Time: advertisement for Tiptree’s mulberry jam, Prospect May 2015

Mulberry trees are rare because they take around 25 years to bear fruit and we only have twelve here at Tiptree, some of which are over 120 years old. We don’t know how much it actually costs to make a single jar of our Mulberry Conserve, or if we even make a profit on it, but what we do know is that we love it passionately, and so do our customers.

We’ve been looking at research on how companies think about time. It seems they might allow a 7 year payback time for capital investment in their core business; more like 2 years for peripheral things like energy efficiency. Why, then, is a claim not to behave in that way thought to be effective marketing?

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Travel writing

On my last walk in Germany (Dolfingen-Passau) I bought, faute de mieux, the New York Review of Books. It turns out to be better, fuller, more rounded, than the TLS that I have read occasionally for years. (My father used to get it, and the Listener, delivered.) In the March 5 edition there was a review by Brenda Wineapple of a writer I have never heard of, Sybille Bedford, including her book A visit to Don Otavio: A traveller’s tale from Mexico.

Apparently “Bruce Chatwin called Don Otavio a book of marvels that never stoops to the travel writer’s ‘cheap ironic asides’.” I know what Chatwin means. When I write about travelling I think of myself as describing – but the odd is interesting – and easy to caricature.

For example I wrote, arriving in Vilshofen on the Danube,

I hit the bookshop first, of course. There were only about 10 books in English (“unless you want a cookbook”). The shop assistant kindly pointed out which of these were for men. I bought The Book Thief, which was a mistake.

Are the second and third sentences cheap ironic asides? I think of them more as revealing, as all properly-lived and -reflected on life does, how differently others look at the world from me.

Still, a quote to bear in mind, and a book I should read.