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Ghost in the Machine -Christmas Special

Thought of the day:  Remember that the copy in copywriter isn’t a literal instruction.  Oh, and a copywriter isn’t just for (the) Christmas (rush) but the rest of the year as well.  That’s two thoughts but then if maths was my strong point I wouldn’t be here.

While staring at a blank screen…  Poisoned chalice– it’s a phrase that perfectly sums up the last couple of years of my working life – an assignment or award that although initially attractive unfortunately turns out to be not what it seems.   Famously used in Macbeth: only hope that’s not some sort of omen for where I’m headed.  Still, that’s enough about curses.  Scottish play or not – let’s lighten the mood: after all it is Christmas and panto time:

I say, I say, I say; I had a poisoned chalice once…”

“Did the doctor give you penicillin?”

NoFather Christmas

“What did you do?


“What happened!?”

“They gave the job to someone else.”

Now that’s behind me…

You couldn’t make this up:  Low prices on Poisoned Chalice.  Free UK delivery on Amazon orders… The perfect Christmas present?


Ashes to ashes,

Dust to dust,

If Apple doesn’t get you

Then Microsoft must…

Why is it that however slim, shiny and seductively packaged gadgets are you just know deep down that purchasing this must-have labour-saving device is going to introduce a whole new layer of slavery to your already overwhelmed communications day?  Despite the cute characteristics mysterious inverse proportion rules apply – rules that would even confuse Professor Stephen Hawking – whereby these anorexic technological spawn have the nuisance value of a limpet mine and the call of a baby elephant.  I MUST BE ATTENDED TO RIGHT NOW!!!  I AM TOO IMPORTANT TO BE SIDELINED!!!  THINK WHAT YOU MIGHT BE MISSING!!!  Be careful what you wish for in your stocking.  Bah, Humbug!

As my Gran used to say – or was it my guru? – to succeed try standing away from the herd: this means ewe, and ewe and ewe.  More Baaaa than Bah then.  When the Grim Reaper comes to call you’re not going to be counting missed emails or cursing the app or novelty ringtone you didn’t download.  Perhaps the people who really get things done are those with the will-power to ignore the white noise of progress?

It’s all in a name

Talking of will-power… a misnomer if ever there was one: should be a misnamer I suppose but hey, that’s the English language for you.  I’m beginning to think there is something in that tired old popular philosophy chestnut – some sort of correlation between name and character.

Why is it that people called Will apparently never have one?  Apart from I. Ron Will obviously…  Irony perhaps?  In the creative industries expectation levels of positive action from a Will are as likely as wisdom emanating from a hoodie christened with the name Solomon.  Then there was Adolf Hitler who ranted with his arms folded as he went on and on about thousand-year Reichs and the triumph of the will and we all know what happened to him.

Now Blondi... if anyone called Will or Chris head this way...

Now Blondi… if anyone called Will or Chris head this way…

Will’s are weak, insipid, vapid and er, other suitably vague words ending in id: frankly, the thesaurus isn’t to hand and I don’t have the will to go downstairs and find it ok?  Will eh?  They’re weak own brand tea – where tiny fragments of something unsubstantiated float on the surface – when you’re expecting full strength English breakfast  At least he accepts his limitations in the peas: i.e. he can’t sing.  That’s music to my ears.  There was a song called Lady Willpower back in the ‘60s by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.  If you were there etc…  They also had a bigger hit with Young Girl which for creepy Lolita-style lyrics takes some beating even allowing for the time/culture shift.  Suffice to say it laid the ground rules for another Gary of a glittery persuasion from the next decade.  Lady Willpower – hmmm; no surprise there – after all women have the strongest minds.  I said strongest not most stubborn.  Remember that this was an era when they were called chicks and were expected to make the tea while the men fermented revolution baby!  The band members of the Gap, as I’m sure they were known by intimates and admirers across the swinging pop world, all dressed as Union soldiers: I always preferred the romance of Johnny Reb to the efficiency of the North but of course their politics stunk.

Gary Puckett and the Union Gap

Definitely quoting my Gran this time: “Where there’s a will there’s a… ?”  QuiteWell; we could do a presentation, or a brainstorm or something if that’s alright with you?  Vacillation: that won’t cure a poisoned chalice.  But it is the Will virus – their default mode.

Similarly every Chris I ever seem to meet is tall, dark, wearing a suit and as Harry Enfield said once too often – a thoroughly nice bloke – but one that is largely incapable of tying his own shoelaces or coming up with an original idea.  No wonder so many seem to be estate agents.  Chris is the mainstream writ large; a marketing man’s dream recipient – the sort who would get out his wallet for an excellent lifestyle focal point (please see previous GITM: you see there is some sort of logic to these ramblings after all).  His house is probably full of them and multifarious items of received good taste that wouldn’t offend the neighbours.

You may say I’m a dreamer…

Just imagine calling your new born twins Will and Chris!  Even John Lennon couldn’t advocate that one for the cause of world peace.  Now that’s a poisoned chalice.  No not you YokoAnd so this is Christmas and what have you done?

Taken out a contract on a banker for the good of mankind?  Me?  Nah, I’m a pacifist – which might have come in useful when ascertaining whether I could actually afford a Christmas this year.  Following my initial phone enquiry – charged at national premium rate – I was asked to be more Pacific by a bank customer care employee: another misnomer surely?  What’s that then: invest in an offshore banana republic, wear a fetching grass skirt or ahem, consider something just plain salty and wet?

Maybe she thought that my fiscal concerns were nothing more than a Tamasha – albeit  very profitable given the national premium rate  -echoing her previous reply that sounded just as oblique.  Either that or she was sitting on an island in the Pacific and I misunderstood her accent.  Tamasha – there’s an unusual word for you – er, and me as well…  Apparently a colloquialism for a storm in a teacup; unnecessary fuss or bustle.  I found it recently in my local newspaper’s letters to the Editor.  Seems where I live we have the most erudite, obscure or educated moaners about council service cuts in the country.

Old friend missing in action: considering unnecessary fussdoes it matter if words slip into oblivion? Let me be more pacific… How about brouhaha?  Love saying this one.  Brouhaha.  There; said it again.  Sounds like a drunken attempt to scare your kids up the stairs to bed.  What a commotion!  What a sensation!  What an uproar!  No? No: nobody cares.  Arcane words – nothing to do with the Dingles by the way – are as welcome as Jim’ll Fix It Badges at the BBC.

Hey man,I turn my chair round for just a minute and I find myself down here... I tell ya ma name's dope...ya got that!  And what's this about ah can't sing!  I am the Peas!

Hey man,I turn my chair round for just a minute and I find myself down here… I tell ya ma name’s dope…ya got that!  And what’s this about ah can’t sing!  I am the Peas!

Hubbub sort of comes at you from the same family.  Like an inbred cousin.  Once on the lips now a lifetime of being unhip.  Not so much limping into view on crutches as bedridden on life support.  I feel metaphorically that I’m administering a shock with the paddles in Holby Cityhe’s gone into vf : stand clear!  Some words have a quiet retirement with a very odd reunion now and again while others are sectioned never to be seen in polite company.  Sorry brouhaha and hubbub you are the twenty-four inch polyester flares of fashionable words.

Hey Will… Chris… Want to live dangerously for once?  Try this to the usual passing throng of beered-up Saturday night vandals?  “Excuse me boisterous young people… What’s all this brouhaha?”  Imagine the enlightening display of contemporary vocabulary in reply – and it wouldn’t be four-letter words like Yoko; eh John?

That’s it – I guess I should be checking my role specific competencies against current vacancies but as It’s Christmas! – cheers Noddy – I’m off to do something more pacific to the festive season.


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