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Friday, 26 February 2010

“A thousand apologies, Oh Effendi”

In the adventure books I devoured by the shedload when I was a kid that line that was always delivered by people like camel drivers in exotic lands ...

Anyhow, it's my way of apologising for putting up a dodgy link yesterday -- I missed out the .com in http://www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com/davidogilvy

I realised two sad things when watching the video: I am just three years younger than the great man was when he made that video; and no matter how hard I work in the time I have left I will never have such a presence.

I have lots of stories about David (as does anyone who knew him), but here are two that thrilled me beyond measure at the time.

I made a speech to our office heads in Barcelona around the time David made that video. He was going to be there, so I was terrified out of my wits - didn't sleep a wink the night before.

When I stood up he wasn't there, then he suddenly appeared. He was delayed by an interview with a journalist, who asked him "What's the worst interview you've ever had, Mr. Ogilvy?"

He replied: "This one. A friend of mine is about to give a speech next door and I want to listen to him. Good day to you."

After I left O & M we kept in touch. One day he rang me up and said, "I'm terribly worried about money. Would you like to do some seminars with me?"

I was as pleased as Punch.

I said, "That's immensely flattering, David, and I'd love to - but it's not necessary. People will always be happy to pay you a lot of money to add the lustre of your name to theirs."

This thing about making speeches was a running joke with us. He once rang me and began the conversation with "Good morning,. Just back from making another speech, eh?"

When he first criticised me I told him I made speeches because every time I did so I had to learn something or think about something carefully, and it did me good.

And to answer Tony Gedge, yes, I still make speeches. Maybe ten a year. And people seem to like them, as they pay good money.

In the next few months, South Africa, Slovenia, the U.S. - but not the U.K. for some reason. Here's a little clip from something I did for Ordnance Survey last year.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Since a few of you asked ... more David Ogilvy CORRECTION

I have very mixed feelings about this, to be honest. The reason is the man in the picture. More about him in a moment.

A week or so ago I mentioned the day I walked into our office in Bombay and suddenly heard David Ogilvy talking about me.

Quite a few of you wanted to see the clip, so I've put it up at www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com/davidogilvy

It's a very brief extract from a training session he was conducting and I plan to put the whole lot up as part of the commonsense programme. It is highly entertaining - and FULL of practical advice about business, especially new business, which he believed was the lifeblood of success.

In the whole video - about an hour long, I think - he refers to two of the people I met in India, one of whom he admired greatly as did I. That man, Mani Ayer, died about 15 days ago. David said he was “the most outstanding individual in the Ogilvy network.”

Mani was a wonderful, inspiring leader - and also very funny, like all the best people (I think). When he ran the Indian agency it was called Ogilvy, Benson and Mather or OBM, which he told me stood for Other Buggers' Money.

He and I had drinks a year or so ago in a London Wine Bar. A great loss, as is Ogilvy.

Anyhow, if you want to see one of these two great man in action, have a look at the clip - www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com/davidogilvy. It's followed by a bit of salesmanship by me -- but whether you want to listen to that is up to you.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

As one gets bolder, priorities become rather different

A friend sent me this grand piece of advertising, possibly recalling how hard I found it to write some funeral insurance stuff last year, and hoping it might activate the good fairy of inspiration.

Another thoughtful soul reminded me of this, which I have seen before, but which you may not have. It's a Craig's List personal ad, clearly written by a very kindly person.

To the Guy Who Tried to Mug Me in Downtown Savannah night before last.

I was the guy wearing the black Burberry jacket that you demanded that I hand over, shortly after you pulled the knife on me and my girlfriend, threatening our lives.

You also asked for my girlfriend's purse and earrings. I can only hope that you somehow come across this rather important message.

First, I'd like to apologize for your embarrassment; I didn't expect you to actually crap in your pants when I drew my pistol after you took my jacket... The evening was not that cold, and I was wearing the jacket for a reason. My girlfriend had just bought me that Kimber Model 1911 .45 ACP pistol for my birthday, and we had picked up a shoulder holster for it that very evening.

Obviously you agree that it is a very intimidating weapon when pointed at your head
... isn't it?!

I know it probably wasn't fun walking back to wherever you'd come from with that brown sludge in your pants. I'm sure it was even worse walking bare-footed since I made you leave your shoes, cell phone, and wallet with me. [That prevented you from calling or running to your buddies to come help mug us again].

After I called your mother or "Momma" as you had her listed in your cell, I explained the entire episode of what you'd done. Then I went and filled up my gas tank as well as those of four other people in the gas station -- on your credit card. The guy with the big motor home took 150 gallons and was extremely grateful!

I gave your shoes to a homeless guy outside Vinnie Van Go Go's, along with all the cash in your wallet. [That made his day!]

I then threw your wallet into the big pink "pimp mobile" that was parked at the curb .... after I broke the windshield and side window and keyed the entire driver's side of the car.

Later, I called a bunch of phone sex numbers from your cell phone. Ma Bell just now shut down the line, although I only used the phone for a little over a day now, so what's going on with that?

Earlier, I managed to get in two threatening phone calls to the DA's office and one to the FBI, while mentioning President Obama as my possible target.

The FBI guy seemed really intense and we had a nice long chat (I guess while he traced your number etc.)

In a way, perhaps I should apologize for not killing you ... but I feel this type of retribution is a far more appropriate punishment for your threatened crime. I wish you well as you try to sort through some of these rather immediate pressing issues, and can only hope that you have the opportunity to reflect upon, and perhaps reconsider, the career path you've chosen to pursue in life.. Remember, next time you might not be so lucky. Have a good day!

Thoughtfully yours,


I probably don't have to ask you to forward this one.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Is the grotesque Toad really a violent, unhinged bully who hits his staff?

It is about 15 years since I wrote a piece about The McFuhrer's true character, as revealed to me when he was still in opposition by a BBC chauffeur.

Now he has had to go on TV to deny that he has ever hit a member of his staff.

Three comments.

1. G. K. Menon, a wise Indian journalist friend told me back in 1961. "Never believe a rumour until it is denied."

2. If the allegations, published in a book, are untrue, why does he not sue for libel?

3. The ineptitude of Cameron at being unable to comprehensively destroy the reputation and standing of a man who has beggared this country almost defies belief. I imagine it is because he seems a bit of a weasel himself with his catchpenny schemes, dreamt up no doubt by his "publicity guru".

Speaking of which, it is worth passing on something you may already have seen - reminiscent of a sardonic quip by the late Senator Everett Dirksen in the '60's: "A billion here, a billion there - pretty soon it adds up to real money".

Like a lot of jokes, it comes from the U.S. And like a lot of sad truths, it applies equally here.

A billion is hard to comprehend, but an advertising agency put it in perspective in a press release.

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago our ancestors were in the Stone Age.

A billion days ago no-one walked on two feet.

A billion pounds ago was only 13 hours and 12 minutes at the rate our government is spending it.

Building Permit Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog Licence Tax
Income Tax
Unemployment Tax
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Petrol/Diesel Tax
Hunting Licence Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
(tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage Licence Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service charge Taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Local Tax
Vehicle Licence Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

None of these taxes existed 100 years ago...

And our nation was one of the most prosperous in the world.

We had absolutely no national debt...

We had the largest middle class in the world...

And Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What happened?

Can you spell 'politicians'?

As I say, that is an American example; but 1912 was the year when Britain was at its most prosperous; and I think we have even more taxes and witless regulations than in the U.S.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Help - or maybe not - for all those people who say, "I've always wanted to write"

It have been writing for a living for over 50 years now. Books, scripts, letters, websites, presentations, speeches, commercials, articles - you name it, I've done it, often badly, but usually well enough to get published.

I find it is hard work. If I get to be about one eighth as good as Evelyn Waugh or Elmore Leonard before I croak I'll feel I've done pretty well.

It appears that my time has been wasted, because I just got a message headed "Be An Article King, With No Work..."

Bloody hell! Over half a century of wasted effort!

So I kept reading.

Then a few lines down I read that this can all be done by Mass Article Creator, "the best article writing software on the market, bar none. The output is fantastic, like a pro wrote it by hand."

It seems "This is what creates your articles based on an original (you still have to write that one, or hire a writer, but it’s ONE article).

So it seems it isn't article writing software at all. It just spews the crap out all over the place for you.

Ah well, nose back to the grindstone.

All this misinformation came courtesy of a helpful fellow called Viral Submitter. (I have noticed that many of the people who proffer this advice for believe in miracles tend to have strange names.)

Who falls for it, I wonder? Maybe those who believe what they read in the astrology column or take Brown and Cameron's lies seriously.

There must be a mass audience of halfwits out there. Come to think of it, since many of the population can barely read or write, there probably is.

The only question is, when - if ever - will the internet crooks outnumber the idiots who buy from them?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Someone really WAS late for their own funeral - and other titbits

Why should I be the only one to fill this space with instances of the fatuous, deluded and downright loopy?

So thank you, Noel Hawkes for this picture of a hearse being taken off the streets by one of the few services that really gives its all in this country.

And thank you, Pam Kennett for this wonderful example of the recruitment industry at work. Notice how first they say what their policy is, then make it clear that they are liars.


It is HYF’s policy, as a matter of courtesy to respond to all applications within three working days. However because of the volume of applications, we are sometimes unable to respond to individual candidates. If we have not contacted you within three working days your application has been unsuccessful and your details have not been retained. Please apply for any other position that you may see in the future. Thank you.

Why don't they come clean and simply replace the heading with: "Looking for a job, sucker? Don't waste time on us because we don't give a flying fuck".

Finally someone who remains anonymous for fear of revenge attacks sent me this from an advertising agency clearly marooned hopelessly several yards up its own drivel-clogged rectum.

I’m writing with some exciting news. After five years as Chief Strategy Officer for Euro’s global network of more than 233 offices and two as co-CEO of Euro RSCG in New York, Andrew Benett will be assuming new responsibilities within our Havas family and will become the new global CEO of Arnold Worldwide.

Equally exciting, Pete Zillig, who is currently Global Brand Director on Reckitt Benckiser and President of Global Brands for Euro RSCG Worldwide, will move from London to replace Andrew and join the New York agency as co-CEO, partnering with Jeff Brooks.

Arnold is an amazing creative powerhouse in North America, and we have a very clear strategy to turn Arnold into a brilliant global micronetwork. We are bringing in Andrew to lead that development, working in close partnership with Ed, Fran and Pam.

Andrew has a fantastic track record of success ... Blah, blah blah ...
plus 5 more paragraphs of literary hyperventilation ending with a request from the signatory, whose name is David:

And please join me in congratulating everyone.

The unfortunate recipient of this piece of what David Ogilvy described as "flatulent puffery" commented:

I thought you would be as amused and utterly unexcited as I was to receive this spam from the current world of advertising. The irony is rich coming from people who are supposed to be communications advisors. As you might expect, I’ve managed to resist David’s exhortation to ‘congratulate everyone’ but only by sheer strength of will have I resisted telling him what a wanker he sounds by distributing this drivel.

Quite so.

Fatal mismatches that kill brands: an important lesson

The Spectator is one of the oldest, most respected journals of opinion in the world. I was a subscriber for many years, and even wrote a report on how to improve their marketing for the publisher some 20 years ago.

One thing that distinguishes The Spectator is its writing. It is not as good as when the great novelist Grahame Green called it “the best written journal in the English language” – but it’s still far better than most stuff.

I am on their email list, and notice they have started running conferences - a good move, commercially. But there is a dreadful mismatch between the dire stuff they send out to promote them and what’s in the journal itself.

Take this, for instance, to sell a conference called for some bizarre reason “base”:

Dear friend of base,

(I am not a “friend” of base. I have never heard of it.)

Then comes the usual half-baked mélange of cliché and jargon:

Whether or not you believe in climate change, businesses are facing unprecedented pressure from their customers, stakeholders and regulators to become more sustainable.

'Business as usual' simply won't be good enough for much longer. We're not talking about saving the planet here, but ensuring your business is not left behind - which it will be if it is unable to embrace change.

Already the impacts of Government regulation such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment, and private governance initiatives such as the proposed Asda scorecard are set to trickle right down through the supply chain. These impacts are so far reaching, that they are almost certainly coming to a business near you sometime in the next few years.

base, the event where business meets sustainability, takes place in London on 16-17th March, and will provide practical, solutions-based information to help businesses adopt more sustainable operating models. It is an unprecedented opportunity to meet, share experiences and learn from other like-minded organisations.”

Nauseating stuff, only made more depressing by the list of speakers …

Keynote speakers include Justin King, Ed Miliband, Jonathon Porritt, Hilary Benn, Charlie Mayfield, John Gummer, Vince Cable and more.

Not to mention the “luminaries” …

Come to base and join them plus a host of luminaries from Lloyds Banking Group, BT, PwC, United Utilities, Sainsbury's, John Lewis Partnership, P&G, Coca Cola Enterprises, National Grid, KPMG, McKinsey & Company, Vodafone, Virgin Group, Legal & General, BP, Microsoft, Fiat, Qatar Airways, British Gas Business and many others.

And the utterly predictable close

We know how hard the economic climate is right now, which is why even though our delegate pricing is already fantastically competitive, we are delighted to offer Spectator Business readers a 20% discount off a delegate pass covering both days.

And so on.

Sending this ill-written tripe out does no good to the The Spectator. It does not live up to what people expect.

What you say or do in one medium or place affects how people see you elsewhere.

Thus, in a totally different sphere, British Telecom provides a very, very, bad domestic broadband service to homes, as I know to my cost.

So when they wrote an email to my business headed Super fast 40Mb BT Broadband for Drayton Bird Partnership, followed by even worse tripe than The Spectator could manage in its worst off-day, I just laughed derisively.

Such mismatches insult your customers' intelligence and are fatal to your brand.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

What can you possibly say about this?

There have been many comments and prognostications about the joys of social media.

Like almost every new marketing idea I can recall it has been hailed as the answer to a maiden's prayer. Legions of experts have sprung, full-grown, almost miraculously, from the ground. Somebody has founded a trade association (far too often a bad sign: most appear in my experience to have as their main function providing cushy lives for those who set them up and work in them).

But all this is to me as nothing compared to the fact that I am being followed on twitter by someone called Yeast Quick Cure.

A strange name indeed, and a strange sensation. Is Yeast Quick Cure a male or a female. If the latter, does she have voluptuous curves and a come-hither smile? Will she join the Social Media Chipmunks Association. Might I find myself next to her at the bar during the annual awards night - for there surely will be one?

Where will it all end? Will I be followed by a Chinese Sprocket manufacturer in search of trade or - who knows? - a marketing-mad maker of sanitary pads?

Is this lunacy what the canny inventors of twitter had in mind?

It really is very confusing. And by the way, has it got anything to do with thrush?

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Watch out, PREYER about - "The devil can quote scripture for his purposes"

Leo Burnett used to have a little notepad on which he wrote down phrases he heard that struck him.

I am an avid collector of bits and pieces - I have God knows how many I mean to comment on - but I found a very instructive one two days ago.

I think I may have mentioned a while ago the story about the founder of Scientology, Ron Hubbard, saying that if you want to make a lot of money, just start your own religion.

He did extremely well, so I can't fault his approach, but there are plenty of people doing pretty well by piggy-backing on the ones that are around already. That is one reason why I make a point of studying the techniques of the bible thumping crooks who make millions on TV here and elsewhere

This came to mind when I saw a mailing yesterday from Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Detroit to my daughter's mother.

It is a brilliant piece of work, I must say. He wants to send her three anointed prayer cloths he has personally prayed over. They are well worth getting, as it appears that a great many miracles have been taking place as a result of the Bishop's "Miracles Do Happen" broadcasts, and all he needs from her is a donation of anywhere from $39 to you name it.

I am going to analyse this masterly piece of preying on the gullible on video. Even the scamps who promise you infinite riches online without lifting a finger could learn a lot from these rogues.

And what's great about their business is that as far as I can see you can call yourself a bishop or a pastor or whatever you like and nobody can stop you. No need to send years studying how the Internet works: just get yourself a bible and an appalling suit.

If you want to add a veneer of plausibility, emulate the "reverend" Ian Paisley, who bought his degree in theology from one of those mail order universities, but still managed to end up helping to ruin and then run Northern Ireland.

Turning aside from the devil posing as God, something instructive happened yesterday.

I spent most of the day in the freezing cold shepherding my daughter and 7 -12 of her friends (they kept on coming and going) from one place to another. At about 8.15 p. m. we were walking up Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. We stopped at a crossing. Two girls were close behind us. My daughter turned to one of them and said, "Hey, you're my friend on Facebook."

So much for social networks.

By the way, I apologise if the look of this journal changes from time to time. It's a miracle I manage it at all. I started writing on a big, clunky 1930's typewriter, so I'm doing pretty well.

Friday, 12 February 2010

More of all that jazz

I'm sitting in Montclair New Jersey where I come regularly to see my youngest - and naturally being a boringly boastful parent I'm smug because she just got straight As in her exams.

This success is quite inexplicable as insofar as I recall anything about those far-off medieval days I was only recognised during my learning years first for running away from my Prep School, second for having the school record for the number of canings at my Public school (yes, that is the way it was then), and third for walking out of the university after the end of the first year.

Thus it was that, many years later when was speaking there I was able to start by saying "Nobody is more surprised than I am to be standing here. I am one of the few people who can proudly place after their names the letters BA Manchester, (Failed). What fun!

Nothing to do with jazz, is it? But I did mention first hearing Cleo Laine at school, and I was quite surprised at how many people reacted to my little piece about her late husband, who seems to have been every bit as nice as he seemed.

For me the other two great British jazzmen of that period were Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes. Ronnie Scott I met when I was about 17. I still recall the incredible impact of hearing his band's ferociously swinging signature tune, 7/11. It was the first time I heard modern jazz live. The sound was almost but not quite exceeded by the impression left by some of the dirty jokes back stage, and the eye-popping blue gabardine suits with thin, thin red ties they wore.

The other man I thought astonishing was Tubby Hayes - another great, great tenor sax player. I had a few drinks with him in a pub in the back of beyond on the Yorkshire Moors. I've never forgotten one thing he said: "Man, every note I blow has a soul."

What a great attitude. Everyone who writes, paints - does anything, really, should think that way.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Rare David Ogilvy video - the old magician "making love"

Before I tell you about this video - another I found lurking in my office - I should tell you about something stupid I nearly did.

A year or so ago I got my trusty partner Al to make me list of all the words you can't use because the dreaded spam catcher will stop them getting through.

They all seem to revolve around two great obsessions: sex and money.

After my last divorce any promise of the latter gets my instant attention, whilst the former is of mere academic interest. I am flattered, though, that so many kindly folk with strange names like Zebediah Q. Goatfoot should think otherwise and rush to offer me help of one kind or another.

This morning though, I was all set to whiz out an email that couldn't conceivably have got through even the most relaxed and forgiving filter in a million years.

It read "Like to watch David Ogilvy making love?"

Nothing wrong with the David Ogilvy bit - but even the most stupid of spammers wouldn't try to get "making love" through.

I must have been out of my mind. But how did it come about? Well, 20 odd years ago I cajoled the great man to come to a chateau outside Paris and talk to our creative directors. He said among other things that although he was seen as a great copywriter he saw his greatest skill being at getting new business.

And he remarked, "But I always like to go and see the client on my own. I don't like being watched when I'm making love." Thus the line I was so pleased with - which would never have got through, but am delighted to have stuck up here. Ha!

As chance would have it I worked with him on two new business pitches. He made a video for one of them which was for Xerox, and you can see his style - and learn a lot - if you go to http://www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com/david.

On another occasion I will tell you about another time I watched him weave his magic. Meanwhile, though, the last video I put up about my friend Rowan Gormley's experience of working with Richard Branson is still getting such a lot of interest that I've left it there at http://www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com/rowangormley.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Will they ever learn? I doubt it.

Let me ask you. When you see this picture for a couple of seconds, what do you think of?

Could it possibly be cocktails?

I thought so.

Now, remember, most marketing messages are only seen for a couple of seconds.

So if, for example, you are trying to get people to come to a marketing event, showing them a picture of a drink is pretty damn stupid.

And, yes, you've guessed it: this is a message trying to attract people to come to a marketing event.

Years ago the Ogilvy Centre for Research did an extensive study of what people think about when they see an illustration.

You might assume that any bloody fool would know that when people see a picture of something, that's what they think it's about. But this blindingly obvious fact is lost on the dear little creatures who create so many ads like this.

Sad, really.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

A strange sad feeling: part of my life gone for ever ...

This will mean nothing to you unless you love jazz, but Johnny Dankworth has died.

He was Sir John Dankworth, actually - one of the few who deserved that honour amongst the plethora of thieving bankers, big business graspers and political drones who diminish the value of the title.

He was one of the two or three greatest British jazz musicians in my lifetime; and his wife, Cleo Laine, an astonishing contralto, is perhaps
the greatest British jazz singer ever.

I can even remember the room I was in when I heard her first-ever radio broadcast after she joined his orchestra. I was still at school, aged 16; and if my memory hasn't failed me, so was she - 16, I mean, but not at school.

He was a wonderful musician. Tonight I feel somehow a little of my life is lost. Catch him on http://www.jazzonthetube.com/videos/sir-john-dankworth/sir-john-dankworth.html. You'll see her too.

That's rather selfish, isn't it - I say a part of my life gone? We always mourn for ourselves, don't we?

Friday, 5 February 2010

What's it like working with Richard Branson? A little video clip tells you

Years ago Richard Branson rang me. I had just written a very rude article about a mailing Virgin Airlines had done jointly with American Express. He rang and left a message giving his number if I wanted to talk about it.

Unfortunately I was on the plane to Sydney at the time, and when I got there I couldn't think of anything intelligent to say anyway. A while later he sent me a nice note about something else I'd written - and that's as far as our relationship went. But I was impressed by his attention to detail - something far too few big business bosses have

I have always regretted this missed opportunity to get to know someone so able and interesting, but later I did become friends with someone - a client actually - who worked with him for years, and who told the delegates at EADIM, my little business school, what it was like.

I was thrilled to realise two things. First, that Richard Branson's approach is a million miles away from all the pretentious MBA waffle and theory that screw up so many businesses. And second that he seems a likable, modest sort of chap.

But why read what I have to say? I am merely the messenger. You can see the man himself, Rowan Gormley, (whose Naked Wines firm shows he is himself no mean entrepreneur) talking about what it was like at http://www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com/rowangormley.

Rowan actually helped Sir Richard start three successful businesses, and I think you'll like his no-nonsense approach. To see him you just have to register - and no, this does not involve parting with any money.

Actually, you will get a cheering little gift from Rowan just for watching the clip. It won't be up for long, as I'm going to put up some more stuff shortly - including something from the David Ogilvy video that I mentioned last week.

So check it out. As you will see, it's not only informative - it's funny. I suspect you'll want to send it on to a few friends. If so, they'll get a cheering little gift, too

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Another change from all that stuff about marketing

Stop if you're read it before.

It's a touching story about the bond formed between a little girl and a group of building workers. It really makes you want to believe in the goodness of people and that there is hope for the human race.

A young family moved into a house next door to an empty plot. One day Joe, Steve and a gang of building workers turned up to start building a house.

The young family's 5-year-old daughter naturally took an interest in all what they were up to and started talking with the workers.

She hung around and eventually the builders, all with hearts of gold, more or less adopted the little girl as a sort of project mascot. They chatted with her, let her sit with them while they had tea and lunch breaks, and gave her little jobs to do here and there to make her feel important.

They even gave her her very own hard hat and gloves.

At the end of the first week they presented her with a pay envelope containing two pounds in 10p coins. The little girl took her 'pay' home to her mother who suggested that they take the money she had received to the bank the next day to start a savings account.

When they got to the bank the cashier was tickled pink listening to the little girl telling her about her 'work' on the building site and the fact she had a 'pay packet'.

"You must have worked very hard to earn all this", said the cashier.

The little girl proudly replied, "I worked all last week with the men building a big house."

"My goodness" said the cashier, "Will you be working on the house again this week, as well?" The little girl thought for a moment and said...

"I think so. Provided those dozy wankers at Jewsons deliver the fucking bricks."

A little Antipodean humour: Bundy Rum and King Brown

My esteemed Aussie colleague Malcolm Auld sent me this.

Bundy Rum - Bundaberg Rum - is Queensland's famous product. Forget Jamaica or all that other stuff.

A King Brown is one of the deadliest snakes on earth. Out of the world's top 10, Australia has 5. Mal explains:

When I was recently on holidays I finally got around to going fishing on the Burnett River, Bundaberg, with Barry Cane an old Army mate, but after a while we ran out of worms.

Then I saw a King Brown with a frog in his mouth, and frogs are good bait. Knowing the snake couldn't bite me with the frog in his mouth, I grabbed him right behind the head, took the frog and put it in my bait bucket.

Now the dilemma was how to release the snake without getting bitten. I grabbed my trusty bottle of Bundaberg rum (a Bundy Boy never travels without it) and poured a little rum in its mouth.

His eyes rolled back, he went limp, I released him into the river > without incident, and carried on my fishing with the frog.

A little later I felt a nudge on my foot.

There was that same snake with two frogs in his mouth.

(Malcolm always was a shocking liar).

Monday, 1 February 2010

Who is this buffoon?

Here’s a bit of fun for you. A couple of years ago a large financial organisation which shall be nameless asked me to go and do a talk, which I agreed to do for a modest sum.

Then they said they had a theme for their event: Harry Potter. A good idea because they were holding it in a fairly eerie castle. Would I dress up?

Any chance to make a fool of myself is more than welcome, so I agreed, which is why you see Dumbledore Bird here. Here's the speech I delivered in a doomy voice from a balcony to the assembled throng.

I must warn you that tomorrow, the Ministry of Magic will be visiting Hogwarts to seek out signs of evil.

Evil is a pronounced, tangible thing any wizard or witch can choose to embrace.

Certain words and pictures are endowed with magical qualities and power – for good or evil.

It is up to a wizard or witch’s free will to discern how to use this power.

That is why, in a few minutes, I shall personally be conducting a special class on defence against the black arts

You will be subjected to tests and experiments. Some will be painful and embarrassing. Others will make you question what you have been doing.

They will enable you to learn how best to fight the many enemies we all confront.

How to avoid wandering into The Mists of Obscurity. Getting lost in The Desert of Vagueness. Sinking in The Swamp of Waffle.

Remember, even the most potent wizarding evil is not as strong as the power of knowledge.

Those who lack it struggle helplessly … falling far too often into the deathly clutches of Voldemort.

Everything I shall tell you is grounded in truth, not fancy.

Watch and listen carefully. See how to choose between right and wrong. Mark what I say.

And take notes! Failure leads to marketing death.

All good stuff, and quite a few people wrote to say they enjoyed it - though whether it made any differrence, I have no idea. The thing is, these talks are no good unless people do something as a result.

That is a very interesting subject I shall return to - with some advice from one of the best people I know on this subject.

"Follow the crowd" ... But which crowd?

I'm getting senile so I may have mentioned this before. My favourite pub is The Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street.

I love it because Dr. Johnson used to drink there 250 years ago, and I love Dr. Johnson. Also, the food is not bad, the interior is fascinating, and they sell Samuel Smith's - the only sanely priced beer in London.

Dr. Johnson said many fine things, one being that "man is a gregarious animal." This has reached its apogee in the present social networks craze. We do like to flock together.

I have yet to understand the arrogance of people who ask me to be their "fan" when I have never met them, let alone the stupidity of those who ask me to be a fan of their company. Who wants to have a relationship with a company? Only a pervert or friendless drudge.

But one infinitely powerful medium has been slightly underestimated in the rush to make money on-line. Yet what do most people spend much of their time doing? What little instrument is likely to replace the PC?

Experts predict the rise of sms messaging would level off by 2010 and be overtaken by a new form of instant, low cost alternative. Not so. In the UK we send 11 million text messages an hour. In 2009 there was a daily average of 265 million text messages and 1.6 million picture messages. The annual text message total was 96.8 billion, with over 600 million picture messages sent.

This subject has interested me for a while, and I interviewed one of this country's leading practitioners not long ago. What he had to say made me think a lot of people are missing a lot of business. More to come if you're interested.