Chewing gum – good for your teeth but a bit of an eyesore

I’m not a big fan of chewing gum. I don’t just see it as the stuff that can pull your fillings out. It’s another blot on the landscape.

It may make your breath smell fresh and remove particles of food from your teeth but what people do with it afterwards makes me sick.

Look outside every train station, check out every bus stop, and in a great deal of entrances to shops and businesses you’ll see little dots of old chewing gum.

People don’t find it offensive. Most people don’t even notice it’s there but once you see it, you see it everywhere.

You’d think people would put it in the dustbin, or if there’s no dustbin around wrap it in paper until they bump into a dustbin – there a lots around.

But no, let’s spit it onto the floor. Let’s make other people carry it home on their shoes so they can tread it into their carpets.

Or just leave it there on the floor so it’s squashed onto the pavement for an eternity.

If you’ve ever talked to one of those unsung heroes the street cleaner you’ll know what a problem it is. It’s virtually impossible to remove. It’s easier to remove a slab of pavement than the chewing gum stuck to it.

I saw someone spit their chewing gum onto the floor and told them to …pick it up before it got on someone’s shoes’.

They replied ‘what’s it got to do with you’?

‘Everything’ I replied. ‘I live here and I don’t want to be surrounded by your refuse. Now pick it the fuck up before I rub your fucking nose in it’.

Grudgingly the youth did as he was told. ‘I’m going to tell my dad on you.’

‘Great’. I replied. ‘I’ll tell him what you’ve done’.

‘He’ll fucking ‘ave you!”

‘Phone him now. I’ll wait here for him.

Unfortunately the youth turned on his heel and ran away shouting ‘cunt’ at me. But it was worth it. One less glob of gum on the floor. One small victory. And these days, even the slightest victory is worth celebrating.








‘JFDI’ – ‘just fucking do it’

This is my favourite acronym, I tend to use it when a client is asserting their authority. ‘I’m the client, I’m paying! Do what I want!’ You get the picture.

(I didn’t come up with it by the way, that honour belongs to someone who wishes to remain nameless.)

This all comes about when us ‘creative Johnnies’ disagree with something the client wants, and we think it doesn’t work.

In these cases you sit back, fold your arms and step away from the keyboard. Sometimes there’s no point fighting the pay master, even when you tell them that you’re doing this for their benefit.

After years of doing this stuff you’d think we could spot when something doesn’t quite ‘fit’, but obviously, they know best.

Take for example, writing.

You’d think after decades of speaking the English language, or a close facsimile of it, people could write it down. But no! They want to use words like ‘unique’ when ‘different’ can work just as well.

They want to harp on about ‘how your custom is valuable to us’. Or, for ‘just £9.99 a month’ – if it’s ‘just’ £9.99 a month, you pay it.

We test our work with audiences and find that ‘client-speak’, on a whole, doesn’t work. When the customer feels like they are being talked to, sales improve – it’s like a recommendation from your mate down the pub.

Which is why I always tell clients, to keep it simple, keep it clear and don’t sound like a corporate giant.

In the end however, everyone thinks they can write. Yes, they can put words down, but do your words carry the message smoothly and clearly?

The reply is usually, ‘just fucking do it’.




Travel infuriates the mind

All these people who say travel is one of their interests really, really annoy me. They want to see the world and experience different cultures, or just get wankered on white sandy beaches.

For me, it was a huge disappointment. As a teenager I did my fair share of travelling: I drank a glass of Champers on the Champs De Elysee,  ate sausages in Frankfurt and stuffed down kangaroo in Sydney.

But one thing really annoys me. Whether I ate rabbit in Malta, or kebabs in Greece, I can’t get away from America.

It’s one thing to visually drink in the majesty of the Great Pyramid of Cheops at sunset, then turn round to see McDonalds’ arches glowing in the half-light.

Or gaze in wonder at the internal coffering on the Pantheon ceiling in Rome only to be greeted by the sight of a Pizza Hut when you leave.

You can wander around the Acropolis in Greece and see the gleaming white stone of the Parthenon and it’s amazing frieze but when you leave prepare for the sight of Dunkin’ Donuts to wash away the majesty of the experience.

My travels have taken me far and wide. By the time I got to Singapore I was ranted out. I’d had enough. Then I decided my holidays were going to be simpler in nature.

Now I either rent a car or even more fun I hop on a bike and see where my travels take me in this country. I’ve discovered lovely little villages off the beaten track. Quaint bed and breakfasts with amazing people. And towns where you would expect to find our American cousins eateries I’ve steered well clear of.

You might think it’s not much of a holiday doing these little excursions. But I do know my own country a little better. And it’s far better than blowing my top every time I see that blight on the landscape we call McDonalds.





‘Let’s talk’ really means ‘Shut the fuck up, I want to say something’.

There are very few people I can have a real conversation with. They talk at me. They tell me stuff. But they rarely allow space for a conversation to develop naturally and spontaneously.

You found that they have an agenda and aren’t willing to deviate from it. When they have covered all points they don’t want to hear your opinion.

This is what is wrong with today. Here I can write my little rants and speak my little thoughts without fear of interruption. I can send texts. But very few people can have a conversation.

Ex-wife and girlfriends want to say something, so they say it. When I voice my opinion it falls on deaf ears. My ex-wife really was a prime example of selective deafness.

That is until she started training as a bereavement counsellor. I loved it because she in turn had to be counselled. She would moan and whinge about me.

At the time I thought great because at least I wasn’t getting an earful. Her counsellor told her to hear the word ‘No’. Told her to consider my feelings before she did something. For a short while it was great, my opinion was getting across.

Then my ex-wife decided that my opinion wasn’t valid because it was contrary to what she wanted to do. I thought we should stay together, she decided we shouldn’t. I wanted to go to counselling to sort out our problems, she didn’t. Great conversation.

She started divorce proceedings and I decided why stand in her way.

I sincerely hope she is happy today and her new fella is able to have a real conversation with her but I doubt it. As she once said to me, once a bad behaviour is in place it’s almost impossible to change it.

I think it’s the one thing we agree on.

Classic album + extra tracks = Annoying album

What possesses record companies or their artists to put extra tracks on an album? (Sorry, digital music for those under 30.)

I mean, the music was selected for that album, lovingly placed there in a specific order then some marketing executive decides to piss all over it by adding bonus tracks.

It’s not as if they’re any good. There was a reason they were excluded – they didn’t make the cut. So why in their infinite wisdom did they put them on?

Worse still, some of the tracks are demos. Practice. We want to listen to the band practice? I’ve been in band practices, you don’t want to be there when someone fucks up.

The other thing they do is put live tracks from concerts. If I ‘d wanted to listen to the live album I would have downloaded it monkey boy.

The overall result is that a 5 star album becomes a 3 star album, at best. All the great tracks are still there but somehow demeaned by sub-standard claptrap.

The main reason I can guess they did it is because you can get an hour of music on a CD, more on digital. So the 40-45 minute albums have space for more.

Seeing a blank space they fill it because they feel it is wasted. Same with design. Why have space when you can ram it full of other stuff?

It’s in these circumstances I fully understand the phrase ‘less is more’ because ‘more is definitely less’.


The worse thing is not being talked about

I love all this coverage of Donald Trump. He is playing it right. With passion and prejudice. He is mirroring the thoughts of a majority of people. He is saying what they are too afraid to say.

The other day he told everyone to stop hiding behind political correctness and even I, for a brief moment, agreed with him. He said one thing and I agreed.

Truth be told, political correctness has gone crazy. As a jokey aside a friend said something about ‘let’s ban all the Muslims then’. He didn’t mean it but everyone jumped down his throat.

There is no short answer to this problem but Donald Trump is building up a following, notorious as it may be.

If he plays this right and I’m sure he will, he’ll take back his outburst, apologise  and talk more sensibly and considered about the terrorism issue.

Then all of a sudden he will be President, because Hilary is being quiet. And quiet people don’t really get talked about.





Reward Cards: Why do they reward me with Direct Mail?

Foolishly I took out a Nectar Reward Card with Sainsbury’s, donkey’s years ago. Since then I’ve been inundated with direct mail, email and cold calls about PPI.

I had always shunned these little plastic cards for just this reason. But then with a certain amount of money off my shopping every month, I folded – just like the Direct Mail pieces that where immediately launched at my flat.

I now delete my whole email inbox, there is nothing of interest there. I shovel my mail into the recycling bins. And I curtly tell phone marketers to go away.

The floodgates have been opened and I am awash with offers. Buy 2 and get an extra 1 free. But I only want two!

50% off! I don’t want the thing so that’s 100% off for me thank you.

Last few days of sale. Good, maybe now you’ll stop bothering me. But do they? Like bollocks they do.

We now live in a world which is permanently on sale, of stuff we don’t want. The stuff we do, remains at astronomical prices.

If you could buy a house and get a flat free, I’d be happy. 25% off petrol this Bank Holiday weekend – marvellous.

These days I have become quite short with people who ask me if I have a ‘rewards card’ of any size, shape or form because I know what follows.

This very lunchtime I was asked if I had a Boots card. I replied, that if I wanted rewards I would have got a card and offered it to you.

The poor girl not sensing my hostility then looked at my drink and packet of sandwiches and informed me that I would qualify for a meal deal if I bought a packet of crisps or some other snack.

At this point, seething, I presented the money to her, received my change and walked away.

‘Please come again!’ she cheerfully chimed.

I almost exploded. Almost.





‘I don’t like Judas Priest’. ‘Well I do’.

I’m an old heavy metal fan. I’m proud of it. In fact I have an eclectic taste in music but that’s not the issue.

Being in a creative department I don’t wear a suit and am left to manage my own dress code – as long as I don’t turn up in a green mankini, everything’s good.

A few weeks ago I wore a Judas Priest t-shirt. Lovely little thing. I put it on in the morning and thought nothing more about it. Until the music police wandered by.

‘I don’t like Judas Priest, it’s just a noise’. She said and looked at me as I had just dropped a turd on the floor.

‘Oh such a shame because they speak so highly of you’ I replied.

Later on, I wondered what I was supposed to do when she declared this tidbit of information. Should I rip my t-shirt off screaming ‘Yes, you’re right, they are so bad’?

Should I have begged her forgiveness?

No, of course not. I actually did not give a tinker’s cuss what she thought of my taste in music.

If I had subjected her to the entire ‘Nostradamus’ album I could understand her disdain – it does go on like a Wagnerian opera (Parsifal comes to mind).

There was no reason why this conversation should have come into existence. So why start it?

I don’t like people who speak their opinions without me asking for them but I don’t suddenly start shouting ‘I think you’re a c*nt’ to people in the corridor.

That’s next week.