Friday, September 25, 2009

A really deep post about the mysteries of the human mind

The human brain is a true wonder of God’s creation.

I only have one quibble with it, really. Why does it tell me my crap idea is brilliant, when really it must know it’s rubbish because it tells me a bit later?

The upshot is, I end up arguing with my art director about whether it's a good idea or not and then, when my brain finally does tell me it's rubbish, I have to concede the point. Which is a huge black eye for me.

It’s not just work either. The same applies to having ideas in a social setting.

I remember as a youth, my friend and I were invited to play a song in school assembly. Moments before we went on, I decided to jokily dedicate the song to the headmaster.

The song was called Married with Children.

My brain didn’t tell me he’d recently left his wife and kids for the deputy head. Not until I sang the line ‘I hate the way that even though you know you’re wrong, you say you’re right.’ and everyone was staring at the floor looking embarrassed. Oh yes, then it reminded me.

Why doesn’t your brain tell you immediately? Why does it wait?

Well, I asked a clinical psychologist. Her name is Mrs RealMenWriteLongCopy (that’s right, I'm her long-term project). Our conversation went something like this:

Why doesn’t your brain tell you immediately that it’s a rubbish idea?

You could be in a certain mental state, maybe you’re hyped or tired and that affects your judgment.

Like maybe you really want it to be a good idea so that part of your brain convinces the other part of the brain it’s a good idea?

Ummm… maaaaybe.

Can’t you give me a scientific answer with neurons and stuff?

There is no explanation for that on a neuron level.


Maybe one neuron was firing really well and then later you realised it was firing blanks?

Seven years, dear reader. Seven years training plus two in the field and that psycho-babble was the best she could do.

All I know is, until we find an answer for this, I’ll be arguing with my art director and he'll turn out to be right. And that is simply NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don't be too humble

A couple of years back, I was at the least debauched stag do ever (the groom was a bearded vegetarian Quaker).

During basket weaving, I asked one of my fellow skinny square stags what he did for a living and he told me he'd recently been published. I didn’t hide my admiration. He then went on to explain that the only reason Bloomsbury had published his novel was they were basically rolling in it from Harry Potter and were taking loads of risks.

He continued in a self deprecating vein and by the time I’d completed my raffia flower decorations I’d decided not to bother reading his book as it obviously wasn’t very good.

A couple of years later my dad lent me a novel with the recommendation “You need to read this.” So I knew it was serious.

And he was right. I did need to read it. It was the best thing I’d read in ages. And halfway through I realised (you guessed it) it was my fellow weedy stag’s book.

He’d neglected to mention he’d been nominated for the fricking Booker prize (the longlist, but still).

It’s a peculiar British affliction, putting our own work down and assuming others will contradict us. We ought to sell our stuff. Because often when we breezily say ‘it’s no big deal’ or ‘the idea's not bad’ people believe us.

Unless my dad sets them straight. Which he can't always do, you know.

You need to read this.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Today is my birthday. Oh, it’s no big deal, you know, just another year

We like to celebrate birthdays here at RMWLC Towers.

Usually it’s something of a damp squib with just another employee that no one’s really bothered about celebrating their ‘special’ day.

Now as far as I’m concerned, I’m just like everyone else. There’s nothing special or wonderful about me.

So you can imagine how embarrassed I was to see the guys had pulled out ALL the stops for me! Just because I’m such a fun and popular guy around the place!

Because I’d insisted on – I mean someone had decided on – creating a three-tier cake for me, and because I’m sharing my birthday with a suit (happy bithday too Ethne) the whole thing took on a strange wedding theme.

Sharing the limelight (which totally isn’t a problem for me)

Anyway, that’s all. Please don’t make a fuss. And PLEASE don’t post your congratulations in the comments section. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Be Nice To Suits Week

What if suits had a soul? What if, like us, they took pleasure in things like music, a beautiful sunset, or the sound of children laughing? What if they could love? Or feel pity?

I’ve been thinking about suits a lot lately. I’ve always believed we should show compassion for our fellow humans. So why not suits as well?

After all, no matter what some people say, they have it tough.

For example, just this lunchtime a nice account man named Matt was sent out in the pouring rain to deliver a laptop and broadband stick to some senior suits and clients. What was so important? Well, they were on a lunch jolly and they fancied looking at their website.

And that’s the way the bitter little suit cookie crumbles.

So in honour of Matt and the thousands of poor saps like him, I’m making this ‘Be Nice To Suits Week’.

You can mark it in whatever way you want. Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking how you might show suits some love:

• Give them the work before the deadline.
• Let them finish their sentence before you laugh disparagingly.
• Read the brief before you begin criticising it.
• Try not lying to them.
• Look in wonder at the things they do in Excel and admire them.
• Look in horror at the things they do in Powerpoint and feel sorry for them.
• When you talk to them, keep saying their name at the end of every sentence – they think that's how genuine people show they care. Mirror their body language too.
• Smile at one of them.
• Make them a cup of tea. Actually, scratch that. It’s going too far.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, try being nice to a suit today. They’re people too, remember?

By the way, if you’re a suit and were made to carry out some menial and humiliating task, please share your pain. Stick it in the comments section so we can all have a good laugh.


Hello dear reader.

I wrote the above guff over a year ago.

I thought it was just another unfunny post singling out and ridiculing colleagues.

But then a couple of months ago, Blogger provided a stats function and I discovered it’s my most popular post. By a country mile. It gets ten times more views than any other (that’s over TWENTY views!)

So I was wondering if you could solve this riddle for me and tell me how you got here?

There’s no obvious term that’s coming up in searches and sucking people in.

And no it’s not because I put it in Most popular posts in my gadgets on the right. I only just did that.

If you could let me know in the comments section, I'd be much obliged.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why writers make the best lovers

In the comments section a couple of weeks ago I counselled a nice young lady to ditch her art director boyfriend for a suit.

It’s not that suits make great partners, far from it. It’s just that, let’s face it, anyone (or thing) is better than an art director.

This got me wondering, why exactly is it that writers make the best lovers? It didn’t take me long to come up with some pretty compelling answers.

For starters, writers are masters at using words to woo an audience. Who could resist me leaning over and whispering into their ear, “You are so optimal”? Or the killer line, “Your combination of contemporary style and effortless performance makes you the obvious choice”.

And of course when it comes to clinching the deal, a writer really understands the value of a strong call to action e.g. “This offer [I normally point as I say this] is exclusive to you because you are a valued partner”.

Secondly, writers are used to accommodating others’ wishes (suit/planner/client comments), often when they are at odds with their own.

For example, I may have in mind the missionary position while singing along to Jason and Kylie’s classic duet ‘Especially For You’ (we just cuddle for the second half of the song).

While my partner may have in mind the double-kangaroo scissor kick position, quickly followed up by the Angry Pirate, then the Backward Death Dive, all performed to a soundtrack of Faith No More’s ‘Everything’s ruined’.

In that case, it’s my job to help us both come to a solution where we both feel happy, fulfilled and ‘listened to’.

But mainly it’s the glamour of being a writer that makes us so attractive. We are the ultimate conquest for anyone: just imagine being able to say you’ve done it with the guy who wrote the line, ‘Premium Hotels, for when luxury is all that will do’.

So there you have it. If you’re looking for the ultimate lover, I suggest you find yourself someone with zero dress sense who writes spam for a living.

(It’s only right to point out, before you start falling over yourselves to proposition me in the comments section, that I am actually taken. I’m so sorry.)

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Perfection of Imperfection and My Dad is Kato

When I was at college some bloke had written a rather clever dissertation entitled The Perfection of Imperfection.

He was led to write it by, of all things, the death of Peter Sellers. While obituaries mourned Sellers' wasted comedy genius, he felt that there was something strangely wonderful about the fact he had all that potential but never really fulfilled it.

It's a funny concept to get your head around. When you think about it, there are a zillion instances of the perfection of imperfection. It's in the wobbly beauty of a Jeff Buckley demo, the mad energy of a Constable oil sketch, or the strange allure of my unusually flat butt.

I started to write a thoughtful treatise on the power of perceived imperfections in a piece of writing or design. But it started feeling a bit too much like hard work. And anyway you wouldn’t read it would you?

You’d skip straight down to the Pink Panther clips, right?

Let's do us both a favour then and just imagine it's here:

(I know I know it wouldn't actually be that long.)

On a separate note, my dad had a Kato-like penchant for hiding in cupboards in his dressing gown and pouncing out and scaring the crap out of my brother.

Just one of the ways my dad is a comedy genius.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What do you look for in a shoe?

When I buy shoes I might ask the assistant questions like, “Will these keep my feet dry?” or “Are you sure these are for men?”

What I feel I shouldn’t have to ask the shop assistant is “Does the sole grip the floor?”

For me, that should be a given.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I stepped out in a snazzy new pair of trainers and found myself Bambi-on-ice-ing down the pavement. It was basically unsafe to wear them if it had rained in the last 24 hours.

These are some everyday surfaces they did not grip.


Like gripping a greased eel with soapy hands

Guaranteed neck-breaker

I had chosen these particular shoes because they’re made by ethical company Vegetarian Shoes (I think these particular soles were made of Quorn).

As I tip-toed gingerly down the road (literally, I had to walk on the road as tarmac was the only surface I could stand on) I would find myself yearning to have bits of dead cow on my feet, stitched together by children working in terrible conditions, getting paid three buttons a week.

The moral to this tale is that it’s good to be ethical and use that as a selling point. But even in these days of organic-this and responsibly-produced-that, you still need to pay at least some attention to the quality of your product. In this case, if you’re making shoes, make sure people can walk in them.

(In the interests of fairness, I should report that I just got some new trainers from the same company and they grip the floor very convincingly. Well done guys, you’ve cracked it!)