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Saturday, 30 January 2010

On sundry stabbings - and why occasionally someone makes me feel I'm not wasting my time

You can safely say that doing business my way is not quite how they do it in those agencies with receptions that look like restaurants.

I just had a comic exchange with an old acquaintance (and new client if we ever get our shit together) about the dramas of domestic life.

I think I managed to top his stories by saying that "As someone who has been stabbed by one ex-wife and one ex-mistress and still has a scar on his face from another who hit an artery I laugh at your puny adventures."

But to change the subject entirely, a year or so ago a Croatian TV interviewer asked me why I'm still in this bloody business. I replied as best I could, but this email which I got yesterday gives the best reason of all.

Hi Drayton

I wanted to send you a personal note (well as personal as an email can be) to thank you for inspiring me in my career.

Let me explain.

25 years ago I was a copywriting rookie at Sun Alliance. A graduate on that slippery road of irrelevant brilliance...ideas aplenty, most of them useless. Thankfully this was accompanied by an overwhelming desire to learn.

I was sent on a 2 day direct marketing conference in London. Almost by accident I meandered into a seminar you were running. I can remember feeling daunted but intrigued by you and I became completely engrossed in what you had to say.

On a screen you flashed up examples of adverts - good, bad, horrendous and brilliant. I squirmed when you thoroughly denounced an advert by Sun Alliance. Thank god I had not written it.

Then you flashed an advert, a simple classified ad for a B&B in the Dales that spun a beautiful story in just one paragraph. You pointed out the descriptions and the words and told us that great copywriting began with simplicity and relevance, with compelling descriptions and more. I wonder if you can remember?

Over the years I have never, ever forgotten your brilliant advice. I love telling stories and getting paid for them and I have mentioned your name on countless occasions when talking to people about the art of copywriting. I still feel like a rookie, just an older one!

I found you on Twitter and started following you. This galvanised me into writing to you.

I get a few like this. Sorry if it's a bit maudlin of me to quote that one, but last week was mostly crap, and it cheered me up no end. I still use that example, too. Good things don't age.

Thanks for taking the trouble, Dee.

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