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 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.

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Avatar Welcome portrait

I travel by train a lot these days, so you’d think that – like Smidge Manly – I’d be an expect in the ’istries and mistries of the railway – but sometimes I still stumble on something that baffles me.

Yesterday I boarded a train and found this. I cannot explain it.

Avatar Four faces

The human face is capable of showing a huge variety of emotions. Some of them are obvious, so plain that even children and dogs can recognise them: smiling means happiness, for example, while a furrowed brow often means consternation or constipation. You may know of others.

Today we are going to look at four of the lesser-known emotions and the facial expressions that go with them. I hope you find this guide instructive.

Pudding shop

The pudding shop face should show a mixture of delight and surprise. Some people choose to include a measure of snootiness but this is optional.

Crescent in disrepair

When faced with a grand Regency Crescent in disrepair, perhaps while visiting a spa town that has fallen on hard times, most people extend the tongue slightly, making a face that is close to some expressions of unbridled silliness, but which is actually a sign of great concern for the preservation of listed buildings. A minority of people make a face that is virtually indistinguishable from the pudding shop face, Ian.

Very exciting

Excitement usually produces wide eyes and an open mouth, but in extreme cases – where the excitement being felt is beyond the highest reaches of the Alton Towers Excitement Scale – a common human reaction is to close the mouth, move the hand protectively to the chin or sideface, and look sideways on at the exciting phenomena.

Terrible man

A terrible man will arouse strong feelings in anyone of adult age. Many people find themselves involuntarily contracting their neck and tightening their lips. Some also experience gastric bloating and wind.

Avatar Quennell

Most days I drive to the station and go to work.

Like Ian, I use my eyes while driving, both to look at things, but also to observe them. Sometimes my looking and observing is simultaneous and sometimes both have to take it in turns.

There is one thing that sticks out when I drive to the station, and it’s this:

If it was called Clennel Hill I’d know exactly where I was. We all know that Clennel is a small village and a former civil parish in the parish of Alwinton, in Northumberland, England. We also all know that a clennel is a genteel way to refer to a kind of arse flannel. But it’s not called that, it has a name that’s far more obscure and meaningless. A quennell? Nobody knows what that is.

I’m posting this here in the hopes that, having declared that this is a meaningless word and that nobody knows what it is, I’ve created the right circumstances for Kev to put the word into Google and immediately tell me what it means.

Quennell.

Avatar Four Word Reviews: Right Now

I know what you’re going to ask. This is Atomic Kitten’s debut album Right Now, so I know before you say anything what we need to clarify. Is this the actual first album, released in March 2000, or is it the second release from August 2001, re-recorded with the band’s new line-up after Kerry Katona left? Well, it’s the second release, featuring the new line-up of Liz McClarnon, Jenny Frost and Natasha Hamilton. Here they are now, looking improbably youthful and slightly distracted.

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