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Thursday, November 30, 2006


the bright lights of the old and new city.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


words of hope or words of wisdom ?

(and 2 pics today - i really am spoiling you...)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


cyber city, slightyl overexposed, but it gives it a nice feel.

Monday, November 27, 2006


two more.
i continue to spoil you.
these are from the wonderfully named kensington gore, where i was stuck in a queue waiting to buy my rca secret art postcards.


no no no not another 2 issues of dc's weekly, 52. (one for the comic fans out there.)

a report today says that on average we each have 54 friends. as in so many other things i am way below average.
i think that shep and ems have my share of friends.

so children if you do not want to grow up to be bitter, old and cynical make sure you have 54 friends.

Friday, November 24, 2006


these pylons will soon be gone so the olympics can take place.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


actually it is two today. i spoil you.

since it has been pedestrianised the trafalgar square is even more wonderful than before.


basically advertising is the art of selling (oops that should be informing) you of products and services that might fill a need that you have. generally it is non-personal (meaning that you do not have a salesman standing in front of you talking directly to you) and it is paid for by the advertiser in order to persuade you to buy something.

there are some wonderful ads out there. some make you think about the message they are trying to get across (often they are too clever by half and you wonder what on earth they are talking about), some just make you smile because they are funny, more often than not they do not make you buy something you didn’t already want, they serve more to remind you of what brands and models there are out there when you decide to buy that thing you wanted.

i would like to say i have not been persuaded to by something on the strength of the ad, i just can’t remember the last time i saw something advertised that made me go “oh i never knew one of those existed and i never really knew i had a use for it – i had better buy it…”
i have yet to rush out to check out the latest phone, car, booze, razor etc based on the advertisements i have seen in the magazines or at the cinema.
in fact we are going through the advertising versus editorial coverage argument at work. (a slight digression here. we have been placing more ads recently, and every time one of them appears one of our colleagues brings it into us to show us in a gosh wow look at this kind of way. he seems so surprised we have an ad in this or that magazine. it would be so bad but he booked the ads. go figure).

some of the worst ads are those that sell you financial and legal services, generally done cheap (think debt consolidation or personal injury claims) where they have a “star” and “staff members” hamming it up in front of the cameras. this is to show us (i think) that they are sensible with the money they have and that they are ordinary people: just like us.
then there are the slick ads from places like banks and building societies that get us all excited about this card, or that account but can never give us all the small print (and of course have to be taken with a pinch of salt (after all they are not going to say that their competitor is better than they are – that is for us the consumers to discover).

hopefully you can see where i am coming from here for products and services you know you want but are just not ready to buy advertising can be fun to watch and read (as an awful lot of creativity goes into them). for advertising for important once in a while type services the ads are generally not well done and the information given is at best minimal and very partial, leaving you with lots of work to do. buying a pension scheme is not like getting toilet rolls (mmm shall i get the one the puppy likes or the one the bear uses?)

yet somehow into the world of advertising we will soon see our local hospitals.
now i don’t know about you, but i know i do not want (or need) my local hospital (or any hospital) advertising on tv, radio or in print.
what i want is that my gp has an impartial knowledge of which hospital does the best work in whatever i need doing and that i can get treated there in the fullness of time.
in a conversation i had with emma about education she, rightly (but in a left leaning way) pointed out that the easiest way to remake the education system in the uk was not by adding faith schools and such like – but by making all schools state schools and place them on a level playing field (well for those where they have not sold the playing areas off to local developers…)
the principle of free at point of use is the one at work here.
it is the same with the national health service.
so often i hear that the state can’t run national sized industries, that it has to be cut down into local “markets”. such utter twaddle (but a different debate for a different night). both the tory and labour government have gotten hung up on having markets, competition and choice in the nhs that they seem to have spent most of their periods in charge making the service worse than before.
the nhs was one of the jewels in britain’s crown, it worked and delivered health to the nation.

now instead of worrying about making sure we are healthy it can worry about which ad agency it is going to use, and these will be headhunted for them by the financial consultants that they use. the process will mean money that should be going on patient care will go instead on a media presence.

now of course we all want choice, but hospitals are places i want to avoid,. if i live to be 150 and never go inside one i will be a happy man. when the times comes for me to go into hospital i will not have the necessary knowledge to know which one if going to be good for me, i am going to rely on an expert to tell me.
nor am i going to be dying of a heart attack and think better check the ads to see which hospital is the best for me… oh shit it is in scotland…. for the ads to work they are going to have to be national ads, so they are not going to be cheap. by their very nature they are not going to be able to tell you all you need to know about an operation or a procedure and just how long are you going to wait until you make up your mind? well i suppose it will depend on the pain you are in and how urgent it all is. the last times i went to hospital because i needed something check and dealt with my choice was based on one thing and one thing only: how close was it.

i don’t want to see the nhs throwing money away on a stupid sound bit idea. i want to see the nhs invested in, i want this done in a coherent sensible fashion. it shouldn’t be a case of hospitals competing to get patients through their doors, it should be a case of a high level of service and commitment throughout the whole of the nhs, with some hospitals specialising in some fields of medicine.

there should be no need for a hospital to advertise. this is just another way of there being less money for the service to provide the care it should.
but hey ho after the various public private funding and the various expensive consultants the new labour government have employed why should i think that they would shrug off their tory coats and put back on the coat that labour used to wear with pride.

still i am sure jonathon miller has already offered to direct the first of the hospital ads.


nadia eweida, a check-in staff worker for ba, has lost her case against british airways. a ba appeals panel have said ms eweida cannot return to work if she wishes to display her necklace and the cross upon it. for ba this is a question of a uniform code, which states that no jewellery can be displayed. for ms eweida it is about her religious freedom.

now i am a failed roman catholic (and there are a lot of us out there), and i wear a crucifix and i have been wearing it for more years than i can remember. so on this basis i should be very sympathetic to ms eweida’s case.
but i don’t.

well for a start this is about a dress policy that has clear rules about the appearance of the company uniform, and jewellery plays no part in it. they are not saying she cannot wear her necklace and cross, they are saying that she cannot have it on public show.
they are not making a judgement about religion; they are defining their corporate image. it is apparently a dress code that everyone who works for the company is aware of, it is a policy that all abide by.
brick lane curry house

except for nadia eweida. she says, "i am not politically motivated or minded, i just follow the ." biblical truth
and as we all know one of the best loved gospels of the bible, that of trinny and susannah, does have an extensive section on just when and where to wear the cross. ms eweida has also been offered a back room job, which would allow her to wear her cross openly, but this is not acceptable to nadia eweida, she believes that to accept this offer would be ”morally degrading.”

anne widdecombe, a devout catholic, tory mp and political icon, has argued that people should support ms eweida by boycotting ba. while the archbishop of york, dr john sentamu,
has argued the “ban” was based on flawed logic. he goes on to describe the cross as being "… not only a symbol of our hopes but also a responsibility to act and to live as christians. this symbol does not point only upwards but also outwards, it reminds us of our duties not only to god but also to one another.
he is right about the flawed logic of the ba argument (through necessity ba allow the wearing turbans and hajibs, both outward symbols of faith), but in his description of what the cross symbolizes he also points to a reason why nadia eweida appears to be jumping on a bandwagon.

for me what seems to be the heart of this debate is the question of a person’s strength of faith. i wear the crucifix because my mum gave it to me and because i believe. my faith and belief is not stronger when others can see that i am wearing the crucifix.
i would wager that people seeing her cross does not buoy up ms eweida’s faith, nor would it be diminished if she were to wear it underneath her company scarf.
it strikes me that people who have to display the signs of their faith, as an issue of faith, are more likely to be the ones who need to have affirmation of their beliefs.
if you believe, if you have faith then that is all you need. as dr. sentamu says christians have a responsibility to live and act as christians, not to spend your time worrying about the fact that others can or can’t see your cross.

ironically while this storm in a teacup was brewing (i am so clever) the various secular/ humanist societies were talking about whether or not they should have a symbol to proclaim that they were of a humanist/secularist bent.
so while they may be sniggering at the religious fanatics fighting the good fight to wear their crosses or whatever, give it a few years and we will be having the same sort of arguments over people being allowed to wear their symbol of secular belief.

my advice to the very religious is: check the dress code before you take the job.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


a picture from the disused corridors of power theat was once county hall.
the building remains magnificent even if it is no longer the seat of london's power.
for a while it was an art gallery, where saatchi was going to take on the might of the tate modern. a falling out with the landlords meant charlie was on his way (his new gallery which opens next year does look spectacular).
the event i was there to see was not the most exciting of occassions, but i loved walking around the place.


there are some things in life which are just there because they are there, thier whole reason for being is that they are there. think the appendix, does nothing and is just there.

jugglers, unicyclists and fire-breathers are also like that. if you ask the question why the only answer you can really get is: becuase they are there.
mimes are somehow even less useful and more annoying. i wouldn't find someone being stuck in a glass box interesting if i could see the glass box, have some bloke in make-up pretending it is there is yawntastic.

this isn't to say i have anything against street entertainers, most of them can play guitar better than i can, all of them can sing better than i can.

but my recent walk along the thames was somewhat ruined by the multitude of living statues that seem to have taken root. the skill of the living statue seems to be that they can paint themselves gold, silver or bronze wear a costume and stand very still. and that is about it.
stand still.
hey it looks good on the cv: i stand still. alot. and very well. (and i can do it in face paint). hell i would hire them in a new york minute (which i thinks means "like that"!)
some how or another the tourists flock to them. stare at them. give them money. yet all these statues do is nothing.
they stand. doing nothing. get money for it. amazing.
at least with mimes they are trying to do something, even if they end up looking like wacko jacko on a bad night.
but the statues they really get my goat.
what is worse they are not even like real statues as none of them have bird shit on them.

enjoy the action packed pics.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


adam smith was a scottish political economist and moral philosopher, and would more than likely have supported celtic football club, if they had been in existence at the time.
he is best known for his work “the wealth of nations”.

the adam smith
adam smith institute describes this book as a stinging critique of the crippling regulations that afflicted trade and commerce, but then they would wouldn’t they.
but over at wikipedia the view is slightly more rounded but essentially the same, good old adam didn’t want the government interfering in the economy.
adam smith believed in self-interest and that left alone the self-interest of the individual will have socially beneficial outcomes. this happens because of the “invisible hand” of the free market. although the market may appear to be chaotic it is guided to produce the right amount and variety of goods so if there is a shortage of something then producers will step in to make that good and more enter the arena of production prices will drop. the shortage is cured and the prices are brought to a market level. everyone is happy and the market has prevailed where governments would fail.
to be sure i am skipping over a lot of stuff here about division of labour, smith’s critiques of previous views of economics, but go and look at the book – it is a big bugger and you don’t want me waffling on about that….

suffice to say that adam smith can be credited with founding the discipline of economics. his work is built on by writers such as malthus and ricardo, in what is now called classical economics. his view is criticised by marx in “das kapital”, and between them smith and marx have (it could be argued) laid the foundation for all the debates that take place in politics and economics today.

naturally enough the adam smith institute
, founded in 1977, is most interested in the areas of deregulation and smaller government. it was a favourite of margaret thatcher (which alone is enough to condemn it to the lowest pits of hell). their own website describes them as a “do-tank” (though not as they should be called a “dog-do tank” – see political satire is alive and well….)

in short the adam smith institute loves laissez faire capitalism.
but they have no fashion sense.

lets have a peek at their merchandise page . and what do we have but the adam smith hoodie, complete with graffiti style adam smith name tag.

it is just what the local radical conservative is wearing. indeed all those city whiz kids, come out of their offices don their adam smith hoodie so they can hang out with their pound posse or their capitalist crew as they be illin’ and chillin’ while they be billing by the hour. they are phat and down with their (wall)street cred.
or not as the case may be.
perhaps it was seeing this elegant hoodie that caused cameron to want to hug a hoodie, as he wanted to give respec’ to his peeps.

it is billed as being the ultimate in street cred think tank wear, not only is this an oxymoron but i think the idea it will draw admiring glances as you walk down the street is cause for them to be taken before the trading standards.

they would have been better off letting their members buy a nice tank top knitted by some of the ladies from the wi.

given their idea of dress sense would you let these people influence the way the country is run?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


one of the weapons in the marketer’s armoury is rebranding. this is the sneaky practice of taking something familiar and changing the look, the name and the mission statement of the familiar thing and before you know it you have something new.
marathon bar becomes snickers. opal fruits become starbursts. labour becomes new labour. jif becomes cif. and so on.
sometimes it works wonders and other times it fails spectacularly. think of british airways “global” rebranding and how that was quietly withdrawn. the post office’s attempt was as successful. while the conservative’s recent attempt they still remain tories and all that stood for.

now the other day i was reading some reviews of books devoted to the apple computers phenomenon.
the next morning i had an idea for a great new rebrand.
the thing that saved apple was a design ethic that made their products desirable, regardless of the quality of performance. you wanted an apple computer, laptop or ipod because they were things of beauty. the fact that they did what they said they did was almost a bonus.
look at the sleek lines, feel the smooth contours. elegant functionality. pretty performance. the coloured casings of the imac’s became ubiquitous as other manufacturers stole the look. the white computer housing reminded designers that computers didn’t have to be an ugly washed out colour. when you see a mac, whatever the product, you can’t help but “ooh” and “aah”.
there is another product in the world that gets the same response: the humble vibrator. sure there are lots of them out there from the non-doctor (never found out why it was called that) to the popular rabbit.
but i think that there is still room to produce another one. i would look to the boys at apple and steal the quality of their designs – it has to be practical, it has to be easy to use but most of all it has to look like something you could leave on the coffee table and people would congratulate you on your aesthetic tastes. initially there would be a “family” of these new vibrators – they would be different sizes and, of course, different strengths. they would be united by a common, beautiful, sleek organic look. available in two colours white and black, though as the success of the line grew i would be looking to a brand extension where i would add more colours.

all that is need now is the name of this rebrand of the vibrator.
ladies and gentlemen i give you (and i know some of you saw this cumming): the iprod.

Monday, November 13, 2006


so after a short break i am back. relaxed and refreshed from the purging of the countdown confessional.
have no fear peerless reader you will once again be treated to political polemic, relevant rants, cultural critiques, powerful photography, chucklesome cockney chirpiness, topical talk and stuff about bowel movements.

as the french say the more things change the more that stay the same.