Saturday, August 01, 2020

Disrupt Media Giants the Bognor Way

I don't know why, but I found something endearing about this story on the BBC website yesterday.

Pic: BBC
The hacking event was serious, involving misuse of the credentials of a number of very well-known people. Somehow, one expects the perpetrators to be a sinister gang of Russian or Ukrainian hackers, perhaps led by a bald gentleman who strokes white cats whilst issuing his softly spoken orders to inflict mayhem on the world in order to bring about the end of civilisation, or something. One does not really expect the trail to lead to a small bungalow with sea-shells embedded into the walls and a plastic model windmill on the front lawn, in a quiet street with a friendly corner newsagent who sells beach umbrellas and flip-flops and where the distant smell of seaweed wafts invitingly up from the beach.

I wonder how the local newspaper will play this one -
"Local man displays world-beating tech skills" perhaps or "Hacking: Littlehampton trounced again".

 "He was a quiet lad and we thought some clerical job might have suited him best" his old form master will say "He clearly had hidden depths and I'm pleased that he might have got his start from St Merridew's."

The neighbours will, of course be quoted as saying "We never would have expected it. He was such a quiet man, always kept himself to himself. We always thought he would turn out to be a serial murderer. Who ever would have believed he was up all night on his computer, I mean what kind of normal person does that?"

And when that case gets to the local magistrates court, how many times will the beak peer over her horn-rimmed glasses and murmur to the prosecuting counsel "Remind me again, Mr Jefferies, what is Twitter?"

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Those Awful Advertising Slogans - No. 16 - Money Supermarket (again)

It's a quite a while since the last one in this series. I had begun to hope that better times were upon us. But no, once again we are confronted by a slogan that is simultaneously baffling, irritating and frankly rather nauseous. Not only that, but we have a repeat offender. They just didn't learn after my piece of some four years ago, although I note that they have parted company with their ad agency on that occasion, the pretentiously named "Mother" and gone for the slightly less pretentious but no less skin-crawling "Engine".

Yes, it is our old sparring partner Money Supermarket and this time they have clearly gone for the random name generator approach. You have three columns of words, words about finance and business in column 1, words denoting emotions in column 2 and various nouns of well-known things in column 3. Thus a spin of the dice might give us "Business Happy Clowns" or "Technology Wistful Petunias". What we got this time was "Money Calm Bull" and here is the cash-loving animal doing what all bulls love to do:

pic: Money Supermarket page on Facebook
A confession. Though the current campaign launched a few weeks back and there are ads on TV, some, no doubt, featuring our bovine friend and his trusty inflatable life-raft, I have failed to see any of them. I first became aware of the hitherto unknown link between cattle and valuable pieces of paper from posters recently put up around beautiful Ruislip (which thereby rendered it marginally less beautiful). I have no idea how the animal remains serene whilst maintaining a precarious balance amidst the shark-infested waters into which it seems to have drifted. Regular readers will not need me to add the inevitable "and I couldn't care less".

Fascinatingly, a browse for synonyms for the word "bull" produced many pages of fine examples but all on the lines of "hogwash", "twaddle", "double-talk" or "balderdash". How very satisfying. Money Calm Hogwash is an excellent slogan and I commend it to you whenever anything promoting Money Supermarket (and perhaps anything created by Engine) should cross your path.

As if the random name generator was not enough, those clever chaps at Engine added a cunning "Be like" to the slogan. Be like a bull. Enjoy a short life rampaging around meadows, servicing cows and scaring the life out of ramblers wearing red jumpers, then all the fun of a ride to the abattoir and some sharp knives. But calmly.

I think the sharks are the winners here. Sooner or later that bull is going into the water. There's not going to be a last-minute rescue because even if a ship should pass, our horned ruminant has no way of signalling its distress (anyway it will be too calm to do so). Either a large wave, a gust of wind or the slow leakage of air will do for it, and then it's definitely beef frenzy time with plenty of prime rib, t-bones and sirloin for all. Wealth Expectant Shark - there's a slogan to savour.

-*-*-*-*-*-

Do you work for a ruthless, thrusting, City firm? Does my slogan Wealth Expectant Shark match your business aims and morals? It can be yours for a very reasonable fee. Contact my agents, Crankshaft, for a quote and a sight of the temptingly-priced Terms and Conditions.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Knitware of the Baskervilles

Stories about large wild animals roaming around the British countryside crop up regularly. Monsters in lochs. Big cats in Surrey and the "Beast of Bodmin". And, as we move into what they used to call the "silly season" (but is now so stuffed with hard news we need a new name), so we have yet another mysterious and unexplained sighting that has left the boffins baffled. Step forward the elusive and legendary big grey feline of Horsham:-

Pic: Sky News


Only this one did not fool the experts for very long. No sooner were the fine lads of the West Sussex police despatched to investigate than the mere switching on the headlights of their car to the animal in question revealed a large and utterly inert soft toy clinging to the bench for dear life.

End of story? Not in these parts, buster. Just the beginning ....

1. A Visitor from Devon
Mr Sherlock Holmes and I had barely settled down to our landlady's excellent breakfast of scrambled eggs and devilled kidneys before there was a frantic knocking on our door. Before Mrs Hudson could announce him, a young man dressed in country tweeds burst into our room.
"Mr Holmes, you must help me, sir. I have rushed up from Dartmoor by the milk train to seek your advice. My good friend, Sir Charles Baskerville, who has recently inherited the family estates at Baskerville Hall, was seen in the village charity shop - buying a knitted dog""
My friend rose, pale and brows knit in thought.
"Watson, we shall pack at once - to Dartmoor!"

2. A Warning
We arrived in Dartmoor as the sun was sinking below the sinister outline of the granite tors that overlooked Baskerville Hall. Our visitor - who had announced himself as the local GP Dr Mortimer - stared up at the grim rocks.
"All the evil comes from there, Mr Holmes. There is an ancient legend that the fluffy cats and the teddy bears so beloved by our children do come to life at the call of those with the knowledge and carry out their master's fell wishes"
Even as we paled there was heard a shrill cry as of some carrion bird. Holmes blenched.
"Have you your service revolver to hand, Watson? I fear we may need it before this night is out".

3. The Baronet
Sir Charles was waiting for us in the great hall. Even his naturally ruddy complexion was an unnatural white.
"Mr Holmes, thank you for coming. I laughed at Mortimer's fears about the soft toys but now - I fear the diabolical curse that hangs over this house will shortly alight - upon me!"
I paled. "What can it all mean, Holmes?"
"Courage, Watson" said my friend, looking alertly around "We shall seek out the root of this mystery and it shall have no supernatural cause, believe me. Now then, Sir Charles, tell me about the charity shop at which you purchase these totems?"
"What Mr Stapleton's Emporium? It is the most charming of  establishments and I frequent it with much delight"
"It is as I feared" said Holmes "Sir Charles, you must, on no account, venture out to that shop tonight. You are in peril of your life"
"Indeed, I shall do as you say" stammered the baronet "But surely you will permit me one last indulgence, one final teddy bear to complete my set"
"Not one" Holmes affirmed "Watson, remain here whilst I visit our friend Stapleton".

4. The Peril on the Moor
I watched the grey mist curl down from the menacing tors and realised, with a start, that Sir Charles had slipped quietly out into the night whilst I was thus dreaming. I followed at once, with Dr Mortimer close behind and we raced into the darkening gardens. At once a great scream shocked us to our very marrows and we reached the thick hedges at the boundary of the Hall to find a huddled form slumped to the ground with a hideous bright yellow plastic doll over his face.
"Just in time Watson" It was my friend, emerging from the moor, as pale as ever I had seen him "This is that devil Stapleton's doing. He is out there now, thinking himself safe, but we shall have him yet. See to Sir Charles" and he wheeled about and was gone. I found that the baronet was not dead, as I had feared, but merely stunned. Whilst Dr Mortimer and I assisted him back to the Hall we heard one more terrifying scream.
"My God"  I gasped, turning white "Is it Holmes ...has he...?"
"I am safe Watson" and my friend emerged from the gardens to join us, as blenched and white-faced as any man could be "We grappled on the edge of the mire. He ran off, dropping a Sonic the Hedgehog toy and fell into the depths of the swamp. He is gone and with him his villainous scheme to so bemuse our good friend here with bears and cats and dainty mice and the like that surely the baronetcy - for he was a distant relation - must fall into his grasp as Sir Charles went utterly and irretrievably mad. Now all that remains is to seize his stock-in-trade and burn the lot"
"Mr Holmes, thank you" It was Sir Charles, struggling to his feet "I owe you my life."
"Eschew the soft toys from henceforth" admonished my friend, gently wagging his finger
The baronet paled. "I shall, Mr Holmes. I shall"

The End.



Monday, July 13, 2020

The Fake News that Wasn't.

There's nothing quite like being cheered up first thing on a Monday morning by a news story about someone else's terminal stupidity. Today we have the heart-warming account of the Texan who deliberately exposed themselves to covid-19 and died as a result. And why take such a risk?

Source: The Independent
Yes, of course, a disease declared by the World Health Organisation and the governments of every country (even his own) to be a serious threat justifying closure of air traffic, mass quarantining and the stockpiling of drugs and medical equipment, was really a hoax. Oh, those jolly japesters. They certainly didn't fool our gallant hero anyway. He knew better.

So, that's one fewer Trump supporter and maybe the Texas gene pool will improve a tad.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Struggling back

I wrote, a couple of weeks ago, about the strange decision made by the UK government to quarantine arrivals from countries with lower infection rates than here. They have finally seen sense (or been browbeaten by the travel industry) and announced that anyone coming here from one of 55 destinations need not quarantine. Nearly all destinations in Europe and quite a few beyond are on the list, thus saving part of the summer holidays for those bold enough to venture overseas.

Bold is the operative word. Lockdowns have been reimposed in some cities or regions abroad (and in our very own Leicester) that have experienced an upturn in infection rates, so anyone travelling may find themselves caught up in it at very short notice, and possibly having to quarantine there or on return. Being stuck abroad is no joke. For this reason Mrs C and myself will be staying on this island for the foreseeable.

Other signs of a return to some sort of normality are the reopening of almost all shops with pubs set to follow tomorrow. Mass gatherings are still banned so some football matches and other sporting events are taking place in the eerie silence of empty stadiums and arenas. My local supermarket still restricts the number of shoppers so I go there early enough to beat the queues. Although shelves are pretty well stocked, a number of brands or varieties have vanished (we are beginning to miss Crunchie ice creams) and the deli counter remains closed, so there is no nice fresh-cut cheese or meat.

But the infection is still with us and people are still dying, thankfully at much lower rate than a couple of months ago, so we still do a slalom-like dance when walking down the local shopping streets as we dodge a couple here, a mother and children there and the queue outside the bakers. The two metre rule has been relaxed to one metre, if unavoidable, and for many this means there is no real need to observe social distancing at all. Therefore we must wait to see if the infection rate goes up or continues to diminish and meanwhile businesses unable to open or to operate normally are bleeding to death. It's all a bit bleak right now.