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, May 28, 2009

Lest we forget

why we need to turn out and vote next Thursday, Fraser Nelson in The Spectator provides ample reminder in his report on the BNP:

That the BNP is racist is, of course, not a matter of opinion. It has a whites-only membership policy, for example, and while it no longer supports compulsory repatriation, there are no prizes for guessing its definition of ‘indigenous population’. But there is no hint of this on the campaign trail. The letters BNP are, to me, hatefully synonymous with racism and all its sickening implications. But the people who have BNP posters in their windows regard this primarily as a gesture of defiance, a protest, a means of throwing stones at the glass of the Palace of Westminster.

The comments underneath his post, depressingly, start to prove his point.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

26 recommendations

for May are here.


Commercial: More business start-up rules

But as they're from Evan Williams of blogger, odeo and twitter, they might be worth listening to.

You can also find them, as I did, in the current edition of the howies catalogue.


Commercial: Let the video build

Nyle "Let The Beat Build" from Nyle on Vimeo.

The audio was recorded at the same time as the film, but forget all that. Overall, the effect is is joyously good; when it's at its best, there's nowt as life affirming as a hip hop lick.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Bank holiday blues

And on sax, Henry...
Originally uploaded by SgtRock333
While I could moan about being in the office on a Bank Holiday, instead I shall remind myself that it could be worse.

That I could be a hoover. Playing a saxophone. Underneath St Paul's tube station.


Friday, May 22, 2009

This moat, this England

Best comment yet on MP's expenses, from The Daily Show (via Iain Dale's blog):

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Commercial: Come Away With Me

and experience an interactive audio guide for London; just click on the images, and get a plummy voice telling you gobbets about said place. Is nice.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Commercial: [insert relevant Germans / railway joke]

Just to reinforce any lingering cultural stereotypes that you might have had about our cousins on the Rhine; when you get a chance, head over to, where, no word of a lie, it's actually quicker to plan your rail journeys... in the UK.

I'm not joking. Above's the screen for when you plug in a short hop from London to Oxford. Click on the image for full details. When I tried to enter a similar journey on National Rail, from Berlin to Hamburg, it asked me whether I meant Bodmin Parkway to Ardrossan Harbour.

Thanks to Ms Malice for the tip, who I believe is currently running round the Fatherland as we write.


Commercial: Just another Adland rejection letter

I pass on the following exchange without [much] comment. It's real, by the way.


Dear [Applicant dude]

Apologies for the delay in responding to your enquiry and thank you for your interest in ['Who? I've never heard of them' agency] and for sending in your details.

I'm afraid that we won't be taking your application any further at this stage. Though I can't answer each application individually, the reasons for not proceeding with you are probably more to do with your "fit" with this particular agency rather than advertising in general so don't get disillusioned. Keep at it. Remember, everyone turned down the Beatles at first!

In the meantime, even if we can't offer you a position here, we can give you a few tips that might help you elsewhere:

• Read Campaign as often as you can
• Learn about recent events at each agency you apply to
• Tailor your covering letter to each and every agency
• Be concise (your CV shouldn't be more than 2 sides long)
• Make your CV involving – pick-up on some of the more unusual things you've done and bring them to life
• Don't do what everyone else does and use long lists of adjectives to describe yourself (e.g. I'm an articulate, creative and helpful team worker, etc, etc)
• Try and communicate a sense of your personality – not by describing it but by demonstrating it in the way you write your letter and through the things you've done in the past
• Don't expect agencies to spend a long time reading your application – they'll probably spend no more than two minutes flicking through it, so bear this in mind when you write it
• Take risks

I hope that this helps and good luck with your future applications.

Best wishes

[HR Babe]

Dear [HR Babe, although frankly I doubt that. A lot]

With regards to your response to my application may I make the following suggestions:

- Either give individual feedback or don't give feedback at all

- Vague value statements such as 'probably more to do with your fit' are are best unhelpful, at wost frustrating

- Avoid platitudes such as 'everyone turned down the Beatles at first!'. Graduates tend to be over 12 years of age

- Read the actual CV as often as you can

- Tailor your rejection letters to each applicant

- Alternatively, be concise - 'Thanks but no thanks will do'

- Make rejection letters involving - pick-up on some actual criticisms rather than tell someone who has studied in 3 universities, read 3 subjects and worked on 3 continents to bring their CV 'to life'

- Please recommend a viable grammatical alternative to the adjective

- Try and communicate a sense of personality - not by copy/pasting rejection platitudes but by demonstrating it in the way you take the time to actually assess a CV

- Don't expect the advertising industry to continue being a bottomless pit of money for much longer - two minutes is far more than you can ever expect a customer to remain interested

- Take calculated risks - business school grads may be a bit on the wild side but at least we won't blow the budget on AbFab furnishings...

Kindest regards,

[Applicant Dude]


Monday, May 18, 2009

Commercial: Let's play the gig here

Let's play the gig here
Originally uploaded by SgtRock333
I spotted this a few weeks ago, but have been remiss in posting about it. If you're in and around Kingly Street, between Regent and Carnaby Streets, you're sure to stumble across the Ain't Nothin' But The Blues bar.

Want to go in, but not sure what the music's like? No worries - just have a look on the wall opposite, and you'll see whoever's playing at that moment.

It struck me as a great spin on the old way of getting people in to clubs: no flyering, or grabby hands pulling you towards free drinks, just a simple gesture to the projection opposite. Lovely.


Shameless plug alert

At least it's log rolling on my own behalf. My poem 'Crashing the pips' is in issue 8 of that fine magazine The Delinquent. Get your copy - and I know you will - here.

And if you're really tight:

Crashing the pips


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Chiselling Parliament

There's not really much more to be said about MPs, troughs and snouts, but Stephen Fry's intervention on Newsnight last night got me thinking.

Thinking that, actually, for once, he's wrong, on a couple of points:

1) "For journalists to go on about it [snouts in troughs] is almost beyond belief... I've never met a more venal or disgusting crowd of people when it comes to expenses."

Except that, the people who are being defrauded - if that's the case - are generally, Mr Murdoch, the Barclays, Lord Rothermere (should we make an exception for the BBC?) - that's to say, not generally, the taxpayer. If that cabal can't be bothered to enforce their own rules, damn fool them.

2) "I've cheated expenses, I've fiddled things; you have."

No, sorry, I haven't, as a matter of fact. This isn't said with any pride, or maybe regret that I should have. The fact is, fear of revelation and then consequent sanction has been a sufficient motive for me not too.

And I suspect there are plenty of people out there like me. Indeed, in many companies expenses are now significantly harder to claim back, one of the cost cutting measures that this recession has imposed.

One other thing: I think he's making a mistake of scale here. This isn't pettifogging cab rides, the occasional theft from the stationery cupboard, a round of drinks claimed under entertaining when it was only you and the dog in the pub. This is, in certain cases, a near tripling of people's salary thanks to creative use of expenses. Who do you know in real life who manages that, can get away with that before HMRC catches up with them? And it's not as if they're creating this money themselves, and then rewarding themselves an above average share of it.

3) "Let's not confuse what politicians get really wrong, things like war, things where people die, with the rather tedious bourgeois obsession of whether they've charged for their wisteria."

This gets to the nub of things for me. It is precisely because we've not been able to hold politicians to account for these sorts of serious issues (remember, the only people who resigned or lost their jobs over Iraq were politicians who were proved right or journalists who were proved prescient in their skepticism) that they're being crucified over something that could appear to some as trifling.

And so, if we can't get anyone to hold their hands up and take responsibility for the big questions, and by that I mean losing their jobs, and not just saying the words 'sorry' and 'I take full responsibility', then it's fair game for us to go after them for the smaller transgressions.

After all, Elliot Ness didn't get Al Capone on a murder rap, did he?

Two other thoughts: 1) we really need some sort of recall system in UK politics. Waiting for people to do the honourable thing clearly isn't going to be sufficient any more; 2) Nick Cohen on Sunday called this the Damned Parliament. If only it were, as that would imply a gravity to the situation. Instead, it turns out that, mostly we appear to have been governed by a bunch of chisellers. And the pathos of that is almost too much to stand.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Marvin and The Flickr Bike

I'm in the office today, but was able to sneak out for a cheeky G'N'T. I wasn't expecting to see the Flickr bike though!


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Notes on tour: Dreams and the sun

Picture 191

The cliché is, of course, that the desert is devoid of life. The other cliché is, of course, that it’s not true. And, of course, don’t forget the one about it being endless too.

All of them, of course, are true.

Picture 206

It’s hard to detect life behind the grey ribbons that now grid the sand and the rocks of Scottsdale and Phoenix in Arizona. You can travel for ages, and the only animate, non-automotive creatures you’ll see are Jack Rabbit and Mr Lizard running in the Sun Valley races. Cacti bear their arms upwards and serenade the sun, while ushering you past ranch lofts, coloured a citric concrete, low slung on pink gravel, failing to hide in the sandy skies.

The things that are deserted here are the things that are green: parks, lawns, verges. No one’s out playing, few people picnic; there’s no kite flying, no ball games. It’s as if the most pleasing rebellion you can instigate in the desert is to leave a tap running and disappear.

The desert itself, meanwhile, is rush hour busy. Wheezing up Camelback Mountain, you’re overtaken by people for whom the hike is merely an outdoors step aerobics class. It’s as if this is an instinctive, vigorous, obvious response to the fact that the land has been conquered, by middle aged spread – from afar, it appears that we’ve bellyflopped into canyons of concrete, and left swimming-pool sized imprints everywhere.

Picture 310

Which we have, in a fashion. This is a place of a certain type of unshowy, flat wealth; where you can’t escape from the resort, where you’re charged $2.17 for a banana, where you’ll most certainly get run over by a golf buggy, where convention guests proffer name badges and almost-dry handshakes and try to distract you from their grey or cream corporate uniforms and fuchsia blouses.

It’s a bubble – a bubble made of sand, but a bubble nonetheless, where you can both be renewed, and yet simultaneously be deracinated, physically and emotionally. All the factor 50 in the world won’t stop you have to shake the dust out of your poses for days after.

And yet, and yet, none of this answers the question, ‘Why come here? What do you actually do in the desert?’ My answer? That you go there to answer the question, ‘How much happiness do you need to make you happy?’

Picture 255

It’s not just about refining and running down expensive dreams in the sun. It’s about dreaming of new futures. Fleeing Italy or Wisconsin in the winter, as Paolo Soleri and Frank Lloyd Wright did respectively, means that there’ll always be pockets here where the summers of various loves carry on, being excavated and constructed, in new ecolabs and arcological encampments.

Picture 270

It’s about being in a place where promises, by you, to you, are made. Where you can find a window in which you can see your future, and you’re dared to step through and seize it.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Listorama: Facebook status updates vol 12

BetaRish (is)...

glad it’s you

says Happy Darwin Day!

does not suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia

feeling nostalgic for the second summer of love

oh dear oh dear oh dear

has gastroenteritis, dammit

still tired, but hopefully over the worst of it

was far too optimistic yesterday

now slightly concerned his right is hurting

back with a whimper

going to have a thin Fat Tuesday

welcomes the ashes

crotchet minim crotchet rest

going to the Convention on Modern Liberty in London tomorrow. Let me know if you’ll be there too

chasing the rush

won’t be walking to Sloane Square any time soon

not bad at pub quizzes. Officially

sick and tired of being sick and tired

would like two months off

ill. Still

still snuffly, but less snuffly than yesterday

thinking about music for films

not as much of a snot machine

thinking about walruses. Any tips anyone?

Looking at the new FB homepage, and thinking Twitter has them really spooked…

off to the Emirates later

amazed St Nick managed to miss so many attempts on target

Nope, still not liking this


I woke up this morning and realized I’ve been ill for more than a month. Bloody hell

I’ve succumbed, and admitting defeat

cracking on

Absence of breakfast, mostly

How fickle fate can be

Somewhat confused by watching Holly and John banter on facebook, rather than over my shoulder in the office

Honestly? I couldn’t possibly say

Bibble, burble and boo

Lots. Far too much to go into detail here

Oh you know, tings and stuff

Oh good grief, interweb mail, start!

Panic on the streets of London? That’d be an April Fool and a half

wonders how long it might take for everyone to have the same status message. Let’s find out. Go

Waiting for the (delivery) man

Which Canterbury Tale are you?

A ferocious amount of words, really

‘1901’ by Phoenix

Breakfast with Kirsty was scrummy. Good luck for later!

is digesting a very good breakfast

is an amateur. He can’t deal with two consecutive nights out any more

Where’s the sun?

is resurrected!

is following the packhorse

Hey ho! Let’s go!

Why is my sock doing this to my foot?

This could be overwhelming

Might breakfast have been too large, considering lunch will be a mite hefty too?

Mazzy Star, which is lovely, but not necessarily Monday morning shiny sky music

Karen O is Hope Sandoval with hipper dance. Discuss

What was I thinking when I said, ‘Hello’?

Today’s Sesame Street has been brought to you by the number ‘175 billion’, and the letter ‘O’

Ahoy hoy!

How far do sugary sentiments take you?

Rhymes for ‘Yeehaw!’ anyone?


Universal Dickens Locator

Another one via Copybot; this time, something that translates URLs into passages of Dickens.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, this parish became this, from Barnaby Rudge:

The serjeant was describing a military life. It was all drinking, he said, except that there were frequent intervals of eating and love-making.