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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

This gave me a laugh before I shook with rage

I don’t know whether you noticed, but almost every time in people are asked in those dopey quizzes what they find most attractive in other people, a sense of humour comes top.

So Marc Howells, head of Barclaycard in Europe must have been getting a lot more than his fair share. A while ago he reported quarterly figures in a staff meeting by saying: "The results were like Muslims - some were good, some were Shiite".

This admirable man, who genuinely deserves to have sex objects clambering all over him all day was reported to the Obergruppenfuhrer in charge of bollocks by some odious creep who probably hasn’t been laid in ten years - and sacked, when he should have been promoted six layers at least.

Then another sexually disadvantaged buffoon at Barclaycard said, "We have a robust approach to equality and diversity and do not tolerate discrimination." Sad twat.

I found this at an excellent website – The Chap Magazine. Go to http://www.thechap.net/content/section_news/pcworld.html for more bizarre examples of PC stupidity, and a hysterical comparison of Mugabe with A. Hitler on hirsute grounds.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

That is from Edmund Burke who was, like many great British men, Irish. (Many were also Scottish; shame we got the fag end in the last few years).

It is hard to believe that if the people suffering in Zimbabwe were not either black or old and white with no money, the powers would not have sent a task force in by now. Mind you, when the US did that in Somalia, what a mess they made. Someone did make a profitable film of it, though. Unreality rules, O.K.?

Of course the other thing required for evil to triumph is that bad men pretend it isn't happening and even encourage it; and if you can think of a good man ruling any African country save Botswana and perhaps Ghana, give me a shout. It will cheer me up no end.

You IDIOT, Drayton

As you may have noticed, I'm an appalling typist.

I misspelt Keith Hann's address. It's www.keithhann.com.

Sorry! But however you spell it, I still think he's funny. Mind you, it's probably laugh or freeze up there.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Never mind me; this man is really funny

Here are two quotes from someone I've never met or even heard of till today.

"I've yearned for years to have the sort of body that would enable me to walk boldly onto a beach and hear beautiful women sighing ‘Phwoar’ rather than ‘Ugh’. Yearned, but never quite enough to do much about it, at least since I came to the conclusion about 20 years ago that I actually preferred a good dinner and a bottle of fine wine to a night of passion. Mainly because the head chef and sommelier don’t expect you to stay awake for a couple of hours after the meal, listening to them describe their neuroses and hopes for the future.

8 August 2006

Instead of the Government issuing edicts to every airline, why not allow a little consumer choice into the equation? WhatTheHell airlines could be set up with the unique selling proposition that you could take whatever you liked on board as hand luggage, with the downside that you stood a greater risk of being blown to smithereens mid-flight. It would be interesting to see how it fared.

22 August 2006

His name is Keith Hann. He's at Keith Han.com - and a few other places including www.blokeinthenorth.com..

I think he is hilarious. He should be named a British National Treasure. And we're not secret lovers; I really have never met him; he's not a relative. The man is nothing to me. It's not one of those cunning social marketing ploys.

I just think anyone who doesn't like his pragmatic and thoughtful approach to life needs treatment. Here is some more, from part of his description of his career on his company website:

Keith finally got round to taking his gap year in 1986-87. After a thorough cost-benefit analysis, he decided to abandon his initial idea of a global tour majoring on drink, drugs and casual sex, in favour of living in a remote cottage in Northumberland and writing the definitive, unpublished comic novel about the pre-Big Bang City. He does not rank this among his better decisions. .

And this is how he describes a member of his loyal staff on his company website. The member in question happens to be a dog. A late dog, actually.

Arthur Boardman-Hann was born in Rochester, Northumberland on 17 March 1991, which made him about 115 in dog years at the time of his sad death on 14 September 2007. Unfortunately his idea of saving had been burying old bones at the bottom of the garden rather than investing sensibly with Equitable Life, so he was never able to afford to retire. He was proud to the end of his formal police caution for biting a postman’s testicles. In his final years Arthur became increasingly deaf, blind and bad-tempered, confirming that dogs really do take after their masters. His principal interests were sleeping, eating and taking very short walks. But mainly sleeping.

Star sign: Pisces
Key words: drowsy, somnolent, dead to the world.

Go and look him up. I have yet to find anything he writes less than very funny. The last time I recall being so pleased to find a writer was when Dave Barry started writing for The Miami Herald

Surrounded by piffle on all sides - a lot of it fatal. Why?

We’re all emotional, but I’m emotional about what you may consider some very odd things.

Quotations, for instance. Here is one from Aristotle:

“We have a duty to know. That is what humans are for, and it alone leads to happiness and is the nearest we can come to immortality.”

I use it sometimes in seminars, and I confess that almost every time I do, I get a lump in my throat. Odd? Perhaps. I just believe in it very deeply.

Anyhow, it came to mind when I read of all things a review of a jazz concert in which a writer referred to the late Bill Evans as “the most influential pianist of the 20th century”.

Not just jazz pianist – any pianist.

That man is talking straight through his hat.

Let’s take jazz. Bill Evans was a nice melodic pianist – but does he compare for an instant with Art Tatum, widely acknowledged by jazz pianists themselves as the greatest jazz pianist of all time? I remember one telling me that every time he heard Tatum he felt like giving up. Did he have more influence than Scott Joplin, James P. Johnson or Duke Ellington? Or Erroll Garner, not to mention Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell? Or even Oscar Peterson?

That’s just jazz pianists. But since he was a jazz pianist with a dash of the classical, can he possibly even compare with the highest-paid concert pianist ever – Paderewski? Or Rachmaninov – not only a great pianist but a great composer - also true of Bartok and Prokoviev. What about Horowitz, Rubinstein, Gilels, Gould, Arrau?

No doubt someone even more ignorant than him will believe this man and repeat his piffle.

We live with the depressing consequences of ignorance every day.

Men, women and children die in agony every day because Blair, Bush and their henchmen never studied what has always happened to invaders of Afghanistan; or in Iraq’s case never looked at what the Allies did at the end of World War 2 to make sure Germany didn’t collapse in chaos.

And now we’re all going to be coughing up for a few years because bankers and politicians never studied previous collapses - all with similar patterns going back to the 17th century.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

The banks - to be serious for a moment

A piece in The Economist about Sir "Fred" Goodwin who has managed in exchange for Lord knows how many millions in salary and pension to screw up the Royal Bank of Scotland, prompted me to comment.

(He sounds a thoroughly unpleasant oaf, by the way). Anyhow, this is what I wrote:

An airline head once commented that if the seat back trays are not properly kept clean, passengers start to wonder how well the engines are maintained.

It seems to me that a sound way to assess the management of any organisation is not from the preening and self-aggrandisement of the bosses, but how they attend to detail.

There cannot be a bank customer in this country who is unaware that not one of the big banks is even vaguely competent at anything except ceaseless and, judging by the fuss about their dubious charges, frequently dishonest rapacity.

Anyone who has worked, as I have with all of them, in a marketing capacity knows that they are hopeless at that - which is where their money comes from, by the way; it is no surprise that they are hopeless at everything else, including it would seem, the ability to do their sums.

People like Goodwin in so many large organisations are essentially only really good at three things: getting to the top, big talk and making damn sure they get well paid, no matter what happens to the staff and customers.

The analogy with Gordon Brown, whom we were also assured by the media for so many years was a financial genius, is hard to ignore.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Excellent Irish joke - and a few other idle thoughts

I have long run my life by one maxim. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst, clearly not familiar to the top brass at British Airways.

Those who have been amused, entertained, delayed or horrified by the great Heathrow cock-up – and I don’t mean Naomi Campbell who ismore of a tits-up, I guess – may like to know that this disaster did not occur despite careful preparation and planning.

A friend was telling me that he knows a lot of people in that area. It seems that 2,000 people were brought in for three days running to make sure everything worked. It didn’t. Not on the first day. Not on the second. Not on the third. So they went ahead anyhow. And how amazing: nothing worked.

Serves them right, stupid sods.

Years ago I judged some awards in Ireland, and of course picked up some great jokes –especially from Frank Carson, the great comedian; I have a photo of us together somewhere, if it hasn’t been nicked.

But currently there is no better Irish joke than Willy Walsh, boss of BA. He reminds me of something I was reflecting on the other day: the road to failure is paved with success. People who get to the top start to think they can do nothing wrong. Then one day, they discover how wrong they are.

To Dean Kennedy on Victorian politics, I can only say my knowledge of them is limited, but I did learn a lot about politics in Oz generally by marrying someone who’d been engaged to the Attorney General in the Whitlam government. Did I mention that before? I meant to. If not, remind me – it’s amusing.

I think, by the way, Dean, that having Labor governments in all the States may not prove a wonderful experiment. And will being able to speak Chinese and set up committees prove the perfect recipe for Kevin Rudd?

This lot will spend all the cash on politically correct crap, and the minerals will run out one day. Just like North Sea oil is doing here. All we have to show for it right now is alcoholic 12 year-olds, a mayor of London supported by Islamic terrorists and Gordon Brown, illiterate dishonest hags producing endless series of fatherless kids and a looming Olympic catastrophe.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Want to know why they’re such useless tossers?

As you fight your way through the next year, spare a thought for how the chaps in charge – the government - are feeling. Then find one of them to throw bricks at.

They may have got us all into this mess, but they’re hardly as worried as you are; after all, their pensions are all sorted out and inflation-linked.

You have to wonder occasionally, though, how well qualified they are. Could any of them be trusted to do something really tricky - like finding their own arseholes without a motor-cycle escort?

I looked up some of them up at random – the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Minister for Health, the Secretary of State for Justice, the Home Secretary, the Defence Secretary, not forgetting Hazel Bleugh, who runs the Department for Communities and Local Government.

You know what? Not one of them has had the kind of job where you have to worry about profit and loss. A few have toyed briefly with teaching, which may explain why our schools are in such a tip, some with the law or journalism but most have spent their entire lives brown-nosing their way up in politics. No wonder they’re all such total ullage.

The one whose efforts over the years have provided me with most amusement is Ed Balls. He’s the genius who used to advise Gordon Brown on economics – known to people who understand money as Ed Balls-Up. Like the others he’s never had a proper job. Now he’s Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. What makes these clots think they can sort out kids and families when they couldn't run a bath?

Actually, what suggests they can sort out anything? Not a lot. Will Cameron’s lot do any better? I wouldn’t bet on it. He’s clearly a lying toad – at any rate whenever he gets near a bike.

What’s worrying is that nobody trusts politicians of any stripe. They are looked down on everywhere. In the annual Trust Survey run by Edelman– the world’s largest independent PR firm - they even come out below journalists, long regarded as pretty much the lowest of the low.

Mind you, as my partner and her sister pointed out with some vehemence, our lot are paragons compared to the Bliar’s friend Berlusconi. At least none of them have had to pass laws to keep out of jail. Yet.

Friday, 11 April 2008

God bless the Archbishop of York - and give the one in a Canterbury a good kicking

I confess that for many years I used to dismiss Christian dogma by saying that God is either all powerful or benevolent, because so many nasty things happen in the world that he can’t be both.

However I do applaud the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, every time I read about him. Unlike the cowardly wretches who run this country he has always spoken out against Mugabe. And now I see he is about to take his first parachute jump at the age of 58 to help raise money for the families of soldiers in Afghanistan.

It seems to me that although born in Uganda he is infinitely closer to what people here care about than most of the people in power - and certainly more than the fool in Canterbury who thinks we would benefit from Sharia law. If we could get that man to convert to Islam he would probably deal a blow to that faith it would take decades to recover from.

Revealing, too, that while Sentamu does something we can all relate to, Gordon Brown raises tax on the poorest people in Britain - and goes on American Idol with his usual shark-like approximation to a smile to raise money for mosquito nets. It’s a very good cause, Gordon, but do the people in Liverpool give a toss?

Which reminds me, when will British politicians stop dreaming the world gives a shit about their opinions and sort out the mess here?

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

At last, the ultimate meaningless title is achieved!

At the start of that rip-roaring business romp “Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing” I quote Confucius who thought the correct use of language was the most important thing to worry about if you want run things properly.

“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion”.

I'll tell you what: in case you hadn't noticed, there must be a lot of marketing people standing about in helpless confusion. I just read in Precision Marketing that a man in one agency is an Executive Strategic Officer.

Now how do you suppose he passes his time? Indeed how can he possibly he know how he should? His title gives absolutely no clue, as it relates to no known activity at all. Not that that usually makes any difference in agencies.

But as an “officer” – another fatuous, empty title that’s become popular – but with no clear function, should he perhaps join the Territorial Army? Goosestep through the halls delivering staccato orders at random? If so, about what? "We need more strategy" might be a rallying cry - except that they have more strategy than you can shake a stick in agencies. Just read their reports.

Probably the people who do the real work just get their heads down and try to ignore him. Just as well, or nothing would ever get done.

One of my old colleagues told me that a good way to save money on rises was to give people meaningless titles. Maybe the people who dish them out are not as stupid as I thought.

Actually I collect exercises in mangled English and allround mental folly.

“Changes have been made that affect the Global Template” is a message I keep getting on my computer. It prompts the automatic response; “What do you mean?” followed by “Why can’t you write in English, you twat?”

C8W sends me a newsletter telling me how they can improve my marketing - and address me as “Dear Name”. That’s a new technique called impersonalisation.

I must be getting more and more irritable in my dotage, because I see stuff that makes me snort with rage every day.

Last week it was the phrase, “Beautiful and innovative handbags”. Uh? Innovative? Can you keep goldfish in them, or what?

“We want to take all your content on the Web and move it to a more visually immersive, immediate experience,” says the chief executive at Vivaty and a former vice president at the big game maker Electronic Arts, without a trace of irony.

Someone else promises to help me in “Achieving closed-loop processes and reporting”. If only!

And earlier today I see that another agency bigwig let the following appear about him on his agency’s website: “Barry is insightful, curious and an avid listener. His natural talents are in writing and he instinctively rolls ideas up to create a logical big picture. He's become a marketing guru from his diverse experience across clients, business challenges and roles in creative, strategy and management.”

How do you “roll up” an idea? And having done so, do you smoke it?

By the sound of it, Barry will never be afflicted by modesty, false or otherwise. Sounds like he spends the first twenty minutes of every day gazing adoringly at his own reflection.

Would you believe I’ve written or rewritten 7 pieces of copy today? It’s being so livid that keeps me going.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

The Bliar Witch project: revel in the drivel

Those of you not from these parts may be blessedly unaware of the phrase “Blair’s Babes”.

However, when the Bliar first set about screwing things up here and people were so transfixed by his smarmy grin that they never noticed what a mendacious little shit he was, he gathered about him a throng of politically correct hags who got that title.

I don’t know why they were called “babes” as in less sensitive times they were what coarse males used to call brown paper bag jobs.

Be that as it may, their chief talents, as far as one can see, were to stick their tongues so far up his arse that he couldn’t shake them loose and unusual skill in deploying that special kind of language popular among politicians, where normal people vaguely recognise the words but cannot quite make out what the point is.

(Even if you are not British, you will undoubtedly recognise the same sort of meaningless crap being spewed out by your own politicians.)

Eventually quite a few of these politico-sluts reached positions where they were able to do alarming amounts of damage to the economy, society, foreign relations and the nervous systems of those of us who speak English as commonly understood.

It is hard to single out any one of the dire, ugly bitches as more useless than the others but the one that irritates many of us most is called Hazel Blears. I don’t know if there is a verb “to blear”, but if not there will be if she hangs around for long enough.

Here is a sample of the meaningless, self-important guff she wastes our time and money on:

Wednesday June 18th 2008, New Connaught Rooms- London, 09:30 - 16:00
The Empowerment Action Plan: Making Empowerment A Reality in Every Community

''This action plan is about turning rhetoric into reality. We have talked about devolution, now we need to step up a gear; to go further and faster and to be more ambitious about what we want to achieve.

A number of authorities are leading the charge for empowering people doing excellent work. Now I want local government to grasp the opportunities that devolution brings across the country. This action plan will bring about a transformation and reinvent the way we govern by bringing ‘devolution to the doorstep'"

Rt. Hon. Hazel Blears MP, Secretary of State, Department for Communities & Local Government, May 2007


Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears published the Government’s ‘empowerment action plan’ (19th September) that sets out how it will deliver on its commitment to bring about greater devolution and empower communities. The action plan clarifies how people will be given increasingly greater control over their communities on a wide range of issues from managing social housing, tackling litter and fly-tipping, tackling anti-social behaviour and improving playgrounds and parks. Funding of £35 million will support the actions in the plan and support the successful delivery of the community empowerment agenda. The action plan will dramatically expand and accelerate the programmes currently underway at both central and local level to devolve more power to local power.
The action plan is an opportunity to make real changes to the way government does things – both nationally, and locally – and to deliver high quality services responsive to people’s needs.

What does this mean? It means two things.

1. We are going to have to sort all this out ourselves because the government couldn’t run a piss-up in a brewery, but it is going to take £35 million to give us the bad news on this.

2. She’s wandering about making speeches because her title clearly indicates she hasn’t got a proper job to go to. What a shame most of our public lavatories have been closed in the last ten years – another administrative breakthrough, by the way.

But it is worth asking why these buffoons in government imagine some silly cow can manage communities. In 11 years what has been achieved?

1. Kids are wandering about shooting each other over drug turf - maybe this was as a results of an "initiative" involving a "fact-finding mission" to W. 127th St, NYC

2. Every weekend London's streets are full of drunks busy vomiting all over the pavements as a results of the brilliant new licencing laws. Occasionally they whip their tiny little droopy dongs out and piss on the pavements because of the public lavatory crisis referred to

3. Gaming - and advertising for mugs - has been made legal. That will do a lot for the community - especially the poorer, more gullible folk this governemnt claims falsely to care for.

4. The Post Offices, centres of what is left of rural communities, are being closed down every day so the money saved can go to crackpot schemes (too often involving that word "empowerment") up and down the country.

5. Thanks to the financial "prudence" of G. Brown we now have higher taxes than anyone else in Europe to fund all this misbegotten stuff.

6. All of us in the community deeply appreciate his latest coup - the great Northern Rock bail-out, which was entirely unnecessary as NatWest was happy to fund it.

7. We also pay tribute to his foresight in saving so much money on not buying essential equipment for the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq that many are dying needlessly (nice one, Tony and Gordon, hope you meet the widows and children).

And so on.

I'd better stop now, because I doubt if any politicians in this country understand that most of us wouldn't piss down their throats if they were on fire

Friday, 4 April 2008

Laughs of the Day

Because of the limitations of this medium, you probably can't read this letter from the BBC to a job applicant, but the operative sentence reads:

"You may also like to note that calling our head of human resources a skank ho does not gain you any plus points when being shortlisted for a position."

How excellent!

A friend sent me this, and I must say it gave me great joy. But then I have that kind of sense of humour.

Which reminds me that a chap called Tony Attwood has a blog modestly offering “The Ultimate Guide To Doubling The Response Of Your Next Mail Shot.” No worries about under-claiming there.

Surprisingly there are no flying pigs on his site, but there is a suggestion that I was talking though my hat in a piece I wrote a while ago suggesting that some droll advertising by Barclays Bank featuring Samuel L. Jackson and a pig was a bloody stupid idea.

Most bank advertising is stupid anyhow, though HSBC have finally come up with a really excellent airport campaign. But Tony’s reason for believing this was a good campaign is that half the audience in a cinema fell about laughing at one of the ads.

It is quite remarkable that anyone who claims to be an expert on getting response confuses provoking laughs with getting sales, but there you are; it takes all sorts.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

April Fool or not?

Three marriages convinced me long ago that I am, by and large, an idiot, and I am inclined to think the logo on your arse story may be a joke.

But on the other hand, as Steve Gibson points out in his comment today, a woman in the US really did auction off her forehead on e-bay three years ago for $10,000 to some fools who run a casino.

Anyhow, experience has taught me that there is nothing so stupid that marketers won't try it.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

“Stick our logo on your bum”

Yesterday I got an e-mail from a firm called Laptops Direct headed, “Use your body to advertise our logo and get £5,000”

Who could resist such an offer?

Not a cheap bastard like me, so I clicked through and saw “WE’LL PAY FOR YOUR LAPTOP AND GIVE YOU £5000.”

Then I clicked through and read:

• Are you looking for extra income?
• Could you use £5000 for doing no extra work?
• Have you always thought about getting a tattoo but didn't know which design to choose?

I checked quickly to see if it said “Are you a penniless lunatic?” – but no, it didn’t.

Then I read:

We're looking to recruit body advertisers to help promote our flagship brand. There's up to £5000 available depending on where you want to put the tattoo.

I asked myself what the hell a flagship brand is, before moving on swiftly to see that if I put Laptops Direct Limited on my forehead I could get £5,000.

However, prices vary for “other areas” it explained helpfully next to a picture of what I guess is the flagship brand name tattooed on the either side of some cheeky little buttocks.

Numbers are limited to 50 people, and not just any idiot is accepted:

You must take a drug test and successfully complete a short psychological questionnaire to ensure you are of sound mind

You must be over 18 years of age and have had no previous mental health problems (Though I guess you must have them now).

You must be a tattoo virgin - "It would cramp our brand if there were other competing tattoos"

You must attend an annual check-up to ensure you have not removed the tattoo, have not had any other tattoos added and are still of sound mind.

Providing you meet the above criteria, the firm will pay for your tattoo to be done at their "designated tattooist" in Huddersfield and will pay you immediately afterwards.

You will be responsible for your own transport to and from Huddersfield although for full forehead tattoos they will pay for overnight accommodation as they want to do a brief medical check in the morning.

I can understand this. Since only someone deranged would do this you want to be sure they stay deranged.

Laptops Direct is actually a Sunday Times fast Track 100 Winner, and “the first UK Company to enter the growing market of Body Advertising”. I guess that figures in a bizarre sort of way. If the current number is nil, and you’re the first, it is indeed growing. If someone else does it, then it will have doubled.

Successful candidates will sign up to a yearly contact after agreeing to have a tattoo of the LaptopsDirect logo.

This brings me naturally to the inspired individual behind this media breakthrough. The firm’s Managing Director, Nick Glynne, is in a video on the landing page. He explains what led to this courageous foray into the realm of marketing dementia.

With an admirable grasp of business cliché he discloses the strategy underlying what I fear must be an “initiative” – and probably an “innovative” one, too:

"It is a competitive market out there and it's getting harder and more expensive to find creative ways of promoting our brand. We're constantly looking for new and inventive ways to get our name out there and I think Body Advertising offers us a cost effective and creative way to reach thousands of people."

The firm now spends most of its £1m advertising budget online. "Online advertising is becoming more and more costly. However a person is seen by approximately 50 unique people each day and so not only will the cost of the tattoo be comparable to the cost of a Google Ad but it will be also be an interesting talking point," reveals Nick.

You can say that again, Nick. On second thoughts, don't bother, but I’d love to know what phony research arrived at the 50 people figure and how unique they are. You have to be pretty unique to be impressed by some maniac with their brand name tattooed on his or her arse just a few short but vital inches from where it belongs.

All sorts of errant throughts flit through my mind at this point to do with how you might be afflicted if you were fond of a certain romantic position. How would the sight of a human poster before or below your eyes affect your performance? A bit of a let down, I suspect.

But enough: if you want halfwits roaming the streets with your brand name on their bodies, you should copy this idea. I imagine it will swiftly circle the globe through the miracle of viral marketing, as it is so ludicrous.

However, what it will do for your flagship brand, I have no idea. Probably sink it without trace.