This is not an apology

We write further to your letter dated 12 August 2007, regarding your journey with Alitalia. We regret to learn that your suitcase is still missing.

We would like to inform you that we have immediately sent your entire file to our Central Tracing Office in Rome for extensive searches to be carried out. For your information, the searches can take up to 10 weeks from the date of the occurrence.

We wish to reiterate once again our sincere regret for the unfortunate occurrence and hope to contact you with news regarding your suitcase in the near future.

The tale of two shoes.

This is the story of two shoes, loving purchased in North London, painfully lost somewhere between Milano and Balham.

Doing a great deal of work for adidas at decon, inevitably, I have a pair of adidas shoes, a set of denim adicolor, which i loved like the child i never had.

On our recent honeymoon, we had a near disaster on the way to Italy, with the airline carrier delaying our luggage for 24 hours. Fortunately the luggage arrived the next day, in a Mercedes – my shoes had travelled in more style than I had.

My shoes got a rough deal on the holiday, as it was nearing 40C every day, and being more bulky warm sneakers, they didn’t get a look-in past my sandals.

Upon our return to Blighty, the airline carrier, again, managed to lose 50% of our luggage. Not all of it (ie. the bottom of the plane fell out, and we lost all your luggage in the water), but just one of the two cases, obviously not able to do a complete job.

Some six weeks on, my shoes and I are still seperated (along with a good portion of my wife’s clothing, and most of my jeans).

Now, it turns out, Alitalia have also lost any of the documentation we sent them in regards to finding our baggage.

Not only are they incapable of keeping track of luggage, they’re also incompetant at customer service, not having apologised ONCE in this whole fiasco.

All contact has to be made via email, as they refuse to answer the phone number they give you, or put a human on the other phone number you eventually are provided.

My shoes, the poor things, are probably sitting somewhere with no feet to make them whole.
My patience, the poor thing, is also at its limit with Alitalia.

Most stories have a happy ending. This story just annoys.

Ask Webponce – The Return

Mister Pleasant asks….

Dear Mr Webponce (if that IS your name),

For years I’ve been treated as a simpering dunderhead for daring to suggest that “Nestle’s Milky Bar” used to rhyme with “Trestle’s Milky Bar” when I were a youngster, not the laughably more exotic “Cress Lay’s Milky Bar” as it seems to now.

Are you the only one who can restore what little dignity I had, over this matter?

Yours, with kind regards, RAY

Ah, rhyme.

A poet’s friend, a chimney’s enemy. A five lettered concept that has brought joy to millions, and death to more.

To discover the true phonemic history behind nestle, one has to travel decades back in time, to the tower of babel.

Now, many know the story of the Tower of Babel – built in South London, the area now known as Croydon, the Tower of Babel was the home to a dairy, making mostly small cheeses. These cheeses, popular as early as the 12th Century, confused the illerate masses, not due to the waxy skin and joyous centre, but as no-one could agree upon a name for the tiny delicacies. The heart of the problem lay at the pious monks who had taken a vow of silence, and cheese. These monks, the churners of this tiny cheese, under the watchful eye of their god, had promised to never speak its name, holding the cheese to be holy and sacred to them. Even uttering its name under their breath would be enough cause for a flogging or boiling of the sinner in hot cheese (from which we gain the word fondue: fond: to cook, oue: you).

Those careful enough not to attempt to speak or name the cheese would be plentifully furnished with the micro fromage, and after those who attempted to name the snack were dealt with by the strangly violent holy men, word quickly spread that it was a pleasure with no name. The community grew around the industry, as with it did the number of other unspoken-of joys within the group of people. Within just under a century, spoken language was effectively removed from the now busy metropolis.

Of course, with such a bustling industry, communication was increasingly difficult, and a complex system of sign language arose out of the need to discuss current affairs and business decisions. The language, based upon hand movements became a system of aids to make sure the message was clear, or sure-aids – our popular parlour game, charades, takes its name from this. A common practise in these hand based messages would be the concept of ‘sounds like’, an concept thoroughly lost on the 13th Century folk, in that sound is pointless in a non-aural language. As a result, messages would be completely misinterpreted and misunderstood, leading ultimately to the downfall of the city of Babel after large infighting and a long period of civil war.

Restructuring of the city took centuries, but after invasion from numerous neigbouring cities, mostly the Franco-Prussian hoardes, written language slowly filtered back to the now completely mute populous. As many had not heard words for generations, if not a lifetime, most would just make up the sounds as they saw them written. This led to more confusion, everyone speaking in their own interpretation of words.

It was about this time when the Brand Revolution of 1527 brought its own problems to Babel. Chanel, Nestle, and Garnier, the three powerful heads of neighbouring states, marched across Europe, delivering sharp marketing messages to the unwashed masses. The Babelites, unable to pronounce the most basic of words, like Cat and Egg without faultering, found themselves with such a feeling of inadequacy, history’s first genosuicide took place, with the entire population of babel taking their own lives.

The Brands, shocked that their names could lead to suffering on such a grand scale, vowed to never take issue with people who found it hard to speak their names. To this day, Nestle (originally pronounced as our modern word ‘Eric’) is still spoken in various ways, the most popular however, is to rhyme with presslay.

So, my rhyme-concerned friend, worry not, and tell those who treat you with such contempt to remember those poor cheese quaffing souls of Babel.

(Wondering what the hell is going on? Check out a really old feature of – Ask Webponce.)

Fred in Design Week

We recently pitched for, and won a commission to develop the new Crafts Council website. Its going to be a really interesting job, and we’re currently going through the early scoping and UX processes to work out how the site will fit together. Fred talks about our vision for the site in today’s issue of Design Week, despite them not really grasping what he said.


The domino effect of getting a high profile link to the visual dictionary never ceases to amaze me (despite me explaining it to my clients on a regular basis). Since Die Welt linked to us last week, a bunch of other great sites have also picked up on the site and started linking to us also. Interestingly enough, the earthlink newsletter which went out linking to TVD last month, whilst brought with it around 1000 visits in a day, did not have the same network effect. Perhaps Earthlink’s consumers are less likely to be site owners.

We’ve also been featured on – which is a truly great site which i’ve admired and been inspired by for a good long time. Thanks to Jeffrey for that link. If you’ve not seen 52 projects before, take a look right now. They managed to find us via Ali Edwards, who has also been great in sending us a steady stream of traffic over the past year or so.

Also thanks to minorbug for explaining a little more about what the Die Welt article said. Thumbs up indeed!

Visual Dictionary / New Functionality


I’ve added a little new functionality to The Visual Dictionary this weekend – the ability for you to see and manage your pending images before they’re moderated. We also had a nice spike in traffic from the Die Welt article earlier in the week.

To access your pending images, click Contribute, and once you’ve logged in, scroll down to see your link to pending images. Or, just click here:

I’ve also added more API support – – mainly getting recent images, and getting images alphabetically in XML and RSS formats.