19 January 1996

Observationson inventive ad campaign

Sour views of Somerset

Will to win is driving force

SLEEPING Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White… it is very easy to be carried back to your childhood as you thumb through the latest cross stitch book* by Julie Hasler. It contains no less than 14 designs depicting some of our most traditional and best-loved nursery stories.

The wide variety of projects includes a framed picture, a stool, a draw-string bag and ideas for brightening up the nursery, or, indeed, any other room in the house.

There are sections on personalised towels and borders and motifs suitable for childrens wear or bed linen.

All the usual information for beginners is included and the black-and-white charts, though not, perhaps, as easy to follow as coloured ones, have the advantage of being easy to photo- copy. This is useful for people like myself who find it easier to work from a single sheet of paper than directly from the book, particularly with the larger designs such as Jack the Giant Killer, which is printed in two halves. MP

*Nursery Cross Stitch by Julie Hasler, David Porteous Editions (£11.99).

ON the arable farmers bookshelf may well lie some very interesting little books with an air of mystery about them.

In the early 1980s Cyanamid of Great Britain sent out to selected farmers some copies of Warnes Observer pocket books carrying a special dust jacket to promote Avenge* wild oat herbicide and Stomp* winter barley treatment.

The books themselves were standard Observers with the distinctive Cyanamid jackets in place of the originals or in some cases no jacket at all. They were sent out over a period of three years at one a month for the first four months of the year, with one last one being sent in November 1982.

The first four all had the same basic jacket, predominantly black with the Avenge motif radiating from the corner and the title Birds (1), Trees (4), Wild Animals (5) and Astronomy (32) on white at the top. On the back there were a few clever words tying the book to the product.

In 1981 my favourites in the series were delivered. They had some quite stunning artwork, with the Avenge motif and the books title cleverly worked into the cover picture. Again predominantly black. The titles, apart from Weather (22), were very non-agricultural – Modern Art (34), Awards and Medals (55) and Coins (69). Were they trying to put a bit of culture into our rural lives? "The promotion for Avenge in 1982 is concentrating on six major benefits," said the blurb on the now light-blue jackets with a "6" design for the last quartet to be sent. The books were a mixed bag of Insects (17) (6 legs), Cricket (49) (6 runs, etc), Firearms (75) (6 gun) and a tourist Atlas of Great Britain (49), which appears to have nothing to do with the number 6.

The odd man out of the bunch Heraldry (41), promoting Stomp, was sent out in Nov 1982. This book at least tied up with the other advertising, as the shield was the logo for Stomp.

If you have the books, I hope you have opened them, as they are very informative and beautifully presented. Whether they were picked to fit the advertising campaign or whether there were some spare books on offer and a promotion was set up to use them is something I have been unable to find out.

If anyone would like more information on Observers, have any to spare or could add any enlightenment to the Cyanamid story I would be very happy to hear from you.

Unfortunately no records exist at Cyanamid about this promotion, apart from the Stomp shield.

My thanks to Tony Billings of Cyanamid GB for his patience and kind permission for the use of the trademarks*.

Clive Sledger

Namens Leases Farm, Aldbrough St John, Richard, N Yorks.

Pony book writer Mary May has now published a sequel to The Will to Win.

A few just sew stories

"THE people of Somerset are of a large size and strong but in my opinion are very slow and lazy and discontented and humoursome and very much given to eating and drinking." Whether times change is open to question but that was the view in 1799 of a Somerset parson and diarist*, William Holland.

Hollands splendidly trenchant views on farmers and villagers make for a maliciously enjoyable read. Although he captures the very essence of the struggle for a survival in a small village at the turn of the 19th century, he is more than merely parochial; taking a keen interest in the Napoleonic wars, which raged at the time.

His journal is peppered with references to many of his larger-than-life contemporaries – "Ugly-faced" Briffit, the pig-killing postman; "Jew" Landsey, chief whinger of the moaning brigade of farmers; and "Rat Tail" Staden, the tailor. JE

*Paupers & Pig Killers, The Diary of William Holland; A Somerset Parson 1799-1818 edited by Jack Ayres. Alan Sutton Publishing, Phoenix Mill, Stroud, Glos (£6.99).

MARY MAYs first book, The Will to Win* has raised more than £2800 for Disabled Driving Groups and her second, Piebald is Lucky**, which was published just before Christmas, looks set for similar success.

It is another paperback and, like the first, charmingly illustrated by Anne Graham Johnson. This artist is well known for her work on childrens books (titles include 101 Dalmatians and Starlight Barking, which she worked on with her late twin sister, Janet). She is also a respected illustrator of carriage driving books. Carriage driving is one of her special interests and she helps with the Mid-Suffolk Group of Disabled Drivers.

The latter ties in beautifully with Mary Mays story. It began in The Will to Win as former show pony rider Carol Lane discovers the pleasures of carriage driving after suffering crippling injuries in a road accident.

She struggles to prove herself a capable whip and to surmount much over-protective opposition but eventually wins the day.

The tale continues in Piebald is Lucky with hopes alternately raised and dashed and lots of horsey activity as Carol seeks the right pony plus a show quality vehicle and develops her skills in pursuance of her driving career.

Mary, a Wiltshire farmers wife and livery yard proprietor, who was featured in Farmlife back in Feb 94, writes with more confidence in the second book, which includes visits to well-known equestrian venues such as the carriage sales at Reading, the Christmas horse show at Olympia and the Windsor Show, where Carol passes her road safety driving test and is set to achieve more accolades in the carriage driving world. Mary promises a further tale.

"Marys books make bed-time reading a pleasure," writes Lady Paget in her foreword to a book which is bound to appeal to pony-loving children long into the days when they prefer to read their bed-time stories for themselves. AR

*The Will to Win by Mary May, Adelphi Press (£5.95) and **Piebald is Lucky by Mary May, Manor Press (£6.95) are both available by post from Mary May, Manor Farm, Collingbourne Kingston, Marlborough, Wilts SN8 3SD. Add 85p a book for post and packing.

How many of these promotional copies of Warnes Observer pocket books still survive, wonders Clive Sledger.