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Panting and decorating July 29, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Blogging and social media, Friends, Single London, Suburbia, West Byfleet.
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One of the few curiosities of writing a blog is being informed of how people arrived at it via Google. Today someone found themselves here having searched for ‘looking for sex in West Byfleet 29 July’. Well aren’t we all but this site probably wasn’t exactly what they had in mind and being confronted with my own flagging crusade on that front must have been, quite literally, an anti-climax. Maybe we should form a society.

One has to admire their optimism that they weren’t just looking for sex, but specifically West Byfleet of all places, and absolutely certain it had to be today. I dread to think what they’d taken, but there’s clearly a nagging sense of urgency and the worry in my own mind they may nevertheless turn up and start thumping, or indeed dry humping, the door.

As it is, I’ve been here one month short of the year and have yet to see or hear evidence of sex in any shape or form. There’s not a person under 36 who isn’t me and it has occurred to me, as nice and pleasant everyone is, that I’d moved to the valley of the neutered. Judging by the tone of some of the Neighbourhood Watch emails I’ve been receiving recently there’s every good chance of being kneecapped and dumped in a ditch, with written directions to Woking or Las Vegas, simply for having an erection.

There’s one particular colleague who springs to mind who would last five minutes here. This morning I hadn’t even made it into the office before getting a detailed, drawn out account, and it was too early to see a fist pounding a palm, of his one-night stand with a female member of Virgin’s cabin crew.

His brother is away on holiday so he borrowed his flat for the encounter. Yet he was stopped suddenly this morning mid-act by a decorator who had let himself in (doors to manual?) to do some touching up work in the flat and found he had already been beaten to it.

With all parties startled any further action was abandoned, meaning, not for the first time, he was left frustrated and all because the painters were in.

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Mystic Mug July 28, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Single London, This week I have learned.
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Yesterday was supposed to be the big day. A day when something life changing was going to happen bearing boundless happiness and great prosperity. At least that was according to the Sikh mystic on Surin beach in Phuket who predicted great things and prayed for me whilst rinsing me of 2,000 baht to do so.

He even went to the trouble of writing the date down and putting it in my wallet (a kind gesture, I suppose, given he’d just emptied it of notes). I’d still have the lucky piece of paper with the date of my good fortune on it had I not lost the wallet in some Shoreditch basement club on a misspent night out with Dan Turner the other week.

Call me a psychic, a visionary, Mystic Mug, call me what you like, but for a lot less and for even fewer prayers I could’ve made a far more accurate prediction for July 27, 2010. I’d still feel partially paralysed and in need of another chiropractor appointment? Check. I wouldn’t be in a position to retire to Necker island? (Knacker Island would be more like it). Check. Cameron Diaz still hasn’t replied to my begging letters? Check. And the client meeting would be about as pleasant as swimming in a pool of shit without a snorkel? Check.

The only relief of the day was thinking I was about to get done for speeding 11pm on the Old Woking Road only for an ambulance to emerge from the darkness beneath the sirens I’d seen accelerating toward me. In the circumstances that alone felt like a minor triumph.

So onward we soldier. Having been in a wonderful mood for almost all of the day, when confronted with a personal training appointment at 9pm, something snapped. Fifteen minutes in and my trainer was told ‘You carry on if you want to, I’m off home for a glass of red’ and bade him farewell. I don’t think even a Sikh on Surin beach would’ve seen that one coming. Poor form, but there’s a time and a place for personal training and evidently it wasn’t there and it wasn’t then.

A pain in the neck July 24, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in West Byfleet.
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The visit to the new chiropractor proved to be embarrassing. I drove down the Chobham Road in Woking and saw the chiropractor sign I’d been looking for, yet arrived in good time to find they did not have my appointment booked in

This naturally provoked much eye rolling and sighing on my part. In full Hancock mode, with a contained yet frank manner I pointed out that I’d given up half a day of work to make this appointment and this sort of thing simply wasn’t good enough.

The little old Doris at the reception was extremely flustered and apologised. She pulled a few strings, said ‘Oh dear’ a few times and arranged an appointment for me there and then, saying she couldn’t understand how they’d made such a mistake. I thanked her for her efforts and told her not to worry, ‘These things happen’. Sitting down gave me the first chance to take in my surroundings and indeed the signage above the reception.

I was in the wrong clinic.

Put on dog on it July 22, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Consumer PR, In the news, Media.
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When a cab driver looks at you in sympathy and asks you eyeball to rear view mirror ‘You just finished doing a night shift’, it’s a bad sign that maybe one is not looking one’s best. Especially when you are forced at 7.30a.m to reply that you are actually on your way into work. Had I not mentioned it, he may have otherwise solemnly driven me to Harley St and waived the fare in sympathy. Yet, for all the wretched hours of coming up with the elusive ‘big idea’ or solutions to a new brief, all our woes may be over.

In future every PR tactic that goes out of our office will have the words ‘…for dogs’ fastened on it. PR is that simple. Put a dog on it and people start to fizz and gurgle and before you know it the phone rings from News at Ten.

It’s less than a week since I stood on Wandsworth Common overseeing a photo shoot shivering with two Great Danes and an ice cream van. Since then the first ice cream for dogs has ‘gone global’. There’s been BBC Breakfast, Chris Evans, This Morning and The One Show tomorrow. Film crews from France and Mexico on Saturday. Forget the global economic meltdown, we got ice cream vans for dogs. No doubt people are pausing from their struggle for survival in Burkina Faso to talk about the K99 ice cream van with the chicken and gammon flavour.

They can’t get enough of the first ice cream van for dogs. You know what George Osborne should have done with the Emergency Budget? Put a dog on it. The England World Cup squad? Put a dog on it. Raoul Moat….should have put a dog on it. BP? Well, it’s worth a punt! An English Heritage castle is in the news today because a man was arrested having sex with a dog on the site. That castle needed a boost. They know.

Meanwhile I can barely type due to a trapped nerve in my neck. The result is that I can’t raise my head from a lowered stoop and most women suspect I am looking at their cleavage.

While this may be convenient it is certainly not the case. Except for the girl in the Vietnamese cafe on Bermondsey Street. Then again, judging by the looks of things at lunchtime Dan Turner had also trapped a nerve in his neck around the time it came to him placing his order and who can blame him. Having tried Nurofen Plus, Anadin Ultra and Chateauneuf du Pape (finally, in desperation, all at the same time) I’ve given up. If all else fails I’m going to put a dog on it.

Rewrite the Past July 12, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Friends, In the news, Travel.
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Amsterdam / West Byfleet

How does it come to pass that a man of a certain age can arrive back home from a leisurely weekend in Amsterdam for the World Cup final, immediately pan fry a fillet streak with chopped garlic and chili and have his play of decorum somewhat shattered by the discovery that there is a fag butt in the English mustard?

It had been chilling in the fridge for at least a fortnight and I haven’t even summoned the will to go back and see what lurks amongst the Dijon. If ever I needed an appropriate welcome back to Wisley House then this is it.

What sort of person stubs out a cigarette in a perfectly good jar of mustard, puts the lid back on it and places it back on the condiments shelf in the fridge? The worrying thing is, given the Cow barbecue two weekends ago I can think of many candidates, myself very much included.

It’s been that kind of weekend. Everything in place, perfectly poised and then at the dies irae ,what is the final note? An unpleasant surprise. My weekend started with a metaphoric fag butt in the mustard upon waking on Saturday morning at 11am with a hangover that looked to set in. As the room span there was a lot of reasoining going on. Mainly along the lines of why should I feel the desperate urge to panic because although I’ve woken at a relatively late hour, I do not have to go to work. If one does then not have to go to work, why should waking at 11am be such an issue?

This question rumbled around the brain like a pinball in slow motion until the I realised that I really needed to be panicking as I had 60 minutes to get out of bed, pack and be at Terminal 5 to check in for a flight to Amsterdam.

Dehydration on the M25 is never good at the best of times, but especially not done against clock watching and traffic jams, Suffice to say I missed the flight, but only on a technicality. Cocktails at Village east, technicality – call it what you will. Whatever, it meant a delay until I could get away on the next flight. Waiting five hours in Heathrow for a 45 minute flight is no way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon with a headache.

Being in the losing nation of a World Cup Final is something I’ve begun to master. In 2006 I was in the South of France with my then French girlfriend (she does to this day remain French, if not my girlfriend). At the time I was having a near death experience courtesy of a rogue oyster and got very little sympathy in the aftermath of Zidane’s headbutt, Trezeguet’s penalty miss and the loss of Les Bleus. Even if I had a near terminal bout of Les Vertes.

Later that night as I lay agonised in bed, green of face with a raging fever and stomach cramps, she was far too pre-occupied hanging out the hotel window giving the finger and, in a manner not dissimilar to the possessed little girl in The Exorcist, screaming abuse at the Italians who’d thoughtfully made the effort to drive over the border nearby to toot their car horns and wind up the locals such as herself. (We exchanged texts yesterday. She was laid up on holiday in an Italian hospital with a minor illness and her Dutch boyfriend for company. How’s that for events coming full circle, though I was careful not to point it out)

Amsterdam was no different. I stayed with a dear friend, Jodi Banfield and her family. On Sunday Jodi and I shopped for food which she then prepped and I barbecued for their coterie of friends from the advertising world. Her daughter ensured that maximum surface area of my arms and head were coloured in in the red, white and blue of the Dutch national flag and surely enough, with the city ablaze in orange and high spirits (natural, herbal or otherwise) and everyone in anticipation of the biggest party the party capital of Europe had ever experienced, Iniesta scored and all the Dutch went home in shock or tears.

Now, I thought, is not the time to console anyone I’d bonded with over lager and the previous few hours that at least it wasn’t all bad news as I’d got Spain in the Cow office sweepstake

Jodi’s partner and one of his friends were the creatives behind the Nike ‘Write the Future’ World Cup campaign ad. The one which starring the likes of Walcott, Rooney, Canavarro, Ronaldinho, Ribery and other players setting both the world and the World Cup on fire with their skills and bravado to become god-like global icons. We all know what happened there. As a creative ad it’s a breathtaking piece of art. They couldn’t help the talent Nike gave them to work with.

‘Rewrite the Past’ would be my next pitch to Nike. Then we can be spared the spectacle of the once imperious Cannavarro run ragged and rinsed by New Zealand or a belligerently detached Wayne spending every 90 minutes walking around a football pitch like Raoul Moat trying to behave himself on day release.

How brands see football is never like real life of course. Any fan will tell you, there are few heroes to be found and watching football mostly consists of interminable boredom, the occasional moment of optimism that almost always quickly morphes into a brutal buggering of jailbait proportions before a return to the boredom again. Amsterdam was a fluffed Arjen Robben shot from exploding into the wildest night of joy imaginable. Instead people dispersed quietly and the cycle through the cobbled streets past the wilting, heartbroken Dutch will stick in the memory.

Three World Cup defeats can start to chip away at the national psyche and do permanent damage. How can they pick themselves up from that? Well, there was also a noticeable charge by a small minority toward the red light district and there you may have your answer. For the rest, they will have to make do with sunflowers and Gouda.

So will anything have lasting impact as a result of this World Cup? Gloria at work certainly hasn’t been the same since someone crept behind her and blew a Vuvuzela into her head. For that I can only apologise. It may only be a cheap piece of plastic tubing, but we’re still waiting to see if the damage is permanent.

If one could rewrite the past, three recent lessons learned are: not to blow so hard on a Vuvuzela six inches from a sensitive Cypriot-Colombian; the second is not go to Village East the night before an international flight. Thirdly, always check the mustard before serving.

For the modern man, this rather puts The Ten Commandments in the shade – to the point of being frivolous.

Corrupted file July 6, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Consumer PR.
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This is the post-pitch crash. A few hours ago, my colleagues and I were extolling the virtues of how we intend to transform a brand with all the enthusiasm of puppies rolling in freshly mown grass. After the adrenalin has gone, and a train journey from Bermondsey to West Byfleet thrown in for good measure, I find I’m choosing a vastly inferior wine simply because it is screw cap and doesn’t require me to operate a bottle opener.

The blog has been neglected because there has been a tremendous amount of work to do in the last week and an important pitch. It started badly at the weekend when there was still much work to be confronted. Working at the weekend provokes all sorts of negative feelings and irrational behaviour, like suddenly finding Wife Swap USA compelling viewing.

Waiting to see how a quivering pile of lard and prejudice in New Jersey reacts to being told he’s got to make the bed seems like the definition of high drama and I’m inexplicably drawn to it, pitch brief in hand, mouth agape, like watching the toppling of the Twin Towers for the very first time.

On Saturday with the World Cup in full flow, shops distracting me by doing things like selling newspapers and the sun ablaze I told myself what was really needed was a significant burst tomorrow and perhaps things would be best progressed if I had The Last One round for balmy evening drinks.

Even now, a few days on, my hand may still bear the marks and swelling from the mosquito bites as I merrily quaffed on Saturday night, but do so in the knowledge that the little bastard would’ve been reaping what he’d sowed come Sunday morning. Of course, on Sunday morning that was little consolation to my creative and strategic processes.

A deadline of order was set for 3pm sharp. At 3pm sharp it was decided that work could only be initiated by the making of a cup of tea. That twenty minutes later I should find myself driving to Waitrose in order to buy a gingerbread man I’d decided would be an absolutely essential accompaniment to that cup of tea shows the level of procrastination the pitch preparation can drive a man to – even if it’s to a distant supermarket specifically for a children’s biscuit.

After tea and gingerbread the discovery the document on the memory stick was corrupted and the only recent version was on a hard drive in an office in Bermondsey made for an unsettling reaction. From the ensuing breakdown, after tears were mopped from the floor and some formidable teamwork, we got to where we are today. Even a note from Iliana to say she was too ill to clean – most probably a case of PTSD following the all-night Cow party here the week before – didn’t derail me from my course.

Today we pitched for the market leader in sweet spreads that I’d not even heard of a month ago. All of a sudden we’re all leaping about like charismatic preachers as if the pitch document has been delivered to us by the hand of God and we’re spreading the good word. Everything flowed, everyone played their part and it was good to see a pitch team at the top of their game and I not requiring a gingerbread man to be coaxed into life.

In the course of typing Holland have gone 3-1 up in the World Cup semi-final and I’ve just received an invite to watch the final from the sedentary comfort of Amsterdam from someone who should know better. I’m off to check flight prices. Unless Forlan produces something miraculous in the next few minutes, we can all be rest assured that there will not be much of an urgent surge toward Powerpoint come next Sunday.