Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Advice for young creatives

Keep a copy of everything you do. And I mean everything.

That includes the insert you did offering Buy 1 Get 1 free on Budget Mince. And the shelf wobbler for thrush cream you're not especially proud of.

Because sooner or later you'll be trying to get a bit of freelance, just a little something to tide you over before the Christmas break, and a recruiter will say something like:

"I see you've done lots of creative stuff. But can you write 50% off on a shelf wobbler?"


"Because I can't see any examples on your website."

"No. I kind of assumed anyone can do that."

"So have you got any examples?"

And you'll think, 'GAH! That Mr RMWLC is always right!'

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas preparations for real men

One of the worst things about freelance life is that you’ll be at home with your family more. As a result, your wife will give you jobs.

So many jobs, in fact, that you will consider turning this into a DIY blog. And actually write a post on How to install a Christmas tree.

How to install a Christmas tree

Once some chancer has fleeced you and you've spent £30 (£30!!!) on a tree that Charlie Brown himself would reject, you’ll need to stick it in a stand.

You may find the tree doesn’t sit properly in the stand because the cretin lumberjack or whatever his name is doesn’t know how to cut a tree straight and gave you a wonky bottom bit of the trunk that needs evening out. (You should have spotted this when you bought it but you didn’t.)

To saw it you’ll need a saw. You can borrow a saw from a man, most likely a neighbour. The man will look down at you for not having your own saw. He thinks he’s so much better than you just because he built his own extension out the back and he’s got a van but he’s not all that. I saw him drinking on his own down the pub once I think he and his wife had had a row.

Saw it.

Put it in the stand. (Take care when positioning the tree as the pine needles are really sharp. If one goes under your nail you are likely to yelp in pain and maybe swear in front of the kids.)

Stand back to see whether or not it's straight.



Still wrong

Still wrong. What is up with this thing? I’ve been waggling it around for half an hour now.


Congratulations. You have installed your tree. Now you can move on to the next job on her list and this will not end until you get another gig so you'd better get on to some headhunters or something.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

At last!

It's that time of year when I can wear this and look AWESOME for a whole month.

Are Man City the GoCompare of the football world?

It’s crass. It’s unpleasant. But the fact remains that if you throw enough money at the media plan/players, eventually you get an uplift in sales/to the top of the league.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I will look for you. I will find you. And I will KILL YOU.

Has anyone got my oyster card?

Well I know someone has, because it was auto-topped up at Holborn Station on Sunday at 7:14am.

Whoever you are, I sincerely hope you were on your way to an early morning church service to repent. And that you’ve since handed it in to the relevant authorities.

It’s not about the money. I want it back for sentimental reasons.

Look at it.

Part of its appeal is pure patriotism. But where that ends (which is pretty quickly) pure kitsch takes over and just keeps on going.

Every time I took it out of my pocket it made me smile.

Well I’m not smiling anymore.

Hand it in by 17:30 tomorrow and I won’t come after you. Failure to do so will result in this.

(Just so we're clear, it’ll be me, not Liam Neeson. And I’m after my Oyster card, not his daughter.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

You don't have to be worthless to work here, but it helps

I've just expanded my list of 'dream jobs'. 

As well as 'Copywriter that has won lots of big awards', rock star and winner of Big Brother, I now want to be Italian Prime Minister.

You can see the appeal. Along with Coach of the French football/rugby team and teacher, it’s one of those jobs that beg the question, ‘Just what do you have to do to get fired?’

Only now, as their economy is crumbling and falling into the sea have Italians stopped riding around on their Vespas, checking themselves out in the mirror while eating Gino Ginelli Tutti Frutti Ice Cream and begun to wonder “Hmmm… I wonder if this Silvio guy really is the dynamic visionary we need to lead our country?”

It's a right old mess and no mistake. And of course, as is so often the case, the real victims in all this are the comedians.

Faced with having to look beyond the gaffes of their nation’s leader for material for the first time in a decade, Italian stand-ups must be sobbing to their Mama Mias and comfort-eating their own bodyweight in homemade pasta.

Not that Berlusconi was all bad. I’m sure that when he wasn’t joking about Obama’s ‘tan’, embezzling millions or being caught calling Italy a ‘shitty country’ he did a stand-up job.

Some might find it depressing to see dishonesty and incompetence go indulged and even rewarded for so long. 

But I find it only makes me more determined. If I really focus, I too can land a job where, no matter how inept I am, they’ll never get rid of me. I’ve managed to land those jobs every time so far, so there’s no reason I can’t do it again.


Monday, October 10, 2011

How to behave in an interview

It's been a busy couple of weeks.

First, I had the minor inconvenience of a few days work. Then the massive inconvenience of my children catching chicken pox – the older one’s given it to the younger one now! Why didn’t someone warn me that might happen?

Anyway, now I’m safely back in unemployment and the children are scabbing over nicely, I can turn my attention to wasting time on here once more.

I thought it’s about time I dished out some advice. On how to get a job.

You see, through traipsing around the streets of London touting my wares, I've honed my interview technique to a point so sharp, many interviewers cut themselves on my handshake alone. 

Get a load of these pearls of wisdom and gems of insight. 
  • It’s important to show how keen you are. So arrive a couple of hours before your appointment and stand outside, shivering and giving a pleading stare to anyone who goes in. You might also want to take a drink with you (Dutch courage and all that) to enjoy while you're waiting.
  • When you share your work, talk about the challenges you overcame to make that project happen. For example, I find writing sentences that go together really tricky so I always make a big deal about how I had to work really hard at that and most likely ended up getting someone to do it for me. This shows resourcefulness and tenacity.
  • Take breath mints. If the interviewer has bad breath, offer them one. EMPLOYERS VALUE HONESTY.
  • Think from the other person’s perspective. What would you want to see/hear if you were them? Perhaps they’d like you to bat your eyelids at them, or give a coquettish little laugh while playing with your hair? Then do it!
  • Sell yourself. When you’re talking about what you can offer, use words like ‘gamechanger’ and ‘maverick’. CDs love to hear that stuff.
Follow these tips and you're sure to land that next dream job. (Please don’t follow these tips to get a job I want though, okay? If you’re unsure, please call and check first whether I want it. Thanks.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Shirking 9 to 5

I’m still here, it seems.

I’ve got lots of things in the pipeline. It’s just that my pipeline feels as if I’ve swallowed seven Imodium and an awful lot of red meat. What I need is some kind of freelance-contract colonic irrigation.

Of course, another week without work gives me chance to do lots of jobs around the home and spend time with my children.

So I lied to Mrs RMWLC and told her I have work.

I plan to spend the week sat on this bench between the hours of 9am and 5:30pm.

It’s not so bad, I’ve made a few friends.

This is Gerry. He’s actually dynamite in a brainstorm.

Of course, the really great thing is that I get to blog again. Great for you, I mean.

When I was working I didn’t have time to blog because I was giving my all for that agency.

Except for the times I did blog when I was working for agencies. If I blogged while working at your place, it’s because I found it such a stimulating environment that I wrote out of the overflow of my creativity which would otherwise have spilt out of me onto the floor and made a terrible mess.

So anyway, if you’re passing my park during working hours, do stop and say Hello. And bring biscuits, okay?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I've got a job. On a fricking building site!

I couldn’t blog yesterday. My confidence was at an all-time low.

It had been another bad day bellybutton fluff-wise and, having promised you all a bumper harvest, I couldn’t even bring myself to photograph the measly specimen.

I just can’t understand what’s happened. I think my bellybutton has been emasculated.  Is that possible?

For certain, what hasn't helped has been the presence of hyper-manly men nearby, on the building site over the road. 

Now and then I peek out of my bedroom window at the real men doing real jobs before shrinking back behind my net curtains and dolefully examining my body in the mirror.

Then this morning I had a brilliant idea! Why not get a job there?!

After all, have I not carried the weight of client expectation? Have I not shovelled barrowloads of clichéd prose? Surely this would be a mere trifle.

I skipped downstairs and over the road “Good day fine sirs!” I exclaimed to the group of burly types at the site entrance. “I wonder if you could use my services?"

There followed a rather confusing exchange. I can tell you I didn't appreciate the way they seemed to regard me. And many of my wittiest asides appeared not to register at all. 

For a while I feared ANOTHER rejection. Then one of the big men thrust a hard hat and garishly-coloured vest at me and pointed me in the direction of a big heap of rather dirty looking soil.

Well, I tried. For several minutes I gave my all. 

But a broken nail and hurty elbow soon told me that this sort of ‘menial’ labour is not for me.

I cast off the dreadful vest and hat and ran! For what? For freedom! For creativity! For me to be me, in all my glorious unemployed beauty! 

Dear reader, I have never felt so alive. And now, back safe and warm in my room with my cardi on and a warm mug of Ovaltine, I feel more certain than ever of my destiny.

God has put me on this earth to sit in a warm and cosy office and push a pen around. I shall do this or I shall die trying! (Or, at the least, I shall sit alone in my bedroom blogging about it.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day two in the bedroom

It's been less than 48 hours but Mrs RMWLC has already resorted to communicating with me solely through text message.

In the absence of human contact, I’ve made friends with my pens and begun talking to them instead. Having spent quite a lot of time sitting in agencies with only developers for company, it’s actually not that bad.

They are (from left to right) Dave, Simon and Nicole.

Dave is helping me write a new intro to my CV. What do you think?

I am a one-man creative sensation. Give me a brief and I will spray you with a non-stop boiling-hot jet of media-transcending concepts.

Not sure about the ‘spraying’ bit? Maybe I should say that creativity spouts out of me? Or spurts? Which do you think is better, Simon? Of course, you’re right, 'spurts' is much better.

I'm afraid it’s been another disappointing day bellybutton fluff-wise. 

I’m not making excuses or anything but I usually have LOADS more than this. 

It may be a case of stage fright. Come on bellybutton, we’ve promised a bumper crop on Wednesdays! Don’t let me down.

I invite you all to come back tomorrow and see. 

Eh? What do you mean you're busy?

Monday, September 19, 2011

The stench of loneliness

And suddenly, I find myself alone once more.

The merry-go-round of freelance life was making me giddy and a little nauseous and then, without warning, I was thrown off onto the grassy verge of no work. For a week at least.

So here I am, sat on the edge of my bed in my pants tapping on the keyboard, with only that pale, mournful-looking chap in the mirror for company.

Never mind. I shall meet this challenge head on, with my usual mix of despair and self loathing.

First off, I need to decide on the most effective use of my time.

I could go out looking for work, but I don’t want to seem needy.

I could spend more time with the family, but there seems little point. Both my kids are under three, which means they’re unlikely to remember anything I do with them.

So I thought the best thing would be to start posting my bellybutton fluff again.

You never know who might stumble upon this blog, see my impressive harvest and think ‘I want to hire this guy RIGHT NOW.’

Of course all this whole no-work thing is down to some bad choices on my part.

First off, I made the mistake of booking a holiday. Don’t ever book a holiday if you’re a freelancer. Every agency in London takes it as an invitation to offer you work. It's astonishing. Strangers will stop you in the street and offer you freelance for the duration of your holiday.

Then, once I was looking again, nothing. Except for a three-day gig I turned down because I was so convinced I'd have lots of better offers any minute. I spent the last day of holiday marching my family around the clifftops of Devon trying to get a signal and still nothing.

The important thing is to stay positive. This is a chance for me to learn lessons. Important lessons for life. It’s a chance to better myself and to replace that seal between the bath and the wall tiles. The mould there is getting worse and worse. I only did it a few months ago and I was so careful to make sure it was dry before I applied the new seal so why has the mould come back, WHY?!!

And of course, my loss is also your gain, as my newly unemployed status leaves plenty of time for blogging.

Each day I shall post my bellybutton fluff (you can expect a bumper crop on Wednesdays, I always get a lot on Wednesdays). These alluring images will be accompanied by some sage words from the world of freelance (my bedroom).

Tune in, folks, I'm here all week!

Friday, August 12, 2011


Having spent the last five days cowering under my desk, I just peeked my head out to find this rather brilliant idea from my former colleagues at Partners Andrews Aldridge.

DeLootLondon shows local businesses affected by the riots, so you can support them by buying whatever remaining stock they've got/managed to lay their hands on.

There's a natty little map with each vendor's story (which I'm sure will look a helluva lot more little red arrows by Monday) and a facebook page and stuff.

Let's go de-looting people!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels."

Just came across a page of all the ads from The Most Interesting Man In The World campaign and couldn't resist sticking a few up.

More killer lines:

"He's been known to cure narcolepsy just by walking into a room. His organ donation card also lists his beard. He's a lover, not a fighter, but he's also a fighter, so don't get any ideas."

"His charm is so contagious, vaccines have been created for it. If he were to give you directions, you'd never get lost, and you'd arrive at least 5 minutes early."

"His reputation is expanding faster than the universe. He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels. He lives vicariously through himself."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Redundancy in da house

Obviously, this is purely fictitious. But if you want to read a post on the subject that isn't, or you just fancy reading a good blog for a change, have a look at one of my all-time favourite posts.

Once you’ve been working for a few years, you can usually feel it coming.

No more flowers in reception. No more chocolate Hobnobs in meetings. The CEO starts drinking Dom Perignon 67 rather than 66.

Any healthy agency has redundancies at least once a year.

As a rule, they only get rid of the good people. As Paul Arden said, "if you've never been sacked, you're probably not very good,"

In ten years I don’t think I’ve even come close to getting the boot.

Although several of my art directors have taken voluntary redundancy.

Of course, once your number’s up, there’s very little you can do about it. Not that that stops people trying.

The first thing you notice is that everyone covers their desk with photos of their children (or, if they don’t have kids, pictures found on Getty) in the hope the decision-makers will take pity on them.

If anything, this works against them, as the people in charge actually like to eat babies. They boil them. I’ve seen it.

Next, THE CRATES arrive. Oh, how we hate the sight of those crates.

Even though the bloke in charge of moving the crates obviously plonks them anywhere, all kinds of speculation grows up around where exactly the crates are placed. Some poor soul is left sweating as a huge stack is left hovering over him like the sword of Damocles.

Once the sword finally does fall, and your colleague’s head has rolled across the office floor and been popped in the bin by the cleaning lady, there follows a season of mourning. A respectable amount of time (usually about an hour) is left before the mourners grab the computer/monitor/window seat of the victims.

Then, after a week or so, the flowers return to reception and you have a sunny period of at least 3-4 months before redundancy hits again.

Now, all my riffing on the pain of others may seem a little heartless. But it’s worth noting that, more often than not, those who get fired end up happier for it.

I was going to stick that video up that was doing the rounds a while back, all about people being sacked going off and doing something more fun. I think it was called Lemonade or something. Anyone got it?

Here it is. The mood's a little enriching and inspiring for this blog but I'll stick it up anyway (thanks @londonskirt).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Where I write bestest

It's not at work, obviously. And it's certainly not at home, where my children terrorise me.

I write my best stuff on my bike.

I dunno why, but there's something about sitting at my desk that actually gets in the way of thinking. Maybe it's the myriad distractions of the internet. Or the background hum of developers arguing over whether Spiderman could defeat The Sandman 'in real life'.

Whereas trundling home on my bike seems to free my mind.

The best writing is a string of ideas. And they just seem to flow on a bike. A gag or nice turn of phrase that would usually take ages to come up with suddenly comes so easily.

I don’t actually scribble words on paper, but I compose it all in my tiny mind. Then I type it up, usually the next day, and do the last bits of tinkering.

I wish it wasn’t this way. It’d be far easier if I wrote best sat in the office which is, after all, specifically for that purpose. Maybe I should nail an exercise bike to my desk and be done with it.

Yet I suspect I’m not alone.

What about you other writers out there? I’d love to hear where you write best. Is it at the kitchen table? Or down the pub? Or riding bareback across the desert at dawn?

And for once this isn’t my usual pathetic plea for comments to give me a sense of self-worth (well, it’s not just that). I’d be most intrigued to know.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Extreme dog grooming

Wow. Double wow.

Extreme dog grooming (from America, obviously) is an actual thing. You can scoop over £18,000 in prize money for a single event!


There are even more amazing images here

(Apologies if this is old news but once I saw it, I just had to post it. I'm sure you understand.)

Via charlottegibling

Some of my work #1

This is the first in a new series.

Seeing as this is an industry blog, I thought I’d stick some work up here as a bit of self promotion. I’d love to hear your feedback – please be as honest as you like!

Toilet door – Poster

It's so cool when you first see something you've done in print and in the public space.

The idea popped into my head one lunchtime when my senses were assaulted by a blocked toilet. The idea was to come up with something that stopped people going into the cubicle and seeing THE HORROR in the pan.

It was created in Word and printed on 110gsm stock (white).

There was no budget or time on it (so what’s new?!) but the client LOVED it! What’s particularly pleasing is that it was only intended as a tactical one-off, but they’ve gone on to use it in subsequent campaigns, even getting it laminated!

It just goes to show what can happen when you keep your eyes open for creative opportunities and possess the tenacity to come up with work even without a brief.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Please can I have a job thinking up product names for Hotel Chocolat goods?

You can pay me in said goods.

Try telling Noah he can't cartwheel

One of the reasons I love this job is that I learn so much about writing. Mainly from suits who LOVE to give me pointers on my copy!

The other day, as one suity-wordsmith breezily handed me her improvements to an email, having inserted the word ‘great’ eight times and turned the subject header into a 17-word tour de force, this image popped into my head – my two-year-old nephew, Noah, teaching his peers how to cartwheel.

Look at his face as he gets up.

‘Now THAT is how you cartwheel, you shmucks’ he’s thinking.

And, depressingly, that same expression was writ large across my colleague’s face as she handed me the amends.

“Now THAT is how you write copy, Mr Realmenwritelongcopy”.

So please just bear this in mind next time you see a fault with someone's cartwheel.

Do not try to cartwheel for them. For you may very well cartwheel like a two-year-old.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Dad's built a canoe. Has yours? Didn't think so.

Impressive, eh?

Sadly, the DIY gene seems to have skipped my generation. In fact, if you ask me, it’s skipped the entire writing profession.

You see, we writers are fragile creatures. Our delicate hands aren't meant for lashing things together with twine or cutting polyboard with a scalpel.

I’ve written before about how art directors tend to have better dress sense than writers. I think the same is true of them being more practical. They’re always fitting a new bathroom, or building an extension onto their house. Or cave.

Yet, have you ever known a writer who can hammer a nail?

Apart from my dad of course, who can write copy AND make stuff.

And he could take your dad with one bicep tied behind his back.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

P.S. I deliberately posted this early to remind you morons to GO OUT AND BUY A CARD NOW!

How do they do this? Witchcraft?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Those were the best days of my life

It was the spring of ‘06.

I’d just left a job I hated. (I knew it was time to leave when I had a bad dream about my boss and woke up screaming. Although in retrospect it probably wasn’t helpful to mention this to him when I resigned.)

My art director and I pitched up at cmw and there followed the happiest few months of my working life.

I’m not talking about doing great work. Of course not. I’m talking about coworker japes. Office banter. Workplace high jinx.

That poky little office could barely contain all those big characters. Ricky Big Face. Gobby Sarah. Special Trevor. Hygienic Doug.

We were young and crazy and foolish and had our whole lives ahead of us.

Ah, good times.

Sadly, as Adams so powerfully wails in those faux-gravelly tones, ‘I guess nothin' can last forever’.

Whether it's redundancies or career moves or restraining orders, things change, groups fragment, people move on.

Nowadays, Ricky Big Face is back home in Manchester. Will and Liz and Lloyd are in Sydney – the three of them are now married with a little boy. And Special Trevor has returned to the Cape of Good Hope.

I’m thinking of them now because there's a reunion of sorts on Saturday. Only I won’t be there. I’m away and will miss it. And that makes me do a big sad face emoticon. ONLY IN REAL LIFE.

Sometimes I dream about setting up an agency with those guys. If any clients out there would like to sink your advertising budget into getting us back together just to see what happens, please get in touch in the comments section.

Or maybe you’re thinking of the happiest time in YOUR miserable working life and want to share? Go on, tell us about it. How did it end? Or maybe it’s still going on?

By the way, if you’ve worked with me in the past and are crying because I didn’t say that it was my happiest time, please don’t. It’s not your fault. I just liked those other people more, see?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Non-fiction week! Cassandra

Our third and final example of dizzyingly wonderful writing is from The Daily Mirror. No, really.

In the days before they could fill their pages with Peter André 'exclusives', The Daily Mirror had to make do with writing about actual stuff. And no one wrote words about actual stuff better than columnist, Cassandra (real name William Connor).

His pen-name is a reference to the Cassandra of Greek mythology, some soppy bird who had the gift of prophecy but was cursed that no one would ever believe her.

Cassandra wrote in The Mirror for thirty years. The only time he took a break was to fight in the Second World War, when he famously returned with the words: ‘As I was saying when I was interrupted…’

He actually started out as a copywriter for JWT. The craft skills he picked up writing about baked beans and washing powder really shine through at times:
George Bernard Shaw is dead. The great dark gates of death that have been locked against him for so long swung open for a moment at dawn yesterday and the lean, derisive sage looked over his shoulder for a final twinkling trice and was gone.

He died in his bed. That was the last triumphant, exultant trick of Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili – otherwise Joseph Stalin, the most powerful man in the world…

His seventy-three hideous years have been enough. In his time he did titanic things and the whole world was his chess board. No tyrant ever planned on such a scale, and continents rather than countries were his prey. Probably he was brave. Certainly he was shifty and cruel. His skill in power politics was unsurpassed.

But his purpose was evil and his methods unspeakable. Few men by their death can have given such deep satisfaction to so many.

This collection of some of his finest writing is a little gem of a book. I’ve spent many happy minutes with my nose in it, slack-jawed with admiration.

The two columns below will be the best-spent five minutes of your day, I promise.

First, an encounter with the loveable Joe McCarthy.

Then Billy Graham.

It looks like it’s been reprinted so it’s easy to get hold of a copy. You’d be silly not to. You’re not silly, are you?

Here endeth the increasingly inaccurately-named Non-fiction Week. I hope you enjoyed it. I must say, I rather did.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Non-fiction Week! John Peel, margrave of the marshes

In yesterday’s post I tried to attract a better class of reader with a terribly serious review of a PROPER GROWN UP BOOK on the English language.

Let’s be honest, it was a bit ambitious for a blog whose readership consists of barely-literate family members and washed-up, burnt-out industry has-beens.

(It did however did reveal one gem though. It turns out Adland Suit’s Grandad was no less than literary BIGSHOT, the late Robert Burchfield. This is a BIG DEAL. He wrote stuff like, you know, the Dictionary. Admittedly I did poo-poo his revision of Modern English Usage, but it was only a poo-poo in relation to Fowler which is in reality no poo-poo at all.)

So anyway, today I’m lowering my sights a little, with a modern classic that’s accessible to common people.

This is for all those of us who stayed up late (having school next day) listening to the first (and usually last) airing of songs by bands with names like Agraphobic Nosebleed and Serious Drinking.

Peel’s great achievement in this book is perfectly translating his voice onto paper. It’s uncanny, and lovely to hear again. As a homage, I’m thinking of writing my next British Gas bill stuffer in those dulcet Scouse tones.

Sadly, he was only halfway through writing it when he died in 2004. So his wife Sheila picks up the story. As a result, the second half is less delightfully Peel-y but still a worthy read.

As you’d expect, it’s got some cracking anecdotes, like how he wound up at a press conference in the Dallas Police Headquarters the night Kennedy was shot. To prove it’s true, you can see him at 5:08 here.

Now, for your reading pleasure, I include my favourite bit, the fantastically surreal Bay City Rollers appearance at a Radio 1 Roadshow at Mallory Park.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Non-fiction Week!

In a bid to actually write something again, I’m declaring this Non-fiction Week. Each day, I will review a non-fiction book until my enthusiasm wanes after one or two posts.

Because you’re not the brightest bunch, it’s probably worth explaining the difference between fiction and non-fiction.

Put simply, non-fiction has fewer unicorns and elves and is generally poorer for it. Also, the pictures are rubbish.

There are, however, a few non-fiction books that are okay.

Let’s start with this beauty.

Fowler’s Modern English Usage. Probably the most influential reference book on the English language of the Twentieth Century. It’s certainly my favourite reference book, along with the indispensable, 'What rash?'

It’s not often you get a guide that’s not only amazingly helpful but that you can also idly browse for amusement. That’s because Fowler is mad as a fish. And brilliant. Here are a couple of his most famously helpfilarious (that's right, I combined helpful and hilarious into a single word) entries.

paragraph. The purpose of paragraphing is to give the reader a rest. The writer is saying to him: 'Have you got that? If so, I'll go on to the next point.' there can be no general rule about the most suitable length for a paragraph; a succession of very short ones is as irritating as very long ones are wearisome.

split infinitive. The English-speaking world may be divided into (1) those who neither know nor care what a split infinitive is; (2) those who do not know, but care very much; (3) those who know and condemn; (4) those who know and approve; (5) those who know and distinguish.
1. Those who neither know nor care are the vast majority, and are a happy folk, to be envied by most of the minority classes.

Welsh "Rarebit". Welsh Rabbit is amusing and right. Welsh Rarebit is stupid and wrong.

Good eh? Much better than your average dry, dusty tome.

Another reason I really love this book is the beautiful and poignant preface.





I think of it as it should have been, with its prolixities docked, its dullnesses enlivened, its fads eliminated, its truths multiplied. He had a nimbler wit, a better sense of proportion, and a more open mind, than his twelve-year-older partner; and it is matter of regret that we had not, at a certain point, arranged our undertakings otherwise than we did.

In 1911 we started work simultaneously on the Pocket Oxford Dictionary and this book; living close together, we could, and did, compare notes; but each was to get one book into shape by writing its first quarter or half; and so much only had been done before the war. The one in which, as the less mechanical, his ideas and contributions would have had much the greater value had been assigned, by ill chance, to me. In 1918 he died, aged 47, of tuberculosis contracted during service with the B.E.F. in 1915-16.

The present book accordingly contains none of his actual writing; but, having been designed in consultation with him, it is the last fruit of a partnership that began in 1903 with our translation of Lucian.

If you're after a copy, Burchfield created a third edition in 1996 which was in fact a complete rewrite and, by all accounts, guffier. But in 2009 the first edition was reprinted, so you're probably better off getting that.

Or just do what I did and nick your dad's.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My new product for the iPhone 4

From time to time I dabble in product design.

The other day, I was working with my friend Andy. We were trying to find an answer to one of the greatest challenges of modern life: How can I watch stuff on my iPhone 4 while eating?

I began experimenting with materials. I quickly found that wool was too soft, while seafood quickly went off.

Then Andy said what about trying a thermoplastic elastomer, a mix of plastic and rubber that won't scratch your iPhone and is really tough and a little bit bendy.

I knew instinctively that this was a terrible idea but didn’t want to discourage him as he’s a sensitive soul.

Anyway, here it is.

I’ll admit, it turned out better than I thought.

The Piolo is very light and neat. You can keep it on your keyring. Or in your pocket. Or on your keyring in your pocket.

It’s £4, plus 80p postage to anywhere in the world.

Look! Even Wired says it's brilliant.

Get yours today and support brilliantly creative, courageously entrepreneurial designers like Andy.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to freelance. Lesson 3: a varied wardrobe.

Just a quick one today.

I’ve stated previously that the first things a prospective employer looks for are a winning smile and a cute ass.

But remember, it’s no good having a cute ass (which I have) unless you’re also wearing, say, tight chinos to show it off.

I'm not just talking about sex appeal. This is about LOOKING THE PART.

Only a fool underestimates the importance of clothing to their career.

As a permanent employee, you may be able to rest on your garment laurels. I used to wear the same jumper all week and just occasionally vary my t-shirt.

But now I'm a freelancer I really mix things up:

Monday: special shirt and blue jumper
Tuesday: t-shirt and special blue jumper
Wednesday: t-shirt and blue jumper
Thursday: shirt and special blue jumper
Friday: special shirt (odour permitting) and special blue jumper

In this way I keep myself fresh, exciting and dynamic. I suggest you do the same.

Having a baby is brilliant

Having a baby is brilliant.

Your friends make meals for you.

You get to sit up late at night watching old West Wing episodes while he snuffles and sighs asleep on your shoulder.

Your neighbours bake cakes for you.

Your other neighbours who are having a baby soon get to come round and practice holding your baby and you get to explain to them that baby poo doesn’t actually smell bad (if they’re breastfed). Just kind of smells like sour milk.

You finally have an excuse for looking so crappy all the time.

Your other other neighbours stay the night when you have to leg it to hospital because of some problem or other and they get your eldest child up and dressed and take them for breakfast with their own kids and they have a food fight and think it’s the best thing ever.

You get to administer the fantastically named Gripewater.

Having a baby is brilliant.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sexy sax man

If you don't have 5 minutes and 3 seconds, I recommend you watch from around halfway. Time well spent either way.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How to freelance. Lesson 2: appearing competent

Welcome back, my apprentice. Obviously you’ve learnt a lot from my last tip and have come back for more.

Appearing competent is one of the toughest skills to master in this game.

It’s by no means essential. However, if you’re able to look professional, or even actually be professional, it’s a real bonus. Another string to your bow, so to speak.

You don’t stay in this industry as long as me without picking up a few things about feigning competency. Here are my top tips.

The silent nod

Silent nodding is one of the most powerful weapons in a freelancer’s arsenal.

It’s ingenious. Because you haven’t been around long enough for them to know whether you’re nodding because you're an imbecile or because you know everything. Be warned though, this one does have a limited shelf life. I try to move on every week or so.

Getting angry

Just because you’re new, that’s no reason you can’t kick off. In fact, CDs like you to do this.

It doesn’t have to be about anything big either. In fact, the more pedantic the better. The important thing is to go really mental about one tiny thing and let everything else sail by without a hitch. This way you’re not troublesome BUT it also looks like you really care.

Big words

Everyone knows that using big words makes you look really impressive and intelligent.

The big word I use most is ‘tautological’. This is the best one in the English language, as no one has any idea what it means, least of all me.

So, for example:

Suit: Shouldn’t you change this word to ‘and’ instead of ‘or’?
Me: It’s tautological.


Creative Director: This copy doesn’t make sense.
Me: It’s tautological.

See? You win the argument every time AND you look like some kind of genius.

There. I think I’ve covered everything you could possibly need for a glittering career. But I know some seasoned freelancers read this blog. So if you have any suggestions, please add them in the comments.


Monday, March 14, 2011

At last, I have created something of note

Believe me, I'm as disappointed as you that he didn't come out sporting a beard and tiny wrestling suit.

Dear readers, please welcome Newborn Baby RMWLC a.k.a. Jonah William Mance.

Well done me. And well done Mrs RMWLC, who also had a hand in it. And especially well done to God.

Toddler RMWLC (recently ousted from her position of Baby RMWLC) is somewhat less impressed.

I tittered when she got this card.

I love the upbeat note they've tried to strike here. It's a note that's currently ringing very hollow in her little ears. Clearly a planner has been involved.

You may wonder what the arrival of my blogging heir means for you, dear reader.

Well, it was around the last time I had a baby that I birthed this blog. I used to post every day back then, so perhaps this new life will usher in a season of prolific blogging? Then again, this isn't the first time I've made wishy washy half blog-promises.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Phishing with Moira

Yesterday I was happy. I thought I was getting a tax rebate.

Sadly, today that rebate is just another little bubble of happiness that has burst.

It was a scam!

I know what you’re thinking. How was a savvy real-man-of-the-world like myself nearly duped?

Three words. Moira “Shyster” Stewart.

The duplicitous minx! In all my dealings with her, I never dreamt she’d pull a stunt like this.

You expect this sort of thing from Trevor McDonald. But Moira?!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It will never fly

Have you seen this rubbish?

What Spot Now shows you what's happening inside coffee shops, pubs, etc. in real time.

So you can decide whether you should pop in or whether it’s too busy and you should just go home because you’ll never meet anyone anyway and you’re destined to be alone forever.

Sadly, What Spot Now is the kind of missed opportunity that drives me crazy.

First off, it only works in Portland. That’s a 13-hour flight! By the time I get there, Starbucks could be busy again.

Worse than that, there are so many better uses for this technology.

Why don’t they have cameras in conference rooms at work, so you know when meetings are over and you can swoop in to hoover up the biscuits? Or even better, one at your local Greggs, so you know when they’ve baked a new batch of Sausage & Bean Melts.

Then there are the stalking opportunities. Cameras in houses of all the girls that ever dumped you, anyone? Yes please.

Have a look anyway. I guess it is pretty interesting.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Keepin’ it real like Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard

Is The Bodyguard the greatest movie ever?

I guess that when you’re forging a movie from the raw materials of Whitney Houston’s stardom and Kevin Costner sporting quite short hair, you could hardly go wrong.

But still, you’ve got to admit the director used this potent combination to full effect.

For me, the onscreen chemistry between Kevin and Whitney has only been matched by Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings.

As well as solid movie gold, the film’s opening scene contains a valuable lesson for us.

After saving a client’s life, Frank Farmer (Costner) is begged to take a full time job, but turns it down. “I’m no good in a permanent position. My feet go to sleep.”

Which is true for YOU too.

If you stay at one place too long, you get complacent.

Pretty soon you’re taking lunch breaks from 11:30 to 3:30. And when you are at your desk, you spend the whole time collecting, collating and filing your bellybutton fluff. Then posting pictures of it online.

Inevitably the work suffers.

Next thing you know, you’re as stale as a Greggs steak slice.

Whereas for freelancers, you have to be useful ALL THE TIME.

That means every day I’ve got to bring my 'A game'.

This can be anything from filling out a timesheet correctly to looking attentive during briefings.

These days I even think of ideas, which I NEVER used to do. I guess nothing gets the old noggin going like the fear of not being asked back next week.

So to sum up. If you yearn to be edgy and sharp like me and Kevin Costner, you should definitely go freelance.

(Or I suppose you could just work harder. But that kind of blows my whole theory out of the water.)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

I wonder if this is the most middle class way you could end yourself? Jumping from the top floor of John Lewis on Oxford Street?

I reckon so. Particularly if you managed to impale yourself on some Jamie Oliver-endorsed kitchen utensils.

This is the kind of thought that plops into my mind when returning an item over the festive period, that's all.

On a similar note, I’ve been thinking about writing a murder mystery around a fantastically middle class killer. In the opening scene, a woman lifts the lid of her breadmaker to discover her husband’s severed head rolling around inside, sprinkled with organic poppy seeds.

Maybe it’s time I got an agent.