Friday, December 14, 2007

Freelance

Blimey, I was rude in that last post.

Fancy writing 'cunts'.

Mind you I was fairly pissed off at the time. And pissed too.

And yet there is, it has to be said, something extremely cathartic about a foul-mouthed rant. A kind of colonic irrigation for the mind, a... purging... if you like.

And as I look at the date of that last post, the 8th of November, I'm aware of just how fast time has galloped on since then. Phone calls, meetings, interviews have passed by in a blur: my previous life receding in memory in the same way a station does when you look back at it from a train window.

So m'colleague and I are freelancing. And indeed have been for the past month. And working a darn sight harder than we had worked at our previous agency: the difference between a place on the skids and one on the up has never been so apparent.

Mates have been good. It's the reason we're freelancing now. And it's true that the small scale of London's advertising community means that sooner or later you will cross paths with someone you know. And, whether we stay freelance for a while or are lucky enough to find a permanent job in the near future, we'll always be grateful for people who have had the time for a chat, a pint or... whatever.

And a few, rather hard-boiled, words to anyone who finds themselves in a similar position:

Get legal advice. Talk to someone who knows something about this 'process'.
And be prepared to be difficult to get what you want (yes, money).
Remember that they want you to go away ASAP and will be prepared to pay a little extra to ensure this happens.
Don't be fobbed off and don't take 'no' for an answer.
Ask the questions that your agency may not want to hear. E.g. how did you arrive at this decision? Who else did you consider? etc.
Defend yourself and your abilities: they are taking away, however temporarily, your livelihood after all.
Don't shout. At least, not to begin with.

Oh, and even though it won't feel like it at the time, it's probably a good thing that's happening.

A bit of a 'splurge' there. Probably loads more to talk about but it can wait.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

CUNTS

No, it's not a nice word but at the moment it precisely sums up how I feel.

My art director and I were made redundant today.

Redundant. God that's hard to type.

What made it worse was opening a letter that had been biked to my house by the time I arrived home. Inside was the 'reasoning' why my job 'was being considered for redundancy'.

You see, it's all 'process' these days and part of this process is to have a system that allows candidates for redundancy to be selected 'fairly'. So they came up with a load of criteria and marked us out of five for each. Presumably they'd marked our entire department and then looked at the scores.

And I'm assuming our scores as a team were the poorest.

Even though we were given five out of five for 'concept creation'.

Which, funnily enough, is our job.

We were marked down for over-spending the budget on certain pieces of work.

In other words, going the extra mile to get things done properly.

Fuck.

We were also marked down because we didn't get on with planning. Apparently.

Of course this marking system makes it very easy for creative heads to turn personal likes and dislikes into cold figures. But it doesn't seem very fair to me. In fact it seems pathetically arbitary.

The net result of this 'fairness' is that because the company is seen to have attempted to deal with job losses in a 'proper' way, we get fuck-all money.

Which I realise sounds mercenary but... we all have to live in the real world.

I'm trying not to think about it too much because if I do, I get scared.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Now then, now then, goodness gracious!

First this...


Then this...


Is nothing sacred?

Not one but TWO!!! different takes on the immortal "Jim'll Fix It". And the "shift it" fella has even nicked the ruddy logo as well.

I realise that Saville's name is somewhat tarnished these days following some frankly wierd TV appearances, not least that Louis Theroux documentary a few years back. But he's surely entitled to be slightly miffed that the name of his seminal 70s/80s TV show is being taken in vain merely to advance the claims of some guy who mixes concrete and another who's a dab hand at removals.

Seeing these logos my first thoughts in each case were not "oh, I bet he mixes concrete really well" or, "he'd be a good bloke to call if I needed something removing."

No. My first thoughts concerned a small boy who wanted to whistle with Roger Whittaker, a lady whose dream was to be a bus conductor, a boy who wanted to see how Hornby train sets were made and of course, the cub scouts who wanted to eat their lunch whilst going round the Revolution rollercoaster on Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

And then there was the bloke who wanted to play guitar with Status Quo...

"Play quitar with the Quo? Goodness gracious. Well, we 'ad a word with my mate Francis Rossi... and this is 'ow it 'appened."

Marvellous.

"Never such innocence again."

Friday, November 02, 2007

It's gone dark

And I'm idly gazing out of my office window into a meeting room belonging to the company next door. In this meeting room a selection of bald heads are sitting around a table earnestly discussing something that's likely to be lot less interesting yet far more profitable than what I do for a living.

Oh, they've gone now.

Well it is 5.00pm on a Friday evening.

Not so long ago it would have been referred to as 'Friday afternoon' due to the fact that it would still be light.

But it no longer is. It's dark. And that means it's WINTER.

WINTER!!!!!!!

And WINTER means... ICE! SNOW! BLACK ICE! YELLOW SNOW! FOG! FREEZING FOG! HOWLING GALES! DRIVING RAIN! SLEET! WINTERY SHOWERS!

Unless you live in England where it's likely to be QUITE MILD FOR THE TIME OF YEAR... PERHAPS WITH THE RISK OF SOME DRIZZLY RAIN LATER IN THE DAY...

I hope the people in that meeting couldn't see me picking my nose.

Friday, October 26, 2007

sandwich

grey day clouds that mirror the grey pavements but at least the pavements are full of people drifting pushing looking is it half-term why are there so many tourists or is that just always the case in london i ought to know 'cos i've been here thirteen years thirteen? is it really that long grey cold pavements that aren't paved with fucking gold who said that? but they're definitely better than stockport never go back there no way stockport stockport stockport no matter how many times you say it it never gets any better no tourists i suppose that is one small thing in its favour why the fuck are they taking a picture of that? i wish they wouldn't keep stopping in front of me with their brightly coloured rucksacks the northern line is the other way the other way for fuck's sake now where can i find some lunch not eat i went there yesterday and the day before mind you they do very good pork pies are they bad for you? are they? pork pies? surely not really there's far worse wow she's gorgeous italian or spanish no idea reminds me of that pa on that shoot we did in madrid a couple of years ago now she was wow she was... look where you're walking you fool you nearly knocked over that small child and now her dad's giving you a dirty look big bloke too but i could probably outrun him pizza hut no wonder this country is full of fatties mind you they look like tourists i daresay but what must they thinkof the food in britain not much doubtless maybe i should go to the library and try to write something no scratch that it's too much like hard work and that is something i'm not cut out for at the moment more like never have been actually the things that go through your head when all you're doing is looking for a lunchtime sandwich

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Booker Prize-winning lunch

Well, not exactly.

Alright, not at all.

I was in Hatchards earlier. (Note: Hatchards is where the Royal Family buy books, it's probably the poshest bookshop in the world. So when her Royal Mummyness wants the new Jilly Cooper or when Prince Charles is desperate to get his hands on the latest Harry Potter they trip along to Hatchards. Obviously they don't trip along, someone else does. Or, more likely, Hatchards go to Buck House. Anyway, you get the general idea.)

Yes, it's posh, but Hatchards is great. Catering politely and discretely for a full spectrum of tastes, it's a thickly-carpeted, oak-panelled oasis of restraint.

Sounds like a high-class prostitute's.

Does it? Right.

Anyway it's a right royal pant-wetter for your average bibliophile. And today was even more pant-wettingly pleasant than usual because on the ground floor there was a photo-op involving the six shortlisted authors for the Booker Prize, prior to the announcement of the winner tonight. Flashbulbs blinded, photographers urged and staff fluttered around like delirious moths.

"Delirious moths"????? What ARE you on now?

Don't know sir.

Where's this thing going anyway? I thought it was a blog (a very intermitent blog) about "words". This is just waffle.

Waffle is words. No?

No, waffle is rambling nonsense that doesn't make any point and uses up valuable life. Waffle is what you get in dull meetings when the person with the least to say insists on saying it at interminable length while everyone else just nods quietly hoping they'll SHUT THE FUCK UP. To sum up, waffle is bollocks. Clear?

Er, yes.

Right. Carry on

So there I was in Hatchards: photographers, flashbulbs, delirious moths. And six Booker Prize-shortlisted authors. At least I assume there were six but I couldn't see over the top of the photgraphers so there may not have been. I think I recognised Ian McEwan and some tall bald bloke who may or may not have been a writer. And someone who looked a bit like Jimmy Saville. Which could be male or female. Or even, Jimmy Saville.

But it was a celebration of words. Or at least a celebration of the fact that words can make lots of money for the publishing industry.

Eventually I ambled away from the literary scrum and sauntered upstairs where I idly flicked through books by people who can write better than me. And, as usual, I came away wishing there was more time to read and learn and write.

And then I bought a pie.

Which was the 'lunch' of the title.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

That last post

Rambled.

And rambled.

And... well, you get the idea.

I shouldn't settle down at the keyboard when I've had a few ales late at night and expect the Lord of Wit to be at my elbow.

So apologies for that.

It was 'real' though.

And at least I thought it was Cyril Connelly who said that stuff about happiness writing white. He quite possibly did but he wasn't the only one.

Maybe that's why I can't write much at the moment: I'm too happy.

Blimey.

I just want to write

So, fuck it, I will.

I'm not sure what I'll write about and it's quite likely that the results will resemble a load of self-indulgent horse shit, but, well, it's what I want to write, so there.

I think that's how it should work when you're a 'writer'.

I don't want 'to be a writer'. I just want to write. Stuff.

At any time, day or night.

Maybe people like us are crazy.

Well, as far as I can see we're no crazier than anyone else. And if we are a bit different, then all power to us I say.

Express your feelings, give vent to frustrations, exclaim happiness, love or disappointment.

But put it down in black and... well, black really.

'Happiness writes white'. So said Cyril Connolly, I'm told.

Is that why most writers are perceived as miserable bastards?

Or are we just always writing against the grain, with a point to make?

Woke up today, felt great, had a nice breakfast and the rest of the day was lovely too.

Not exactly the start of a riveting read is it?

But then, what is?

Still working on that one. Unfortunately.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Overheard words

"We want to line them all up against a wall."

Ah, the delightful conversation one hears whilst perambulating through the charming streets of London of a summer's eve. Except of course, this being cockeyville it sounded more like:

"We wanna lahn 'em aw ap agensta warw."

The orator in this intellectual debate was one of a pair of newspaper sellers outside Charing Cross station. Unfortunately, as I was scurrying to catch my train I didn't have time to loiter and tune in to whatever urgent issue was up for discussion. Nor did I get to the bottom of why the only solution to the problem was the wholesale 'erasing' of certain obviously undesirable elements.

So I was left wondering who the mysterious 'them' were and what they had done to arouse the ire of the typical chirpy cockney population. Gawd bless 'em. But after a few moments fruitless pondering I thought "ah bollocks to it", since it could have been anyone.

Then I thought again. Perhaps these newspaper men were actors employed by the Mayor of London to recite 'cockney dialogue' within the earshot of passing tourists to impart an authentic olde worlde ambience to the capital's streets.

With the result that the tourists (we'll assume they're American for simplicity's sake) return home and tell all their friends just how 'swell' little ole London is and how the people there speak exactly like they do on the films and "you and Bobby really oughta go next year Mary-Lou, I'm telling ya."

So, assuming our glorious mayor is mad enough to give the green light to such a scheme (and yes, I honestly believe he is), what other phrases and sayings could our thespian newspaper men (or taxi drivers, tramps, street sweepers and fruit and veg sellers) be asked to recite to help make the streets of London sing with their native tongue?

"Eeza doyomand. Absolute doyomand." (Trans. "He's a diamond. An absolute diamond." ie. a jolly good chap.)
"Gidar davvit!" (Trans. "Get out of it!" ie. Shoo! Be along with you now. OR No, I don't believe what you're saying.)
"Eee 'ain't dahn naffink." (Trans. "He hasn't done anything." Usually followed by the word "officer".)

Hmm, this is hard. Maybe our Mayor isn't this stupid after all.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Pip, come here girl! Pip! PIP COME HERE! For fuck's sake Pip, come...!!!



Oh dear. Another tale of dog-owning woe. One minute you're enjoying a healthy walk with man's best pavement-fouling friend, the next minute said 'friend' is 'spooked' by another hound and promptly legs it never to return.

But, what exactly does 'spooked' mean?

The only dog I've ever seen being 'spooked' by another dog is when Scooby Doo is walking around some supposedly haunted amusement arcade situated in the middle of a swamp that Shaggy has already observed to Fred, Daphne and Thelma, "... sure gives me the creeps" when his nephew Scrappy Doo (irritating and pointless) comes up behind Scooby and taps him lightly on the shoulder. Thus causing Scoob to spin round in terror and leap into Shaggy's arms.

But somehow I doubt this is what happened to 'Pip'.

What then? Surely, surely, shurely, shirley... she wasn't spooked just because she SAW ANOTHER DOG?????? Don't tell me our Pip is that stupid. After all, she isn't exactly a spring chicken in dog years, she's eight. (She isn't a spring chicken at all of course, she's a dog.) The point is, she's not young and naive.

So she MUST HAVE SEEN OTHER DOGS BEFORE. But what went wrong this time? Did she have some sort of flashback to an unpleasant incident in her puppy-hood that the sight of this other dog returned to her in appalling detail? Perhaps a memory of abuse by a strict father? Or the recollection of what happened the first time she shat on the living-room carpet?

Whatever it was must have hurt like hell on the inside and, in the manner of a Vietnam vet nursing serious mental scars from his time at Khe Sanh, dear old Pip cracked and ran off, barking.

And the only personal item on her is a green tarten (sic) collar. So not much to go on.

There is however a cash or '£cash' reward. Not sure how much '£' amounts to, might be better to put an exact number so at least potential rescuers can gauge the relative desperateness of the situation.

Of course all this conjecture may be academic since, as you can see from the date on the poster, Pip went missing a few months ago. So it's quite likely she's been found safe and well by now.

Unless of course she hasn't.

In which case, RIP PIP.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Beware confusion



I suppose there are two types of readers who may be interested in buying, or at least glancing at, this book:

Reader 1.
A keen student of the Middle East who wishes to discover more about the country bordered by Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast, Saudi Arabia to the east and south, and Israel to the west. Created after the break-up of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of the First World War, largely out of the British Mandate of Palestine and originally known as 'Transjordan'. (Note: this was empatically not a homeland for an ancient race of transexuals.)

Reader 2.
A keen student of female anatomy and particularly the breast region. This reader will be more than well aware that 'Jordan' is the alter ego of UK 'glamour' model Katie Price who is not averse to flaunting her surgically enhanced 'assets' in popular newspapers and a wide variety of men's magazines.

Alas for reader 2, 'Jordan Revealed' is set to leave them somewhat short-changed.

Although there is a strangely attractive camel on page 78.

Great pair of humps.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dickshunhairy


I was scrabbling through my copy of the Oxford Concise Dictionary the other day...

Christ mate, this sounds like a fascinating anecdote, do go on!

...anyway, sarcasm aside, I was looking through this dictionary checking the spelling of a word.

Wow, what a crayzeee life you lead.

Just fuck off. Alright? As I was saying, dictionary... checking spelling... you get the picture.

And as I was trawling through I happened upon this page, at the top of which is the phrase 'living death'. And what strikes me about this phrase is that, well... does it actually need defining? Surely the clue's in the title so even if you've never heard it before you'll sort of have an inkling.

For instance, you're hardly going to say, "Living death. Ooh, I wonder what that means... better look it up quickly. Maybe it's a type of breakfast cereal" You're just not. You're far more likely to say..."Living death. Oh-er, I don't like the sound of that, sounds pretty dodgy to me. I'd better avoid it."

And then you read the definition: "a state of hopeless misery." Yeah right, like you couldn't have guessed. In fact you'll probably go away feeling a bit cheated and saying to yourself, "Huh, bastards. I could've written that, I could."

In the next entry we'll define the phrase, "running fast"... the state of moving, no, not moving, perambulating. The state of perambulating quickly. No, not quickly, speedily... no, hang on that doesn't sound right...

Hmm, harder than it looks actually.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ok Clare, you win

Blimey, I'm so vain. Sooooooooooo fucking vain.

I was going to pack this blog in. Really I was.

Mainly due to sheer laziness.

Alright, totally and utterly due to sheer laziness.

And just when I'm about to turn off the lights, set the alarm and leave the building to the cleaners, I receive a lovely comment. Not the only one I've ever received but certainly the nicest.

And so, like the man of steel that I am, I change my mind.

Anyway, enough of this self-indulgent waffle. On with the 'show'.



This sounds like a fun kind of evening.

Not just a sing-a-long. A disco sing-a-long.

Presumably everyone dances and sings at the same time. Which I suppose could get pretty raucous. Drinks could get spilled, ashtrays and girlfriends upset. Fists and pint pots might fly.

And your compere for this evening of merriment?

Chris Rust.

With a name like that he could go far.

Most likely through the nearest window.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The end?

Well, maybe.

Let's face it my recent productivity levels on this blog have been similar to those of a 14 year-old boy trying to do his homework in a bedroom equipped with a pc, a Playstation and a stack of porn under the bed.

If I do see something really brilliant then I'll blog it.

Just don't hold your breath waiting.

Not that you would, obviously.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why write proper English?



What 'word games'? What have they got to do with property?

They might as well have written 'Why bother with...

There will be a few moments of silence as Martin attempts to think of something suitably surreal.

... cabbages?'

Not surreal enough, try again.

Well, cabbages will have to do.

Anyway, the point is what is the link between 'word games' and 'property conundrums'? Apart from the fact that on the TV word game programme 'Countdown' the final round is called the 'conundrum'.

And then we come to 'a 57,000 sq ft work solution'.

A what?

Is it some sort of 'work liquid' that covers an area of 57,000 sqare feet?

Although I suppose we could be talking about offices here.

But I rather like the idea of a 'work liquid'. Something to drink before I arrive in the office which means I don't have to do too much thinking.

"A pint of Work Liquid please."

Oh, I know what it is.

It's beer.

THANKS FOR THE PIC ANNA

Friday, May 04, 2007

"I hereby declare this clock..."



Great to see London Underground staff are still the masters at producing communications that cause customers to stop and stare in bemusement. Here's how they describe a clock that doesn't have any batteries.

Will they have a windy speech by some posh person's wife and then break a bottle of champagne over it like when a ship is launched?

"May God bless her and all who tell the time by her." (CRASH!)

And like when they describe a train delay due to somebody falling/jumping on the track as 'due to passenger action', this message leaves me none the wiser.

They used to use the words 'normal service' when referring to those rare periods of the day when there were no delays on any of the lines. But of course 'normal' for London Underground means times when they do have delays so they changed the wording.

Now, when everything's fine, they call it a 'good service'.

Sorry, but I'll be the judge of that.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mysteriousness


This graffiti (or, "graffito" for the language police) has been cropping up in various guises around London over the last few weeks. I've seen a couple, both as it happens on the side of different branches of HSBC. So, I assumed it was something to do with the letters H-S-B-C, as in some sort of 'alphabet'.

But apparently not as the other locations seem pretty random.

A viral campaign then? Could be, could be.

But what's it for? And will the 'reveal' be worth the wait?

Friday, April 27, 2007

My round!


In an age when a pint in London can set you back three whole pounds, this is my kind of beer mat.

My kind of adverising in fact: a simple promise executed in precisely targeted media engaging consumers at the point of purchase.

Oh, hang on. There's a catch.



I suppose if you drink enough it would cancel out the cost of the flight.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Temporaryily... temporarillly... tempora... oh, fuck it


Obviously a busy day down at the local authority signs department.

Perhaps the photocopier had imploded under the sheer weight of "TOILETS OUT OF ORDER SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE" signs required in the area, meaning that there was no time to spell-check all the other stuff.

And I daresay the dictionary was seeing service in the gents, where owing to 'funding cuts' toilet paper was in short supply.

"Just leave it as 'temporary' Alf, people will get it."

Well, sort of.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fashion


I wonder how many people read ads like this in magazines.

Yes, I suppose you could say that about any ad. But most don't offer the rewards of closer scrutiny that this one does.

To begin with, there's the dog.

Does this come free with the jacket? Or is it an optional extra?

Or is it just the most appropriate accessory when one is garbed thus?

Next, a few highlights from the copy:
... textured polyester basket weave material...

... three inside pockets - two with envelope closings for security...

... All this for under forty pounds and it's fully washable.


But do I want one in "Sand" or "Navy"?

Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's all in the name



What would YOU call one of these?

'Caravan'. Cunty.

Nooooooooooo, the model. To differentiate it from bigger/smaller models. Like they do with cars.

'Cos I've been driving about on the motorways of the good ol' U of K recently and no matter what time of year it is, you invariably see plenty of caravans. Why someone would choose to sit in a confined space without adequate toilet facilities miles from civilisation on a cold, wet day is perhaps a question for another time.

But, sit in them they do.

And what they sit in has a name.

Yes, caravan.

Quiet, fool.

Anyway, here's a few I spotted on my travels the other weekend.

Silouhette

Marauder

Clubman

Swift

Zodiac

Pageant

Lunar


A couple of them stand out for being quite obviously inappropriate. Which, for my money are...

'MARAUDER'

'SWIFT'

Let's take "Marauder' first. My Boy's Book of Big Words tells me a 'marauder' is someone who spends a good portion of his time plundering, pillaging and generally scaring normal people shitless. Like this bloke for instance...



Hard to imagine him using a chemical toilet or sitting in his caravan doing a jigsaw while it pisses with rain outside.

Next up, is 'Swift'. Now, is this an image of 'swiftness'?



Hmmm, no.

But someone must have thought it was a good name. Why?

HERE'S A MUCH BETTER LIST OF CARAVAN NAMES.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A really important call

I heard this 'conversation' on the train into work.

HIP HOP RINGTONE (LOUD).

GIRL (EARLY 20s): Hello?... Oh, hiya... uh... uh... yeah... uh... uh-uh... uh... right... uh... yeah?... No, not really... uh... uh... right... right... right... yeah... see ya.

Girl puts mobile back in her bag and goes back to staring out of the window.

It got me pondering on the difference between dialogue written for a script, be it for a commercial/film/drama/comedy etc. where each word has to drive plot, sketch character or reveal motivation, and the banal reality of everyday conversations.

And dialogue that is praised for 'being realistic' is actually nothing of the sort, it's far more interesting because, obviously, it has to be. Otherwise, bye-bye viewer.

And yet there's something I really like about these everyday conversations that tail off into abstracted nothingness.

Here's another example, this time two old ladies in a supermarket looking for some 'tongue'. No, that's not a new sexual service that Tesco has recently introduced, it's a cooked meat similar to ham.

WOMAN 1: Where's the tongue?

WOMAN 2: It should be here somewhere. It usually is.

WOMAN 1: They always have tongue.

WOMAN 2: Yes... it's usually here.

WOMAN 1: They had it last time.

WOMAN 2: Yes... this is where it is.

WOMAN 1: Yes... it's always here isn't it.

WOMAN 2: Always.

WOMAN 1: Where is it?

THEY WALK OFF DOWN THE AISLE.


Aw, bless.

Monday, March 19, 2007

And now... 'The client doesn't get it'

I'm trying.

Really, really trying hard. Not to rant.

Because, let's face it, a blog is the perfect vehicle for the disillusioned to sound off on all manner of bollocks and so it's mighty tempting.

But there are countless ranters out there in the 'blogosphere' who are much better at it than me.

THIS GENTLEMAN FOR INSTANCE.

However, I'm weakening. You see, apparently the client doesn't 'get it'.

Get what fella?

Oh, just the concept we presented to them a couple of weeks ago. That they loved and told m'colleague and I to get the party started on production, source a photgrapher, write the copy.

You get the picture.

Except they didn't. Or, no longer did. Or forgot they had.

Even though we'd written, in English words, a brief description of what they were seeing underneath the visual, they still managed to miss the point. And consequently have come up with various 'suggestions' as to how the concept can now be 'improved'.

All of which destroy it.

It makes me wonder if it might not be a bad idea to pay THIS LUNATIC a visit.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Can the client see the copy?

I get this a lot.

The request often comes BEFORE the concept has even been approved by the client, ie. when it's still a black and white scamp.

Which naturally, I laugh off as a slip of the tongue and don't get cross about at all.

LIAR!

Yes, well.

"See the copy"?

Alright, how much? Being as I've no idea what needs covering off, I mean, you know, what do I put in?

I could make stuff up. Please, please, let me make stuff up.

Alas no.

So I'm given some hastily patched together 'brief' and I scribble down the first vaguely relevant words that enter my brain. Because that's how account handlers see the process - it's just 'blurb'.

This 'blurb' is then sent to the client. Who loves it and approves it with alacrity. And thus it becomes set in stone.

And when the finished work appears, which because it's crap is nationwide, I shed a small tear.

It's back to the poetry thing.

Time please. Time to refine. To lift something above the level of the commonplace. Just for a moment.

Monday, March 12, 2007

It's poetry mate, honest

I've been giving this one some thought and have come to the conclusion that the act of writing copy definitely bears at least some resemblance to writing poetry. Now, maybe that's crediting my occupation with a level of literary respectability it may not deserve but...

You WHAT sunshine? Did I hear you correctly?

You reckon those childlike utterances you occasionally make on behalf of some overpriced 'product' are the equal of some of the finest literary minds the world has ever seen?

Eh? Do you?


You reckon semi-literate tosh like this...

"The muffled thunder of its engine is impressively addictive, as is the 237 bhp it delivers which leaves you gasping in admiration..."

... equates with this...

"...But if he stood and watched the frigid wind
Tousling the clouds, lay on the fusty bed
Telling himself that this was home, and grinned,
And shivered, without shaking off the dread

That how we live measures our own nature,
And at his age having no more to show
Than one hired box should make him pretty sure
He warranted no better, I don't know."

You think yours is better do you? Outside in the car park now!


Can I just make a couple of points before things become physically violent?

Be quick.

Well, firstly, the author of that stuff about the car wasn't me, I read it in a magazine.

You sure?

Quite sure.

Go on, point two.

Yes, er, and point two is that I was in no way suggesting that the end result of a copywriter's labours is the equal of great poetry. It's just that the PRINCIPLES ARE THE SAME. Namely, that it's all about distillation. Paring sentences, cutting words, forever reducing so that what remains has a power that comes from a concentration of the language. Copy, good copy that is, has to put over its message in as succinct yet memorable a way as possible without falling prey to cliches or lazy verbiage. And unless you're a genius, it's impossible to do in a first draft.

Likewise poetry.

And if poetry works, readers see something with new eyes. If copy works, consumers get their wallets out.

Anyway, I'm rambling now.

Here's part of The Guardian newspaper's site where they run a weekly Haiku competition. The rules are... well they're explained on the site. But basically a Haiku is a syllabic poem of three lines in 5,7,5 syllable order. Preferably topical.

HERE IT IS, HAVE A CRACK IF YOU FANCY

The 'point' being that it's a really neat way of polishing words.

Yes, it's a UK newspaper but global subjects are welcomed.

Oh, and there's a prize for the weekly winner. Not from me, from the newspaper.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Don't think this really needs a headline, so it's not getting one



This delightful message is on a park bench near my house.

The bench had several prominent pieces of graffiti scrawled over it to which the author of this missive clearly objected.

Presumably they thought that words written on white stickers don't count as graffiti. Hence, "GRAFFITI WANKER".

At least it's spelled correctly.

Full marks sir.

Or madam.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sum up a country in three words


M'colleague and I work in a department that has a sizeable feminine presence. This is unusual since despite female emancipation, universal suffrage, the abolition of the so-called 'glass ceiling', blah, blah...most creative departments are still bastions of MANLINESS.

One side-effect of our oestrogen-rich environment is the proliferation of chocolate.

At any time of the day.

And God help anyone who goes on holiday and DOESN'T bring back some sort of chocolate-based comestible.

So when one of the girls went to Thailand recently, she brought back a box of Thai chocs. On which was this neat summary of Thailand itself. It can't have been referring to the chocolates since they were all the same. And of a very low quality.

So, if Thailand equals "Diversity and Refinement", which, since I've never been there, I'll have to take on trust, what about other countries?

Ok, in the style of the great Roy Walker of 'Catchphrase' fame... three words, here we go.

Oh, and the middle word must be 'and'.

And try to be nice.

BRITAIN:
Stoicism and rain. (Marks knocked off for mentioning the weather.)

FRANCE:
Panache and cheese. (Or, wine)

USA:
Overweight and loud. (Hm, that's not nice. Better try again, they may invade.)
Industrious and competitive. (More flattering, I think. Hopefully enough to stave off an all-out assault.)

MONGOLIA:
Rocky and cold. (Or is it hot?)

It isn't very easy this.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Que?


Nooooooo, it's 'queue'.

Queue.

See?

Easy really.

Just add an extra U-E.

No more, no less.

Or... did they mean 'Cue'?

Like it was some sort of outdoor, urban pool tournament?

Oi, fuckface! Lighten up a touch, hey? It's a simple spelling mistake. A couple of letters for chrissakes! Maybe English isn't that person's first language. And anyway, it isn't as if we're all la-di-dah university-educated types like you is it? Hmm? You go and work in the Rainforest Cafe for a few weeks on two quid an hour and no tips and then see how your spelling looks. Smartarse.

Please, just don't hit my face. Not the face.

Monday, March 05, 2007

What would YOU do?


You own a long stretch of railings that habitually get covered in posters, signs and what not, much to the detriment of the local area.

And it's making you cross. Your neighbours aren't best pleased either.

They tell you to act. NOW!

But there's this problem: how to inform people that their signs aren't welcome.

Without... er,... sticking up a... sign. On the railings.

So you grit your teeth and hope your sign deters all the other posters from putting up theirs.

Fingers crossed it'll win something at the UK Irony Awards too.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I'm confused


In an office, somewhere in Britain (I'm guessing), someone put pen to paper and authorised the production of this ad.

But I've no idea why.

It was then paid for and placed in a national newspaper magazine.

What were all these people on?

And, can I have some please?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Selling copy!

Some dude at estate agents Haart, of 'Haart... is where your home is' 'fame', clearly thinks it is a good idea to enliven the property descriptions in my local paper with a soupcon of 'wit'. At least I think that's what it's supposed to be.


Or possibly OF the art?


Only to someone who previously lived in a hole.


Nope, sorry. What?


Er...


Aha! Plain English. Welcome, do come in. We have missed you.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Overheard

I was in "Scribbler", a greetings card shop, choosing, unsurprisingly, a greetings card. There was a woman nearby, dressed in a Soho approximation of a 'power suit'. Luckily she was also speaking loudly into her mobile so we could all hear her deliberations:

LOUD WOMAN: He's not really a cheeky person is he? I won't get him anything too cheeky... there's something here with a football team on it but... no I don't think so... well, he's not leaving to join a football team is he? He doesn't like football... well he doesn't look as though he likes football... those glasses... I'll just get him one that says 'sorry you're leaving' and we can all sign that. Yes?... Hello?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Art?



Welcome to Intellectuals' Corner.

Someone has tippexed an 'F' in front of the word 'art' on this escalator poster on the London Underground.

And because my sense of humour can often be described as 'childish' I found this funny.

Now, I'm presuming whoever did it didn't have a bottle of tippex to hand when they first clapped eyes on the poster. And these darned tube escalators move pretty fast so to graffiti them requires real speed and dexterity.

The thought process may have gone something like this...

"Ooh look, 'Art'. If someone scrawled an 'F' in front of that, it would spell 'Fart'. Now, where's my bottle of tippex? Shit, it's at home. I'll bring it tomorrow."

Perhaps they made a few practice passes down the escalator as I had to (well, one), before taking the pic. But to do this you need to go through the exit barriers and come back in. A slightly tortuous process.

But whatever happened they've managed to plaster on the tippex nice and thick.

And it made me grin this morning.

So, to whoever is responsible, good job!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A thousand words says a picture

M'colleague at work bats, shall we say, for the other side. Put simply, he's an art director. And as such he receives a regular deluge of mail from photographers eager to show off their latest picture of a scuffed training shoe.

Most of the work speaks for itself, you either like it and file it away or bin it. There is no middle ground, it's a ruthless world.

One such piece of mail came the other day.

And this one had words attached.

Long words. That had been cobbled together in some strange blasphemy of a sentence which failed to make any sense at all.

So I cut the words out and assembled them into a vague poem.



It still didn't make the pictures any better.

Monday, February 12, 2007

"We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause."

I heard these words today.

In fact, I think I've heard them every day since moving to good ol' London Town. Which was, fact fans, 12.5 years ago.

And, being as there's 365 days a year (no, I'm not arsing about with Leap Years), I reckon that's...

...

er,...

...

4,562.5 days. Give or take.

Minus, let's say, 1300 days for weekends.

Subtract too, about 250 days for holiday. Fuck, 250 days holiday? Where did they all go?

So, we end up with...

... something like,...

...

3102.5 days, on which I've heard the above announcement. Or variations thereon.

And I've come to the, possibly not very earth-shattering, conclusion that it means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Fuck all.

It certainly doesn't mean they're sorry. If they were sorry I'm sure we'd all see the station staff rushing up to the delayed masses begging forgiveness, with eyes drowning in tears of genuine remorse. But we don't. Unless I was away that day.

Frankly, it just irritates. And even though those responsible may seem as stupid as Andrew Wilkinson, the divvy in my class at school, they're surely not so daft as to want to annoy us on purpose. After all, they have timetables to do that.

So here's my solution offered free of charge to any purveyor of public transport wishing to placate the downtrodden masses who suffer their 'service'.

Instead of pretending to be sorry, why not say things that would at least bring a smile to people's faces. For example:

1) Recite a list of British sporting heroes as a reminder of gallant deeds that lifted the nation... Bobby Charlton, Steve Redgrave, Sebastian Coe, Kelly Holmes, Ian Botham, Eddie the Eagle... well, you get the gist.

2) Play a recording of Tommy Cooper: "I backed a horse today, at twenty to one. It came in at half past four." Or Morecombe, Izzard... Dennis... taste varies, obviously.

3) Play snatches of famous sporting commentary: "And here comes Hurst, he's got... some people are on the pitch..." Or famous speeches: "We will fight them on the beaches...".

I'd better stop now, this is starting to make sense.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I had to follow this bloke all the way up Regent Street



He may have passed me unseen if it hadn't been for his shouting. Nothing offensive, just a few very loud 'good mornings' to people on the opposite side of the road.

I was despairing of ever getting a half-decent picture such was his rate of progress along the pavement and my camera phone's dated 'technology'. Even litter bins merited only a cursory glance. That is, until he caught sight of an umbrella protruding from a bin near Hamley's.

He's cut the sleeves off this shirt, presumably to allow him to wear it over all his other clothes.

Hey, no shit Sherlock!

His name appears to be Thomas Something-or-Other. He's claiming that MI5 tried to murder him on 5th July 2006. (It could have been the 15th or 25th I suppose but I couldn't see round his armpit.) Anyway, as with many 'intelligence' operations, it was clearly a botched job as it left Thomas nursing a broken shoulder, bruising on the brain, a lasting sense of injustice and the need to acquire a white shirt and black marker pen.

He speculates on who gave the order for this roughing-up: Home Secretary John Reid, or the Godfather himself, T. Blair.

Finally he signs off by claiming he is a prisoner of the state who has been rendered 'inncommunicado' to prevent him from speaking out.

He did smell though.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Not a brothel. Got that?



So there you are, living in an enviable Queen Anne-style house on one of Soho's more salubrious side streets when there's a knock at your door. You open it to a strange man.

MAN: "Mistress Domina?"

YOU: "You what mate?"

MAN: "Er, Mistress... it's not is it?"

YOU: "No it ruddy isn't."

Several hundred similar knocks on the door later... a sturdy sign to let all and sundry know.

Don't suppose it helps the house price much.

UPDATE 23.02.07.:
I see comedian Dave Gorman has beaten me to this one.
And he's got loads of comments too.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Look out! Swallows!



I'm no great churchgoer, in fact the last time I went was... no, it's gone. But I couldn't resist this plaintive note pinned to a church door in Wales.

For a moment I thought 'Swallows' referred to a particularly unpleasant family who had been barred by the vicar for causing trouble during the service. Perhaps defacing hymn books; carving their initials in the back of the pews; overly aggressive praying. Or, and this was a particular bugbear of the headmaster at my school... spitting.

But hey dumbass, I thought, these are birds. You know, feathers and shit, innit.

So it looks as though squadrons of them had been bombarding our helpless rev as per Tippi Hedren in "The Birds". Perhaps even during his sermon.

REV: So therefore, following the example of St Paul, we must look deeply at ourselves, into ourselves and... who let those fucking swallows in? They're shitting in the font! Bastard cunts!"

I felt the least I could do was go inside and have a look round, maybe drop a quid in the organ fund box.

Don't recall shutting the door on my way out though.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"Look at the hands"

A couple of Silver-Haired Old Ladies in the National Portrait Gallery (Tudor section):

SHOL 1: Look at the hands, they're very important. They're the most detailed part, can you see?

SHOL 2: Yes they're... aren't they big.

SHOL 1: Hands were very important then. Can you see the detail?

SHOL 2: Look at that ring.

SHOL 1: His seal, that's his seal. I love the way he clasps his together.

SHOL 2: Thin fingers.

SHOL 1: They intertwine don't they? Yes. As though he's praying.

SHOL 2: Why is he praying?

SHOL 1: He isn't.

SHOL 2: He could be.

SHOL 1: Yes. But he isn't. One wouldn't pray whilst having one's portrait painted.

SHOL 2: He could be pretending.

SHOL 1: Let's move on. Oh, now this is Henry VII. (PAUSE) Look at the hands...

That's the best thing about art galleries: sod the paintings, look at the people.

Or the hands.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tabloid-eeze

Britain's tabloids have long been contorting the language so that it accords with their column widths. Here's a representative sample I culled from yesterday's super soaraway Sun.



What's interesting is that you can glean a good idea of the story from some of the headlines but with others a little extra reading is required.

So, for example, in "Torture Army recruit AWOL" we can hazard a guess that some poor teenage squaddie had his genitals singed by a sadistic Sergeant and has therefore decided that it's definitely not "a man's life in the army" and run away to hide in some woods hoping that no-one will miss him.

But with "DEAD TOT QUIZ" we're on shakier ground as on first glance this appears to be a game show for sickos about dead children. But on delving deeper into the story we learn it's another case of domestic violence as a couple help police with the investigation into the death of a five month-old baby.

Which leads us onto the synonyms or more likely, code words, that tabloids always use. Firstly for reasons of space and secondly because their readers aren't likely to enjoy an especially intimate relationship with the nuances of the English language.

"TOT" Baby. But in reality, any child under the age of ten.
"QUIZ" Interrogation. Someone is helping the police with their inquiries.
"HELL" Any unpleasant experience of hugely variable severity, preferably undergone by a 'celebrity'. So, in the two examples above we learn (on reading the whole story) that Kelly Osbourne's 'HELL' is her less-than-traumatic time in Japan where she had to use the local toilets. And Natasha Kaplinsky's version of Hades was that she discovered on the TV programme, "Who do you think you are?" that some of her distant family were murdered by the Nazis. Now, certainly, for those distant family members, the word 'HELL' is apt. But for Natasha? Well, it's hardly the same is it?
"STORM" A protest. Apparently. A big row over an issue which may or may not be of national importance. The origin of the storm frequently being a newspaper headquarters in the Wapping area of London. In our example, the "Corrie Wife" seems to have outrun a hurricane. She didn't. She got battered.

And finally...



No, it's nothing to do with G.W. Bush and his escapades in Iraq. It's actually a tale of mild-mannered Man City manager, Stuart Pearce who 'rejoices' in the nickname 'psycho' and who has apparently offered to be the manager of England's U21 football team. But his club, City, aren't too happy. Hence the outbreak of hostilities. Or a couple of grumpy 'phone calls anyway.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Today's word is... 'oxymoron'

Another entry in what is probably, due to excessive lack of imagination, the most irregular series ever 'devised'.

oxymoron n. Rhet. a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction.



I wonder how many emails they actually get?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More baldness



Ads for those of us with slightly less on top never seem to show actual baldies anymore. Just young blokes with loads of hair.

And I'm busy wondering why.

Are they afraid that images of middle-aged men with thinning pates just don't project the kind of young, thrusting vibe that gets people hard in this day and age?

A vibe like this virile, hirsuite young buck is projecting for instance.

Whatever happens, it's all come a bit too late for 'Reg'.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Would you ring the bell?



There's more than a hint of desperation about this little notice.

Maybe that's why I love it.

I wonder how many times our nocturnal wage slave stumbled down from his (yes, I'm assuming it's a 'he' for reasons of simplicity, apologies if not) midday slumbers and struggled bleary-eyed with the lock on the door to confront, and quite probably swear at, a Jehovah's Witness, electoral canvasser, schoolchild seeking sponsorship etc.

At what point was he driven to write his note?

For extra emphasis he's gone over the 'DO NOT DISTURB' letters twice which lends an air of menace to the communication, doubtless intentional.

But what about the underlining? Three rather wavy lines, almost artistically produced and done without a ruler. If he'd been angry they would have been shorter and straighter, but these seem sad.

And this is why I think our writer was crying when he wrote it. Tears of frustration were coursing down his cheeks as, for the umpteenth time, he'd been awoken by someone at the door.

No, I don't believe those wet splodges are rain-related. I reckon they come from the eyes of a desperate man who realises that if he doesn't get his alloted kip today then, come three o'clock in the morning, he's highly likely to lose an arm in that whirling machine he operates at the factory.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

You don't see one of these very often

A well-written, well-acted, lovingly-shot commercial that actually tells a story into the bargain.

What's more, it goes on for two whole minutes. Which, in this mad bish-bash-bosh era must be some sort of achievement.

I could sit and watch it for ages.

Or a couple of minutes at least.

Hell hath no fury...



... like a man with crabs.

Spotted in Devon during the Christmas break.

We have real anger here. Ms Pedrick's shortcomings in the vaginal cleanliness department are ruthlessly exposed by a man who, not content with merely telling his mates about her in the pub, has gone to the considerable trouble of creating some sort of stencil with which to warn this scarlet lady's prospective bedfellows.

By creating his stencil, our itchy lothario clearly means business. I saw two other locations where his dire warning was displayed, so he was obviously intent on spreading his message and leaving the local townsfolk in no doubt as to the potential consequences of a dalliance with the newly-infamous Ms P.

Who is happily spreading a little something of her own by the look of things.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hey you get offa my stoop



They could have said 'porch' instead I suppose, or steps, but I'm so glad they didn't 'cos I just love 'stoop'.

It's so wilfully obscure, so completely undumbed-down. It challenges you to understand it and then, since some people clearly won't, gives the owners carte blanche to bollock the uncomprehending hoodie squatting outside.

This is a sign that you need an English degree to understand. Alright, maybe not. But think of the possibilities... signs that were so highbrow that no-one understood them and consequently no-one obeyed.

Imagine the anarchy.

There's such a sign on the side of a house near me. It says,

"Please don't kick balls against this wall."

Is it obeyed?

Is it fuck.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I have an announcement to make

Those running our public 'transport system' never seem to tire of deluging passengers with messages.

Here's a sample from my varied modes of transport this morning...

"Owing to the late running of the service in front, this tram will be terminating at the next stop." Oh, thanks.

"Please stand well back from the yellow line when the train enters the platform."

"This is your guard speaking. If you see anything suspicious please tell me or a member of the on-board staff. If you require my assistance, I can be found at the centre of this eight-car train."

"On alighting from this service, please take care to mind the gap between the train and the platform."

"Please ensure you have all your belongings with you when you leave the train."

"Passengers using Oyster Pre-Pay please ensure you touch in and touch out or you will be charged the full price fare for your journey."

"Oyster Pre-Pay is not valid on this service."

"Please do not give money to beggers operating at this station. South West Trains gives a donation to various charities on your behalf."

"Due to signal failure, severe delays are occuring on the Uxbridge branch of the Metropolitan Line."

"Any unattended articles will be removed and could be destroyed."

"For reasons of safety, bicycles are not allowed on this service."

"Please move right down inside the carriage."

"Flash photography is not permitted on the Underground."

"Thank you for travelling with South West Trains."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Wind

Today's first edition of Metro carried this story about yesterday's gusts.



But in the second edition...



Leaving aside the increase in the number of people killed (although what exactly does 'up to nine' mean? Over two? er...), why the change in the wind speed? Is it that we still don't understand kph in this country?

"Kilo... what? Kilo metres? What the dickens are they, some kind of French joke? We have miles in Britain. The Queen's Own British miles!"

Or does 90mph simply sound windier to us?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fancy a pint with Jesus?




A man gave me this in a street in Soho.

Now you can pick up almost anything in a Soho street. But an invitation to a pint with the Lord?

It's a new one to me.

I don't have to know anything about the Bible apparently, nor will I have to sing. Although if the christians ever did make me sing they'd never ask again.

Nice choice of pub name too. Mind you, I doubt they'd have picked Filthy McNasty's.