Clough love

Another story from my Saatchi days – there do seem to be quite a few. One Friday lunchtime me and Kevin Millicheap went to the University Tavern down on Store Street. A lovely little boozer where RADA students tended to hang out.

We liked it for a variety of reasons, one being that advertising people were rarely seen at the pumps spouting their self-importance.

So, there we were minding our own business when Brian Clough walks in with a little entourage of very serious looking people.

Now, I’m not a great football fan so I was only bemused by the appearance of the football legend but Kev went very quiet and sheepish.

Kev went to the phone – mobiles were larger than house-bricks in those days and only used by people in the city – and phoned Jim Salter, who ran to the pub.

Both sat dumbstruck as the great man continued his conversations. I was bored, yes it was Brian Clough, respect, but he wasn’t one of my heroes.

I asked them why don’t you ask him for his autograph. Jim said nothing but Kev said he couldn’t, he was in awe.

So picking up a pen and a piece of paper from my bag, I went up to the bar.

“I’m really sorry to interrupt you Brian, but I was wondering if I could have your autograph?”

“Of course you can young man” he said picking up the pen and paper, “who shall I make it out to?”

“Kevin, I said.” And he wrote a best wishes and good luck from Brian Clough on the paper, then handed it to me,

“There you go, Kevin and take care” Brian drawled in his own inimitable way.

“Oh, I’m not Kevin”, I replied. “Kevin’s sitting over there.”

“Well, why didn’t he come over and ask me himself?” He inquired with a puzzled frown.

“Because he’s in awe of you, Brian.” I smiled.

Brian gave a cheeky little grin and shook me by the hand and said “So he should be.” And turned back to his smiling entourage.

 

Dave Parsons *Spoiler alert*

I’ve known Dave since my days at Saatchis. A big man with a big personality and a heart of gold.

He’s been known to drop a few sayings in his time such as ‘don’t get me wrong, I like a drink’ as he settles into his sixth pint.

Another favourite is ‘you were never there for me,’ and my retort is ‘I was, you just didn’t show up’.

And then there are the insults. ‘I’ve got a soft spot for you, Hackney Marshes.’

‘I bought you a chair for Christmas, but you wouldn’t let me plug it in’.

But by far the most lasting impression he made on me was a cinema visit to see the very first X-Men film.

We were both at a loose end one evening, so we decided to go see it at a small cinema on Tottenham Court Road.

Settling into our seats with just a little excitement at this new superhero film, we started watching with quite a bit of glee.

When Hugh Jackman first appeared on the screen as Wolverine he muttered ‘what’s Alvin Stardust doing in this film?’

From that moment I could not watch for the film because of Dave’s observation. I sat there and every time Wolverine came on screen which is quite a lot, all I could think of was ‘Coo-Coo, I just want you, I really love my Coocka-choo.’

Of course Dave found this hilarious. To this day, 17 or 18 years later, every time they release a new film from the X-Men franchise, those words roll around my brain.

The moral of this story? Don’t go to the flicks with Dave Parsons. He’s a lovely fella, but a complete spoiler.

I don’t have anything to say

I seem to have reached some state of zen right now. I’m sitting in a coffee shop, stealing their wi-fi and enjoying what I call, ‘a big fuck off latte’.

It’s a Costa coffee and they do make a splendid cup of Joe. However, I do look like one of those sad laptop types you find in coffee shops.

Back in the day you would find me in a spit and sawdust pub chugging down pints of Guinness and listening to Motorhead and ZZ Top on the jukebox.

Today, I’m wearing a Pink Floyd Animals t-shirt and listening to the new Dream Theater album as I tap away on my keyboard.

All that’s worrying me is that the coffee is doing a remarkable job on my bowels and there isn’t a toilet nearby.

If all I have to worry about today is a bowel movement, then my life can’t be all that bad.

There are a lot of people in the world worse off than me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack of all trades? Actually, a master of a lot of them

 

Personally I have never built a website before and found a few things confusing, I’m a writer: I sort of follow the maxim that you have to be a master of one thing.

I asked my agency for help and the wonderful few have been amazing, supportive, and pulled out all the stops to help.

Funnily enough I heard of a website builder asking, ‘Can’t he do it himself?’ Truth be told, I never tried it. But after that one comment, it made me ask a lot more questions.

Now, with the help of a few people who have put files into the proper jpegs at the proper file sizes, and the amazing advice of Julie Featherstone, I have a website.

Which really sort of beggars the question, if I can find out how to build a website with a little help from my friends, what do I need a website builder for?

You will always need a copywriter.

 

Why do I get stuck on the web?

I’m trying to build my own personal website at the moment because of my recent work troubles. (I’m in consultation and that doesn’t lead to good things.)

So, I have set up my personal work address written my CV and am now in the process of getting all the work I’m proud of, in one place.

Trouble is, I can’t suss out how to get a picture on the over view page. My friend has done his but he is an art director and used to all the freaky behaviours of these machines.

I set this site up of course, but as you can see, there ain’t a picture in sight. Give me a bag full of words and I’m a happy bunny. I can write til the cows come home and then go back out in the morning but somehow downloading pictures and the like is something that my brain can’t get my head around at the moment.

Give me a book and a light to read her by and you won’t see me for days. Give me a blog and a topic and I’ll tell you how I feel about it, in plain English.

Give me jpegs and a site to put them in and this is where I get stuck. I will figure it out eventually. Not yet though. I’m still at the teeth-gnashing and I wonder how high this lap-top can frickin’ bounce stage.

 

 

 

 

 

There are friends, sure. But there are very few who sit on your tuna and sweetcorn sandwiches.

Looking back I can’t believe I’ve known Geoff for over 20 years. He can give you the exact number, he’s got a better memory for that sort of thing.

We worked toegther as writer and art director at Saatchis and I have rarely met such a talented, decent and honest human being.

We started working together in a Saatchi reshuffle and at first I didn’t know what to make of the fellow. A nice bloke working in advertising *does not compute*  *fzzzt* *kappuuuttt*

Turns out he was like me. Eclectic taste in music, loved films and loved talking about both.

Our one difference was smoking. I smoked and he didn’t. So to highlight the fact that I was lighting up in the office he created the skull and crossbones ‘stamp’ with a rubber and a scalpel.

With great delight he would colour-in the rubber with a permanent market then press it onto my ‘Death Chart’.

We did some great work together and he was best man at my wedding. But the one story that makes Geoff cringe was his house move.

There was a gang of us, all ready to start humping boxes and furniture onto the van but nothing was happening. Contracts had been exchanged in the moving chain but we were waiting to complete.

It was the most irate I have ever seen Geoff. He was sitting under the stairs on the phone barking at people.

Words can’t describe the colour of purple his face went but eventually things started moving.

B mid-afternoon I was starving. We had the lion’s share of the move sorted and were waiting for the van to come back for another load.

I went to my bag under the stairs to get the tuna and sweetcorn sandwiches I had prepared early that morning.

I found a squashed and mashed mess in the cellophane wrapper that should have contained my sandwiches. Geoff’s butt cheeks had ground them into an unrecognisable mess.

Being very hungry and with nary another snack or outlet nearby I ate the mess trying not to think of which part of Geoff had destroyed my lunch.

To this day I remind Geoff about this. Fantastic and wonderful man he is, he takes it with gentle grace and a cry of ‘you’re never going to let me forget that are you?’

Geoff was my art director, but do I call him that? Geoff was my best man, but do I call him that? Geoff was there when I nearly died in hospital, but do I mention that? But you sit on one sandwich!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Can’t believe I’ve been called a music snob. Moi?’

A friend posted a meme which roughly said We used to pay for music and we got Lemmy and David Bowie. We don’t pay for music and we get Kanye West and Nicki Minaj. I had to laugh.

Then someone posts that this is inveterate snobbery and really going on about how talented Kanye West is. I took a stance of defending the old guard. You wouldn’t have the Sex Pistols without Motorhead.

To be fair you wouldn’t have Kanye West without Easy E, NWA and Dr Dre. You wouldn’t have half the bands out today without David Bowie. You wouldn’t have Family Guy without the Simpsons.

Then I was accused of my snobbery, Personally, I thought I was highlighting the fact that music should be an evolution, you can’t have one without the other.

Obviously the safety and anonymity of the internet filled his trousers with cojones the size of footballs and he continued to attack or ‘troll’ me

That’s when I decided it’s not worth it. I’m reminded of lots of sayings here. ‘A little knowledge is a bad thing’, ‘When I was younger, I knew everything’. And my favourite, ‘Don’t go arguing with someone who is 6 foot 2 and weighs 17 stone.’

Anyway I shall leave this intelligent but misguided fellow to his life and his belief that if it is played on the radio then it must be good.

I on the other hand am going see a few bands play locally tonight, listen to TeamRock on the radio and see what’s new.  Then maybe I’ll listen to the David Bowie Let’s Dance album again and try and figure out why some people dislike it.

 

 

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Everyone has a novel in them. Most have been told to shove it up their a***.

I wrote a novel for myself umpteen years ago. Just to see if I could get through 200 pages of foolscap and fill them with a story of believable characters.

Glad to say that I failed. There was a story – a beginning, a middle and an end. But it was just filled with too many tangents and swerves from the plot that it was just too hard to follow.

Also it was bizarre. I’d read too many Stephen King books and thought that adding in a complete weird nonsense scene was de rigueur.

It was a great exercise though. Going through a piece of writing that size and trying to edit and return the reader to the story with a minimum of fuss.

Last year I started another book and then at the same time I started the one that follows it. Now I want it to be a trilogy because we can’t leave our hero without a purpose at the end of the second book. He has to carry on.

If he doesn’t, then the journey he has taken has been all for naught. And we have to give the reader ‘hope’ do we not?

Having said all this, my little collection of revenge and perserverence may not even see the light of day. They may tell me to show it up my arse.

But it would be fun putting it all together

 

 

 

‘Step forward anyone who has a job. Not so fast Davies’.

So, I’m going to be made redundant. That’s not the wording of course. Companies tell you your job is at risk. Then they say they are looking for other positions in the company for you.

Inevitably, I feel my tenure at this place is over. I’m still waiting for the final drop of the axe, but I doubt there will be a last-minute reprieve.

I’m now updating my CV putting together work on a website and calling friends and contacts in an effort to keep bringing in a paycheck.

Headhunters will be next, but they charge for their services and a company who are hiring get paid thousands just for saying ‘Have you met Mr Davies?’

People say that I should be angry about this but I can’t muster anger towards the people who did this.

I’m unnerved by some of the decisions that led me here. Even I without my business degree and financial insight could see the warning signs.

Friends and colleagues have been saying ‘onwards and upwards, you’re best out of there’.

To be honest, I agree. My only trepidation is that I fall into a similar situation years down the line.

Maybe my career path leads in another direction? Who’s to say at the moment.

Today I can feel a lot of the stress that I was going through leaving my body. Towards the end it wasn’t fun and I believe advertising in any shape or form should be.

Maybe, I should get back to writing my novel? Well, it’s not as if I have to go into work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Can you hear me Major Tom?’

I go through phases with my music. I have so much stored in the Cloud that when I re-discover a certain aspect of it, I download it onto my device.

A couple of months ago I downloaded the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. Absolutely played it to death. Then Aladdin Sane. Then Heroes, Then Reality.

Bit by bit I went through David’s back catalogue, I knew he was releasing Blackstar in January and I was excited. The day it was released I was overjoyed. Then from those heights of joy I was brought back to Earth with bone-crushing force. David Bowie had died.

He’d been out of the public eye for nearly 10 years after a heart attack on stage. We thought it was over then. But the Starman wasn’t going to die a distant memory of brilliance. He released ‘The Next Day’ and I thought he would go on.

With the announcement of Blackstar I thought there were more albums on the way. More idiosyncratic lyrics that would make me think ‘WTF?”

But no. This was his swan song. Thank you David Bowie for all your weird and wonderful music. ‘Can you hear me Major Tom?’ I said thank you.