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Smoketober October 8, 2012

Posted by normanmonkey in Consumer PR, In the news, Uncategorized.
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The writer Michael Pollan, in his polemic against the hijacking of nutrition by food marketers, advises readers to avoid all foods which are sold with health claims. (Sugar and corn syrup loaded products sold to the gullible as an essential part of you five a day). We can now add months to that as well.

I’ve smoked now for 20 years and I was on the verge of giving up. Leaflets have been seized and stored in kitchen drawers, hypnotists Googled and I even know that Raynes Park is the location of nearest Alan Carr quit group. The latter, I hasten to add is named after the ex-smoker who developed the one-day programme, not a lobby to get the comedian Alan Carr into retirement although I concede I’d eagerly sign-up to that for a fortnight and give up smoking to make it happen.

I was on the cusp, the verge, teetering so close to the edge of giving up smoking that any further I’d be in free fall. I don’t want to be a smoker all my life. It’s bad for you and I’ve ridden my luck. This will be for the good of my health. Yet, there are other causes worth sacrificing for and that is the state of the nation and respect for the English language.

If there is anything more likely to send me sprinting to the grey screen kiosk that passes for a tobacco stand gasping for air, it is being asked if I am planning to give up smoking for Stoptober. The first time of asking I hadn’t the vaguest what they were talking about and had to have the concept explained to me. Give up? For what? They’ve changed the name of October to Stopober so I will stop smoking? Not a fucking chance. I will spark up, light pyres of Marlboro Lights atop Ben Nevis and the Brecon Beacons and do whatever it takes to avoid yet another absurd soundbite movement with a creative developed by some slice in Shoreditch straight off his crack pipe.

The malignant assault on the senses started some time ago. First there was TV advertisement featuring a giant swollen red inflatable that looks like a sort of benign alcoholic’s nose with STOP written on the side of it. The STOP inflatable was rolled around a field, hugged, squeezed, photographed by some youths on their smart phones in a shopping centre, fingered by a fishmonger, cropped up in a call centre and then inexplicably appeared on a boat going out to sea, where, in any ideal world it would be punctured and sent to the sea bed with lead weights. Such wishful thinking.

This morning it wasn’t possible to listen to three John Cooper Clarke tracks in a row on Spotify without being ironically interrupted by an ad featuring a cheery array of folk with raised regional dialects (it’s the one nation coming together) talking about how much they were looking forward to giving up. They were giving up for their partner or their kids.

Well, I just surveyed my current surroundings and all I can see is Aggy, my Polish cleaner and a QPR season ticket. Hardly the call to action I was hoping for. Profound as she is with the marigolds, I don’t see a future with Aggy and  the latter is nothing but a further cause of self-harm. Believe me, if that STOP bubble had appeared outside the ground after the opening day 5-0 defeat against Swansea, people wouldn’t have been hugging it. Mind you, it could’ve done a job for us in goal.

The Department of Health marketing team clearly hadn’t factored in those of us who live alone, use South West Trains and support a team without a win all season and now facing a two-week international break prior to the next 90 minute shambles. But what we also have to face is people asking us if we have given up for Stoptober even with evidence to the contrary – a hangdog expression with a fag hanging out of one’s mouth – to suggest that no, I have not.

If all goes to plan Stoptober will be a fixture every year with increasing momentum, additional prods and prompts and little chance of escape. Put your house on the Military Wives Choir getting to number 1 with an awareness raising Stoptober cover of Smoke On The Water this time next year. Don’t forget we are less than 25 days away from the start of Movember! The possiblity that we’ll be invited the chance to do nothing to save the Gregorian calendar is ebbing with every bright spark with a marketing budget. By the end of the decade we’ll have to do something every month for something else: grow our toenails to fight piles, sing for a cyst or braid our pubic hair to replenish cod stocks.  We may be a healthier nation for such causes, but we become more irritating company for it during the cocktail hour.

So giving up smoking will have to wait for at least another month. Probably November and, for that one month, I can assure you, I shall be shaving every day.


Osama Bin Llama: rebranding al-Queda May 4, 2012

Posted by normanmonkey in Consumer PR, In the news.
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Documents seized by U.S authorities in the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s hideout and just released reveal the global terror chief was planning a change of name and strategic approach for al-Queda’s ‘tarnished’ image. This attempt to regain popularity in the Islaamic world was cut short by a bullet to the head after his position was located, but among the papers seized was a pitch documents from a leading London creative agency with ideas on how to rebrand al-Queda for a wider consumer audience.

For the the first time, we can reveal the agency document Osama had received and signed off (pending approval by al-Queda’s procurement department):

Our Platform: 9/11 is soooo over!

There’s a recession on. Budgets are down. People are tightening their suicide belts. Long gone are the  days of demolishing landmarks of US imperialism on home soil for a TV spectacular. Instead it’s all about engagement, going digital, a softer approach and collaboration with cooler third-parties than the Saudis.

And yes, we signed the confidentiality agreement. The absolute sensitivity you kept repeating re. this brief was highly stressed to Alice, our nine-year old intern.

The Stella McCartney Suicide Belt

Lets look first at one of your iconic pieces of attire. We say it’s time for a bit of reinterpretation: no one wants to be seen dead wearing something so cumbersome and bricky. Look at the design! There’s no give and it’s not in tune with modern metrosexual needs. No wonder recruitment is down!

That’s why we’ve got Stella on board to add her flair to the ultimate jihadist accessory: the limited-edition Stella 100 suicide belt, made entirely from ethically-sourced materials.

Stella has spent six months and several hundred thousand pounds taking her inspiration from Afghan rug patterns to come up with a design that is an Afghan rug pattern (We were fanning ourselves too! How DOES she do it). The suicide belt comes with an iPhone pouch, hidden make-up kit, bottled water holder and a panic button (just in case someone has a last minute change of heart and wants to be saved – cute!).

We’ve also noted from our research your old style belts tended to come apart after being worn once out on the town. What are we, Primark? So Stella has come up with a much more durable design that can be worn right through the season. This reaffirms your sustainability, ethical and premium credentials.

The Tora Bora Pop-Up Restaurant 

Pop-up is back and badder than ever before! In homage to your years spent in hiding in a mountain wilderness, we’ll create a one-week only Tora Bora dining experience by dumping  2,000 tonnes of rocks on a group of creatives and food, style and fashion writers in Shoreditch (Potters Bar is already booked up by the Zionists that week for their Seven Day War reenactment) for an experiential campaign to celebrate those glory years.

Teaming up with food alchemists Bompas and Parr we’ll serve a heritage menu of edible dirt and shrapnel, served in the dark. For an extra £50k the digital guys have put their heads together and come up with a plan to seed out a live stream to ‘share the darkness’.

If any journalist, blogger or consumer attempts to make a phone call, Facebook status update, tweet or speaks, cries or moves we cluster bomb the entire Shoreditch area. Again, we think this will be for great viral content and potentially a record number of Facebook ‘likes’ – which is what it’s ALL about in 2012!

Float an Iceburqa Down the Thames

Everyone loves ice sculptures, right. What is a PR campaign without one! That;s why we are going to float a giant burqa down the Thames with a giant Jihadist clinging onto it all the way up to Parliament. This is our way of saying: watch out, we are coming to get you.

We’ve also arranged with our Cult-cha team a post-stunt event:  the iconic iceburqa to be transported to uber cool gallery White Cube to be turned into ice cubes at an Osama video retrospective attended by Sadie Frost, Peaches Geldolf, Rhys Ifans, Geoff Hurst, Normski, ex-cast members of TOWIE and Dean Gaffney.

Content distribution and social media strategy

For a global terrorist network no one is going to take you seriously if you keep seeding out your updates via a single VHS video tape. While we admire the 80’s retro approach, lets give it a makeover. Kelly Hoppen is going to reinterpret your rock interiors to make the backdrop a bit more ‘shi-shi’ to appeal to a wider female and gay-friendly audience. On that note, lose the beard.

The Digital Guys have created their own social platform so you can engage with your followers: Faceburqa. A place where al-Queda members and Jihadists can catch-up, talk about their future plans in a secure area, share anti-Zionist material, farewell videos, Instagram pics of their hideouts, Spotify track listings and Farmville updates.

Osama Bin Llama

Everyone knows you for that long beard. Sooo 2001. Hairy is out, furry is in.  That’s why the guys in planning set about giving your organisation a quirky, cute, friendly face that will engage with adults and children alike: Osama Bin Llama.

For reasons we can’t explain but will justify later when we come to write our awards entry, we’ve created an animated Llama with a Peruvian accent who shares your quirky view on overthrowing Christian-Zionist occupation of the holy lands, but in a much more cheery, engaging manner.

Giles in our ‘Creative Lab’ has also stipulated that Osama likes golf, Angel Delight, watching Eastenders and drives a Smart Car. We did ask him why exactly and Giles stripped to his pants, doused himself in latte which he threatened to light and screamed ‘BECAUSE HE DOES!’ before going into a rocking foetal position under our fussball table. That’s good enough for us. Such. A Genius.

Budgets and KPIs

Budgets are attached but only a ballpark figure to the nearest million. KPIs will be discussed upon appointment.

Confidentiality and speak soon!

So as you’ve probably gathered we are phasing you out in the rebrand. While you’ve stressed confidentiality and we are given to believe this is a sensitive issue on your part. Your secret is safe with us and we haven’t spoke to anyone about this brief outside our all-agency meetings and client meetings.

However, we must also stress that we have spent a lot of time on this and are sensitive about these ideas being shared. Given these ideas and creative approaches are utterly unique and we take our genius very seriously we have also CC’d in a number of governmental and legal departments to enusre that should you undertake them independently.

Ma’a salama!

West Byfleet and a special Olympics February 10, 2011

Posted by normanmonkey in Friends, In the news, West Byfleet.
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Los Angeles, Barcelona, Seoul, Atlanta, Athens, Sydney, Beijing and now West Byfleet. What all these fine global cities and one Surrey suburban dwelling, which happens to also be the home to Bonnie Langford, have in common is they have in recent decades been selected to stage Olympic events.

Apart from a sexual assault on the Parvis Road last summer (I deny all accusations) and contrary to the near hysterical tone of the Neighbourhood Watch circular which gives the impression we live in a post apocalyptic state of anarchy on account of a set of golf clubs being stolen from someone’s garage, there is very little that happens in West Byfleet. Yet it was announced today that West Byfleet is on the main route of the 2012 Olympic cycling road race. Already, one suspects, residents are recomposing irate letters to the local paper, pointing out the ever increasing dangers of the potholes to motorists, disabled wheelchair users, mothers with prams and international cyclists.

The eyes of the world will, for a good twenty seconds at least, be upon West Byfleet. One thing we can be sure of is our lawns will be mown, wheelie bins hidden so as not to be an eyesore, cars washed, tea brewed, scones creamed and our shirts starched so we put on a good show. When it’s all over we will do our best to ensure that after the whole Olympic circus leaves these shores we won’t want the world talking about Usain Bolt, Sir Chris Hoy or medals tables, but how West Byfleet seemed ‘very nice’ and just a 25 minute fast train from London. And if they are lucky they may also spot Bonnie Langford in the crowd, trying to get into camera shot, perhaps entangled among the bunting, but never letting her smile slip for a second.

The last sporting event to be held in these parts wasn’t so well received when I hosted an all-nighter for colleagues where Niles, a large black man from accounts and Robbie, a screaming loud gay PR from Wales (the self-anointed ‘The Black and the Gay’ – whom incidentally wanted to come to my Halloween party in reverse but never got round to it) decided to play a raucous game of boules at 7am to a house music backdrop. Rest assured, West Byfleet wasn’t ready for that and neither was I for that matter, but I reckon we’re going to be shipshape for the likes of British golden boy Mark Cavendish and all the French and Italian cyclists who are much better but no one knows their names on account of their continental origins.

As we’ve got the cycling, there’s good cause to say ‘Bugger London! We’ll do the lot!’ and simply transfer the rest of it here for good measure. The mighty Byfleet Boat Club at the end of my road can host the rowing and sailing (and thus enabling competitors to stop off for a picturesque pub lunch at The Anchor in Pyrford) and, Weils disease aside, the River Wey can take on the swimming, diving. There’s Byfleet tennis club for the tennis, squash and badminton, the football and cricket clubs can host the track and field events; weightlifting we’ll do away with conventional weights and competitors can try to their best to lift some of the customers in the frozen food aisle of the Tesco in Brooklands. The bowls is a given: my back garden, at a civilised hour, minus ‘The Gay and the Black’ and the David Guetta feat Akon techno remix of ‘Sexy Bitch’ and as for the boxing and martial arts, well that can simply be transported just up the road to Woking town centre which traditionally hosts these events at closing time on weekends. Seb Coe couldn’t put on such an extravaganza in his dreams.

Naturally there will be an Olympic party to host now in West Byfleet and that’s where there is justifiable cause for concern. Lets hope the only thing that makes the news that day is the cycling. Some of the usual suspects likely to attend are better off not behind a barrier but in a cage. What could start out as Pimms and rose in the sun and flying a flag in anticipation of the peloton could, a few hours later, end up with an incident involving  an overexhuberant dance routine, a stumbling gay Welshman naked save for a sailors hat and a pair of grey Sloggi briefs, inappropriate acts with a bottle, a single stray boule, several dozen mangled cycles and bloodied cyclists – in short, a global broadcast story to bring shame upon both the nation and the good name of West Byfleet that no number of manicured lawns with five rings mown into their centre will be able to atone for.

Perhaps, with that vision and the tearful apologies of Ken Livingstone, Tony Blair and Boris Johnson ruing the day they bought the event to our capital and asking the world for forgiveness, now burning on the brain from now till 2012 it’s better after all if we keep indoors and watch it on the television.

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

Mad Men September 30, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in In the news, QPR, Single London.
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There’s a number of ways two young, single, professional gentlemen at the cut and thrust of the London PR scene can spend their evening. Start off with cocktails at The Ritz, dinner at The Wolseley, maybe a private members club or off to Bungalow 8 before retiring to their respective penthouse suites with the women of their choice. Modern day Mad Men.

I wager that few would choose to spend it in an alcove of a football ground in  Shepherds Bush with slightly unhinged, lagered-up middle-aged ‘geezers’ who also happened to be two of Millwall’s ‘Top Men’ (and I don’t mean in the boardroom) as riots and pitched battles flared up outside.

Come to think of it, that wasn’t exactly how DT and I envisaged spending our evening at the Rangers either: grinning inanely and taking deep breaths upon hearing yet another rapid-fire yarn lamenting the good old days of mindless acts of violence.

That was all made possible by Blewett who thought it would be a nice touch to introduce two regulars from a former pub of his to the club restaurant where we were dining so we could enjoy a live recital of The Football Factory.

This somewhat undermined the military precision planning and leaving work early from Bermondsey to be inside the ground at 6pm to escape the hooligans outside the ground only to discover our own mate had arranged for them to come to us. Of all the measures taken, that was not one I’d calculated for. Nice one, Blewett. I’ve never felt such gratitude and relief upon having my hand crushed in a farewell handshake goodbye.

I think we heard about 200 anecdotes unbroken for a pause for breath and all of them containing the words ‘Tear up’ (usually prefixed with the ubiquitous ‘proper’ or ‘right old’). Believe me, it’s exhausting this whole trying not to get a bottle of Becks banged on your head business – survival instinct kicks in.

The strategy when confronted with two men of a certain age for whom a broken nose is a term of endearment is to agree with everything they say and not to mention that you work in the media, have close friends who are French, use a personal trainer, read The Guardian, dislike lager, drink espresso martinis and, in DT’s case at least, you live with someone who has just competed in a Ladyboy of the Year competition. Actually, there’s no acceptable social context for the latter. He’s just going to have to soldier on alone with that one.

The football was largely inconsequential. As we were reliably informed by our acquaintances it was all about the tear up. Apparently liberties had been taken and a lot of old faces were coming out of retirement for this one. They weren’t wrong. Shepherds Bush was a battlefield in places and the violence made international news (USA Today, The Australian, The Ealing Gazette).

If Blewett was bang on the money with one thing it was better to have them inside with us, than for us to be outside without them. I see the logic, but I’d still sooner have swapped them for Penelope Cruz and Megan Fox, but maybe not for Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. I’d have probably taken him and his chickens, covered them in QPR memorabilia, lobbed them in the away end and turned a blind eye to that one.

After all that tension, we naturally needed to escape the war zone for a couple of  late night cold drinks to calm down. From Romper Stomper to Old Compton Street in thirty minutes. How;s that for varied night out and we’d have almost certainly got a pasting for mentioning that as a potential destination. Anywhere to avoid a beating. Better to be hit upon by a man than hit by one  is my new motto.

A Chilean red hangover August 26, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Blogging and social media, Friends, In the news.
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I’m well versed in the tribulations of the hangover, but this one, quite frankly, takes the biscuit. More so because I didn’t see it coming. Then again, it’s been a week in which thirty-three Chilean miners stuck underground until Christmas was swiftly replaced on the news agenda by a cat in Coventry stuck in a wheelie bin overnight and neither the miners nor Lola the tabby saw that coming either.

Granted there had been personal training  just prior and the body had been twitchy after being abused at the hands of James Daly, personal trainer to the stars and Vernon Kay, plus the matter there hadn’t been a drop of alcohol in any shape for over a week (unlike the British Medical Council, I refuse to count the drinking of anything less than two large glasses of wine as alcohol consumption) There had been a Bloody Mary in the bar before dinner, a bottle of white, then a red. Now that’s a schoolboy error. Then espresso Martinis after dinner. Then back to mine for a nightcap with my dining companion. Come to think of it, that’s a perfect storm given those circumstances and that companion. It may’ve taken two hours of planning to lift the pillow from over my head, but I’m lucky to be alive and the house still standing.

All this has been made possible courtesy of a week off where the plan was to make positive strides toward fitness and rejuvenation. Things had been progressing nicely and this sudden burst of exercise during a week off work  is in no way related to being informed by a barmaid that Abbey Clancey is a regular at my Weybridge gym during the daytime.

There had been idealised plans of exchanging sweaty glances with Abbey and the promise to take her away from a gangly, unfaithful beau who earns £65,000 a week (spot which one of those three conditions is keeping Miss Clancey with Peter Crouch instead of a man with a QPR season ticket and hangover). Instead of skipping around with her, this morning’s torpor was my own Chilean mineshaft of misery, made only more tolerable that at least I was alone and not with thirty-three seriously pissed off miners.

Being stranded in a mineshaft until Christmas is certainly no laughing matter, but still infinitely preferable to  being stranded overground for five minutes in Coventry (ask the cat) or being stuck in a room with 33  iPad aficionados . Jesus, could you imagine being stranded with them until Christmas? It’d be bad enough being stranded in Las Vegas with them, let alone two kilometres underground. Especially as they wouldn’t be able to get reception. Living hell for all concerned.

Can an iPad get rid of my headache,  secure three points for the Rangers away on Saturday or permit me an introduction to Abbey Clancey? If not, I’m not interested so bugger off with your ‘future is now’. (An iPad can’t change my life, but sorting any of those three out would, even if only temporarily).

Perhaps we can arrange an exchange programme when the miners surface and let the public decide who from the UK should take their place. It;s exactly the sort of thing we need to give us a boost during ‘the current economic climate’ and would go down a storm with Channel Four.

With the iPad brigade, lets kick off members and fans of the bands The Young Knives or Scouting for Girls, Bob Crow, men who wear long trousers and sandals, anyone who gets excited when ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ is played, people who call radio stations to ‘make a point’, Andy Gray and Richard Keys, those who say ‘moving forwards’ in any context whatsoever unless they actually are physically moving forwards and there is a reason we need to be informed of this (such as ‘I am in a car on the edge of a cliff and it is still moving forwards. Help’), anyone who calls themselves a ‘guru’ in their field (until recently gurus were restricted to Indians who simply spoke a load of mystic shit and drank their own piss, now everyone’s at it), football bores who talk about tactics and team selection who would like to be Andy Gray and Richard Keys, ‘fans’ of the Big Four who’ve never seen their team play (see how inter-related it all is – actually lets add in most football fans…), most football fans and all of those whom support Chelsea, Foursqaure users, people who ask loudly in restaurants ‘Is it organic?’, most of the PR industry, Jamie Oliver, Islamic fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists, organic fundamentalists, fundamentalists full stop, Clapham public school rahs, anyone who has complained about the gazpacho soup being cold or been associated with those fucking Halifax ads, Englishmen in baseball caps, private members club members, users of unnecessary or multiple exclamation marks in punctuation, my hangover, xenophobes, obese people in sportswear, anyone in sportswear who isn’t in a gym, X-Factor hopefuls and anyone who has ever, ever referred to an experience as ‘a journey’ .

That’s just to kick-off and already that’s the majority of the UK population. Perhaps we should just bury the country two kilometres underground and be done with it. It’ll just be us left. I hope we remember the Anadin.

Hoops, They Did It Again August 10, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Friends, In the news, QPR.
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The cup run was good while it lasted. It peaked around the chocolate tart and cheese and biscuits but juddered to a halt not long after kick off.

So, normal service has resumed at Queens Park Rangers. Ungraciously thumped to the point of humiliation by a Port Vale side two divisions below them, pissing down with rain in August, collective gloom, the occasional erupting psychopath, missed my train home by a split second and not a single positive to be drawn from the evening .

My major regret is that I didn’t drink anywhere near enough wine during the pre-match meal to have made the football on show hazy. Instead I had DT and Wilcock with me. They went on a scoffing mission at the dinner like two Dickensian waifs dragged into the W12 Club out the gutter. DT looked at my expression at a latter stage of the match and quite rightly said ‘If it hadn’t have been for that dinner, I’d be pissed off n’all’.

Others chipped in from afar: ‘A teabag stays longer in the cup than we do’, said a philosophical and suicidal Blewett via text. Poor sod, always gripped by an irrational sense of optimism. He always thinks it’s  going to be ‘Our Year’. I bet that’s what someone said in the Polish  cavalry in 1939.

I’ve just checked the calendar and there’s nine more months of this. More of a worry, it is supposed to be a primary form of entertainment, but anyone else whom willingly chooses to spend a cold Tuesday evening sitting in the rain in Shepherds Bush over any other form of location or recreation is either plastered, a lunatic or both which leads me to fear the worst for my level of aspiration and mental wellbeing.

No one is exactly holding their hopes out for a run in the FA Cup either. QPR has gone 14 matches without a win in that particular competition. Four draws, ten defeats – taking in the likes of Vauxhall Motors (yes, that is a football team and was news to us at the time as well) and a 4-0 defeat to a Swansea side at the time languishing 92nd in the league without a win for months. The last FA Cup victory was in extra-time against Luton in 2000. For us, there’s about as much romance in the cup as a date at Nandos with Fred West.

I need a plan, a diversion: Russia seems an interesting to go. Especially after those pictures of that spy Anna Chapman caught my attention. We have Cheryl Cole, ‘Proof’ as my friend Lucie says ‘That you can polish a turd’, while they’ve got international women of mystery, speaking multiple languages including that of seduction.

There was a story in one tabloid about how she had a fling with a student from Southampton. He said she was wild in bed, evasive, emotionally cold, avoided being photographed and he did think at the time it slightly unusual that she conducted her business on six mobile phones.

To most I suppose the clues were there, but I began to wonder if I’d been out with her myself. It came as no surprise to read subsequently that she lived in Weybridge for a time.  There’s the possibility Russia could be the ruin of me, especially if I can get all that kind of thing in Surrey.

And you know what? I bet she supports Port Vale.

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.