Browsing Month September, 2010

Writer’s blog.

September 25th, 2010 // 12:26 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. Today I find myself in the awkward position of again having to apologise for the recent lack of activity on thatandywhiteblog. I’m sorry. I really am. The terrible truth though is that I seem to have been hit by the curse/convenient excuse of all writers since the dawn of time, ‘writer’s block’. I know, I know, it all sounds a bit precious doesn’t it? Like sitting here being a Manchester copywriter and trotting out some inconsequential nonsense now and again was some kind of big artistic dilemma but it’s true. Sometimes it’s a bit tricky. Or, in the words of Run DMC, ‘it’s tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that’s right on time, it’s tricky, huh huh huh, it’s tricky, tricky, tricky, tricky.’ See? Even the big names of Old School Rap recognise that it’s not always easy. In fact, going back to that ‘dawn of time’ thing, I feel sure that on occasion you’d see prehistoric man gazing at his cave wall, sharpened stone in hand, thinking, ‘Bloody hell. I’ve done triceratops and velociraptor. I’ve done the bit with Dave and that wheel thing, what now? I should’ve stuck with hunting. Jesus, even gathering’s not a bad gig compared with this’. So, in a bid to get myself started, I did a bit of reading. A bit of studying to see what proper writers do to get round this big wall thing. And it’s interesting to see that they’ve all done it. Anna Quidlin, ( she’s a writer. Memoirs of a Geisha, Running with Scissors.  No I didn’t either. The Film? Oh yes, ), said, “People have writer’s block not because they can’t write, but because they despair of writing eloquently.” Fair point, well made Anna. Stephen King, ( Yes. Well we all have haven’t we? Oh about a trillion I think ), came up with this really clever metaphor to describe the process as he sees it, “If we think of ourselves as labourers, as craftsmen, it’s easier to sit down and write. We’re just putting words on the page, after all, one beside another, as a bricklayer puts down bricks. At the end of the day, we’re just creating things — stories, poems, or plays — only we use vocabulary and grammar instead of bricks and mortar.” Now that’s all well and good isn’t it? But be careful how far you take these things. I’d got really, really into it, right up to the point where I wrote a really nice extension onto the back of the house. It was lovely. Big sunroom, office, utility area, family bathroom and sundeck. Probably put about 20k onto the value and everything. Then, when the plumber arrived to do the pipework for the utility area, he had to explain to me the fundamental flaw in my thinking. Turns out that the whole thing was just, in fact, a fairly abstract concept. While he appreciated the literary value of the project and even pointed out that he found some of my grammatical flourishes quite enchanting he had to firmly state that, as an actual building or indeed as any form of acceptable reality, the whole thing lacked any real substance. So I say to you, Stephen King, get a bloody grip man. That’s about three days of my life I’ll never get back. Another handy tip was to ‘examine your working space. Find a place you’d look forward to being in and try writing there. Maybe a coffee shop or similar’. Naturally, I gave that a go. And I’m here to tell you that, no matter how attractive the idea of an opium den may be, it’s really hard to get anything done after the first day and a half. I’m sure I wrote a few things while I was there but when I came round in that alley, could I find any of it? Not a chance. Not only that but I still have no idea where my shoes are and I’m completely at a loss to explain why I’d have a tattoo there or indeed what it says. I’m not even all that keen on dragons. However, the one that really resonated with me was to just start writing whatever comes into your head and put it down on paper or, in my case, just get typing something and unleash it into the ether. Apparently it doesn’t even matter if it’s any good. The whole point is to just bang it out and move on. And with that in mind. See you later.

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Apocalypse. House!

September 15th, 2010 // 3:56 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. You’ll never believe it. Today I find myself once again troubled by an advert on the telly. It’s that  that new ‘Jackpot Joy, Queen of Bingo’ thing. My god, have you seen it? It’s got Barbara Windsor, of  ‘Carry on, oops my tits have come out’ and ‘Eastenders, gerrrrrraaaaaarttttaaaaaamiiiiiiipaaaaaaab, Fiw, Fiw, why caaarnt you be maaaaaw like Gwaant ‘, fame and it’s deeply, deeply unsettling.

Filmed in a kind of Derek Jarman’s Jubilee / Ken Russell’s The Devil’s /  The Avengers c1968 dream sequence, mashup stylee, it seemingly all takes place in a subterranean concrete bunker, ( or underground car park ), where a post apocalyptic society cling to the last vestiges of civilization.

Following the devastation of all humanity as we know it, and for reasons which may never be fully explained, Barbara/Peggy, all done up in Elizabethan style dress, fashioned from fire curtains, the blankets of the recently departed, christmas baubles, ping pong balls and irradiated fruits has apparently become Queen of the World.  Now, surrounded by what we can only assume to be the strongest and most psychotic of the survivors, Babs/Peg holds sway over the remnants of the walking dead by way of a rudimentary economy based on the complimentary disciplines of brainwashing, relentless brutality and bingo. So far, so weird.

However, don’t get comfy, there’s more. As a seemingly drugged up, wigged out siren sings the praises of our ‘Bingo Queen so posh’, Bill the Butcher from Martin Scorcese’s ” Gangs of New York “, ( for it is he ), whips the shambling, dead-eyed Bingo junkies into a frenzy with his rallying cry of ” Oi, Oi, Oi! “, to which the only reply is, of course, “Jackpot Joy!” And woe betide anyone who  fails in their response. Have you seen Gangs of New York? Did you see what B the B did to Walter McGill with that big mad axe? Yes? Well, ‘whoopsy daisies’. Need I say more?

Now, I don’t know about you but I really don’t glean any of the benefits of a new Internet-based Bingo website from great Queen Babs, big huge massive be-wigged minders, spooky flame-haired singers or Bill the Butcher. Frankly, it just makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Slightly nauseous even. There’s something a bit too druggy, surreal and creepy about the whole affair. I mean, don’t get me wrong,as a Manchester copywriter I like druggy, surreal and creepy as much as the next man. In fact, I’ve spent a great deal of time and money on the pursuit of all three over the years. I’m just not entirely convinced that online bingo is its natural habitat.

Still, I suppose it’s better than that bloody fox in a purple velvet suit.

All together now, Oi Oi Oi!

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Vauxhall and die.

September 14th, 2010 // 2:49 pm @ // No Comments yet

Hello there. Today I’ve had a glimpse of my own mortality. Naturally this has left me feeling a little despondent, a little jaded, a little, well, mortal. Of course it’s not the first time I’ve been brought face to face with my impending death. It is, however, the first time the black abyss of eternal nothingness has been thrust into my face by an advertisement for a motor car. And not in a really great, ‘hurtling backwards through the pearly gates at 200 miles per hour in a blazing Lamborghini‘  kind of way. More in a ‘have we really come to this? In a grey family saloon, waiting at a roundabout, sucking on a Werthers Original’  kind of way.

And it’s all the fault of this bloody Vauxhall ad.

But why andy? Why oh why oh why? Why oh why oh why has this ad brought on an overwhelming feeling of despair rooted at the very core of your being andy? Why? Well, calm down a bit and I’ll tell you. Jesus.

It’s like this. It’s not just the overall dreadfulnes of the ad itself that’s done it. Although that bit about ‘not taking ourselves too seriously at times’, and thus undermining  the ‘c’mon!‘ campaign,  ( which was essentially a pretty nice piece of work, by Vauxhall standards, although not as good as the hide and seek Corsas ), is a bit grim.  It’s that ‘warranty that could last a lifetime’ bit that’s to blame. Yes, I know, a ‘warranty that could last a lifetime’ is a great thing and not necessarily a reasonable excuse for an attack of deep existential angst and overwhelming sense of the futility of it all. It’s when you look a little closer at the offer that the full horror of it all rears up and smashes you right in the face. That ‘warranty that could last a lifetime’ is limited to 100,000 miles. That’s right, 100,000 miles.

Now I’ve been doing some research into mileages and a few sums and, according to the AA, ( that’s the Automobile Association, not Alcoholics Anonymous. I tried them first and to be frank, they were clueless about the subject. Not to say a bit rude on the phone ), the average annual mileage of cars in this country is 15,000 miles. So, work it out. According to Vauxhall, our life expectancy is round about 6.6 years. Now that’s bloody miles off  ‘three score years and ten’ isn’t it? Now I don’t know about you but if I’ve only got 6.6 years to live, I’m not spending any of it in a bloody Vauxhall.

Especially not with the Grim Reaper in the back, saying “Are we nearly there?” every two minutes.

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The Ad Critic: In depth analysis and deconstruction of 21st Century Advertising.

September 10th, 2010 // 2:54 pm @ // 2 Comments

Hello there. Once again it’s time for thatandywhiteblog and me, a respected Manchester copywriter, to take a serious, considered look at a TV advertisement currently running on our screens. This week sees the welcome return of Richmond sausages and it’s consistently innovative use of television.

Now isn’t that just unutterably, irredeemably f***ing awful?

Shamus O’Twinkle and his band of similarly musical and whimsical twinkly oirish brothers return to the maternal bosom, seemingly drawn inexorably home by the magic and the aroma of sizzling Irish pork. But that can’t be it really can it? For a start, Accordion O’Twinkle in the Bedford Nostalgia van is quite obviously not the full shilling is he? You just have to look into those slightly glazed eyes to see that his needs are more special than a plate of sausages.  It’s a good thing that van door was locked or I wouldn’t have held out much hope for the girl on the pushbike. I’ve read some terrible things about men with accordions in vans.

Then there’s Double Bass on the bus O’Twinkle. I mean, people pumping out their bloody N’dubz through their bloody ‘phones are bad enough but some geezer playing an upright bass on the bottom deck would drive you to distraction wouldn’t it? Not only that but look where he’s standing. What happens when some poor single mother, struggling with a trolley tries to find a place to sit? And what of the little old ladies off to buy two ounces of haslet for their tea? Where are they supposed to go when some bastard with a bloody great double bass is blocking the aisle and the disabled seats? He’d be out the door, closely followed by a load of shattered mahogany and wire if that was my bus.

Then take a look at ‘Sticks’ O’Twinkle, beating out a little tattoo at the railway station. Check out those big leather straps on each wrist. Now, I’ve been around a bit and I’d put money on those straps being of the type used to manacle unruly patients to chairs whilst administering Electric Shock Aversion Therapy. There’s something deeply wrong with that boy and I shudder to think what’s in the suitcase he’s sitting on. I can’t see one in the picture but I’m pretty sure there’s going to be an abandoned pushbike, wheel still spinning, somewhere adjacent to that platform.

So there they are, the wandering boys beating a path to their mother’s door and tucking into a feast of sausages, mash and peas. Oh yes, it all looks so lovely doesn’t it? But who knows what evil lurks in the cold, black hearts of the O’Twinkle brothers and who knows why they’ve had to flee wherever they were staying to lie low at Ma O’Twinkle’s lair? The one thing to hope for is that they don’t reform the band after they’ve had their tea and release that bloody desperate song as a single.

That just doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

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Sold out.

September 6th, 2010 // 4:17 pm @ // 2 Comments

Hello there. Sorry thatandywhiteblog has been a tad quiet for the past few days. Had some of that pesky copywriting to do. Tsk.

Anyway, here I am, back again all refreshed, bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready for anything. Well, not quite anything as it turns out. What I wasn’t ready for is the revelation that there is now a Sex Pistols branded fragrance. Yes, that’s right, Sex Pistols scent. Or fragrancy in the UK perhaps. It’s manufactured by Elat Libre d’Orange in France and is, apparently, “pared down and pumped up by leather, shot through with heliotrope and brought back down to earth by a raunchy patchouli.” Well, I think we’ve all felt that way at least once, haven’t we? I suppose it was only to be expected after Johnny’s foray into Country Life advertising. I’m still gutted that he wouldn’t get involved with my “I can’t believe it’s not Bollocks” low-fat spread though.

Naturally, this has got me thinking. Surely there are loads of old bands knocking around out there, a bit skint, contemplating their next move. I mean, it’s ok if you’ve been in Spandau Balllet, Duran Duran or something like that. You can always rock up on the TVAM sofa, do a bit of Cash in the Celebrity Attic, mince about with Ainsley Harriott, do Something for the Weekend, ( Hello Ms.D ), or even a bit of Panto. But, if you’re an aging punk or a hairy, hoary old rocker, what chance have you got?  What chance? Loads of chance if you jump aboard the whitewriting brandwagon! That’s right, I’m getting ready to launch a whole raft of Celeb endorsed brands with the potential to earn megabucks and finally kill the memory of my brilliant, but ill fated, mobile golf course venture.

Are you plagued by stubborn, seized-up bolts when attempting a little DIY? Then reach for “Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts WD40″ A can full of rockin’ good penetrating fluid that’ll have you twisting all night. Arthritis playing you up? Then just massage in a healthy dollop of “Stiff Little Fingers Embrocation and Universal Balm”, within minutes you’ll Get a Life and be living on Hope Street!

There are just so many possibilities out there that I can’t believe no-one’s got onto it yet. The rise of recycling alone makes “Ned’s Atomic Dustbin” a potential goldmine. Just think of it. Glow in the dark bin liners in a range of crusty colours to separate your plastics, paper and aluminium, each bin painted up like a traveller’s bus. Genius.  Back in the field of health, I’m working on ” Joey Ramone’s Gabba Gabba Hay Fever nasal spray”, ( the inhaler bit’s like a rolled up banknote. Inspired, I know ) , an “Ed Banger and the Nosebleeds” branded Warfarin product and a range of “Dr. Feelgood‘s anti-depressants”.

Peter and the Test Tube Babies and The Angelic Upstarts are tailor made for a couple of Mothercare lines, Napalm Death are a no-brainer for a range of garden pesticides and I’m trying to get Kraftwerk into a deal for “Trans-Europe Express” student railcards and supasaver techno-tickets but I just keep keep getting this strange, tinny recorded message on Ralf Hütter’s ansaphone. Well, I’m assuming it’s his ansaphone.

It’s got to be a winner hasn’t it? I mean, I’ve barely scraped the surface with the handful of candidates I’ve mentioned here and, as a Manchester copywriter, I’ve  got big ideas for a multitude of bands and perfectly matched brands that I’m currently negotiating with. So watch this space.

The plans I’ve got for Throbbing Gristle are dynamite.

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