Charlie is my darling.


Can you even begin to imagine the excitement I felt when I popped into Whitespace today and was met with this canvas of our dearly beloved Charlie Robertson created by fellow advertising guru, none other than MT Rainey, herself.

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It’s one of the canvases I’ll be auctioning next Thursday at the NABS Art Auction (it has 76 compatriots, with plenty more in transit, many of which have outstanding artistic merit, but none of which quite hit the emotional trigger quite as effectively as this one does, created, as it was, less then ten days after Charlie’s untimely death.)

I’m hoping it will be something of a centrepiece of the auction and that it might attract some fairly hefty bidding.  Indeed I will specifically take bids on it if you email me direct at Markgorman@btopenworld.com.

I’ll let bidders know what the state of play is rather than playing this one out in public.

It’s called “Charlie is me Darlin'” and it’s beautifully printed direct onto the canvas.  The words that make up the image conjure up, for me, the eloquence with which Charlie thrilled and seduced the world of advertising for forty years.

I believe it deserves to be shown somewhere that Charlie’s many admirers might be able to see it for themselves and I hope it can play its part in a memorable night at Whitespace next Thursday 25th October, from 6pm.  There will be a bar and a lively evening of badinage and bidding.  Please let me know if you’d like to attend.

MT.  You’re amazing.  What a superb memory of Charlie’s life.

Slantie.

Charlie Robertson. An inspiration.


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I’ve been plucking up courage for several days now trying to put metaphorical pen to paper about the life of my old chum Charlie Robertson.

I’m not a lifer (as a friend/colleague) so perhaps others are better placed to wax lyrical about him, but he had a profound effect on my life at a particularly impressionable time.

I was a ‘suit’ at The Leith Agency when Charlie appeared.  A returning migrant from London, not just London – BB bloody H – where he’d inspired Vorsprung Durch Technik.

This wasn’t a planner, this was a rock star.  Cue Mick Hucknell gags (OK, that’s it out of the way.  No more. Ed.)

We weren’t worthy, except, actually, we were.

Because Charlie wasn’t the London wanker we feared.

Charlie was just Charlie.

A gifted 5-a-side footballer, cut from the same jib as Jimmy ‘Jinxy’ Johnstone (albeit ‘Jinxy’ was from the wrong side of Charlie’s tracks).

Charlie was a storyteller, a provocateur, a walking brainstorm.  My job was to get the best out of him and we seemed to work really well.  The trick with Charlie was to spot the ball.

The Golden Ball.

Because Charlie would fire out ideas by the shedload, you just had to be in the room at the right time to say “STOP, that’s it Charlie.” And I felt I had a knack for that.

Our finest hour was pitching for Irn Bru, an account The Leith Agency holds to this day.  It must have netted them millions by now. Charlie was the planner, I was the suit, Gerry was the creative director.  It was awesome.

We came second to BB bloody H.  John Hegarty dazzled the Irn Bruers with his charm and sophistication and then went on to produce a pure minger of a commercial, but then Coke knocked on their door.  Irn Bru got booted from BB bloody H and they came back to Leith.  We were ‘a close second’ they had said and it was true.

History began.

I left soon after but that wasn’t the end of my relationship with Charlie.  He worked, through Red Spider, with 1576 from time to time.  We met for beer and red wine from time to time.

Charlie was the real deal.  A proper advertising genius.  A colossal brain and a charm to go with it.

Clients, no people, loved Charlie.  Me one of them.

We will miss his elegant charm and his clever wit.  But most of all we will miss his humanity.

Bye Charlie.  It was great.

Now Jaguar Landrover say they will lose £1bn a year in the face of a hard Brexit. How long can this stupidity go on?


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Airbus has sent out loud warnings.  BMW is saying it will shift production from the UK. Nissan has already had the book thrown at it in terms of financial sops. Now the jewel in the UK’s automotive crown is making noises about the serious financial impacts of a hard Brexit.  Even the bastion of Brexit, The Daily Express, is leading on the Jaguar story with a warning.

Why?  straightforward really.  in the face of no European tariffs deal the cost of cars will go up and the cost of imported parts will increase.

This is not complicated economics to get one’s head around.  And yet, the government;  well, a few morons in the cabinet specifically, continues to be completely undecided about its Brexit strategy, never mind actually negotiating it.

This is all on the back of a wafer thin decision made by an electorate that has now largely woken up to the fact that the leavers voted on a belief that was founded on a bunch of lies.

£300+million extra a week for the NHS.  Does ANYONE now believe that?

We run an Air B’nB so have continental visitors day in day out.   Every single one of them, bar none, simply shake their heads in disbelief when conversation turns to Brexit.

We’re not in the Euro, so we face none off the risk that brings.  Our banks service trillions of £’s of European money with no strings.  We have no trade tariffs and anyone who thinks Europe will play it easy on that front should look at the Trump scenario.

We are in a brilliant position for trading with our biggest customer (and supplier).

A few sociopaths threaten the UK’s economic health through their mental health problems.

I still believe a second referendum is justified, fair and sensible.

No, not sensible.  Sane.

 

Day 12 in the TSB meltdown


The website still doesn’t work.  (Having emptied my cache and tried on all browsers I can be sure that it’s not my fault.)

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And anyway, neither does the new app which was intended to replace the old, inefficient card reader-based online security system that, erm, worked.

Image-1.jpgOh, and the phone number is wrong in case you need help.

It’s 0345 not 0845.

It has been 0345 for several years.

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Now, I get it, shit happens.

Things go wrong.

But this is beyond belief.

Those bright sparks from IBM have been called in (about a week ago) to fix it.

They haven’t fixed it.

My business has been unable to transact now for 12 days.  That must be some sort of record.

I received an email this morning.  The very first communication from TSB since this started that said this…

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Well, for a start, it’s not the past week it’s nearly the past TWO WEEKS.

I’m sorry TSB but this is a tram smash unprecedented in UK commerce that has been handled so ineptly as to make Laurel and Hardy look like not just, brain surgeons, but brain surgeon trainers.

You lot are an fully blown. completely paid up national disgrace.

Reverse Evolution. How Dr. Martens are trying to defy the laws of Darwin.


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During Darwin’s trip to the Galapagoan Islands he noticed that, island by island, the local finch populations had adapted their beaks in shape and functionality to perform the rudimentary tasks required to feed themselves from the available food source. Et Voila! the theory of evolution began.  Small positive changes over a period of time that made the species stronger, fitter and better equipped for long term survival.

So it had been with the Dr Marten boot, which too displayed Darwinian evolutionary principles, from its birth in post WWII Germany until the early 21st century when its popularity, in decline at that time, nearly bankrupted its makers; R Griggs and Co in 2003.

The Dr Marten started out as a working man’s boot/shoe with their comfortable bouncy ‘Airwair’ sole that made them de rigour for factory workers, posties and coppers before becoming the anti-style statement of a succession of youth movements, all of whom could, in one way or another, be described as anti-establishment.

But the DM (my preferred moniker for the Dr. Marten shoe or boot) has unquestionably  evolved, virtually shapeshifted in fact, since its heyday in the late 1970’s and early 80’s.

My own discovery of DMs (the 1461) came in the late 70’s as a spotty university student (may have been my latter school days, but I can’t really nail it).  I wasn’t a punk – the discovery was largely based on comfort.

Sure, the ‘comfort’ proposition came with a caveat. They were difficult to break in.  The ankle area around the Achilles Tendon would take a severe bruising and chafing for several weeks, but it was worth worth it in the long run because what followed was years of indestructible comfort.

I have never felt confident enough to choose the yellow stitching variety – so strongly associated with rebellion. Although I did once purchase brown – not even ox-blood – 461’s  when brown shoes and blue jeans briefly defied the long term rules of fashion.

I wore them with a suit – my own private rebellion at a time when DM’s were in serious decline and seriously lacked style credentials.

I didn’t care. (That’s why I am an archetypal DM wearer.)

When I became the proud father of teenage kids I desperately tried to persuade them to wear DMs because, to me, they were such an anti-style statement that I foolishly believed they (my kids) would look cool.

They wouldn’t.  Because they, as ‘millenials’ (Christ, I fucking hate that word) had no rebellion in them and so need for DM’s

Perhaps inevitably popularity declined.  Rebellions ran out towards to the end of the millennium.  ‘New Labour’ was a reflection of us all going soft perhaps.  It was Toryism in disguise after all.

The role of the DM to kick holes in authority, with its comfortable bouncy soles and high quality leather upper (sometimes hiding steel toe-caps) was in, at the very least, abeyance.

And so the DM had to reinvent itself.

It started with a business transformation, making what may have seemed essential but will come back to bite in the long term, by moving their manufacture from England to Taiwan and China and, not that long after that in 2013,  the company sold to a private equity company,

The result?  Quality has taken a kicking.  The soles split easily.  The uppers tarnish, flake and generally do not serve their functional purpose and, actually quite quickly their new found fashion icon role.

And yet, as the shoe’s quality product credentials have plummeted, its ‘coolness’ has increased.

This is reverse Darwinism.  Evolution in a horrible, spastic contortion where DNA gets mangled for short term fitness at the cost of long term survival.

How many people under 20 have you seen wearing Ramones T Shirts?

“Who are the Ramones” you might ask them.

Glassy eyed looks might be the response.

So it is with the DM.  It now comes in what seems like 5,000 styles.  A veritable cornucopia of designs largely spray painted onto the blank canvas of the 460 boot and 461shoe.

These new, shit, versions cost 2.5 times as much as I paid for the originals. This is not the result of inflation – were inflation at play they may cost £60-70, but they are £115 or, if you want what me and my pals used to buy (the ‘Vintage”), you’ll pay 3 to 3.5 x as much at £150 – 170 a pair.

British fashion is really rubbish sometimes.  The Mini is another good example of a brand having a purpose (size and economy) and that purpose being OVERWHELMED by fashion.  The Mini is no longer small.  It’s not a fucking Mini any more.

Anyway, here endeth my rant.

I have three or four very old pairs of DMs.  They are intact.  I wear them regularly.  I will not be buying shit Asian imports at £115 and/or paying £150 for the same shoe at double its real value.  I will seek dead mens’ shoes in charity shops and vintage stores to keep my love affair alive.

Long live DMs.  Death to the new fashionista version.

 

 

 

 

Talking to My Daughter About the Economy (A Brief History of Capitalism) by Yanis Varoufakis: Book Review


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Yanis Varoufakis is the economist that shot to fame as the poster boy of Greek economic fuckwittery.  His job was to unfuck the institutionalised fuckwittery, caused by a seemingly ingrained national sport of ‘not paying tax’, that left the Greek economy as the basket-case of the Euro, in the wake of the economic crisis in 2008/2009.

Varoufakis became Greek Finance Minister in January 2015 and lasted till July of that year.  Not exactly jaw-dropping credentials for being the Oracle on succesful economic strategy.

But he was an academic, so he knew the answers, right?

Frankly, he seems to have been spending his time writing books about his experience rather than actually unfucking up Greece.  And maybe that’s why he only lasted 7 months doing the job.

This is one of the books.

Its construct is as a letter to his, now, 14 year old daughter, Xenia, who lives with her mother in Australia.  One assumes Yanis and Mrs Varoufakis had some sort of marital difference of opinion.

And I’m speculating that Yanis’ wife said to Xenia.  “Darling, let’s get out of this country that your dad is supposed to be unfucking up.  As far as I can see he’s too busy writing books about how the economy got fucked up in the first place to actually unfuck it.  But I’ve heard the Australians understand the economy and we can swap a diet of olives and Retsina for steak and Shiraz.”

Several months later Xenia woke her mum to say.

“Mum, fuck sake, Dad’s written me this fucking 200 page letter about the fucking economy that’s all fucking fucked, instead of fucking unfucking it.”

I mean, if you were 13 years old (then), and on another continent, and missing your Dad would you be high-fiving the entire population of Sydney High School shouting.  “Whoa guys, my Dad just wrote me a 200 page book about Capitalism, what did your Dad do?  Take you to the Melbourne Cup?  Go surfing all weekend?  Barbie like it’s 1999?  Fucking losers!”

So, the reader is treated like a 13 year old girl (who probably doesn’t give a flying fuck about anything other than getting to second base with Bruce) as Yanis explains the principles of Capitalism, and consequently how the economy works.  Why he believes he is qualified to do this, when his only practical experience is of not succeeding in reducing the world’s oldest and most enduring culture to a pile of rotting fishbones, I know not.

Perhaps it’s his academic credentials.

Anyway, he succeeds in explaining what inequality, money, labour, tax, trade debt, profit, and banking are before reaching out to his local pharmacist to ingest a cocktail of hallucinogenic drugs (roughly half way through).

Thereafter, he explores the Oedipal Complex, the Flight of Icarus, The Matrix, ( revisited no fewer than seven times – I mean, nobody on Planet Earth understand The Matrix, so why use it seven times to ‘simplify’ a concept as obtuse as capitalism and the economy),  V for Vendetta, The Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales, The Terminator, The Sorceror’s Apprentice, Faust and Doctor Faustus (seven times),  Frankenstein (six times), Harry Potter, Blade Runner, and Star Trek (five times) in an attempt to make the cerebral concept of Capitalism (and the economy) a bit more down with the kids.

The second half of the book would have made excellent arse-wiping material for Salvador Dali.

But the ‘best’ bit of all is his conclusion. (To his then 13 year old daughter, remember.)

In it he postures…

“OK, you will say, you reject the markets-everywhere solution and propose instead the democracy-everywhere alternative (really? is that what she’s grafiti-ing on the walls of Sydney High?). But how on Earth will your democracy save the planet, put the robots to work for us and make money function sensibly and smoothly?  What a great question! (If I say so myself.) While it would take a whole other book to answer it properly, let me offer a hint that may help you write that sequel yourself one day.”

“Aye. That. Will. Be. Right. Dad.  (Says Xenia.) Like I’m gonna write a fucking sequal to Talking to My Daughter About the Economy (A brief History of Capitalism) ‘cos you don’t know the fucking answers yourself (and made silly Brits fork out £12 to not give them any fucking answers – well, at least I got to read the crazy pish for free).”

In his epilogue, like we needed more reading after the previous 80 pages of intellectual wank, he writes this.

“How can Dad have confused me with someone who gives a damn?”.  That is a very, very, very good question and probably the best in the book.

But he ploughs on regardless, sharing with us this earth-shattering hypothesis to conclude.

HALPEVAM.

HALPEVAM is a ‘magnificent’ computer created by a mad scientist (any guess who that might be readers?)

HALPEVAM: Heuristic ALgorithmic, Pleasure & Experiential VAlue Maximiser. (Oh, come on, the acronym isn’t even a fucking acronym, it’s a fucking fag packet doodle.  Let me help you Yanis.  How about: Heuristic Algorithmic Leisue, Pleasure Experiential Value-Add Maximiser?  There: that spells fucking HALVEPAM!

Or how about Bloody Unbelievable Leisure-Life Sensitivity Heuristic Improving Transactional Organ Made Easy To Effect Relaxation?

He explains: “HALPEVAM is the opposite of the horrible, misanthropic machines in The Matrix – it’s the ultimate pleasure machine”.

(You still with us, 13 year old Xenia?  Or are you in a Psychologist’s practice in Sydney asking for information on psychosis ‘for a friend’?)

Poor Xenia.

But, Xenia’s not our problem, Yanis is raking it in and Mrs Varoufakis is presumably on a pretty big financial settlement (if only Greece reported its taxes).

Try it, it’s fun.

 

Three. Is the magic number. Calling all you Intelligent Finance [sic] customers out there.


Is Intelligent Finance the dumbest bank in the world?
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0845 xxx xxxx. Intelligent Finance’s Home Page and Security Page contact number.

This morning I thought “It’s champagne time – Intelligent Finance [sic] have, after 3 years of constantly asking them, updated their customer phone number”.
But no, only on 2 of their 3 customer facing pages.
The one when you are actually looking at your account is STILL WRONG.
They’re still Dullard Finance.
Incompetence beyond comprehension frankly.
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0345 xxx xxxx.  Intelligent Finance’s Accounts Page, where you can see your balance etc and might decide you need to call them to query something – by now you are through security and, of course, failed to write down the correct phone number while you were there on the assumption that the number would be correct throughout the site.  But, you know when happens when you assume.  Yes,  U make and ASS out of ME

 So, as I entitled this elegant thought-piece, Three. Is the magic number.  As I will leave De la Soul to prove.