The latest patriotic offerings from our friends Mark Faulkner and Gill Naylor at the highly esteemed repeat repeat. The ‘Britannia’ range proudly wears its heritage on its sleeve with a variety of graphic interpretations of the phrase ‘Made in England’. With people increasingly concerned about the carbon footprint of the imported goods they buy, it’s reassuring to know that these bone-china beauties have been designed and made in this green and pleasant (if a bit wet and miserable) land.

Horberry's trade secrets.

Fellow writer and 26 member Roger Horberry has a new book out – the rather self-explanatory ‘Brilliant Copywriting – How to Craft the Most Interesting and Effective Copy Imaginable’. Designed to give aspiring commercial wordsmiths the ammunition they need to get that first tentative toe on the ladder, it’s full of useful hints and tips on everything from editing, to ideas, to how to behave in meetings. At the back there’s a series of interviews with what he describes as ‘brilliant copywriters’ – Jim included. So for a small, but highly worthwhile investment on Amazon, you can find out about Jim’s main influences, what kind of briefs he favours, and even how he deals with occasional bout of writer’s block.

Something for all you stationery geeks out there. The new Tombow Airpress is a satisfyingly chunky little number with a crafty pressurised mechanism which allows it to write upside down, on wet or dusty paper, and in hot or cold conditions. Just about anywhere and on anything, in other words. It has a tough, spring-loaded clip that extends almost 45°, so you can attach it here, there and everywhere. It feels virtually indestructible, writes like a dream (even for someone who doesn’t usually like ballpoints), and best of all, it comes in orange.

paper bags for paperbacks.

We were having a bit of a clear out (actually a lot of a clear out) yesterday, and came across this cute early 1980s branded paper bag. Deb must have carried some text books back to her halls of residence in it all those years ago. It stuck me how infinitely more eco these are than your regular bookshop plastic bags, and how much more suitable they are for books in terms of size and medium. Maybe we weren’t quite as profligate as we remember. The Penguin logos, of course look punchy, quirky and powerful – even in two colours on poor-quality paper. While I’m at it, I should probably recommend two related books: ‘Penguin by Design’, a loving visual history of the publishers by the excellent Phil Baines; and ‘Seven Hundred Penguins’, a superb compendium of Penguin covers from 1935 to recent times.

Just came across this irresistible piece of packaging in my DIY cupboard. I’ve had it for some time, but fortunately have managed to live my life without recourse to wire wool for several years. The Bauhaus-like colours and no-nonsense type are enough to hook you in, and I even love the name, ‘Trollull’, which has such a lyrical ring to it. The immaculately placed red line at the bottom cleverly references the German flag, as this is a quality German product. But best of all is the laid-back 2D figure offering to shake your hand. Reminscent of Robert Crumb’s iconic ‘Keep on trucking’ character, he instantly brings a smile to your face and the inference that he has long, wiry hair borders on graphic genius.

Sometimes I feel as though there’s an invisible thread linking everything I write. It’s like one extremely long article reaching onwards and outwards to some wordy horizon. Seemingly disparate projects seem to piggy back each other quite naturally, and there are overlaps and connections where you wouldn’t necessarily expect them.

Work spills surprisingly over into life too, like it did recently when Deb and I made our annual pilgrimage to Amsterdam a few weeks ago. I’m not generally in the habit of visiting churches, but we had ten minutes to spare and were in the neighbourhood, so we slipped into the 17th-century Westerkerk. It boasts the tallest tower in the city and Rembrandt is said to be buried there, although no one’s actually found the great man’s grave. I’d just been researching stained glass windows for the forthcoming Royal Mail Yearbook, and writing in glowing terms about the ethereal atmosphere they create. The thing about the Westerkerk though is that there’s no stained glass at all, just these massive domed windows that let in incredible light, even on the dullest day. You’d expect this no-frills approach in a country where the ‘low church’ predominates, but it struck me that natural light is a far more powerful metaphor for God than man-made imagery, no matter how beautiful. Even as an unbeliever, I was impressed.