Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sporting mea culpas

are a rare breed, so are worth cherishing when they pop up. Here's one from Aston Villa defender Curtis Davies:

"I was just awful. I didn't contribute anything.

"I've been bigging myself up, saying I'm ready and obviously I'm not. I'm not good enough to get in the team yet.

"I'm honest with myself in every performance and that was rubbish - I looked like a pub team player."

Villa lost, by the way.

It's almost as good as my all-time favourite, this pitch perfect rant from Jim Mora, former head coach of the New Orleans Saints:

"The Saints ain't good enough. We're close, and close don't mean shit. I'm tired of coming close. I'm pissed off right now. You bet your ass I am. I'm sick of coulda, woulda, shoulda, coming close, if only."

Which I still maintain inspired Beverley Knight's song.

And here's a flavour of Mora in full flow:


Wednesday, September 26, 2007


A bumper edition for your delectation. Let's crack on:

1. 26 recommendations for this month here, plus some of our favourite first lines to boot.

2. It's Quaker awareness week this week, although that isn't meant to make them sound like an illness that needs to be highlighted. It's been backed by an intriguing campaign asking people to sing a different song, a theme that's carried through to the website. It's a refreshing change from previous campaigns to raise awareness of or the profile of more established churches, not least because it doesn't rely on a shock treatment of Jesus.

3. Damian Seaman is an excellent noir-ish writer. He has a new short story out. You should read it.

4. Graham Smith, of 'eleven' fame, has started a blog lifting the lid on what it takes to make it as an independent music artist today. You should read that too.

5. New ads for The Economist. But wait, they're not white out of red? Once you have recovered from your fainting fit, you can see the full set and the rationale behind them here. The Beta take? Why change 30 years of heritage just to try and attract new members to the club? Find a way of doing so in the old language.

6. Re-inventing the ad agency, again.

7. Video of the recent NESTA Connect event, 'Mass Collaboration', is now available online. It featured an excellent set of talks from Mark Earls and Howard Rheingold, and is worth your time.

8. Another thing to embed into your blog. Sketch-tastic!

9. This piece of work has been getting rave reviews. And it's fresh from ais...

10. Modern, first world capitalism might not be all that, according to the Guardian this morning, in an analysis that is reminiscent of some of the points about the economy that Francis Wheen made in How Mumbo-jumbo Conquered The World. Even worse, it requires you not to use all your talents to the full (via The Times' Comment Central).

Phew! That's more than enough to be getting on with, thank you!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Capsule: Oli Rockberger

Oli Rockberger bounds on to the stage at Pizza Express Soho, London, and does something unexpected: he takes off his big, heavy workboots, and gets ready to pound his piano's pedals in his socks.

This small act is a neat encapsulation of what Rockberger achieves in his music: a toughness and robustness to underpin the lightest of sweet and melodic inflections.

Rockberger is over for one night only as the promoters might say, from his New York base, and is keen to impress and please the sold out club, playing two sets both at least an hour long.

He and his trio - Tony Grey on bass and Jordan Perlson on drums - are joined by Paul Booth on saxophone. It is, Rockberger claims, the first time that Booth has played with them, but the fluency and understanding on display make that a hard claim to believe, not least the melodic conversations that bounce back and forth between piano and sax on 'Heart and Soul'.

But the sets are not merely exercises in traditional indulgences. Rockberger eschews excess for a direct simplicity, a convex at which improvisation meets a delicious authority. He is even able to deftly incorporate the crash of a wine bottle to the floor into a run up his keyboard.

For newcomers to jazz, this is a land that is sonically familiar - think Ben Folds with sugar instead of spice, the aching soul of Lewis Taylor - and there is an attractive, sunny Californian tinge to his melodies which, in their pure poppiness, remind one of Gregg Alexander of The New Radicals.

Lyrically, his stories are of love and its challenges, met with an unfailing optimism. Any introspection, psychic or rhythmic, is normally quickly swept away. And at his best, Rockberger does sweep you away: 'Shaking the Shadows' is a controlled riot of kinetic energy not once, but twice this evening, and he even gets away with a cheeky little quote from 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' in 'Queen of Evasion'.

There is a smile on his face throughout the entire evening, presumably because he knows that he's putting a collective smile on the audience's. Because there's no bigger promise that can be made by any musician playing any type of music than the ability to make you smile. And because Rockberger keeps this promise convincingly, with a passionate certainty.

He finishes, puts his boots on and leaves the stage, happiness trailing in his wake.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Copywriter wanted

archibald ingall stretton…, the integrated ad agency where I work, is looking for a copywriter to join its current happy band of scribes.

The lucky chap or chappess will work get to work on a range of different briefs including emails, websites, SMS messages and DM, for clients such as O2 and Skoda. Smile winsomely enough, and there might be some more conceptual work available too.

You’ll need to be comfortable working in media offline and on, handle long copy expertly, short copy deftly and be ruthless in your proofing. Experience applying tones of voice will be useful too.

If that wasn’t enough, we’re based in the heart of London’s trendy media ad land, have a roof terrace and are all lovely.

Drop me a line at to find out more.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Failing the Tebbit test

Well, after this sort of display, you would, wouldn't you?


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Who would break a TV producer on a kitty's paw?

Meet Socks. Socks is a career killer. As the poor former editor of Blue Peter has discovered, or is about to discover, this afternoon.

Three observations:

1) Huh? Really? Is the name of a cat what our definitions of integrity in the production of media content now hinge on?

2) Is the 'audience' now so revered that whatever they say has to go? What exactly is wrong with taking the second choice for a name and using it, rather than the first? Who exactly would be disappointed and outraged that Cookie crumbled, as it were?

3) Why is it that a TV producer can lose his job over the name of a cat, but a prime minister can't over whether or not weapons of mass destruction were to be found where he said they would be?

PS: Media Guardian reports, "A new kitten named Cookie will be introduced to the show, while the BBC said Socks would 'also remain on the team...before he is taken out into the Blue Peter Garden, and drowned.'"

Oh OK, maybe not. But it may be the only way to stop Socks destroying what's left of public service broadcasting in the UK.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Editorial: Poetical interviews

The Guardian's latest series of giveaway booklets has generally been excellent. The transcript of Brill Grundy's encounter with the Sex Pistols was priceless - you literally could not script dialogue that funny.

The best of the series so far has been the Marilyn Monroe conversation, although 'conversation' is not the right word. It is a stream of consciousness, acutely insightful on human nature and beyond, and should put to bed the idea that she was a mere ditz with a wiggle.

And this line on the spread of fame, as highlighted by Joyce Carol Oates in her foreword, shows why:

You're always running into people's unconscious.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Corley is coming

Finally, my story shall be told.

I shall be monitoring how truthful and accurate they will be.



Round up of some interesting bits and pieces:

- Real T-shirts celebrating fictional brands made famous in films(via Murketing)

- Rory Sutherland on positional eating

- Ford goes back to basics

- A man named Pratt was once a prat in Pratt's, in what is the best obituary of its type in ages.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Capsule: Richard Hawley

Ach, how can you not love a man who comes on to The Roundhouse stage and says, "Let's ballad"? He and his fine band were note perfect, almost too perfect, and he kept up the lugubrious banter all night. ITV should commission 'An Audience...' with him immediately.

He didn't do 'The Nights Are Cold', for which hearty boos. But nevertheless, enjoy this as well.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Commercial: On trends

For those of you in the trendwatching business, two things that might be of interest:

1. Trendwatching has issued some of its tips towards successful trendwatching. The article is long and difficult to read on screen, but it is useful on the differences between trends and fads for example.

2. has a report on some of the trends identified by Mark Penn. They're drawn from his book Microtrends and aim to bring to wider attention changes and developments that are going on in small niches across consumer sectors. You should pay attention because not only is Penn head of Burson-Marsteller, but also Hillary Clinton's chief strategist. The Economist recently profiled him.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Apollo in Kent

Just a quick note to say that if you're quick you can catch Graham Smith talking about his album 'eleven' on the Pat Marsh show on BBC Radio Kent, on the listen again facility. Graham was on today, and it was a fab interview. My interest? Well, I've written the sleevenotes to 'eleven'.

Next stop, The Sky at Night...