Friday, November 26, 2010


Becoming hypersensitive to the use of the imperative 'Look!' by those Westminster folk, as a springboard to launch into scripted schpiel.
'Look!' as political vernacular seems to have come out of the Tony Blair school of media training, and although none are immune, it's the Labour media-savvies, those pioneers of PR politics, that seem to employ it most. Milibands and Balls are particularly fond of it, Brown was besotted, and of course Tony pretty much re-invented the word. And you can see why. In the beginning it was useful, a clever way of distracting us from the dithering that's gone before, like a pedestrian eyes down, daydreaming, being pulled up short by a rogue cyclist mounting the pavement..(well, all politicians are these days). 'Look!' is softer than 'Listen!' yet strong enough to detract attention and get the intended point across, and doubtless according to the TBSMT manual, to be employed whenever time is running out.
And yet, as with all 'marketing and comms' tactics, it doesn't take long before we see what you're doing, all that contrived syntax and body lingo - throwing an arm over the shoulder or patting the back of anyone you wish to be seen to lord it over etc. It's becomes obvious, counterproductive and frankly, a bit tiresome. Not least for the hapless victim.
Now, whenever I hear 'Look' demanded by a politician I brace myself for 'the message', rather than listen to it. Can't help it, it's pavlovian. Maybe it's just me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ipad therefore I am

So, kitchen toiling yesterday I was listening to the media show on Radio 4 and they were talking about the Ipad - how Murdoch is about to launch a newspaper in New york which will only be available via said digi-tablet. Emily Bell and an FT guy name don't recall were discussing the feasibility of such a thing yadda yadda.... emily doesn't think it will work...what?! I almost threw down my dishcloth and wrung my marigolded hands in disbelief.
Now I don't proclaim myself to be a visionary, nor anything like the digi-tastic expert that ms bell is, but even I can see that in a few years time a large proportion of our reading, the majority probably, will be off a digital pad. anyone who's got an iphone and googles randomly while watching telly or as I do, checks out (the mere mention of which will get those news corp hackles bristling...) first thing in the morning, knows that. And yes that extends to reading full articles that I'm particularly interested in off the screen, and that's off a tiny palm-sized screen. (I'd rather it was bigger but budget doesn't yet extend to the 'pad'). And why wouldn't I? Bury the myth - reading is easy off the screen. the clarity of text on an iphone is super sharp, more so in fact than on newsprint.
As we all know, the newspaper (traditional format) is dying a slow painful death. Having worked in national press this was a matter of some panic 20 years ago. I can only imagine what the feeling must be now. The cost of producing a digital newspaper is a fraction of what it costs to print, distribute, return and destroy those that aren't sold. Newspapers are getting ever thicker, multi-sectioned, supplemented and desperate to attract our attention as we get ever more indifferent. Most of us get our news from digital formats these days, and less money in printing and distribution means more for good journalism. But what about features i hear you say - curling up with a good mag, beautiful photographic reproduction off the page, the serendipitous pleasant surprise when you turn the page?
Oh, for goodness sake, stop romanticising. why shouldn't an ipad do any of those things? and better? with film and all kind of enhancements to boot, should you wish.
Spent a very lovely long weekend in seville last summer. Staggered up to the pool with book, scribble pad, newspaper and several weighty magazines. Had forgotten the one book I'd meant to read on holiday so had to make do. As I reclined awkwardly on my sunbed, clumsily attempting to flick pages of a heavy magazine while simultaneously using it to shield eyes and face from sevillian sun, I saw a couple arrive, she oozing sophistication in robe and turban, he oozing wealth, and sizeable paunch hanging over expensive trunks. Without a word they sat, whipped out their leather bound ipads, laid back and began to read. As William Gibson once once said, the future's here, it's just not widely distributed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This is it

This is it. Michael Jackson's swansong. You should see it. Just so you can pop it into the encyclopeadic archive in your head marked 'just what all the fuss was about'.
Am not and have never been an avid Jackson fan, but I grew up with his music. I remember, while babysitting, watching the thriller video over and over trying to follow the dance moves. Say what you like about him, what he became, it can't be denied by anyone who watches this just what a musical phenomenon he was. How he danced, how he sang. How he combined the two, effortlessly moonwalking to pitch perfect rhythm that never failed to cut through.
Watching this I mourned the concerts that never happened. They promised to give new meaning to spectacular - the theatre, the backdrops, the pyrotechnics, the musicians and the dancing. Formation dancing like you rarely see, the kind that leaves your heart in your mouth and steals your breath away. There's something about people getting into formation and dancing in unison...(citing brilliant current Strictly ident) if it doesn't generate some stirring or swooning of the soul you're not human. And that's just the watching. Oh, to be part of it. Maybe that's what it is, that feeling you get, an irrational urge to join in.
Anyhow, for all his genius, I couldn't help feeling that a man of his frailty, of his state of health, however amazing he was in the snippets we saw, was not up to sustaining the effort required over 50 consecutive days. The concert format was a feat of engineering and choreography that would have required marathan training to get through 50 dates (wish I'd been a fly on the wall when news of MJ's demise reached Kenny Ortega), not a personal doctor administering elephant doses of sedative.
I read the reviews of the film after I'd seen it, still bowled by its energy. Needless to say a little sneering and deflating from all... 'we didn't gain any more knowledge of the man, there was little conversation' blah blah but grudgingly accepting of his talent. Hmm, well, you were never going to get much conversation or anything 'normal' out of a man who's done that to his face. That wasn't the point of the film. we know he wasn't normal. we knew he was fundamentally damaged, but there was one aspect of him that remained intact throughout his life, his talent which can only be described as supernormal. Frankly, thrilling.

Monday, November 22, 2010

First entry - the whys and wherefores.

Always been a bit of a late adopter me. Hence the decision to blog, web log, several years after this particular activity lost its kudos.

But then, I'm probably not doing it for the normal reasons. I'm doing it purely to get stuff down, develop the scribe habit. Stop sitting around pontificating, posturing and endlessly procrastinating, and hope that in regularly setting fingers to keypad, I may come to write something substantial. I'm not talking Keats or Trollope substantial, no no no, just a readable work of fiction with a middle, beginning and end.

The mutterings here will not form said story merely, I'm hoping, oil the wheels, so don't expect to find chapters, or episodes like you would in some banal cyber-soap. If I ever do write a book, I doubt I'll be inclined to give it away. Would you?

So there you have it. I don't expect anyone to follow my blog, it's written purely for my own purposes, like a diary might be, but you never know I may write something that relates to someone out there, which is why I'm here, in the public domain rather than solitarily confined to microsoft word. Also its 'public' status will, I'm speculating, encourage greater commitment from myself.

The design? Well, it's fertile isn't it, in the hope that I shall one day harvest the structured plotline that I seek. And because it was the template I liked most - it's fresh and healthy, and a pleasure to come back to time and again. That said, it could be because vegetables do and have for the last few years played a major role in my life - refer to profile - however, beyond the odd reference this blog will not be about them. Unless they warrant it.

It will be about...well I'm not sure what it will be about. I shall just write whenever about whatever's front of mind, and we'll see. Hmm.