Luck as a Friend

“I saw this poem in a dream last night, and present it here unedited, as closely as possible. I found it haunting and yet at the same time it had quite a tranquil nonchalance about it. I look forward to working on one of several interpretations of it.” – D. Swinfen

Magic-Castle (2)

 

Cursed good fortune cast to winds entice

Only to bear poison and misgive what taste

Shall it be recompense for its own un’othed deed,

Black as then is now and thrice removed?

What more-say sorry all with hope and promise

Echoing to the sound of its own truculence

 

Those for whom light countenance dependant for such joy

And trails shall ne’er grace the bright shadows

And polar waypoints until tomorrow be met

Lost to one’s own accursed hand

Waiting in the itchy black outlanding

For all, and to be woken further

 

Hello, good fortune, waken

And be adieu

 

 

©2014 D.Swinfen, via Catalina Publishing. All rights reserved.

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,700 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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How to road-test cars for magazines

How we see the world

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Xanny 2.0

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Fresh off the back of a two-year personal transformation, Xanny Disjad explains how her journey evolved and what’s next for the ever-popular Brand Xanny and its 50,000+ fans.

 

I first met Xanny Disjad on a charity trip to Petchabhun. I’d joined a group of people in taking Christmas presents from Bangkok to two schools in the province. Xanny joined later by taxi, chartered at her own considerable expense from Bangkok to Petchabhun – a metered journey of around five hours. It was a remarkable demonstration of care that made me immediately interested in her story, and so upon our return to the capital I decided to arrange an interview with her. The resulting feature was modestly popular, attracting positive comments from Xanny’s followers and fans long before her Facebook flock had swelled in number to beyond 50k.

For some time, a catch-up was due, but between her work and my work, my PR stuff (drinking) and her entrepreneurial activities (actual work), it didn’t come to pass.

Now however, Xanny’s non-modelling initiatives have become promisingly diverse, and so I got a phone call; she invited me to interview her as she wanted to publicise her new ventures, and suggesting the piece would be good for my portfolio. I replied politely that this was not necessary, and that my last interview was with Dita Von Tesse. “Awesome. Let’s do next week,” she replied.

Xanny’s home is in Ploenchit, so we met at Novotel Bangkok Ploenchit Sukhumvit; A) because Dee Lounge is cool, airy, quiet, and right next to the BTS, and B) because it’s very easy to get a hotel to pick up your tab when you rock up with a glamour model.

At the time of our last interview, Xanny’s schedule was so hectic that all we spoke of was modelling assignments, her focus at that time. Now we encounter a broader and more magnificent approach to life and business, and as a result, a more compelling study.

“I am not rich yet, so I cannot use my money to help others,” she begins, in suitably warm rhetoric, “But I can change people’s opinion and visions, help them become more positive, and change them for the better. My words make people calm and happy; I believe that I can make people smile.”

 

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For a long time now, Xanny has wanted to publish a philosophical book based on her experiences, but as someone whose life is “still running, in the middle of my success,” she opts to wait. It doesn’t preclude her from publishing regular philosophical musings on Facebook though, which are a hit with fans and very popular with female followers.

“Sometimes I post philosophical messages, and on one occasion I had almost a hundred girls comment or write me and tell me I inspire them. I’ve always wanted to write about philosophy which is my passion. It is my intention to write a book, or at least a collective of my philosophical musings in some sort of illustrated form, but at 26 I’m still gathering experiences and building perspective. When I’m confident my thoughts will stir others, then I will publish them.”

It is this interest in life, and the lives of others, which brings Xanny to her diversification strategy; Brand Xanny now encompasses lifestyle coaching, travel services, personal concierge and even a forthcoming fashion line.

“I try many entrepreneurial ways to make money,” she says. “Unless you’re in the top echelon of the modelling world, then it’s difficult to receive significant payments from it, so I need to adapt and use the weight of the Xanny brand to power new projects. I don’t do any kind of kinky or rude service, just quality concierge; I do not want people to get the wrong impression and think that they can have a chance with me.”

The type of people that use the service are what Xanny describes as normal, professional people – they have to be respectful and have no unreasonable expectations. They must keep to a distance, but also “look good and speak nicely” – it’s very much event-based, and aims to bring out the guest’s entire colour, allowing them to send a strong message to their clients and important connections.

“I meet my fans and connections from time to time as some of them book my tour services, of which my customers usually comment are really good value – especially for having supermodel Xanny next to you!” she smiles. “I speak very good English and I’m a joyful entertainer, so it’s become a popular service.”

Her life coaching and concierge offerings are built upon the success of her popular web site, www.xannydisjad.com. Xanny has owned this domain from the early days of her modelling career, and the site keeps evolving. She’s concerned with the overall aesthetic, and so personally hand-selects each image. Her fear is that the site is perceived as being overly sexy, and that’s the challenge she is dealing with right now.

“My vision for Xannydisjad.com is evocative and beautiful, focused on art; it’s not hard-core but it definitely is hot; I want it to reflect the fact that I’m a businesswoman and entertainer, not just a model now. The modelling market, especially in Bangkok, is subject to many new low-end entrants. Being a model doesn’t make you look smart, but being a businessperson is respectable and modelling gives you an effective route to that, so I’m looking at how I can build a smart future.”

Presumably for a successful pro working in beauty and fashion, a possible outlet would be cosmetics advertising, but Xanny has a strong view on some of the products she has had thrown at her by would-be beauty suitors. She explains, “The big cosmetic brands only use white skin models. Why? I think this is so stupid; my skin is very dark, and my complexion has always been very good, so why would I want to artificially whiten it? I have friends who have beautiful dark skin and are very proud of their appearance. Why should we use whitening products, which, largely, do not work? My focus is on anti-aging products, and that is something I would look at if I represented anything. I use top quality anti-aging products, and look at my skin; why would I need to wait until the wrinkles appear? I’m almost 27 and I need to consider ways in which I can protect my appearance, my investment in my own future.”

 

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Future cosmetic work? “I probably need stem cell treatment in the next 10 years,” she says with a wry smile, and a look of earnest consideration – the mark of a professional in a true state of self-awareness.

At this point our interview pauses as we both note something burning. We turn to find an American tourist whose newspaper has begun smouldering over the open candle as he reads in the lobby. Staff assist with the incendiary moment, but not with his embarrassment; a smile from Xanny is enough to stultify him post-predicament. Her calming energy is palpable, and something I noticed first time around.

It’s a self-confidence which she conveys with no hint of self-obsession; a difficult trick to master. It explains why she is able to use her own magnetism to grow her brand. “I get a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘Hey Xanny, I’m on your Facebook! Can I get a picture with you?’ I say, ‘Of course you can!’ They’re so appreciative, I love it so much. It reminds me of simple courtesy, of appreciation and respect. I try to treat my fans and people I work with this level of the same.”

Xanny’s warmness and straightforward logic continue to provide new avenues for growth; she looks upon networking and socialising as a form of work, a necessity in reaching out to a broader audience. She would love to do something in real estate, uniting her business brain with people who have this kind of capital but few connections in Bangkok.

There’s also her desire to empower the success of others, based on her experience in modelling. “I want to bring a new model into my web site so I can be manager and be behind the scenes, build the brand, get them to know you, and then get them to like and respect you – so you have to make them luuurve you and cultivate over a period of time! That’s why guys love Brand Xanny! Haha! I want to empower the success of others wherever I can.”

So what of a personal life? Boyfriend? Dating?

“I am single, and have been for a little while now. It’s not fun for me – I don’t like being single. I don’t know why, but having a boyfriend is kind of like my protection from guys that I choose NOT to be with. Any boyfriend I am with has to accept the social pressure because he will have met me because of who I am and where my life takes me, so it’s part of the deal. I am totally dedicated when I am with a boyfriend though.”

Bizarrely, at this point she asks me the same question. “No, dating, but not looking. I wouldn’t date another model!” I lied, over a long-dead cappuccino. Xanny picks up the MP3 recorder from the table and extends it to me, reporter-style. “You’re interviewing me, now?” I joke, as she playfully gets into the role of TV presenter – definitely another possible avenue for her in the future.

“What happened to your leg?” I ask in return, suddenly aware that at least 15 people in the lobby are looking at us. “Oh, mosquito,” she replies, “I’m always busy at home, cooking, running around, and managing my space. I haven’t watched TV for seven years.” It runs in the family too I note, having already enjoyed the privilege of meeting Xanny’s Mum, and seeing her awesomely limitless energy.

 

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We jointly nail what’s left of her balsamic salmon salad, realising that we’ve been chatting for over 90 minutes. I can’t believe tangible friendly intimacy can so immediately mask two years of non-contact.

“I’m always connected to other people, involved in their lives and helping in any way I can,” she says. “My friends are sometimes heartbroken or have a problem – I have good problem-solving skills and I’m strong at lifting people up, raising the mood of others. They talk to me; I cheer them up, make them positive. One day I would love to be a motivational speaker. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you; we should meet again soon.”

Some weeks later, I’m going through the MP3 recording, wondering how to begin transcribing almost two hours of idle chit-chat; I didn’t even prep any questions as I knew it would be unnecessary. I smile every few minutes, thinking back to the conversation and its countless diversions and sub-plots, eventually yielding something that resembles an interview transcription.

I’m struck by how much I talk and how little space I gave her to answer, but then it’s difficult to stop talking when you’re sharing a moment with someone who shows such strong interest in your own life – and in its ambling diversions, of which another indelibly memorable one has been recorded and saved for posterity.

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The romance and beauty of VAMPIRE inspire launch of Forbidden Skin, Asia’s hottest skin care brand

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Bangkok, 28 June, 2013 – Forbidden Skin, a skin care brand born of the legend of vampire mythology, popular movies and raunchy vampire-themed TV, has introduced its evocative “Vampire-beautiful Skin” concept to the Thai market. Thailand is the first country in the world to be able to get its hands on an entirely new range of Forbidden Skin products, including “Daywalker CreamTM”; an SPF50 PA+++ moisturising day cream with whitening, radiance boost and shimmer – Forbidden Skin’s signature product.

Forbidden Skin will soon announce the appointment of five retailers in Bangkok. The launch of Forbidden Skin, both in the on-line space and in prime retail locations in the city, is a significant movement in the home-grown Thai cosmetic and skin care industry, and demonstrates the importance of Thailand as a producer of world class skin care and cosmetic products.

Shortly, vampire fans and lifestyle-obsessed skin care buyers will have a chance to enjoy and thrill to the romance and beauty of VAMPIRE – the theme that drives this exciting new skin care brand.

For more information, please visit www.forbiddenskin.com, or tangle with Forbidden at www.facebook.com/forbiddenskin

 

About

Vampires have inspired countless novels, myths, movies and TV series; now they are the inspiration for this evocative skin care brand.

Forbidden Skin feeds on the love for vampire stories and our addiction to all things otherworldly. It draws on the human desire to experience romance and beauty, amid thrilling and dangerous drama.

Forbidden Skin’s range emphasises the property of whitening; the association of white skin with vampire-like beauty and luxury. White skin also signifies the avoidance of light, as a vampire may – of existing solely in the evening, attending glamorous soirees and sensing the world look upon oneself as a focus of unmatched, vampire beauty.

 

For more information, please contact david.swinfen@vivaldipr.com

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Forbidden Skin – Vampire Beautiful Skin

Daywalker เป็นหนึ่งในผลิตภัณฑ์เลอค่าจาก Forbidden Skin ที่จะทำให้คุณได้ผิวขาวสวยพร้อมเปล่งประกายเสน่หาอันลึกลับเย้ายวนดั่งแวมไพร์

Thai web site: www.forbiddenskin.com/thai.html

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ด้วยค่า SPF50PA+++ ที่จะปกป้องผิวของคุณจากแสงแดด เพียงทาบางๆ ลงบนผิวหน้า หลังจากใช้คลีนเซอร์และโทนเนอร์เป็นประจำ และยังมีส่วนผสมของชิมเมอร์ทำให้เกิดประกายแวววาวเมื่อต้องกับแสงแดดในช่วงระหว่างวัน นอกจากนี้ Daywalker ยังให้ความชุ่มชื้นและเนียนนุ่ม เพราะมีมอยซ์เจอร์ไรซ์เซอร์ที่คอยกันไม่ให้ผิวแห้งหลังจากโดนแดดเป็นเวลานาน

หากคุณอยากมีผิวขาวเนียนอมชมพูดั่งชาวรัตติกาลผู้ยังคงความงามแม้จะอยู่ท่ามกลางแสงอาทิตย์ Daywalker คือผลิตภัณฑ์ที่เหมาะกับคุณ ไม่เพียงแต่จะส่องประกายสีทองและสีแดงทับทิมให้ล้อกับแสงยามทิวา หากยังปกป้องคุณจากสิ่งชั่วร้ายที่จะทำให้ผิวหมองคล้ำอีกด้วย

Daywalker เป็นครีมที่คิดค้นมาเพื่อสาวๆ ที่อยากได้ผิวขาวเนียนนุ่มโดยเฉพาะ ผลิตภัณฑ์ของเรามีส่วนผสมของสารประกอบหลายชนิดที่ช่วยให้ผิวของคุณเปล่งประกาย รวมถึงสารประกอบจากต้นเรพซีดที่จะปกป้องผิวของคุณจากแสงแดด

Daywalker มีค่า SPF สูงถึง 50 และป้องกันรังสี UVA และ UVB ได้ถึง 99.9 % นอกจากนี้ยังมีสารสกัดจากแตงกวาที่จะทำให้ผิวหน้าเย็นชุ่มชื้นตลอดวันอีกด้วย

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ก้าวสู่โลกแห่งเสน่ห์ลึกลับเย้ายวน

Forbidden Skin เป็นผลิตภัณฑ์ที่สร้างขึ้นมาเพื่อเอาใจเหล่าสาวกแวมไพร์ที่หลงรักในเรื่องราวโรแมนติค อันน่าพิศวงของชาวอมตะโดยเฉพาะ หลังจากที่แวมไพร์เป็นแรงบันดาลใจในการสรรค์สร้างภาพยนต์ นิยาย และละครมามากมายแล้ว จึงถึงคราของเราที่จะรังสรรค์ผลิตภัณฑ์เพื่อผิวขาวเนียนสวยดั่งชาวรัตติกาล

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Forbidden Skin เป็นผลิตภัณฑ์ที่มีส่วนผสมที่ได้รับการรับรองจากสำนักงานคณะกรรมการอาหารและยา และดำเนินการผลิตภายใต้มาตรฐาน ISO900I:2008 และ GMP ประเทศไทย

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/forbiddenskin

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UK life: It’s worse than we thought

Customer-Service-Motivational-Poster

After three years spent working in Thailand, a large reason I was so looking forward to returning home was the chance to drive again; to experience the simple pleasure of taking a small car to the limits of its grip through winding little villages, which pass as colourful fixtures through the side windows. Sadly, however, this did not come to pass.

I now realise I have no valid driving license.

I had applied for my card to be replaced back in October 2012, but the big building in Swansea that laminates such things had, for whatever reason, been unable to post my new card. Never mind, I thought; how hard can it be to send a replacement? After all, the small shops in Bangkok’s Khao San Road area can produce them for less that five quid, and have them ready in a few minutes. Besides, I can supply my name, address, contact information, driving license number, driver number, favourite pet’s name, favourite Spice Girl, sexual orientation, top ten movies, my most important role model of the 20th century, my mother’s maiden name, my desert island disc list, the original date of application and all the other essentials that are necessary for call centre staff to press buttons and locate a record, much as we did on BBC Micros at school, aged six or so.

“Computa ses ‘no.’ “

Apparently, because I had waited so patiently for them to send the card in the first place, I now must pay a fee of twenty pounds and complete an entirely new application. The exact response was, “Apologies but I am not able to issue another to you or arrange to have one sent.” You can arrange to accept a telephone payment of twenty pounds, but the DVLA is not able to ship a DVLA card from the part of the DVLA that makes DVLA cards in the DVLA building? Are you for fucking real?

My mother suggested that in order to save hassle, I just call them back and agree to pay the fine, but something about this has laced the venom of assumed nonchalance deep into the sinews and fibre of my blackened and vicious being, which is now crackling with utter truculence. I need to pay twenty pounds because YOU have not posted my card? NO! This is not right, and I refuse to lay down and sit happily whilst the DVL-to-the-A casually deliver a colonoscopy to my rear end, as they go about searching for spare change down the back of my sofa-shaped ass. This is the only situation in life, surely, where one must recompense another party for their own feeble disinterest.

I have now, at great personal expense in terms of time, taken the trouble to print a letter (their on-line complaints link resulting in a somewhat predictable loop-de-loop ‘page not found’ temporal distortion in my browser) and affix a postage stamp, as one was once accustomed to doing.

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My fond hope now of course is that ‘Carole Evans, Customer Services Manager’ is an actual human, rather than a code-word for a department of knuckle-dragging Hays Recruitment office temps killing time before they go busking around France.

Had this been a single occurrence during my three week stay in the UK, it could have been taken in isolation as part of our (as in, the British) pre-ordained acceptance of everything being grey, droopy and rubbish.

Alas, it was not.

Similarly annoying, though of slightly less inconvenience, was my attempt to change a small number of Indian Rupees into coin of the commonwealth. Thomas Cook, a long-established leader in selling two-star package holidays to the working class, in their vast experience in the sector, could not help; their company rulebook simply noted that unless I had purchased the foreign currency from them in the first place, that there was a good chance that the money was counterfeit. Obviously, only a tour operator of Thomas Cook’s towering reputation has the capital to acquire real foreign funds. Shit! How did they know I had printed my own? Barclays were not of any help either. Things looked good after a smile from the branch managing MILF, who then returned with that typically British “Keep Calm, look at shoes and apologise” methodology that lost us the colonies in the first place.

A visit yesterday to Johnsons the Cleaners in Blaby prompted a similarly fizzing “I’m Zeus, the lightning-bolt-throwing motherfucking God of everything, for fuck sake” response; I asked politely if the man behind the counter could clean my suede coat, only to be quoted “three weeks and fifty-one pounds.” The most annoying thing was when the guy causally explained that the company that actually cleans their materials only picks up from the shop once a week, which would be Friday.

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I’m sorry, did I miss something whilst I was away? Did it suddenly become acceptable for us to get gang-raped in the ass, pay for the privilege and apologise to the store clerk for causing them so much inconvenience with our enquiry? 

We’re so accustomed to receiving crap service in the UK, and accepting of the fact that prices always go up, that we are now conditioned to challenging and unnecessary facets of day-to-day life as being utterly acceptable. I do not agree, and I would urge anyone else who has a shred of respect for themselves to throw lightning bolts too, the next time some GCSE-equipped store-monkey looks at you, smiles and says, ‘no, sorry.”

It’s just not good enough.

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