Tuesday, 29 March 2011

...And the Dumb-Ass quote of the day goes to...ABTA

Responding to the point that holiday companies are profiteering from parents by hiking prices in the school holidays, a spokesperson for ABTA said, "Travel companies want to incentivise people to travel out of peak times, so discount prices."

The context of the story is that more parents are running the risk of fines and damaging their kids' education by taking holidays during term when prices are 25% lower. 13% of us did it last year. So, to summarise, according to ABTA, the holiday companies aren't inflating the prices in the school holidays - those are the normal prices. It's the rest of the year that's being discounted. Therefore, the only people who can benefit from the 'incentives' offered by the holiday company are people that don't have kids of school age.

ABTA's correct reply to Christine Blower of the National Union of Teachers comment that,"it's unreasonable for travel firms to cash in by hiking costs in the school holidays" is 'Yes, it is but we're going to do it anyway, hahahahahahahahahaha!"

In any other industry, offering incentives to people to break the law is a criminal offences known as 'bribery'.

Friday, 25 March 2011

24 in a nutshell

Chloe will pull her 'I want pudding' face and furrow her brow.

A nuclear bomb will go off in a desert

An international terrorist will speak in a ham Arab accent about "ze newchleear matearalz"

Jack will 'be forced' to torture somebody.

The torture will involve some shouting and looking menacing before the hardened killer gives in under his threatening gaze.

Someone at CTU will open a socket.

Someone else will discover something important in a fragment of data.

KIm will get herself kidnapped.

There will be a shoot out in a multistorey car park

Jack will have a heart seizure.

All cell phones will always receive a signal at the crucial moment.

All computers will work perfectly.

Jack will get shot.

Some peripheral character will lose their memory.

The president will be either a wise saint or an evil monster.

Someone will contract a killer disease and have a limited time to find the antidote.

Jack will be stabbed.

Tony Almeida will turn up.

Someone will mention Teri and everyone will go quiet.

The president will distrust Jack. And then be eternally grateful to him.

No one will go for a wee. Obviously.

And an hour will be formed of 43 minutes.

Please feel free to add your own...

Born Anxious

Some people never seem to have a care in the world. They skip through life happy in the knowledge that things will turn out alright. Worrying is a waste of time. "Worrying never changes anything."

I was born worried. Anxiety is my default setting. I know it will shorten my life. I know it will cost me sleep. But it's not a life choice. Anxiety is genetic. You're either born a worrier or you're not. And contrary to what the unworried say, it can change things. Fretting over a problem can provide insights and ideas. It can give you the nervous energy to find solutions. Sure, I'd rather relax and take it as it comes. But there are compensations to being born anxious.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Welcome to Comic Relief's National Guilt Day

How much can I afford to give? Well, if we all lived on nettle soup for a year, I could probably make it £20,000. But I don't want to live on soup. But think of the starving Africans. They'd be glad of a bowl of nettle soup - I'm a horrible selfish person. On the other hand, I promised the kids Moshie Monster cards this weekend. I could tell them to give up their cards for the starving Africans. Then I'd feel like a bad dad as well as a horrible person. That's what I love about national charity days; they manage to unite the country by making us all feel equally guilty about not doing enough. Sod it, make it a tenner.

The myth of customer service

"If you raise your voice to me, I will terminate the call." Customer service today in the UK is simply pathetic. The operators aren't there to provide a service. They're there to stonewall, buck pass and add to the frustration the customer already feels because the service or product they are paying for has failed to provide that service, and now the customer service person who is meant to deal with the problem isn't providing that service either. In desperation, you demand 'Well, what the hell am I paying for then?' And the answer, rather than the truthful, 'for us to rip you off and keep ripping you off until you go away or admit defeat' is 'if you raise your voice... etc etc.'
The companies claim that they have to take this tone because people now are so rude and demanding. What they don't mention is the fact that people used to be more polite because they believed the company they were dealing with was intrinsically honest and committed to providing the service they were paid for. Can we say that about many of the companies we deal with today? Do we feel they are transparent and up front in all their communications. Or have the marketing department got involved and added just a little bit of 'spin', just enough double speak to muddy the waters? And do we honestly believe that the companies we deal with today are endeavouring to give us a level of service that will leave a warm, fuzzy glow inside? Or are they passing off the bare minimum as a premium product? Are you getting the broadband speed you paid for? Does the network coverage feel like the 99% claimed by the phone company? Is the British Embassy in Tokyo helping UK citizens get home or has it buggered off in a wanton and cowardly act of self preservation?
We're not getting what we were promised. And we're not getting customer service when we complain about it. Is it any wonder we raise the decibel level? So the next time the customer disservice rep threatens to terminate the call, try answering with... "and if you terminate the call, I'll hunt you down like a dog, make you watch 50's British Ealing films until you talk like Joyce Grenfall, and force you to repeat the phrase 'I'll sort it out immediately for you, Sir/Madam' until you develop a 1000 yard stare akin to Malcolm McDowell in a Clockwork Orange."

Helicopter wins goldfish

If there's one thing that's guaranteed to make you think a situation is out of control, it's the sight of helicopters carrying giant bags of water. Fukushima... and run for the hills.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Budget Betting

Budget day next Wednesday and George Osborne has been touting his budget for growth for the last couple of months. Here's the betting on just how innovative it's going to be: Revising some old Thatcherite dogma like Enterprise Zones 5/2 on. Cutting corporation tax for small business by 25%, 50/1. Tinkering with a load of minuscule benefits that no one gets much out of, evens. Claiming he's been either 'progressive', 'bold' and/or 'responsive to the needs of industry' 11/10 on. In the words of Roger Daltery, 'Meet the new boss, same as the old boss...'

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Haunted Dover

Just finished reading Lorraine Sencicle's book 'Haunted Dover'. Apparently, the only place in Dover that isn't haunted is my sock drawer.


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Damn you, iPhone...

Forget all the video calling and movie editing on the iPhone. The great feature is the fact that you can connect it to your bluetooth keyboard with just a click. Which means you can sit on the train and type just like normal to the screen. Therefore, any typos and spelling mistakes you find in my blogs from now on can't be blamed on the twitch on screen keyboard and predictive text. It's all my own work.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A typical Wednesday in adland

Client agency wanted some ideas for a new campaign today, so spent it working with my favourite art director, The Man. Put together 3 sale-able ideas and presented them to the creative director who made all the right noises, e.g. 'like this...', 'that's a big concept..., 'I can see that working...etc'. Then presented us with a load of ideas of his own he wanted us to think about. Not sure whether to feel pleased or deflated - especially as one of his ideas is pretty good. Still one of ours was a belter too so it's 1-1 going into half time.

Other clients cheekily asking for more work that they haven't scheduled in or have just 'mentioned in passing'. As always, we'll do what we can. Good job we're off the booze at the moment or I might think I was getting no fun out of life. I KNOW I'm getting no fun out of life.

South Eastern's Recall Challenged Ticket Inspector

You've got to admire the sheer ineptitude of South Eastern Railways. Today we have a ticket inspector who seems to only recently have applied for UK residency from, I'd guess, Kenya. His accent is heavy and he has the officious air of someone who has acquired a uniform and a hat but no real authority. Unfortunately, he appears to lack one of the key characteristics of a good ticket inspector. A strong memory. He's already asked most of the people in the carriage to show their tickets for a second time - some for a third. At this rate we might as well wear our season passes around our necks like minor entourage members at a Lady Ga Ga concert.