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Richard Madeley is back from the dead? January 30, 2011

Posted by normanmonkey in In the news, QPR.
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In a worrying development that would send most people rushing to the therapist, last night I had a dream that Richard Madeley was found dead in my parent’s garden. This was made more complicated by the matter that I’d discovered the body and Judy Finnegan pleaded with me not to tell anyone. As far as I can recall the first thing I did after confirming to Judy the secret was safe with me was rush to the nearest laptop to tweet that Richard Madeley was dead. So much for my solemn word.

None of this would have been exhumed from my unconscious had I not been making strides to the menswear department in Bentall’s when I was suddenly halted in my tracks by a large grinning image of the Madeley in the window of W.H Smith. This would be a cause for nausea at the best of times, but I stood there looking at him thinking ‘I thought you were dead!’, was wracked by shame at my lack of confidentiality and had to have a carrot juice to calm down and prevent a panic attack outside Millets.

Richard and Judy induced psychosis is not an ideal way to spend a Saturday morning shirt shopping in Kingston. It’s been that kind of weekend, the one that comes with good intentions and ends up being haunted by dead-but-living daytime TV presenters and an almost equally disturbing evening of mackerel fillets, Are You Being Served and inferior wine.  Not to mention thinking I was a little hasty in declaring my feelings for Adel Taarabt in the previous missive fired from this blog.

It seems North African unrest has spread from Tunisia and Egypt to a single Moroccan in a blue and white hooped shirt in Hull. His response today was not the performances that had seduced me all season, but instead to unravel spectacularly, throw a petulant hissy fit and demand to be removed from the field of play. If ever there’s been an apposite metaphor for  the typical course of my standard relationship then this is  just about bang on.

My response to this malaise has been swift though may not prove to be one of my wisest impulse moves: I’ve organised a trip to Hamburg with a publican who has a pair of eyes tattooed on his arse.


Carry On Adel January 25, 2011

Posted by normanmonkey in Home, In the news, QPR.
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A fundamental problem of having Sky multi-room and having someone else living somewhere in the house with a remote control is you never quite know when your viewing of a BBC4 documentary downstairs is going to be interrupted by someone deciding to go for a tour of the Babestation channels upstairs. One minute you are taking in Martin Luther King and he’s got a dream the next second it’s Monique from Essex and she’s got the horn.

My mini-cab driving cousin in hiding will be here for one more week before it’s time to move on and I wonder if it’s because he’s starting to disapprove of my lifestyle. He’s developed a taste for Barolo and late nights and I’ve developed a habit of waking up when I hear home go for his first fare at 4am. The result is we both look shattered.

As someone who has resolutely lived alone for eleven years coming home to an occupied house after a grueling  twelve hour day is something I’ve yet to adjust to and its especially hard to unwind when you are greeted with a full recital of who said what to whom on Talksport since sunrise before you’ve even had chance to reach for the corkscrew.

Sometimes our conversations tend to go off on tangents or hit a brick wall altogether. Last week some colleagues and I pitched to the marketing director of a well known biscuit manufacturer and I was explaining this he looked at me and said ‘They’ve got them two for one in Sainsbury’s at the moment. I’ll treat you before I go and get some of their double chocolate ones in…they’re the bollocks!’.

I don’t know who was more shocked, he or Iliana the cleaner when she found him here the other afternoon. Although he explained he was my cousin I’m sure this has further proof in her mind that I’m a closet homosexual, especially as I told her not to mention to my parents he was staying here should she see them. Iliana gave me a certain knowing, conspiratorial Bulgarian look, the sort that said,  ‘Ok, but In my village they would paint your house pink and then nail your genitals to the wall for this’.

Then again, I have begun to question my own sexuality recently as I think I am growing increasingly infatuated with someone of the same sex, a young Arab boy to be precise. He’s name is Adel. I often go into London to gaze at him for upto an hour an a half at a time, whereupon I swoon at his gentle touch, the way he moves and become utterly lost in rapture. There are times he leaves me utterly speechless and I can’t imagine him out of my life.

Before we get all Cecil Beaton in Marrakesh, it is probably worth pointing out that Adel plays for Queens Park Rangers, wears the number 7 shirt and is the Zinedine Zidane of Shepherds Bush. There’s nothing worse than a football bore, but I’ve an overwhelming desire to express my feelings about him and can barely contain myself. In 25 years of going to the Rangers I’ve never seen a player like him, and in my time I’ve seen the likes of Dalgleish, Hoddle, Gascoinge, Cantona, Bergkamp and our very own Shittu and Doudou (by God, the early 2000’s was not our finest hour). In formative QPR years I idolised Clive Allen, Roy Wegerle and Les Ferdinand, then rapidly accepted that almost all footballers were just potential rapists who could kick a ball more accurately than your average builder and in the meantime I discovered The Doors, David Lynch, lager and cleavage.

But Adel is not like all the others. In the past six months under the paternalistic guidance of Neil Warnock I’ve seen teams taken apart singlehandedly by his nonchalance, trickery, panache and outrageous grace. Sunday was no different. He produced live on television and everyone was talking about him and asking why he was playing for QPR. That’s when the jealousy set in as Chelsea and Manchester United fans started tweeting they should sign him up. Now I’m torn and hope that he’ll realise what there is to savour between us and put in a shocker when the media spotlight is on him so I can have him all to myself a little bit longer. It’s getting beyond replacing the pop art prints with an Adel poster and flying a Moroccan flag above Wisley House (Neighbourhood Watch would have something to say about that). If I was ten years younger and not tied to a career, I’d give serious consideration to having a transplant of womb, ovaries and uterus just so I could have his babies.

It is only a matter of time before he’s playing for Real Madrid in the Champions League, I’m brought back crashing down to earth watching a bunch of blokes called Dave falling over and running into each other for ten grand a week and Adel will be a faded, tear-stained memory. This is getting a bit too Death in Venice for my liking.

Talking of crashing back down to earth my cousin just came down from bed because he couldn’t sleep and clutching his mobile:  ‘Here’s the name of that old Doris I saw on Carry on Cruising the other day. Google ‘er up…she looks just like our Nan.’.  He was right, she did and with that he disappeared just as quickly again upstairs to get reacquainted with women on Sky Channels who, I can assure you, look nothing like our Nan.

The young Arab boy in the hoops is simply divine

The Odd Couple (and Kimberley with the scar) January 15, 2011

Posted by normanmonkey in Consumer PR, Friends, Home.
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My older, twice-divorced, cab driving cousin has come to stay with me for a while, at least until ‘things calm down a bit in Egham’. I’ve already established that should he ever go on Mastermind his specialist subjects would be Arsenal FC, Northern Soul and the names of the all girls on the free to view Babestation stations. Dedicated viewing means he knows them off pat and can even provide a running commentary into their levels of filthiness and surgical history: “Look at her, Kimberley that is, all pumped up…oh she’s got the old scar down there n’all…Lets see who else is on…Lindsay! Oh no, she’s had them reduced! what’s she gone and done that for?!”

There’s been a bit of a  kerfuffle, lets put it that way, a fallout over something or other that needs to be settled or as he was explaining to me the other night with the TV set to Arsenal in the background: “I don’t know what I’d do. I’d have to move ‘ouse, I’d ‘ave to move out the area, that would mean having to change my job, not seeing so much of my kids, all my life is there….HE WAS NEVER OFFSIDE!…OH REF!….Did you see that?…HE WAS LEVEL!…so, yeah it’s really bad…I can’t believe that. The left back played him on!”.

That’s my family all over. Older generation aside, we’re littered with black sheep and I, at the very least, come in pastel shades of grey (my cousin was impressed when I showed him pages four and five of from a tattered News of the World featuring a woman I once dated). Still, he and I have always got on extremely well,  enjoyed each others company and its been good to have someone to come home to of an evening  even if to the outside observer this incongruous pairing of mini-cab driver in hiding and PR Director seems like a well crafted Pinter play. Whilst he has now embraced Waitrose, my predilection for books, ‘posh soup’, no bread,  fine wine, The Guardian, foreign films, skimmed milk and unopened mail has been heartily, and possibly justifiably, mocked. Meanwhile, I’ve noticed my consumption of lager, takeaways and Kimberley with the scar has rocketed in the past week.

Having easy going company has been welcome as it’s been a grueling time on the work front. Another fortnight at the coalface, albeit this one of the Chilean variety and no sign if a drill boring its way to us from daylight above.  January is always like that. After a week or so off we returned to four pitches in six days. Ideally a pitch requires a minimum of two weeks to crack the brief, discuss strategic approaches, develop creative tactics and then produce a presentation, so coming back on January 4th dotted with the remnants of festive tinsel and still giddy with the echoes of Jingle Bells ringing in our ears was always going to be a shock to the system at the best of times, but especially under these circumstances.

What keeps one going is the knowledge that it will all settle down again by February. No one dared venture to Village East despite it being the end to a long slog of a week, a combination of detoxing and desire to recharge, no one that is except Martin and I.

We’d felt that after refusing to leave the office on Friday night until we’d properly cracked a brief and by that coming up with an idea that we loved and that would fly rather than a nice set of ideas that would do, we’d earned an Espresso Martini or two. On seeing us and hearing of our stint our drinks were kindly provided on the house by management, meaning I arrived home jubilant and uplifted with the late turn of events to the week and pitched the new PR idea to my cousin on my return. ‘I don’t have a clue what you are talking about’, he said, ‘But I admire that you get paid for coming up with that sort of thing…now stop talking bollocks and have a beer’.

Norman Monkey The Brand January 12, 2011

Posted by normanmonkey in Consumer PR.
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If only I could apply the same determination, dediciation and focus to my personal life as I do in my professional (which has of late, it must be conceded, not permitted for much of a personal life), then I’d be Aristotle Onassis. I’d also not be awaiting a letter from the DVLA informing me how much I owe for not paying my road tax and I’d also have a white carpet that, thanks to red wine, didn’t look like the Marquis de Sade’s bed sheet.

PR is all about problem solving. Make something famous, talked about, loved, even if it’s inferior to what else is on the market. My god, if I knew the answer to that I wouldn’t have been reduced to signing up to Match.com in the summer. On occasion, such as this evening, there is cause for an ebullient mood because I believe I may have cracked a very difficult brief. On other occasions problem solving often comes about from creating a problem that didn’t before exist and selling the problem in at the same time as the solution (lets call that the smallpox vaccination approach to marketing – the brand giveth the pox and the brand taketh away).  Then there’s the other times where a client has a genuine problem, mired in the shit, and it’s your job to work out how to extricate them if not smelling of roses, then almost certainly not smelling of shit.

So far I am managing to make a living out of this, but it is starting to occur to me that maybe I should hire myself as a client because outside the office I am dans le merde (is that even correct?). It’s the only logical solution to get myself out of the constant minefield of buff envelopes, ex-girlfriends who complained about my lack of free time (Village East and QPR and the post-trauma and fatigue of both is as much a factor as anything work related) and red wine stains that set in.  It’s only a matter of time that I spill red wine on the unopened buff envelopes containing despairing complaints from exes that I compound all my flaws in one.

If I were a client I may suggest a total overhaul in my comms strategy and make myself more accessible. Answering the phone, let alone being available for face to face interaction would be a start. Another would be to open the aforementioned buff envelopes. Early on in the proceedings the DVLA were sending me polite reminders but now there’s an angry red aspect to their communications and by which time its all too late to pick up the hints (the awkward irony should not be lost that I also lead campaigns for a leading motor brand reminding other drivers of exactly this kind of thing). As for the red wine it’s all about spatial awareness in as much as remembering firstly not to place a full bottle of Barolo on the carpet and secondly not to knock it flying whilst dancing like a tool to Bowie of a Friday night. If I had the budget, there;s definitely the case for a total brand overhaul and some third party partnerships with mineral water, the V&A and football teams that haven’t gone 11 years without a win in the FA Cup.

It was also revealed at work today whilst exercising my professional capacity into purchasing behaviour (people don’t want to be observed purchasing the cheapest if in aspirational surroundings)  that even though I required a white wine to remove the red stain I steadfastly refused to be seen buying a bottle of Blossom Hill white wine in Sainsbury’s in Cobham. At least, when everything else is unravelling due to my own ineptitude, its surely reassuring to know that I still have principles that are upheld. Even a stained carpet deserves to be doused with a bit of the good stuff and I was happy to help out with the leftovers.

A sentiment enough to send a sensitive soul to Beachey Head