Avatar Mistakes in marketing

Let’s say you own a company. Let’s say you’re involved in JCBs and tipper trucks, shifting muck around. Let’s say you get yourself a nice white van for moving kit about and you get your company’s name written on the back, and maybe a nice photo of some JCBs and tipper trucks in action so everyone can tell what line of work you’re in.

For now we will overlook the fact that you name your company something daft like ”Kellands” when, if sense prevailed, you would clearly have called it something like ”John’s Diggers”.

You have space on the van for a slogan. Something positive and dynamic that tells everyone what your company is about and how great you are.

What slogan will you choose? Think carefully.

Avatar Cafetiere

I was given some free coffee so I bought a cafetiere to brew it up and enjoy the fresh taste of morning brown. The coffee was strong and rich so my taste buds, what little I had left, were in a joyful mood. Reuben tried some and instantly dismissed it. Now whenever he sees the cafetiere in the cupboard he refers to it as “middle class bullshit.”

There is a time for instant coffee and there’s a time to whip out the cafetiere. There’s also a time when you need to take a 600 million pound bag of tea and brew up some dirty black tea for you to enjoy, possibly whilst rocking back and forth in the corner of the room, but thankfully I haven’t quite reached that point yet.

Whilst musing on the wonders of life I came up with this playful little ditty. You can sing it or you can recite it like a spoken word poem:

Cafetiere, cafetiere,
Long of taste and long of flair
.
Cafetiere, your juice is fair,
Pour some for your closest frere.
Pour some for Jim, Danny or Claire.


Hint of peach or hint of pear,
Think there’s nothing going on in there?
Au contraire, my cafetiere
,
The savoir faire of cafetiere,
The savoir vivre of cafetiere
.

Yeah you’re right, I made it up on the spot and that’s what makes life so great. Next time you’re brewing some coffee perhaps you’ll come up with your own song.

Avatar Pointless Purchase of the Month – The Artist

Take a look around you right now and tell me what you can see. Can you see a shelf of shoes? Can you see a cat pawing at your conservatory door? Can you see two sailors quarrelling about figs? I expect that one or more of those things are within the reaches of your eyes (mental note: eye reach is a good thing) and I, for one, am very jealous that I cannot see them.

Jarrow does not have a lot of shops that one can peruse on a lunchtime. I have particular tastes so unless I’m in the mood for frozen food (Iceland) or ladies toiletries, or anyone’s toiletries really (Boots or Superdrug) I’m up a certain creek without a certain paddle. Thanks Jeebus then for Cash Convertors, peddling second-hand goods of a bizarre assortment and variety; it’s like having a carboot sale every day five minutes from work. Bliss.

I was most surprised then when, about to leave the shop, my noticing eyes noticed a peculiar sight. The stack of sad unloved DVDs and Blu-Rays sit on a shelf next to the cash register, close to the box of twelve inch vinyl records which I can guarantee have not been flicked through in years. There, in plain view for everyone to see, were copies of the film ‘The Artist’ on Blu-Ray. Not one, not two, not three but thirteen copies.

At that point I had never seen the film but remembered the Oscar buzz when it was originally released; a silent film about a silent film star struggling to cope with the transition to “talkies” after the advancements in technology and cinema but made in 2011. I left the shop however I returned a few days later. You may question my sanity and you would be right to do so. Why would one person need thirteen copies of the same movie? For 25p each I ask you, how could one person live with themselves knowing that they passed up on an opportunity to own thirteen copies of the same film? Exactly. I can’t justify it, deal with it.

As the member of staff scanned each Blu-Ray I was on the verge of asking how the store had come into possession of such a large quantity of the same film only he looked about as happy as a wet weekend in Bridlington so I came to the conclusion that it was better to not know. The reason would be lost in the sands of time. It was a blessing and I should not question it as such.

I watched the film and enjoyed it, it’s a lot darker than I expected it to be. There’s also a dog in it that’s way more impressive than most of the human cast because he’s clever and well-trained much like Eddie (or Moose if you will) from ‘Frasier’. Do I need thirteen copies of a great film? Of course not, yet I wouldn’t be able to write these words and possibly enrage Kevin by doing so without them. The best part is that eight of them are still sealed.

Happy trails!

Avatar The Craxford Diaries

A good few years passed with nothing much to take note of. Whatever he was expecting to happen in both his forties and his fifties did not happen, not a lot did. On the eve of his sixtieth birthday, McIver poured the boiling water from the kettle onto his Pot Noodle and decided now, five minutes before the deadline, he would put the lottery on one last time.

As he struggled with the tiny buttons on his phone, he remembered a time when the dexterical simplicities of his youth came to him so naturally and fluidly. He could amble, he could frolic, he could dial a phone number without repeatedly pressing the wrong digits, not that phone numbers existed in 2043.

An odd calm came over him as he bought the ticket and took his seat next to the large window, his trusty foot stool by his side, his old man blanket covering the delicate parts of his frail frame. As the numbers popped up one by one a fire was lit beneath his amble behind, a warmth he hadn’t felt in decades. Six numbers in a row picked out like posies in a summer meadow. A cool one point five million was his and his alone because there were no other winners that night.

The first thing he did was hire a butler. Mackford showed up the next day at 8am sharp dressed in the finest attire that the North-East could throw up. Mackford was not his name but the butler would go by any name to assume the position that lottery bucks could afford.

He looked at his new master, the greying yet still handsome Mr McIver, a cheerful look on his face admonishing all the years that ageing had taken away from him. Why, he looked ten years younger already dressed in his usual checked shirt and jumbledown jeans. A cut-price squire, a Lidl lord, the dapper red snapper.

“Take me to Greggs, Mackford,” he announced, stepping into his Seat Ibiza, carefully making his way into the back over the passenger seat, “I’m in the mood for pasties.”

Away they sped through the mid-morning air. The traffic, low and humming, the streets empty because it was a Tuesday morning and everyone of purpose was already at work. He hadn’t felt this at ease in years.

Outside they stood, Mackford eager to take up the challenge of his master, McIver licking his lips in anticipation of the prizes that awaited him. The latter entered the hallowed premises, softly at first but picking up speed as he deftly nimbled past the sandwiches. It wasn’t too long before there was a tap on his shoulder and Mackford was back at his side. “Is there a problem?” asked McIver. Mackford looked forlornly at his feet and nodded. Only the worst could have happened, they must be out already. Some fat pie hogger has hogged all the pies!

“I won’t stand for this! Out of my way, Mackford, I must see the manager!”

“It’s not what you think, sir,” replied Mackford, “there’s plenty on the trays. I… I don’t know how to say this but due to inflation the cost of a cheese and onion pasty has shot up to one hundred pounds a pasty.”

“A pasty? That’s outrageous. I’ve never heard of such an absurd concept, Mackford. What kind of a world do we live in when a ludicrous lukewarm smear of dairy and vegetable costs that much? Damn and blast, I can’t leave here empty-handed. I’ll have to settle for a sausage roll instead.”

“It only gets worse, sir, the sausage rolls are fifty pounds each.”

McIver took a seat on the nearest bench before he toppled over in disgust. A cold sweat appeared on his brow, a fearful chill down his back. He was finally living his dream, the dream of all dreams, the life of luxury only it was too late. The economy had caught up, inflation had made devils of them all and there was no way around it. With his head in his hands, McIver wept the sweet weeping of a lifetime and all the yum yums in the world couldn’t raise a smile on those lips.

Avatar Jolly good: free wood

I started the ”jolly good” series a couple of years ago when the world seemed less than jolly good and we all needed a nice cheering up. It only lasted a couple of posts, but actually it’s nice to see something positive, so I’m going to carry on labelling my good news under the ”jolly good” banner.

Here’s some good news now. Our house came with a wood burning stove in the living room, which is great but more difficult to use than the central heating, since we have mains gas, but no way of getting logs delivered by underground pipeline direct into the stove. Logs have to be bought, which isn’t always cheap, and have to be brought home somehow, which isn’t easy in a small car.

The people next door are landscape gardeners. The man over the road had a large pear tree in his garden that needed to come down. The people next door were happy to cut it down for him, but couldn’t be bothered going to the hassle of getting rid of the bits. We got a knock on the door. Could we take some of the wood, maybe, and save everyone a trip?

Yes. Yes we could. In fact we could take all of it.

I am treating this windfall as a birthday present from the universe. Jolly good.

Avatar A new book thing

The highly technical online doohickey that lets you read our incredible books was already, of course, basically perfect. Nobody could deny that. But what if it could be more perfect?

As much as we all enjoy starting at the first page of an 80-page book and then repeatedly clicking “next” until we reach the page we want, sometimes, when we’re trying to find something specific, that process is not as quick or as direct as we’d like. What we need is a faster way of seeing what’s on all the pages so we can choose the one we’re looking for.

So I made that happen. Now you can go to any book (including the Mr Smiths) and click “page index”.

You’ll then be taken to thumbnails of all the pages. Clicking one will take you to the full page.

This improvement comes at no charge to you, and completes the latest upgrade to your increasingly brilliant life.

Avatar Four Word Reviews: Christmas

So, it turns out that tomorrow is the first day of May, and not as I had assumed another day in April. That means that this post is being thrown online in a hurry so that it counts towards my April beans and not my May beans.

Anyway, since it’s April, and since it’s Four Word Reviews time, tradition dictates that we must listen to a Christmas album. In Aprils gone by we have heard from Mahalia and Barbra Streisand. This year we’re going for the big one: Christmas, the 2011 album by Michael Bublé. It rewrote Christmas music as we know it – a solid album of Christmas classics, reworked by the smoothest sounding chart act since Sade stopped releasing new music. Now everyone comes along and releases a few slick Christmas cover versions every year. Especially Michael Ball.

Read More: Four Word Reviews: Christmas »

Avatar Inventing the Future

I, like you, have a pair of feet (that is unless you’re Chris and you have three legs, or maybe four, I forget about that conversation in and around his shoe poem) and there is nothing that I wouldn’t do to protect my feet.

Someone invented shoes and the world rejoiced. From then there was some protection from the tiny little stones on that the ground, the acorns, possibly broken glass and even if someone has been a bit careless with their muesli. Oh, what a happy time it was.

But there was a catch. Each shoe was a one-way street; there was never a chance that the left shoe could be put on the right foot and vice versa. If you lost one of them then you had to find another that would fit. The unique shape on the foot meant that only a lefty would fit the left. People should have the freedom to wear what they wanted and that would never be the case.

Do you remember the old expression, “the shoe is on the other foot”? I see that as the future.

Imagine a shoe that could slip onto either foot. You’re no longer held captive by these prehistoric methods of yore. You’re so engrossed in that three bean salad podcast that you’re not even paying attention to what goes on where and, you know what? It doesn’t matter. My invention, the Neutral Shoe (no trademarks yet, please don’t steal my ideas), is pertinent enough to adapt to its surroundings, namely your foot. I haven’t drawn up the blueprints yet however I imagine the same sleek design from the heel to the long bit in the middle. At the end though, that’s when things get interesting.

It curves around so it’s wide enough to fit either the left or right foot. Your toes are free to wiggle about yet it’s still snug enough to not feel as though you’re walking around in a pair of flipflops (nobody wants that). The Neutral Shoe will be a thing of beauty; not necessarily solving any of life’s major problems but there to offer a helping hand (or foot) when you need it most. Putting on a pair of shoes will be different and new at the same time.

All I need is five hundred thousand pounds and I can get to work. You have my bank details, gentlemen, and I look forward to seeing you all at the champagne launch ceremony in six to nine months time.