Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hot and wet

My website wings may have been clipped, but business carries on. Well, I say business. There are very few parties at the moment, and business mainly involves me swanning through various London parks in a long apron.

I have taken part in the annual Walk for Life for many years now, raising funds for HIV and Aids charities, and in recent years I have always walked with the team from The Food Chain. This year I decide to do it in Tupperware mode, and a few kind customers have sponsored me to do it. I raised just over £400 and our team altogether raised over £4000, which is quite an achievement. I didn't book any parties or sell any Tupperware, but it was fun and a fantastic cause. And my fellow walkers humoured me through an impromptu Tupperware demo during a rest stop (see main photo).

Global warming has a lot to answer for. Twice this summer I have slept out on my terrace, only to find the next night that not only did I need to sleep inside, but I needed an extra blanket. And at the Myatts Fields Park Fair in Camberwell this weekend I manage to get badly sunburned and soaked over the course of a few hours. The forecast was for heavy rain, and I equip myself for this, but I did not apply any sunscreen. Big mistake. Three times over four hours the heavens opened and drenched my display table, only for the blazing sun to come out and dry it off each time. Next morning my neck is as red as a Microplus pitcher. Here you can see the sun glinting prettily on my damp salad spinner.

Thunder and lightning did kick in later in the day, but I was back home by then. And at least it is better than being shit on by birds, like in Manchester last month.

The event had a French theme, partly because the park was laid out by Huegenots, and also because there is a large Francophone African community in this part of South East London. I am kept amused with Toulouse sausages, Ardennes pate, Senegalese singing and non-alcoholic coktails provided by the drugs awareness group at the stall next to me. I even sell some Tupperware and get a few definite Yesses for parties later in the summer.

Apparently WeightWatchers magazine features four key pieces of Tupperware in its July/August issue, in an article about packed lunches. I have not yet tried to work the weight-loss crowd, and I understand from other consultants that WeightWatchers are a bit funny about allowing third parties into their meetings. I will see if I can get away with leaving a few catalogues at my local group, which is literally across the road in the church attached to the Heygate Estate. Mind you, I have now gained back one-and-a-half of the two stones I shed at Slimming World five years ago, so maybe I will not be a third party after all.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bad news Friday

Two phone calls this morning, both with disappointing news.

First, and irrelevant to Tupperware, my dear friend Bo (right) has not achieved the grade he needs in the Economics degree he finished this summer in London. He has a conditional job offer with Ernst and Young, which includes a Work Permit, but he has just missed fulfilling the conditional grade. What's worse, Bo is currently incommunicado in Korea doing his military training, and is oblivious to the bad news that he will not be returning to the UK as planned.

I have only just put down the phone to this disappointing news, when the phone rings again. It's the Managing Director of Tupperware UK. She instructs me that I have to close down my Tupperware Man website, which has been live since May 2006, or face legal action! I am told I may not use the "Tupperware" brand in my domain name, but that even with a change of name I still may not maintain a website with the purpose of promoting my Tupperware business. I cannot field customer enquiries by email, nor can I even publish on any website my phone number or address contact details for potential customers to contact me that way. Websites are the devil, it seems.

I personally think this is a short-sighted and draconian policy worthy of King Canute. But for the moment I have no choice in the matter. I have asked for full details of the policy that I am contravening, and proof that I am bound by it. Assuming I receive these details shortly, my website then will stay offline and I will point the domain name to this blog. For now, I have replaced my site with a rather bitter message (a copy of this blog entry, pretty much).

My website has been central to attracting customers and visitors from across the London area, and I have used London's community websites to put the word out that Tuppereware is back in London. But I must now rely purely on contacts made through my parties and events, and on referrals from Tupperware Head Office. I get a referral perhaps once every three months from Head Office, compared to around 10 a week from my own website, so the number of parties and events is likely to drop off dramatically. Neither does Tupperware UK undertake any advertising or formal PR, that is up to we independent consultants to date parties and promote our businesses in our local area. But like I say, it seems that doing so with a website, or via any established online community, is forbidden.

I am annoyed and discouraged. I have not yet decided whether it is feasible for me to continue as an independent Tupperware consultant without my website. But meanwhile I will honour all parties, events and orders booked to date.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More photos from the Manchester Village Fete has published a set of photos that Rachel Coulson took at the Village Fete in Manchester last month, including some of me and my stall. At one point I asked Miss Whiplash to watch my stall (very EastEnders) while I was taking a toilet break, and you can see her below demonstrating the Salad Spinner in my absence.