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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Well, fancy that! What I found in yesterday's Evening Standard

I wonder what the late Lord Beaverbrook would have thought of what they run nowadays in his old paper, The Evening Standard.

I think it's probably the best paper around today, full of interesting stuff.

For example on page 36 I see The Tory Council in Bromley objects to the idea of parents doing what the Tory party in parliament wants them to do - set up an independent school. An apparatchik - or should it be chick - called Gillian Pearson who is director of education and children's services objects because she wants the school kept in "the local collaborative framework."

What the hell is that, pray? What she really means is that if people start doing things for themselves she'll be out of her overpaid non-job. There should be a government mandate that all people who use expressions like that be fired instantly. Nobody would notice the difference and the savings would be huge.

The only problem is, Cameron talks like that too.

On page 27 a pile of assorted rubbish is touted as being one of the few good things in the new Saatchi exhibition. Makes you wonder about the rest of the garbage there; and makes me recall that when I went last year I saw another load of rubbish - only that time it was old clothes. I wonder what a real artist like Turner who used to live down the road would have thought of it all.

On page 7 I learn that Cherie "cheap as chips" Blair has sold Tony's signature for £10, whilst on page 15 her half-witted half-sister Lauren is busy praising the enlightened regime in Iran where torture comes as standard.

On page 16 Sally Bercow - would-be M.P. and wife of the creepy speaker - says doing a parachute jump for Stonewall was "totally awesome". She obviously has the same gift for language as the people who write the ads in the paper - which I'll come to in a minute.

On page 39 the paper's resident gay blade, Richard Dennen, reveals that he is going gay speed-dating on Duke Street, Mayfair.

Thanks for that, Rich. I have mixed memories of Duke Street. In the late '60's my partner Martin was so pie-eyed in a restaurant there that he fell asleep into his meal. And 8 years later in a first floor flat opposite that restaurant he killed himself. Every time I go past there - which I do regularly - I think of him. He was clever, funny, talented - but fell in with a pair of crooks. What a sad, sad shame.

On page 16 I see that some rogues are trying to transform St. Barnabas House a beautiful 18th century house which is "a hostel for fallen women" off Soho Square - and which I also walk past most days - into a "Life Skills Centre" whatever that may be. They want to make it a private club.

There are enough clubs in Soho already, and I recommend The Green Carnation 20 yards away, where we had a birthday party two years ago - and where Richard Dennen would certainly have fun.

Only the ads spoil everything.

Amongst them we find an ugly reversed-out job with American Express offering "a mind-blowing 5% cash back". Whatever happened to their premium positioning?

Vodaphone's copy on page 24 resuscitates one of the corniest old lines: "Mobile broadband just got more mobile". No talent required to write their stuff, clearly. Not much competition, though. All of page 18 is devoted to "Better for Mobile Broadband. Don't just take our word for it." Then 21 words of dull copy.

A whole half page is wasted by ING to say "Try as we might, we just couldn't make a mortgage application fun, so we made it simple instead" followed by 50 odd words of the same kind of thing. Why don't they say "Introducing the 25 minute mortgage"? Run that in small spaces and they'd triple their ROI (if they bother to measure it).

Have any of these people ever studied what copywriting is about? The same applies to the design which is mostly of Olympics logo standard.

I would say that virtually every headline in the editorial is better than all the headlines of the ads. Features editor David Cohen is up for an award - deservedly so - and the paper has already won two awards this year.

Ironically, one of the poorest ads is for the Standard's new sister paper, which is called i. The headline is "i doesn't do information overload."

They should get some help from the editorial people.

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