Years passed, time for thinking about them

Toastmasters completed manuals and projects from 2009

After I finished my AC Gold, the highest in Communication thread at Toastmasters, I begun again at the beginning, with better understanding now, in 2012. Then in July 2013, finished the highest Leadership. That is how I become "Distinguished Toasmaster" which means only that I did learn a lot and gave many speeches and helped the club and other clubs later on too in leadership roles too.

This is a picture showing from where comes the audience for my flickr pictures. It also explains why it is growing all day long as the dawn comes or the sun sets all through it. This days, I had a pic of more then ten thousand but mostly they go around 7000 hits by day. I wonder if all people?

Audience for my French blog "il y a de la vie après 70 ans" comes mostly from France, but also many from USA, Russia and even UK, Germany, China, and then other French speaking audience, as Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and even Morocco!

I can not measure my Standup Comedy activity only by saying that I did begun at age 77 and I did arrive to the goal: 77 gigs now behind me. I got a few cups and won some awards, mostly last year.

This year, I gave Storytelling workshops and a first Keynote and begun organising bigger meetings.

I do not consider it an accomplishment, but a movie was created and projected on huge screen at Goldsmith university on how my life is reflected in my standup comedy activity, two short TV videos, and two new newspaper articles about the same. It seems more surprising then my other activities but for me there are just part of learning - and enjoying the audience. 


Magic Moments

  • Season Bar, near Woodford Station gig 17 December 2013 my last 2013 gig (so so)
  • Lewisham Speakers, Table Topics Master "Magic Moments" went wonderfully
  • Place of gig changed, 6 January, first 2014 gig
My new year resolution so far: speak about those "perfect moments" in our life, or better call them Magic Moments?

 the film "Holliday in handcuffs" ended with that phrase told by the heroine of the film."There is no perfect job, perfect family or perfect life, but there are those perfect moments" - we have sometimes to do some crazy thing, go out of our comfort zone, dare, to arrive at some point to those moments, 
  • My work was never 100% perfect, sometimes great and other times hellish.
  • My family had "some" problems and I had more then one family too.
  • My life was "interesting" full with ups and downs, a lot of them.
And yes, I did have some Perfect Moments, Magic Moments (some longer then others) that I do remember now with joy. 

One of my Perfect Moment this year, where the 2 minutes "elevator pitch" I gave to an audience of 80 a Sunday lunchtime in Los Angeles, at the Judy Carter's conference on the Message of You. 

Before me, a few other went, and did exactly as they were told, after the formula we got at the conference the day before. It seemed to me as if they where puppets. Deciding, it is more important to reach the whole audience, instead of the 5 judges I changed the 'rule' and followed my instinct.

I did succeed!  from the beginning (with a story on how officials from the passport control in the LA airport views me) to end (with other short more humorous stories) and I did hold the audience in my hand, charm them, make them react and feel with. It was a perfect moment with the audience!


Just discovered this on Manhattan comedy school - through google search

…But The Jokes Are New!

Posted on February 20, 2012 by Emily Rosenberg
Doing stand-up takes nerves of steel, a thick skin, and lightning-sharp mental reflexes. Maybe that’s why it’s always been a young person’s game, at least when you’re starting out.

Not anymore. Over in the UK, Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival, the longest running festival of its kind in the country, just hosted the first Silver Comedy Stand-Up of the Year competition. The only requirement for eligibility is that comics must be older than 55. Or, their laugh lines must be on their faces as well as in their material.

The event was born after LCF chief Geoff Rowe talked with his mother’s 70-year-old friend, who’d never been to a comedy club and told him, “I’m too old. It’s not for the likes of me.”
George Baddeley, managing director of Silver Comedy, which conducts comedy workshops for mature individuals, said, “You don’t see new people breaking in who aren’t young – this is a chance for them.”

The fact is, a vast number of vaunted comedians are still going strong at AARP-eligible ages, including 69-year-old Billy Connolly, who just last month was voted “most influential comic” in a poll of fans and top stand-ups in the UK.  In 2009, a 75-year-old comic named Grandma Lee was among the 10 finalists on America’s Got Talent. And look how Jackie Mason, Joan Rivers, and Don Rickles are enduring, with careers still thriving in their golden years.

The Silver Comedy contestants included 24 comedians, both veteran and untested, male and female, some as advanced in age as their 70′s and 80′s. After presenting a three-minute set in the first round of review, the final 10 selected had the opportunity to perform before a paying audience of about 100.
The coveted golden microphone went to 63-year-old transsexual–and seasoned stand-up vet–Shelley Bridgman

Seventy-seven-year-old Julie Kertesz, who was glad to challenge stereotypes about seniors, was awarded Best Old Newcomer. An immigrant who’d never used profanity before she climbed on a stage, she now acknowledges that four-letter words earn her laughs. Kertesz’s act also includes riffs on senior sex lives and her husband’s fooling around.

Most satisfying of  all had to be the audience reaction that night. As one mere child of 18 reported, “I know it was specifically older comedy, but I didn’t see it as that. I just saw it as good comedy.”

Thanks Emily! The award was : Best Silver Comedy Newcomer 2013.

Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival,


How we remember new things?

The "working memory" is storing new things and connecting it to some old. Alas, it has a limited capacity. Peter Doolittle said we can remember 4 to 7 things "unless we do something about it".

That is very important for us public speakers, storytellers, comedians.

How can we remember, how can we make the audience remember?

The strategies he proposes, all would have to be investigated and spoken separately, he does not have a lot of time for it in this TED talk. But he proposes some of them to us how to process them:

- Process what happens as it happens so we could use it later
- Practice, use them, play with them, repeat them
- Embrace the new as it arrives with old knowledge, connect them
- Use imagery : think in images (that is what come more easy to me)
- Organisation and support: I do not know what he means by that

And of course, he begins with a short story (anecdote) : do you see what happened to him after you listened to this speech? I do as if I was still there on the street with him.


A new tiny camera: from panorama to macro

Panorama 30 November to DRL

A new tiny camera, almost lost in my hand, a new Sony Cybershot that I had to buy as my camera broke in Budapest for some reason I do not even understand. But what a joy with a new camera!

It can do a panorama or an image with high resolution from which one can crop this as above. Or it can go near and do a macro picture of a plant or rain drops. Very far, very near, very wide too.

Testing Sony


Jane Fonda, life's third act

"We gain wisdom not by having experiences, by reflecting on these experiences."

Going back, understanding them, creating a story and telling them with a meaning, helps too.


Impro, improves also life. Great 10' by Dave Morris

I could not, yet, copy here direct this TEDx speech, but here is a link to it. On the word Way bellow. The positive from impro, improvisation 'way' so well explained.
Dave Morris a great improviser, coach and speaker: 

"impro also improves your life"!

1. Play (for the joy of it)
2. Let yourself fail (accept it, failing does not make you failure)
3. Listen (not just to ready made up answer, willing to change)
4. Say YES (it takes us somewhere, no stops)
5. Say AND (bring your brick, say yes and, not yes but...)
6. Play the game (following rules funnels the creative process)
7. Relax and have fun (yes! Do relax! Do experiment). 


Become comedian at 77, they wrote

Sunday newspaper

Sunday, in the Budapest newspaper Bors. or Borsonline.hu (with another photo)

When a newpaper interview you, they have great photographers that take a photo for it, and this time, Istvàn Moricz has offered me 32 of the photos taken, a treasure! 

At the same time, I was offered, because of this page (a whole page in the journal page 5) another interview on a Hungarian radio station. Yes, not so bad, one leads to another. And so on.


Tick Tock!

Tick Tock! Come to our Storytelling Workshop 11 November

From Lyn Roseaman, Grosvenor Square Speakers

“Each day comes with 86,400 seconds. Tick Tock.” Or as the Mad Hatter puts it a little more explicitly: "If you knew time as well as I do ... you wouldn't talk about wasting it."

On 11 November 2013 at 6.30pm Grosvenor Square Speakers is delighted to host a Storytelling Workshop led by Julie Kertesz DTM at Cumberland Hotel Gt Cumberland Place, W1H 7DL (close to Marble Arch underground station).

The clock is ticking. Don't miss out on the opportunity to improve your storytelling skills. Stories can take your speeches to a whole new level. They help your audience engage with you, remember your message and act on any call to action.

All you need to do to come along is prepare a 3-minute speech entitled 'The first time…!' using a personal story to deliver it.

There is a charge of £5.78 per non-GSS member ticket and the event can be accessed on http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/9049393981. Tickets are limited so if you'd like to join in this fun and valuable evening, book before time runs out. Tick tock!

Julie Kertesz is an experienced Storytelling workshop leader. She is a successful stand-up comedian, storyteller, keynote speaker and coach.


Three latest book, I study

Finished the Deliver a great TED talk, and one day I will. Much to study and learn more till then.
The Message of you by Judy Carter I will put to study the second time in a quiet month.
I have finished both of them for the moment - once. Now, with the distance, I understand better both.

The comedy bible, is still not read, I was overwhelmed with other tasks after I got it. Finishing my 77th, yes successful comedy gig,  organising meetings, and now my next Personal Storytelling workshop in Grosvenor Square Toastmasters club, with Lyn, VPE who is invaluable help.
Monday evening is approaching. This books will not be shown, there are the "next level".

I begun with the Power of Personal Storytelling and Lipman's book: Improving your Storytelling.
My prefered book: Personal StorytellingBests of my Speaker's books-5

There are many others like Wired for Story, The Story Theatre Method, etc. that deal with storytelling and from where I learned! But all those have to be absorbed, understood, embedded, one by one.


A personal story, for the audience

What it means to 'tell a personal story, from which you learned something important' and at the same time 'it is not about you, it is about the audiences?

I often was confused.

Of course, personal means it is about you.

Gar Reynolds explains it so well in his blog: it is ABOUT your experience, but telling something general FOR the audience. Something they can relate and learn from.
On sharing your own personal story to make a difference.
"In storytelling, the key is to make sure your message is about the audience, not about yourself.

This may seem counter intuitive when you are telling your own story, when you are talking about your own life, but it's actually not so hard. However, when I say "about your audience," I really mean *for* your audience.

Even when you are sharing aspects of your own life, it's in the spirit of contribution. The best presentations are always about contribution.

The important thing is to choose a theme from your own life that is clearly relevant for the audience."
That is what I did try, from the beginning of my storytelling. see mistaken identity. But without 'telling much' more embedded inside the story. I think, that makes the difference between a storyteller and a public speaker. Is it? But always thinking what 'general message' can be learned from it, something connecting us.

"Whether your aim is to inform, inspire, or to persuade—or a mix of all of these—your theme should be something which people can relate to, something they can take away with them and ponder. In both cases below, the presenters tell you what happened in their past to bring them to where they are today, but those details, however interesting they may be, are not the key theme.

The particulars of the events are not the main point to takeway.

The theme of embracing one's own difference—and the resilience needed to do so—is a message for almost everyone. These talks clearly resonated with the largely audience, I hope they resonate with you as well."
In his post, see below, 2 video exemples are published.


Storytelling workshop, with Julie Kertesz

This is the third year I give them, but the first on The London Speaker Website. It is also a new way to do it, inside a club meeting.



Dog near the pool. Hook: Jeopardy

We are hooked because of the danger we feel. Satisfied by the end.

I begun to study the free class, begun the 25th October to end December on the web from Potsdam university Iverness, called the Future of Storytelling. At the beginning, videos on classic storytelling, on the structure and discussion about story. Fascinating!

It is interactive with hyperlinks, and additional material to view or read, discussions between "us" too. A very interesting experience! Here is one "obligatory" recommended video to look before seeing "unit 6 of first part". Yes, after this we are ready to listen to "hook" and also "emotional impact".


Storytelling workshop the 11 November, by Julie Kertesz

Grit: passion & perseverance for longtime goals

From TED.com not only what she said but also how she tells it}


The message of you, twitter: #TMOY

How rich were the three days of Judy Carter "the message of you" conference.

Titled after her last book: how to create a keynote, the conference was more of a workshop, involving us the maximum possible. With more then 80 participants, plus ten or so speakers of different professions around the business, and at least ten helping in different aspects, from twittering, taking videos from two angles, shooting photos, taking and videoing short interview of what we learned from the conference, the MC who introduced the pitchers at noon lunch, the warm welcome at the entrance table, so many have been there and contributed!

After my to conferences at which I participated in October I can appreciate even more the absolute professionalism of Judy Carter's three days in Los Angeles.

What work and energy!

She gave so much of herself, her knowledge and all what she believes goes into the discovering, making and marketing a successful one hour keynote. At the same time, she succeeded to bring many very diverse professionals, giving their knowledge from inside the business.

A great actor Tim Bagley, helped the first day to 'find our message' and told a story in wonderful way at the end of day, too. We were all tired by almost 10 pm, but listened and will remember his hilarious and very serious story.

I did not find my message, that day, was more confused then uplifted. It took time, to decide. Because we were asked to think of our lowest moment in life. I did and that moment was not where I have a message to tell to others. As it took me seven more years in fact to come out of it.

My message is what I live now. The creative activity, even more so at old age.

Never too late.

That does apply also to any age in fact and has many ways and variations. After speaking to someone who after one unhappy try gave up on men and love, I decided to make a speech, story, also on : there is always an yet another chance. And that it is worth loving, even if it does not last a whole life. So much to tell about this! not only 'sex' but giving all heart in it, as I told myself also when I met F. 'If only for four month' it is worth. That one lasted years. But I even do not regret when I was fooled, I did love. When one loves one is so happy!
We have "seen" each other
The interaction with all the other very interesting participants was another big plus. We had enough time to know each other, to speak and discover. Interact.
Candid is often even better
Can not tell now, another time, all we learned, experiences, many great moments. Some disturbing. As I do not like to be told: that is the way. As I am convinced, there are many ways.

Eureka moment for me was when Judy insisted again and again to SEE and appreciate other people. Tell them you appreciate them, make them SEEN. And suddenly, I realised: that is what I have done this last ten years: showed my appreciation with my camera to thousands of people. Telling them something I appreciated. Making them feel SEEN. Perhaps 5000 till now and growing...
Violonist near Sacre Coeur (4)
And my pictures are SEEN too, and the people I take with them. Last week, one day only 10000 came to see my photos, now it dropped back to 'only 7000'.
Joy of life 4
I remember the worker at the building how proud he posed, and the driver of camion, and the vegetable seller, the butcher, and the mother with a kid. So many with whom I exchanged a few words. Yes, I needed the contact too.
Market Argenteuil Val N.Dame-06
But each time I showed or even told my appreciation and left them with the impression they were SEEN.
Photos copyright 2007 Julie Kertesz
More, next time.


Storytelling: london Los Angeles

I could tell, the trip from London to LA is 11 and half hours, or round it to 12h. That is all.

Perhaps, add that I walked to the bus happy it was no more raining and that I took a warm jersey and a scarf around my neck, as I was not totally recovered from cold.

Without umbrella, taking chance it will not rain, as the web app predicted.

The bus came fast, the tube in jubilee line in 3' as usual. Then I had to change at green park. I did not find the elevator, a lift, but twice, a different young man seeing me hesitate descending, then ascending the stairs with my bag, helped me. The Picadilly line leading to Heathrough terminal takes long, but in fact only 15' longer then the fast train from Paddington that is first proposed, but you have to pay, even if, like me, you have a free pass. So I walk up earlier and before 6 in the morning was on my way.

I did not know, on the same underground wagon was one of the young flight attendants, but he did remember me.

I arrived at 8 am at the terminal 1: interminable corridors, as at green park, but my luggage had weals. And was not heavy.

Let us backpedal now, and flesh it out.

Add more jeopardy.

I was preoccupied till Saturday midnight? with the toastmasters division b (Brillant !) workshops and meeting and attendance, it went well but Sunday I was exhausted! Monday, I could not breath of a cold I caught. Thusday, it was worse. Suddenly, Wednesday I realised: I did nothing to prepare for my departure.

When I leave next day, from where? Which airline? I found some notes in my calendar made a month ago as I found a cheep flight online through cheapofight. Lufthansa? United? 10:30 or 11:30? I have to book in!

Did not succeed online, so I called. "You should print your ticket and boarding pass"

My printer does not work. "Go outside, print it somewhere." But I have it on my iPad. After a long waiting, finally she told me "that should be ok"

Then I got an email: I was booked in, the place decided. So, yes, at least I can show it. But I realised, Lufthansa declared: you can have only one baggage with you, less then 7 kg! Narrow, small. If bigger, 100 pounds fine. If heavier, 200 pounds fine. Ouch! Almost more then the whole trip!

I hesitated, all my luggages are heavy in themselves. I took the minimum amount of clothing, no second shoe, and did not take the book, relatively heavy that I wanted to show.

70 things to do when you are 70, remained home. I still worried about the luggage's size and weigh. Till last minute. Should I buy a small, light one? It was on sale for 150 pounds. Well, if worst comes...

It did not.

With my passport, they found the ticket, I got a boarding pass, my bag was just 7 kg and the company not Lufthansa but United, with a great service. And, hurrah! Older and heavier flight attendants! The only young was the one who remembered me from the tube!

Two hours waiting for the flight, no luck with the seat. It was as I asked for, but no place to lean down like last time.

I was in!

Should I have renewed my US waiver? Eta something they call it now. Should I have taken the paper my son printed for me in July with me? What if they do not let me in?

After 12 long hours, no good film, a good book, I arrived: the visa was embedded in my passport chip.


We have all a story to tell, so tell yours

Slide by Freddie Danniels
Yesterday, no 77th gig.

I set near someone who had a cold and passed it to me. I can barely breath. When you are with many people, as we where at the Division B meeting Saturday, 150 or more, that could happen.

Probably for the best, and I will be well soon.

At the moment, home, I have to take time and think. Again. Take a pause. Reflect. What I want to do next year? What road, what path to choose between those possible?

I will finish my 77th gig, and do slowly some more, such a fun! but that is not my main aim for sure. I does give a message, in some ways too and I learn from it each time.

Too old for becoming a great keynote speaker, even if I can do it from time to time. And getting a "lot of money" from it would not be worth all the effort it takes to market it.

What remains, I found out with my Speech Buddy yesterday is creating, offering, doing workshops.

I love teaching! Always did. Am good at it.

From childhood, and school, when I taught Algebra to classmates who needed it, then Chemical Analysis to young girls in the laboratory I was chief, to the Washington's American University, half lifetime ago when I did teach also Analytical Chemistry, this time to the Students of year 3.

That time, encouraged by Toastmasters I joined, and books I read, I went to the Chemistry Chair asking "I love teaching, but how can I know if I am good at teaching?" And she answered me "We just have a position for replacing a professor who got a baby, try it."

After the semester, she told me: "Julie, you are great teacher. You will be able to teach anything to anyone!"

She (the university) did not pay me a lot, but this words were the best reward I could get.

Later, I did teach, computer programming at beginner level, even if I just learned it, I did teach different use of programs on Macintosh, one by one or in groups.

I loved it. They loved it. And they loved me: their faces would light as they met me at the technical university court yard. We connected. Just before my 60th birthday, I did empower many working at that university. Meanwhile, continuing to coach also one by one.

Yes, I love teaching, in many ways.

Arriving in London, I learned a lot then begun to give it back, organising storytelling workshops over six month, empowering many to go up and tell their stories even on stage. Enjoying the confidence that gave them.

A workshop is less paid (or not at all sometimes) then a keynote, so what? It does give me a lot of joy. It does empower others to do new things or old things better.

I love to learn and experiment, love the contact with others, and yes, also enjoy a lot to teach.

How can I pitch this in 2 minutes?


My 77th gig

Monday 21 Oct 8pm
with MC Geoff Alderman

A very special Comedy Night at the Rhythm Factory MONDAY. FREE ENTRY Come and watch!!!! 
18 Whitechapel Road London Borough of Tower Hamlets E1 1EW

For me, for sure it will be special as it is my 77th gig... and it will be a pleasure to be again with Sonia, with whom I learned and then gigged at our beginnings. She is not often MC. Perhaps, soon or sometimes they will call me "headliner", meaning presenting longer set.
Sy Thomas 
Rick Keisewetter
Tim Rivett
Gary Souvs
Jack QZ
Max Flemming
Sonia Aste
Julie Kertesz


Saturday 19 October, Division B Workshops & Contests WC2B 5AZ

9:30 Welcome, presentation, "If Ralph were here today, what would he say?"
Ralph Smedley, did create the first "toastmasters" club in 1905 and with his perseverance 
and experience founded Toastmasters International.

Keynote Presentations

 The Power of Television,  Dr Robin Walker, London TV
 How I Became a TV Presenter, Suzanne Parker
Workshops 1st, Attendees then could choose one of the following workshops:

Beginning Jpeg

With Body and Voice, Andrew Bennett 

An interactive workshop to help you explore your vocal potential and body language.

At the Service of your Audience, Chris Howell 
How do you get a connection and maintain it?

Break then all again together:

Connect through True Stories, Joanna Yates
Identify how you can tell your stories in a way that connect and sticks with your audience.

7 Insights into Winning International Speeches, Freddie Daniells
What does it take to get to the world finals of the International Speech contest, and win?

Afternoon, the Humorous speech contest then the Table Topics Contest begins.


We all won, organising, assisting Darren's workshop.

DSC_1260 by rbransco
Organising a workshop, what a work! But also what a wonderful experience it gives.

From time to time, I asked myself "why did I got into it?" as I am sure, Ajit, the president of the Citi Criers Toastmasters club did too.

And Freddie Daniels, and probably even our main star, Darren, must have asked at same time the same question "Why?"

Darren Lacroix, Winner of 2001 International Speech Contest, did whole two hours for the 120 present Toastmasters and those guests from the Citi Corps building, whom we hope also learned from it and will think seriously of becoming also Toastmasters. We did work in the shadow mainly.

How much planning is involved, how many questions to answer and resolve.

Where it will take place? What will be the main subject? Who will come? Who will organise it? How to invite all who could learn from it? Those are only some of the many questions that come one after the other. Till the end, Jacqueline Purcell, our Toastmasters Division B (Brilliant!) Governor, whom I am this year the Assistant for Education and Training, counselled us and helped a lot also. And gave me back my courage when needed.

I learned a lot through the experience also on group effort and team work, what a wonderful laboratory of practical learning skills Toastmasters is - when you begin to use it and pitch in. As you help something happening, you profit yourself a lot too.

Learning, by doing. Learning by organising. Learning by speaking.

And meeting wonderful people, knowing better each other, finding ways to obtain what needed so many could learn from a new Educational Event.

Now, that it is over and well, I can say, I have the answer to "why I did put so much time and energy in it" (and of course, not only me): I go a lot from it, learned and next time could apply it and do it with even more courage. And had great contacts too, with those I already knew and some I just met. We all did grow from it.

One immediate feedback from yesterday contest winner, Steve: "I put in my speech tonight already one tip learned from Darren". Someone listening in, told him "you should not change your speech last minute". Well, it takes time, we experiment, we grew better. And after all, he did win, yesterday!

We cannot win all contests, but we can win experience that does count a lot and satisfaction of well done job and great team experience too.


Show, Don't Tell

To speak and make it stick, one has to tell a story. A personal story revealing from oneself, telling of our problems and how we have overcome them.


No. Showing.

Bringing as much the reader, the listener, the audience into the scenes we want to make alive as if it was happening, in our stories.

Noble describes in this book, one by one the differences between tell and show giving tools, tips and great examples.

His examples are for writing, but I found they apply also to telling. When we tell a story live it is even more easy to "show" play a dialog for example then when writing it. The same with comedy or storytelling too.


One automn leave, so many visits!

Yesterday, I had to go to the hospital to have my dressing changed. "Why did you not change it for a whole week?" I was told not to do it home, last time. Both, let me frustrated.

Happy, I took my small camera with me, and at the entrance of the Hospital Yard took some pictures I really like. Fall, from far and from near. Once I uploaded them to Flickr, I could not stop myself, looking again "how many have looked yesterday at my pictures?"

Good surprise, that made my day even more, but it is still a mystery to me. I do see my live audience, even know many following my blogs, but who can be and from where, coming to see: more then nine thousand in a single day?
Should I believe in this?

5000 - 9000 in a single day? 5 million "views" in the last 9 years ?

I do know, they come from all over the world, and that pictures are more international and speak to different cultures. You do not have to speak a language to be touched or interested in a picture.


Thank you Darren LaCroix for visiting London Olympians (From London Speakers Blog)

October 06, 2013

Thank you Darren LaCroix for visiting London Olympians

From Julie Kertesz, DTM

Darren LaCroix with Katja van Koten
Darren LaCroix with Katja van Koten, 
Pres.London Olympians
A warm welcome was given to to 2001 International Speech Champion Darren LaCroix at London Olympians Thursday meeting, 3 October 2013.

Not only did Darren give us a great 20 minute speech he also gave feedback to the three speakers before him, from which we all could learn. He also answered a Table Topic question! It was a great Toastmasters club meeting with fun and learning.

Tuesday 8 October, Darren LaCroix, will be back in London again, this time with a two hour workshop organised by Division B with Citi Criers Toastmasters Club. Start 6:15, at Canary Wharf's Citi Corporation building (Jubilee line).

"Speak outside of Toastmasters for fun, profit and club building."

You can register at http://meetdarren.eventbrite.co.uk/


75th gig : Huge success !

An evening like tonight makes me remember why I like Standup Comedy, and why I performed already at 75 gigs (and next week going to an 76th with Hacklers encouraged, near the Liverpool station.)

Black Bird Comedy, was tonight in New Cross, SE14 5LW, at the Telegraph pub.

What a wonderful audience, MC and comedians! They did laugh strong and long during each of my gags, 10 minutes of laughter and "I loved you!" "You were so funny!" "you were so great and funny" at the pause. I got the response I expected every time, tonight. What a pleasure!


70 things to do when you turn 70

Yes, I am the 27th essay: Never too late.

I got two complimentary copies, and ordered two more (9 £ each): there is so much wisdom from so many different seniors in it!

Here are first some citations from the past some used:

George Bernard Show:
"We do not stop playing because we grow old,
We grow old because we stop playing."

And some others advice: begin to play again! Fool around.


At his 70th year birthday, Mark Twain:
"At 70 you may through aside the decent reserved you which has oppressed you, and outspoken stand unafraid..."
So many good metaphors too. Here is one from Nikki Giovanni.
"I am saying. This is your car. You drive it. If you got a passages for part of it, good for you. If not, let the top down and hit the road. Now. Go and be happy."
This resonates to me so much also, as to celebrate my 70th birthday, I did hit the road, literally and for the first time in years drove a car long distance again: from Washington DC to the outer banks of North Carolina. I was drunk with the pleasure: I can do it still. Then, back, I had for a short while, a passager. Before, I had to let the top down and go my way again. Discovering new path, new roads, new joys. In Paris then in London.


Most interesting from 50 000 ? 5 million visitors?

2,672 so far today, yesterday  7,422 in all 5,011,044

I have passed the cap of 5 million visitors in Flickr .

Julie70 - View my most interesting photos on Flickriver


Colourfully illuminated, Finsbury Square

Many joys yesterday, even if the gig near Morgate was not between them.

It did bring some great laughter, even if the mood was far from what I expected.

In the small old truc, at new cross? the red bus gig brought me a joy, with less audience then this one. And also better comedians.

I should have stayed, to see the others after pause, but tired, I went out and took this image, enchanted.

One never knows where we go someplace and what we will find there!

Coming home, with not the right bus either, but having to walk longer: good for my legs!


Free London Comedy Meetup, organiser Chris Douce

I will be performing there too, it will be my 74th gig! Did it... Chris douce goes with his Meetup group, in many interesting places bringing each time eager audience with him.
Julie, at The Cult Of Comedy

Pegasus Comedy, Moorgate

  • Thursday, September 26, 2013
    8:00 PM to 
    Here is his text about Pegasus Comedy at the Flying Horse, 52 Wilson street EC2A 2ER London, the 26 September.
  • 52 Wilson Street, London, EC2A 2ER (map)
    Travel to Moorgate (national rail or underground), and the Flying Horse is a short walk away, just off one of the squares in the area. Any problems, give me a ring.
  • The last visit to Pegasus comedy was a blast and the promoter (and acts) loved us so much, we were asked back.
    Situated in the heart of the city, Pegasus comedy is a real gem of the London open-mic circuit.  It's a place where new and experienced comics come along to try out their new material, on their journey towards getting paid gigs.
    The night is run by comic Bill Bedford and the MC for the night is going to be Glen Lenny Sherman, a cheeky chappie cockney type geezer who we saw do a set in Deptford back in August.  With Bill booking the acts and Glen being the charming host for the night, it's bound to be a cracking night. Well, he was friendly, a bit strange humour.
    Just like last time, Pegasus runs in quite a small room, so I've put a limit on the registrations.  Please register if you're only able to come (so other members don't miss out).  There isn't any formal register or anything - all you need to bring is yourself.
    Looking forward to seeing you on the 26th!  It's going to be a cracking night!


We remember, when... Ted Speech by Joshua Foer

Transcript of his speech. The italic and bold is from me.
I'd like to invite you to close your eyes.

Imagine yourself standing outside the front door of your home. I'd like you to notice the color of the door, the material that it's made out of. Now visualize a pack of overweight nudists on bicycles. They are competing in a naked bicycle race, and they are headed straight for your front door. I need you to actually see this. They are pedaling really hard, they're sweaty, they're bouncing around a lot. And they crash straight into the front door of your home. Bicycles fly everywhere, wheels roll past you, spokes end up in awkward places. Step over the threshold of your door into your foyer, your hallway, whatever's on the other side, and appreciate the quality of the light. The light is shining down on Cookie Monster. Cookie Monster is waving at you from his perch on top of a tan horse. It's a talking horse. You can practically feel his blue fur tickling your nose. You can smell the oatmeal raisin cookie that he's about to shovel into his mouth. Walk past him. Walk past him into your living room. In your living room, in full imaginative broadband, picture Britney Spears. She is scantily clad, she's dancing on your coffee table, and she's singing "Hit Me Baby One More Time." And then follow me into your kitchen. In your kitchen, the floor has been paved over with a yellow brick road and out of your oven are coming towards you Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion from "The Wizard of Oz," hand-in-hand skipping straight towards you.

Okay. Open your eyes.

I want to tell you about a very bizarre contest that is held every spring in New York City. It's called the United States Memory Championship. And I had gone to cover this contest a few years back as a science journalist expecting, I guess, that this was going to be like the Superbowl of savants. This was a bunch of guys and a few ladies, widely varying in both age and hygienic upkeep.


They were memorizing hundreds of random numbers, looking at them just once. They were memorizing the names of dozens and dozens and dozens of strangers. They were memorizing entire poems in just a few minutes. They were competing to see who could memorize the order of a shuffled pack of playing cards the fastest. I was like, this is unbelievable. These people must be freaks of nature.

And I started talking to a few of the competitors. This is a guy called Ed Cook who had come over from England where he had one of the best trained memories. And I said to him, "Ed, when did you realize that you were a savant?" And Ed was like, "I'm not a savant. In fact, I have just an average memory. Everybody who competes in this contest will tell you that they have just an average memory. We've all trained ourselves to perform these utterly miraculous feats of memory using a set of ancient techniques, techniques invented 2,500 years ago in Greece, the same techniques that Cicero had used to memorize his speeches, that medieval scholars had used to memorize entire books." And I was like, "Whoa. How come I never heard of this before?"

And we were standing outside the competition hall, and Ed, who is a wonderful, brilliant, but somewhat eccentric English guy, says to me, "Josh, you're an American journalist. Do you know Britney Spears?" I'm like, "What? No. Why?" "Because I really want to teach Britney Spears how to memorize the order of a shuffled pack of playing cards on U.S. national television. It will prove to the world that anybody can do this."


I was like, "Well I'm not Britney Spears, but maybe you could teach me. I mean, you've got to start somewhere, right?" And that was the beginning of a very strange journey for me.

I ended up spending the better part of the next year not only training my memory, but also investigating it, trying to understand how it works, why it sometimes doesn't work and what its potential might be.

I met a host of really interesting people. This is a guy called E.P. He's an amnesic who had, very possibly, the very worst memory in the world. His memory was so bad that he didn't even remember he had a memory problem, which is amazing. And he was this incredibly tragic figure, but he was a window into the extent to which our memories make us who we are.

The other end of the spectrum: I met this guy. This is Kim Peek. He was the basis for Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie "Rain Man." We spent an afternoon together in the Salt Lake City Public Library memorizing phone books, which was scintillating.


And I went back and I read a whole host of memory treatises, treatises written 2,000-plus years ago in Latin in Antiquity and then later in the Middle Ages. And I learned a whole bunch of really interesting stuff. One of the really interesting things that I learned is that once upon a time, this idea of having a trained, disciplined, cultivated memory was not nearly so alien as it would seem to us to be today. Once upon a time, people invested in their memories, in laboriously furnishing their minds.

Over the last few millenia we've invented a series of technologies -- from the alphabet to the scroll to the codex, the printing press, photography, the computer, the smartphone -- that have made it progressively easier and easier for us to externalize our memories, for us to essentially outsource this fundamental human capacity. These technologies have made our modern world possible, but they've also changed us. They've changed us culturally, and I would argue that they've changed us cognitively. Having little need to remember anymore, it sometimes seems like we've forgotten how.

One of the last places on Earth where you still find people passionate about this idea of a trained, disciplined, cultivated memory is at this totally singular memory contest. It's actually not that singular, there are contests held all over the world. And I was fascinated, I wanted to know how do these guys do it.

A few years back a group of researchers at University College London brought a bunch of memory champions into the lab. They wanted to know: Do these guys have brains that are somehow structurally, anatomically different from the rest of ours? The answer was no. Are they smarter than the rest of us? They gave them a bunch of cognitive tests, and the answer was not really.

There was however one really interesting and telling difference between the brains of the memory champions and the control subjects that they were comparing them to. When they put these guys in an fMRI machine, scanned their brains while they were memorizing numbers and people's faces and pictures of snowflakes, they found that the memory champions were lighting up different parts of the brain than everyone else. Of note, they were using, or they seemed to be using, a part of the brain that's involved in spatial memory and navigation. Why? And is there something the rest of us can learn from this?

The sport of competitive memorizing is driven by a kind of arms race where every year somebody comes up with a new way to remember more stuff more quickly, and then the rest of the field has to play catchup.

This is my friend Ben Pridmore, three-time world memory champion. On his desk in front of him are 36 shuffled packs of playing cards that he is about to try to memorize in one hour, using a technique that he invented and he alone has mastered. He used a similar technique to memorize the precise order of 4,140 random binary digits in half an hour. Yeah.

And while there are a whole host of ways of remembering stuff in these competitions, everything, all of the techniques that are being used, ultimately come down to a concept that psychologists refer to as elaborative encoding.

And it's well illustrated by a nifty paradox known as the Baker/baker paradox, which goes like this: If I tell two people to remember the same word, if I say to you, "Remember that there is a guy named Baker." That's his name. And I say to you, "Remember that there is a guy who is a baker." And I come back to you at some point later on, and I say, "Do you remember that word that I told you a while back? Do you remember what it was?" The person who was told his name is Baker is less likely to remember the same word than the person was told his job is that he is a baker. Same word, different amount of remembering; that's weird. What's going on here?

Well the name Baker doesn't actually mean anything to you. It is entirely untethered from all of the other memories floating around in your skull. But the common noun baker, we know bakers. Bakers wear funny white hats. Bakers have flour on their hands. Bakers smell good when they come home from work. Maybe we even know a baker. And when we first hear that word, we start putting these associational hooks into it that make it easier to fish it back out at some later date. The entire art of what is going on in these memory contests and the entire art of remembering stuff better in everyday life is figuring out ways to transform capital B Bakers into lower-case B bakers -- to take information that is lacking in context, in significance, in meaning and transform it in some way so that it becomes meaningful in the light of all the other things that you have in your mind.

One of the more elaborate techniques for doing this dates back 2,500 years to Ancient Greece. It came to be known as the memory palace. The story behind its creation goes like this: There was a poet called Simonides who was attending a banquet. He was actually the hired entertainment, because back then if you wanted to throw a really slamming party, you didn't hire a D.J., you hired a poet. And he stands up, delivers his poem from memory, walks out the door, and at the moment he does, the banquet hall collapses, kills everybody inside. It doesn't just kill everybody, it mangles the bodies beyond all recognition. Nobody can say who was inside, nobody can say where they were sitting. The bodies can't be properly buried. It's one tragedy compounding another. Simonides, standing outside, the sole survivor amid the wreckage, closes his eyes and has this realization, which is that in his mind's eye, he can see where each of the guests at the banquet had been sitting. And he takes the relatives by the hand and guides them each to their loved ones amid the wreckage.

What Simonides figured out at that moment is something that I think we all kind of intuitively know, which is that, as bad as we are at remembering names and phone numbers and word-for-word instructions from our colleagues, we have really exceptional visual and spatial memories. If I asked you to recount the first 10 words of the story that I just told you about Simonides, chances are you would have a tough time with it. But I would wager that if I asked you to recall who is sitting on top of a talking tan horse in your foyer right now, you would be able to see that.

The idea behind the memory palace is to create this imagined edifice in your mind's eye and populate it with images of the things that you want to remember -- the crazier, weirder, more bizarre, funnier, raunchier, stinkier the image is, the more unforgettable it's likely to be. This is advice that goes back 2,000-plus years to the earliest Latin memory treatises.

So how does this work? Let's say that you've been invited to TED center stage to give a speech and you want to do it from memory, and you want to do it the way that Cicero would have done it if he had been invited to TEDxRome 2,000 years ago. What you might do is picture yourself at the front door of your house. And you'd come up with some sort of an absolutely crazy, ridiculous, unforgettable image to remind you that the first thing you want to talk about is this totally bizarre contest. And then you'd go inside your house, and you would see an image of Cookie Monster on top of Mister Ed. And that would remind you that you would want to then introduce your friend Ed Cook. And then you'd see an image of Britney Spears to remind you of this funny anecdote you want to tell. And you go into your kitchen, and the fourth topic you were going to talk about was this strange journey that you went on for a year, and you have some friends to help you remember that.

This is how Roman orators memorized their speeches -- not word-for-word, which is just going to screw you up, but topic-for-topic. In fact, the phrase "topic sentence," that comes from the Greek word "topos," which means "place." That's a vestige of when people used to think about oratory and rhetoric in these sorts of spatial terms. The phrase "in the first place," that's like in the first place of your memory palace.

I thought this was just fascinating, and I got really into it. And I went to a few more of these memory contests. And I had this notion that I might write something longer about this subculture of competitive memorizers. But there was a problem. The problem was that a memory contest is a pathologically boring event. (Laughter) Truly, it is like a bunch of people sitting around taking the SATs. I mean, the most dramatic it gets is when somebody starts massaging their temples. And I'm a journalist, I need something to write about. I know that there's this incredible stuff happening in these people's minds, but I don't have access to it.

And I realized, if I was going to tell this story, I needed to walk in their shoes a little bit. And so I started trying to spend 15 or 20 minutes every morning before I sat down with my New York Times just trying to remember something. Maybe it was a poem. Maybe it was names from an old yearbook that I bought at a flea market. And I found that this was shockingly fun. I never would have expected that. It was fun because this is actually not about training your memory. What you're doing is you're trying to get better and better and better at creating, at dreaming up, these utterly ludicrous, raunchy, hilarious and hopefully unforgettable images in your mind's eye. And I got pretty into it.

This is me wearing my standard competitive memorizer's training kit. It's a pair of earmuffs and a set of safety goggles that have been masked over except for two small pinholes, because distraction is the competitive memorizer's greatest enemy.

I ended up coming back to that same contest that I had covered a year earlier. And I had this notion that I might enter it, sort of as an experiment in participatory journalism. It'd make, I thought, maybe a nice epilogue to all my research. Problem was the experiment went haywire. I won the contest, which really wasn't supposed to happen.


Now it is nice to be able to memorize speeches and phone numbers and shopping lists, but it's actually kind of beside the point. These are just tricks. They are tricks that work because they're based on some pretty basic principles about how our brains work. And you don't have to be building memory palaces or memorizing packs of playing cards to benefit from a little bit of insight about how your mind works.

We often talk about people with great memories as though it were some sort of an innate gift, but that is not the case. Great memories are learned. At the most basic level, we remember when we pay attention. We remember when we are deeply engaged. We remember when we are able to take a piece of information and experience and figure out why it is meaningful to us, why it is significant, why it's colorful, when we're able to transform it in some way that it makes sense in the light of all of the other things floating around in our minds, when we're able to transform Bakers into bakers.

The memory palace, these memory techniques, they're just shortcuts. In fact, they're not even really shortcuts. They work because they make you work. They force a kind of depth of processing, a kind of mindfulness, that most of us don't normally walk around exercising. But there actually are no shortcuts. This is how stuff is made memorable.

And I think if there's one thing that I want to leave you with, it's what E.P., the amnesic who couldn't even remember that he had a memory problem, left me with, which is the notion that our lives are the sum of our memories. How much are we willing to lose from our already short lives by losing ourselves in our Blackberries, our iPhones, by not paying attention to the human being across from us who is talking with us, by being so lazy that we're not willing to process deeply?

I learned firsthand that there are incredible memory capacities latent in all of us. But if you want to live a memorable life, you have to be the kind of person who remembers to remember.

Thank you.



Judy thanking Judy

Yesterday, one hour consultation over the web and Skype. Me, through my IPad.

Before, Judy Carter, has studied three of my videos and prepared her advices. Other suggestions came through our discussions.

When the time passed, and even exceeded, she sent me the text written during our discussion and also all the recorded conversation as voice.

It's fascinating, listening at it again and realising how she is creating. Listening, hear her thinking laud, and coming up with ideas one after the other. Jokes and the suggestions of my message.

This morning, feeling a little exhausted, I did nothing, I give myself a little rest before plunging, studying it and trying it out. She opened doors, now it is up to me to go through them and reach many others.

It was a very meaningful consultation!