communicators.

The London Speaker blog gives a lot of advice what to see and what to do in London for Toastmasters and those wanting to improve their speaking skills.

How much work there is to organize, to write, to visit!

As the day before I was late, this time I was too early - two hours to early! Other then Dorothea and the team that was to perform, no one was there yet when I arrived.

I was extremely well impressed that they did not put me out, but welcomed me nerveless! Sign also of Toastmaster organisation's welcome, but even more her personal one!

Dorothea Stuart, OpensFor TM's Education

I love how all Toastmasters speak also with their hands!

I also met the organizer of the Early Birds speakers, they begin at 7 in the morning week after week! Yes, I'll have to go in the city so early, and soon!

Great performers who learned "on the spot" - also one of them already took a lot of Impro classes, I met him at one of them when I tried to see "how it is"!
Here, at the pause, three of the new "vedettes":

Impro, Volontary Performers

But the others were "new" to this and very good!

We had good time, even if I did not learn what I did need, how to speak on the spot for our Table-topics Competition, and that was what I hoped when I went to Camden.

It rained. It was cold.

But the mood in the room was great and the people I met were well worth the trembling in the night after the event.

I found a bus that took me to Trafalgar Square, a train towards home came very fast, it was only while waiting for the buses that I felt the cold wind of fall on me.
London rainy night-2v

I arrived home with new decisions and yes, I'll also go this Sunday to the Hyde Corner event. When I read first about those speeches, I never imagined I'll try one day to speak there, myself!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why those one?

On the flickr photo site, I have by now around 33 000 pictures, added from 2005 to now.

Anyone, can "choose" those he or she likes "most" between them. Looking through what the other photographers (or anyone registered on flickr) choose as their favorietes, I have difficulty to understand "why" it was those most of them did.

An interesting face - this one I do understand!

An interesting face

4th of favorite, 2nd in Interstingness
43 fav and 4587 views and 64 comments

it is also my favourite one, personally - is is extracted from a big image, looking at that I suddenly have seen what is hiding and cannot be seen if I did not "bring it out" cut all that is around and hiding this strong human look

3. Chanel a Argenteuil
Chanel à Argenteuil
52 fav, 1870 view and 63 comments
It was published in the Argenteuil newpaper, the week of elections, with a page about my photographic activity, I do not like it as much as I did then. I was waiting for the reporter to arrive and meet me near the station, when suddenly I have seen this, happy I had the camera in my hand.

2. Aie! they will see you...
Aie! they will see you!
63 fav 3494 views and 76 comments

Probably also because it was elected best autoportrait of the year, far away, when I did publish it, I do not really see other reason... perhaps because I am ready to mock myself?

1. La Maison Rose du Butte Montmartre

La maison rose de la Butte Montmartre

277 fav, 19 380 view and 63 comments
and it goes on week by week, I still do not understand why!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Early morning


It is now "mine" this apartment.

Not in a sense that I am the owner, but I feel "home" in it. As I do feel now, after 12 month passed, home in England too. In London. In Blackheath.

Home between so many Brit speaking so many kind of English, with so different accents each. Home in the diversity of people I enjoy so much. Home between the photographers and Toasmasters.

Home as much that yesterday I did stay home all day.

Welcome in my home.