Archive for August, 2013

Lost Forest – Clee Clothing

My daughter Cleo started her fashion business- Clee Clothing – in 2009 when she was 16. She knew nothing about business and wasn’t interested in fashion, but she just had some clothing ideas that she wanted to make. Two of her earliest successes were the ‘Made in’ series
and the ‘I Love Ur Mum’ series, i love both of which were heavily copied by others.

After a couple of years she wasn’t satisfied with her brand. She knew it was missing something. She gave it a lot of thought and realised that what was missing was an identity. And the only identity that it could have would be hers. It was her creation and it was her designs and skills that was the essence of the brand and that is what she needed to focus on – her own thoughts ideas and images.

In February 2012 she held an event to create a Rebirth of the Brand, and brought out new themed designs that reflected her feelings about life.

This is what she wrote about the Rebirth: “Cleo started Clee Clothing aged 16 with no solid plan but lots of ambition. Fast-forward 2 years; Cleo paused, and realised how unhappy she was with what her project had become. Her lack of business understanding had led to a lack of brand value, meaning and direction. What was Clee Clothing, and what did it want to be?

Months of self-reflection later, Cleo decided that despite her discontent, she wasn’t ready to let go of all she had worked on. She decided to use all the negative feelings she had to begin rebranding, to work on new designs and to build the foundation that had been missing.”

Cleo relaunched Clee Clothing under “The Rebirth” because, as a Phoenix is reborn out of the ashes of itself, so was Clee Clothing.

The first collection under ‘The Rebirth’ is broken into 3 stages: Lost, Trust and Unrestricted.

Stage 1, Lost , is where Cleo felt she was before The Rebirth took place. As George The Poet eloquently puts it:

None of us have a clue why we’re here. And

Some of us are too fly to care. Life is a

String of mistakes that find purpose, the confusing

Thing is what makes that time worthless. You’re

Selling a vision, wanting us to buy the dreams, but

What if the end doesn’t justify the means?

None of us have a clue why we’re here, unless you’ve got

Something you could prove which you’d like to share?

Otherwise we struggle with two types of fear: the

Fear of what could be and the fear of what will be

Dealing with thousands of sharks feeling around in the dark.

Missing that childhood freedom you found in the park, which

You would fight for at all costs: but the

Bottom line is that you’re lost.

I recently saw one of her designs that came from the theme of Lost. It is Lost Forest, a beautiful black white and grey T shirt that is really a work of art.


As Cleo says, “Clee Clothing now reflects the honest and personal journey of its founder and designer – Cleo Forstater. The way a musician uses their music, the way an artist uses their art; this is her expression. All the designs, either explicitly or inexplicitly, echo a feeling or thought that Cleo has held.”
Check out Cleoi and you’ll see what I mean.   –

August 20, 2013 at 9:21 pm Leave a comment

Advice from a Sage

Lieh-Tzu, the Taoist sage who rode the wind, was a student of Hu-Tzu and he prided himself on his learning. But one day he realised that he had actually learned nothing, and all the time he had spent with Hu-Tzu was wasted. It was not that Hu-Tzu was a bad teacher. No, it was Lieh-Tzu’s problem. He realised that he wore learning like a blanket, that it was too external and superficial, and that it had not penetrated inside. He was not fulfilling his true capacity and needed to do something about it.

So the story goes,

He went home, and for three years did not leave his house.

He cooked meals for his wife,

Served food to his pigs as though they were human,

Treated everything as he did his family,

From the sculpted jade he returned to the uncarved block,

Till his original self stood forth, detached from all things.

He was free of all tangles

Once and for all, to the end of his life.

This story contains good advice for everyone, but especially parents in how they treat their partners and children. If you imitate Lieh-Tzu you too can have his outcome. Why is that ?

When we read a story like this, we assume that Lieh-Tzu was a sage and therefore a good person. A sage is wise, so he should know what he wants from life that will truly satisfy him. And someone like that would be happy, we assume. But here we see that Lieh-Tzu does these things out of unhappiness. He does not like himself, and wants to change. He leaves his teacher and goes home because he has an intuition that he needs to do this to become whole again. And it is the doing that does it.

The paradox is that Lieh-Tzu undertakes these totally selfless actions, serving only others, and yet the result is that he returns to his original self. This renewal removes all the tangles, obstructions and blockages of mind and body that were stopping him from finding his true capacity.

He did not act selfishly, but his self gained immeasurably, by becoming renewed through his actions. There is a good lesson here. I hope to learn it.

August 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm Leave a comment

Airbrushed Out Of History

I never thought I would share a destiny with Leon Trotsky. Even though we are both Jewish (he was born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein) there is not much we have in common. The one thing we share is that we have both been airbrushed out of History.

After Lev broke with Stalin, Stalin had his publicity department airbrush Lev out of the photos that showed Lev’s role in creating the Soviet Union, in particular his role as the leader of the Red Army. He became one of the disappeared.

Watching Episode 4 of Monty Python: Almost The Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut) I began to understand how Lev must have felt. This episode dealt with the making of Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and I was intrigued to see that they managed to discuss the production of the film without interviewing or even mentioning the Producer of said film – i.e. me.   There is one photo in which I appear but am unidentified.

This airbrushing was done because when this series was made I was already in dispute with the Pythons over Spamalot royalties. It did not suit their case to showcase my role in  setting the film up in the way they wanted, and which benefited them enormously. So they just removed me from history. ‘Almost The Truth’ says it all.

August 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm 1 comment

Dregs And Sediments

I’m preparing my book, The Spiritual Teachings Of The Tao (long out of print) as an e-book, and came across this story from Chuang Tzu that I have always loved. I’d like to share it with you. I title it Dregs:

The world thinks the most valuable exhibition of Tao is found in its classic books. But books are only a collection of words. Words are valuable: what is valuable in them is the ideas they convey. But those ideas are a sequence of something else, and that something else can’t be conveyed by words.

When the world, because of the high value it attaches to words, commits those words to books, the thing it so values them for may not deserve to be valued. Because what the world values isn’t really what’s valuable.

That’s why what we look at and see is only the outward form and colour, and what we listen to and hear are only names and sounds. How sad that people should think that form and colour, name and sound, are enough to give them the real nature of Tao.

Form and colour, name and sound, are certainly not sufficient to convey its real nature, and that’s why ”the wise do not speak and those who speak are not wise.” How can the world know the real nature of Tao?

Duke Huan, seated high up in his hall, was reading out loud, and the wheelwright Pien was making a wheel in the courtyard below. Laying aside his hammer and chisel, Pien walked up the stairs, and interrupted him,

“May I ask your Grace what words you are reading?”

The Duke said, “The words of the sages.”

“Are those sages alive?”, Pien asked.

“No, they’re dead,” was the reply.

“Then”, said the wheelwright, “what you, my ruler, are reading are only the dregs and sediments of dead men.”

The Duke, a lover of wisdom, became upset at this and said, “How can you, a wheelwright, have anything to say about my book? If you can explain yourself, well and good. If you can’t, you shall die!”

The wheelwright said, “Your servant will look at the subject from the point of view of his own craft. In making a wheel, if I go at it gently, it’s certainly pleasant enough, but the workmanship isn’t very strong. If I have to push forcefully, that’s an effort and the joints won’t fit well. Neither too gentle nor too forceful: my hand knows how to do it in harmony with my heart, and a fine wheel is produced. But I can’t tell you how to do it in words – there’s a certain knack to it. I can’t even teach this knack to my son, nor can my son learn it from me. That’s why I’m seventy years old and am still making wheels.

Now these ancient sages of yours must have been just like me – they also had a certain knack that it wasn’t possible for them to convey in words. If you’d been able to sit and learn from them, then perhaps you could’ve picked up that knack. But now they’re dead and gone, and all you’re reading is their dregs and sediments!”

Like the wheelwright, I am nearly 70 years old and am still at the coalface.

August 8, 2013 at 8:54 am Leave a comment

What’s Cookin’? or Instant Filmmaking

We are shooting the web pilot series “What’s Cookin’?” today, The project came about after I attended a conference at Bafta given by the New York Television Festival and MSN on June 14th. The conference was about TV and web content and introduced a competition for producers  –  a “Short Form Storyteller’s Challenge”. The challenge was to produce two episodes of under 2 minutes each of an original short form series. The prize is $75,000 towards the cost of producing the series. The deadline for delivery is August 9th.

I decided to give it a go, and asked Tim Pickett, a young writer-director, to write a series about two teenage boys who decide they can make fame,fortune and women by creating some popular youtube videos. Unfortunately Tim couldn’t work on the idea immediately and delivered two scripts towards the end of July. I had arranged to meet a young director – Iris Helfer- for coffee on July 23rd and told her about my plans. She asked if she could read the scripts,  She liked them, but felt that with only 3 weeks to deliver the finished shows, they were too elaborate for the resources we had.

We met again two days later to talk over the idea, and Iris had done quite a lot of web research. She mentioned Jerry Seinfeld’s series in a car and another web favourite of a man in a box office. I mentioned that I had been thinking of a cookbook, one that was absolutely simple for non cooks, and started with the basics, like a potato and all the ways to cook it. This led us to think of cooking and kitchens, and we came up with the idea of a series set in the kitchen of a house-share, where all the interactions between the characters take place. This seemed ideal since food also brings up issues around money and sex. We bounced around some ideas, and then Iris wrote them up.

We decided to set a workshop with some young actors to improvise the scripts on the next Tuesday and then shoot them on the following weekend. Eight actors turned up for the rehearsal and from the eight we chose a cast of 5 : Elizabeth Guterbock as Laura, Laila Ali as Leah, Chipo Chung as Nora, Adam Weber as Daniel, and Emma Blackman as Mia. After the rehearsal we re-wrote and honed the scripts.

Iris and I started to hunt for a basic crew to work with us and friends introduced us to Jon Hurley as cameraman and Sean Cunningham on sound. Two assistants who worked for me on The Power – Marie Dyche and Will Key – came on as PAs. So we were set. Now it is 12:45 and we are shooting the episode called The Missing Ingredient. After that we shoot The Bad Cook and finish with Spice it Up. Once we edit the three we will decide which two to deliver to MSN. They expect 1000 entries, so the competition will be tough.

A great thanks to everyone who is taking part in this exciting new experiment.

August 3, 2013 at 11:42 am 1 comment

The Blog That Fell From The Sky

Reflections on an age of anxiety.