Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Scads of Ads

It's funny, isn't it, when you get an idea for something and you go to execute that idea and the end result turns out to be vastly different from the original intent. This blog post is a case in point. I had intended to make this blog post about the TV ads this Christmas, the good, the bad and the downright stupid. But in researching the ads themselves I discovered something weird. Specifically concerning the John Lewis ad, a particularly fetid piece of homespun schmaltz concerning a 7-year-old boy and his wait for the big day. Here's the offending article:

 The problem I have with this commercial, sorry, I mean problems, plural, are that first of all they are using a song by a woman with a weird name (Slow Moving Millie - I mean really!) and that it is a song that happens to fall into a category I have talked about before on the ol' blog - namely, the "Songs That Should Not Be Messed About With Under Any Circumstances". The Smiths' classic 'Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want' reduced to a heartstring-tuggin' anthem to get you to buy your Christmas crap at John Lewis rather than Littlewoods or House of Fraser. My third problem with this commercial is that it's s**t.

But this is where it gets weird. The thick plottens...

That eloquent chef Gordon Ramsay has a wonderful show on UK's Channel 4 called Cookalong Live. Gordon, noted for his wordsmithery, and also his sense of humour that perhaps not everyone appreciates, did a promo for his new series of Cookalong by spoofing this commercial. The Cookalong ad mimics the original, and uses the original Smiths tune as well as the cover. It shows a little boy impatiently waiting for Christmas to come.

But, while the boy in the John Lewis clip stares out of the window wearing 3D glasses and dressed as a shepherd, Ramsay’s lad comically wears crash helmet and is later dressed as a pirate.Both children take a chocolate from an advent calendar, but only the Channel 4 ad shows the little boy grimace at the taste.The adverts both end with the eager youngsters rushing to give their identical, red gift-wrapped presents on Christmas morning.

However, whereas the John Lewis boy wakes his parents up with a smile, the other pyjama-clad kid walks into Gordon’s kitchen and is promptly told: “You’re late. Get peeling.” The unimpressed youngster then smashes the parcel on the floor in protest as the tagline for Gordon’s Christmas Cookalong Live appears.

However, you will not find this video on YouTube. Or so I thought. There's been a lot of legal wrangling going on, with Warner-Chappell Music being the source, apparently. One day it's up, next it's gone, with very little in the way of explanation. Even the C4 website doesn't have it any more.  However, the problems seem to have been resolved as a new upload is here. You can always bank on 'Net users to quickly copy things and repost them.

Ramsay wasn't the only chef to get in an ad for Christmas. Sainsbury's spokesperson, the ever-smiling Jamie Oliver, starred in one of the better Christmas ads this year. This is Jamie's last one for Sainsbury's and it's nice, featuring a corker of a track from George Formby.

However I now present to you in no particular order, the craptastic ads for Littlewoods (the Advertising Standards Authority received tons of complaints about it, saying that it was 'killing Santa'), the Boots 'Here Come The Girls' one (it's difficult to believe that the Here Come The Girls refrain doesn't have some sort of Pavlovian effect on half the population these days - its very sound much like the foreshadowing of some horrific catastrophe. Me, I'm inclined towards punching myself in the neck, but voiding of stomachs, noses, bladders and bowels are all well-known side-effects of hearing this tune. There seems to be some sort of Great Escape theme to this, so I'm hoping there's a bonus ad that involves them all being taken out to the woods and shot.), and the Stacey Solomon Iceland crapvert. Enjoy.

So there you have it folks. Christmas ads, the good, the bad, and the Littlewoods.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Transition Town Tenterden Upcoming Events

Hi Folks, 

Just a quick line to let you all know that the January meeting of T3 will take place on Tuesday, January 24th 2012, at 7pm inside Number 75 restaurant. Hope to see as many of you as possible!

Also please remember that Hike & Bike Wednesday still takes place every Wednesday evening from 5:30 onwards at the White Lion Hotel. Feel free to pop in and join us for a drink and a chat about our upcoming and current projects!



Friday, December 16, 2011

Puzzler: Macca's Star, or Lack Thereof

So last time I asked you: Who is the only Beatle NOT to have a start on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame? the answer, somewhat surprisingly, is our old friend Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft, Sir Paul McCartney. WTF? I hear you cry. But ah, 'tis true.

It's in the works, though. It's actually been planned for quite some time, in fact.  It seems his Paulness has been dragging his feet somewhat about setting a date for the dedication ceremony. When it eventually does occur, his will be alongside George's one, Ringo's one, and The Beatles' group stars at 7080 Hollywood Blvd., outside the Capitol Records building. John's is at 1750 Vine St.

In researching this post I came across a lovely photo of Sir Macca at the dedication ceremony of George's star.  Here he is in all his Paulness kneeling and polishing George's name.

This is actually an unlikely poignant moment. After the star was unveiled by Olivia and Dhani, Olivia touched the name of George on that star with her right hand, and rubbed her forehead with the ‘dust’ off her late husbands name. That is a Hindu tradition of reference – rubbing the dust off the foot of a revered person (usually a Hindu priest, or a Holy person) on your forehead, as a means of anointing yourself with the dust of a Holy person (or perceived to be Holy).
Dhani did the same thing a moment later, touching the name of his late father on that star.
The next second you could see Paul tapping Olivia on her right shoulder, and he leaned over towards her, seeming to be whispering to her. The next second Olivia nodded her head.
And before you knew it, Paul stepped forward from his previous position, behind the third person, to the right of Olivia, and knelt on George’s Hollywood star and started wiping it with his white handkerchief, right on George’s first name!

Paul was showing his respect towards his Beatle Brother in his own way – recognizing that Olivia and Dhani just ‘anointed’ themselves with the dust off George’s Hollywood star in Hindu tradition. At the same time, he is not pretending that he bought into George’s Hindu faith, hence he invented his own way to demonstrate his love and affection for George while amusing Olivia and Dhani in process.

And Tom Hanks was right on – this moment was indeed a Kodak moment.

So then - next question.

Which movie contains songs written by Tom Hanks?

Underwear! Underwear!

File under: gratuitous pluggery, as my friend Clark Brooks would say.

Go to the page at and be in with a chance of winning some luxurious undies. Why the heck not? It's not every day you get free silky knickers in the mail, is it? Who wouldn't want to feel that visceral thrill of seeing the post-person marching up your front path with a mysterious package in their gloved paws, and thinking to yourself "Oooh! I wonder what that could be? Sumptuous undergarments, perchance?" Who could resist the opportunity? Tell 'em I sent ya.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

100 Records That Shook The World, #33

Down By The Jetty (LP)

Dr. Feelgood

Dr. Feelgood had been touring the pub-rock circuit for a good three years when they released their debut album Down By The Jetty, an LP that has influenced rockers such as Paul Weller, Bob Geldof, Richard Hell and Blondie with its bluesy, ballsy guitar-driven rock. Guitarist Wilko Johnson insisted to first-time producer Vic Maile that all the tracks be recorded live in the studio, and so the LP sounds like a mono recording, with everything in the centre of the mix. This adds to the LP's quality rather than detracts.

The influence of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates is obvious, as well as John Lee Hooker. In fact, the band covers Boom Boom  on side 1.
Over the years the Feelgoods have undergone many lineup changes, but their biggest blow was dealt in 1994 when frontman Lee Brilleaux died of cancer. Every year since, a special concert is held on their home turf, Canvey Island in Essex, in Lee's memory. In 2009 Julien Temple's Feelgood biopic Oil City Confidential premiered, with Brilleaux's mother as guest of honour. Reviewer Nick Hasted said: "Feelgood are remembered in rock history, if at all, as John the Baptists to punk's messiahs."


School Rant

So I was walking today past my old alma mater, Homewood School. Now when I was there in the late 70s/ early 80s it was just called Homewood Secondary School. These days they call it Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre, as if it's some sort of mini-college or something. Well, perhaps it is. Why do I say this? Read on and find out.

Just outside the school gates runs a footpath that goes down between the school sports field and the back entrances to the houses on Silver Hill. The back entrances of the houses usually have fences with gates and a couple of them have back steps. Pay attention to all this, it's important.

Back in my era the students were not allowed to leave the campus during school hours unless they were in the Sixth Form, and even then only during lunch hour. You just knew if you weren't a 6th Former and you wandered near the gates, you were being watched by a teacher. You sensed it, you could just feel a pair of eyes burning holes in the back of your skull. It was just common knowledge that you were asking for trouble if you tried to bunk off.

These days things have changed. First of all, no-one, not even teachers, can smoke on site. So the gate always has a member of staff or two standing outside in all weathers having a crafty ciggy. There's even a wall-mounted ashtray there, for pity's sake! Not only that but students smoke there too. What is wrong with this picture? For one thing, given that the price of cigarettes and tobacco products is astronomical (over £6 for a pack of 20 - that's about $9 a pack), where are schoolkids - 16 and 17 year-olds - getting the money to smoke with? Their parents must have more money than sense.
Back when I attended, teachers smoked in the staff room. We all hated being given something from one teacher to take to another if that teacher happened to be in the staff room. You opened the door, instant Wall O' Smoke. And heaven help you if you were discovered smoking at school. My friend Jim told me he was once hauled up before Mr. Hughes, the Head of Music and Head of Upper School, because he was caught smoking. As soon as he entered Reg Hughes' office, he was hit with the Wall O' Smoke. As he sat down to receive his telling-off, apparently Reg offered him a B&H.

Second thing that bothers me is the fact that at any time during the school day you will see schoolkids walking up and down the street in packs, but enter the campus and it's deserted. I just want to go up to one of them and yell "Does nobody actually GO to school anymore?" Someone in the know tells me that only 6th Formers are allowed off school grounds, but I'm sorry, they can't all be 6th formers, can they? How many bloody 6th Formers are there? I mean, I live with a 6th former, and some of them look a lot younger than him. Just today I saw three such examples, a right group of herberts, strolling down the footpath. One of them had one of those gelled-up fauxhawk hairdos, looking like a reject from X Factor, replete with a goofy smile and sunglasses. Yes, sunglasses, on a cloudy day in December. What a twonk. He and his cohorts sit down on somebody's back step, in full view of people playing on the sports field, and break out their rolly ciggies, and brazenly start smoking. And I'm sorry, this kid could not have been more than fourteen. And judging by the faces of the other adults I encountered while walking this route, this sort of thing is not uncommon, and to some little old ladies, fairly intimidating.

There are so many questions that jump into my mind. Firstly, why are the school not taking a harder line on this sort of stuff? Why is there not tighter security? And why do these kids walk around with apparent impunity, acting like they own the place? Why are they not in their damn classes, being taught stuff? Does the teacher even notice they're not there? And what's with this misplaced sense of entitlement that they all seem to have? Because you just know if someone actually did something about it, if the school took away all this impunity and adopted a less laissez-faire attitude, then they and their parents would piss and moan and scream about how their poor little angel's rights were being trampled on. The society we have become is one of gimme-gimme all the time, and with world economies collapsing, climate changing and resources depleting, this gimme-gimme culture has to change, and it's with the kids that it has to start. A bit of social responsibility and willingness to learn. I know I sound like an old fart, but goddammit, if I had to stay there all day, then they should too.

If it was my school to run, I'd lock the damn gates from 9 am to 4pm.  Tough but fair, that's me.
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