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Friday, 24 February 2012

Friday’s assorted marketing garbage: what IS going on these people’s heads? And some beautiful writing

If Smirking Dave wanted to know what is going on outside the Great Dream Cocoon in which he lives he could do a lot worse than take a walk around Bristol.

One feature besides the groups of half-dressed drunken sluts and their lurching soul-mates most nights is the large number of empty office buildings, failed restaurants and so on. These have spawned some sad attempts at "creativity" by estate agents. I've started collecting them, as the two examples here show.

The one with the lady and the dog needs no explanation and there can be no excuse. The other one promising a bit of WOW is fatuous without further comment; but even more so if you realise that it is stuck on a fine old building in Queen Square, Bristol's largest and grandest, with buildings dating back to the 18th century. It is the last place you would find WOW - or want to, even if it would do you any good.

Other examples of promotional garbage I came across - or which came across me - are an e-mail this morning from some people called the Advertising Club. They are nothing of the sort. They are some recruitment people who want me to take part in a salary survey.

They say "Let your voice be heard! Your perspective matters!" You can always spot bad copy a) by the irrelevant application of exclamation marks and b) by poor use of language. The copy begins, "As a strategic member of the workforce, we invite you to participate in our annual Salary and Job Market study."

What on God's green earth is a strategic member of the workforce? What the hell has perspective got to do with me telling you what I earn? Kindly piss off.

The same school of copy is clearly responsible for a poster at London Bridge tube station, headed, "Work in a fast-paced multilingual environment". And what, pray, does that conjure up? Lots of demented souls rushing about aimlessly, pausing intermittently to gabble at each other in any one of sixteen different languages? Sounds like environmental hell to me.

Re Smirking Dave, how hilarious that Emma Harrison his "Work Czar" - whose idea of motivating people to work is to pay herself £4 million - is caught up in a fraud enquiry. Did Camron not do any checks? The company has undergone five serious investigations into financial irregularity since 2005. But doing your homework is anathema if you believe in government by gesture

The more I see of Cameron, the more I realise that he really is like his idol Tony the Greedy Bliar, but not quite as good at misrepresentation. How fortunate that his opponent Miliband is as poor at opposition as he was himself.

Incidentally, this idea of appointing Czars for everything is, like a lot of bad ideas, just copying what doesn't work in America. Do any of these people realise just how many of the Czars were murderous bastards or reactionary incompetents and that the last one got slaughtered with all his family?

The people who can change things in a society are not tax-dodging multi-millionaires who have nothing to prove. And giving them silly titles won't help either.

But let us turn with relief from the ridiculous to the sublime. I am very keen on books about crime, especially Italian ones. Italian crime has a sophistication and ingenuity all its own, and so does Leonardo Sciascia. His books are so good that she who governs my every step studied them at University.

I have just read and re-read with growing joy a sentence in one of his books describing an important man who has been interrupted in his morning routine by a visit from the police.

"There hovered in the air around him an irritation at being compelled to delay his customary, almost legendarily punctual departure for the offices of United Industries, from whose top floor, as though in confidential familiarity with heaven, he took the daily, almost invariably correct, decisions which kept the whole country on the road to affluence and well-being; even if it was besieged on one side by the spectre of poverty and on the other by that of plague."

It is very hard to manage a paragraph that long without losing the reader, and my heart goes out to the translator, but that phrase "in confidential familiarity with heaven" really made me happy.

Sciascia does require one to use the brain, but if you like something easier, try Andrea Camilleri. Very funny and very good - the best living Italian crime writer. They have made TV shows out of his books.


Have a splendid weekend.

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