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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Poetry: 30/30, over and out

I've just about got there.

My final poem for the National Poetry Challenge went up earlier today.

30 poems over 30 days.

Except that, as can be the way of these things, I ended up writing more than 30 poems this month.

I suspect it's one of those, 'ask a busy person to get things done' type phenomenons.

So, thanks to classes, some unexpected inspiration from people and places, and a sharp eye for an opportunity for a phrase, I suspect I've got closer to 40 drafts.

Including a villanelle, a sonnet about account management. And lots and lots of triolets.

What have I learned from the exercise? A few things:

1) Publishing helps: I think the tumblr was a masterstroke for me; the beast needed to be fed - no slacking.

2) As does the supportive feedback and comments of the other participants in the facebook group. You're amazed by the quality of what they post. Then you're inspired to get better.

3) Random things happen to poems when you release them into the world: I wrote a prose poem about Supergrass' final gig. It got picked up and pushed out to the wider world, something I never could have anticipated.

4) Rhyme can be addictive. Maybe I was a rapper in a different life.

5) I've gone a bit bonkers. (I know, I know, was I before etc etc.) But if you're not careful, you can start to see everything in terms of, 'is it a poem?'. It takes some restraint to stop and think that it might be something else.

Will I do it again? Deffo. Just perhaps not this year.

Now, I'm off for a lie down, and a prose bath.


Monday, June 28, 2010

26 recommendations

for June are to be found here.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Commercial: More Uberpup

More work from my sister Uberpup, the real talent in the family, this time for The Office Group. See more here.


I have a new crush

which is, I have to say, totally unexpected.

Anyway, part of the reason I now heart Mary-Louise Parker, her off Weeds and The West Wing, is not only because she looks like so, and is game enough to do things like so:

but that she also writes like this:

A Thank-You Note to Men

To you, whom it may concern:

Manly creature, who smells good even when you don't, you wake up too slowly, with fuzzy, vertical hair and a slightly lost look on your face as though you are seven or seventy-five; you can fix my front door, my sink, and open most jars; you, who lose a cuff link and have to settle for a safety pin, you have promised to slay unfortunate interlopers and dragons with your Phillips head or Montblanc; to you, because you will notice a woman with a healthy chunk of years or pounds on her and let out a wolf whistle under your breath and mean it; because you think either rug will be fine, really it will; you seem to walk down the street a little taller than me, a little more aware but with a purpose still; to you who codifies, conjugates, slams a puck, baits a hook, builds a decent cabinet or the perfect sandwich; you who gives a twenty to the kids selling Hershey's bars and waits at baggage claim for three hours in your flannel shirt; you, sir, you take my order, my pulse, my bullshit; you who soaps me in the shower, soaks with me in the tub; to you, boy grown-up, the gentleman, soldier, professor, or caveman, the fancy man with initials on your towels and salt on your chocolates, to you and to that guy at the concession stand; thank you for the tour of the vineyard, the fire station, the sound booth, thank you for the kaleidoscope, the Horsehead Nebula, the painting, the truth; to you who carries me across the parking lot, up the stairs, to the ER, to roll-away or rice mat; to you who shows up every so often only to confuse and torment, and you who stays in orbit, always, to my left and steady, you stood up for me, I won't forget that; to you, the one who can't figure it out and never will, and you who lost the remote, the dog, or your way altogether; to you, wizard, you sang in my ear and brought me back from the dead, you tell me things, make me shiver; to the ones who destroyed me, even if for a minute, and to the ones who grew me, consumed me, gave me my heart back times ten; to most everything that deserves to call itself a man: How I do love thee, with your skill to light fires that keep me warm, light me up.

Sorry, Nigella.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Commercial: Chief Detail Officer

Rory's at it again: persuasive, funny and having a crack at consultants. For a big man, he's good at sweating the small stuff


Poetry: From the ordinary

My found poem 'First Night' has been published on the rather excellent site Verbatim. Go read etc.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Commercial: Get your mask on

To celebrate Green Britain Day, Team Green Britain's celebration of all things green. The geniuses that are Laila and Paul came up with it, and I helped out with a bit of copy.

Capes optional.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Poetry: Day 16 of the National Poetry Challenge

Was inspired by the word 'virga'.

Which lead to this poem.

But then I worked out this morning what had really *inspired* it.

Talent borrows, genius steals.

Sorry Neil. And Mark, you can tell me the answer later.


Sunday, June 13, 2010


Saw Supergrass play their final gig in Paris on Friday night.

I ended up writing a poem about it, as part of the National Poetry Challenge.

Which was then re-tumbld by some very nice Supergrass fan types.

Who'dve thunk it?


Friday, June 11, 2010

Commercial: Back to the terraces

Obviously you'll by now be all prepped and ready for tomorrow's epic showdown.

And you'll want some way of remembering the result.

What better than a poster memorializing other epic matches of our time? In the style of Hollywood posters?

Where do you get one of those from, I hear some of you cry.

Howsabout new design shop Back to the Terraces, where in their own words, you can go back to a time

when real men wore moustaches, Persil vouchers got you up to Newcastle and the mention of a WAG would be mistaken by the schoolboy apprentice as something to polish the pro's boots with.

Prints are original, and hand-drawn, and if you're a fan of Everton, Arsenal, Villa, Chelsea, Liverpool, Leeds, Leicester and West Ham - as well as England - well, there's something there already for you.

You might as well - seeing as you're not going to have a picture of Stevie G holding aloft a certain trophy...


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Commercial: The Haiku World Cup

Yes, we are just one day away from the summer's major sporting event.

The Haiku World Cup.

I jest not.

You can now celebrate, commiserate and generally have a poetic kickabout with any aspect of football, in that well-trodden 5-7-5 formation.

Gather ye studs and swap them for quills. You can see some of the entries received so far, and then submit your own via There's also the usual facebook and twitter malarkey going on too.

If all goes well, there'll also be an e-book of the best that come in over the next four weeks.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Commercial: Creative Tourist

Just stumbled across this, and it doesn't half look rather good.

Set up the Manchester Museum Consortium, nine museums and galleries in the city, Creative Tourist is exactly that, a 'city guide for the creative tourist' in their words.

There's a fantastic depth of content here, as well as all the usual social media bells and whistles you'd expect. It's certainly an engaging attempt to curate a tour guide in a new way.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Commercial: wet cappucino

It has come to my attention that a certain American chain of coffee shops, anecdotally at least, operates a policy of stuffing as much froth as possible into their coffees.

In the unlikely occurrence that you happen to be a customer that likes more coffee than froth - are there really some of you out there? - you have to ask for a 'wet cappuccino'.

That's right. Ask for a wet drink.

Presumably, too much caffeine destroys the brain cells it stimulates.


Monday, June 07, 2010

But where's the hot dog?

So. A History of The World in 100 Objects. Magnificent. Stupendous. Public Service Broadcasting At Its Best. Two world class institutions coming together to produce stimulating, ground-breaking content. Collaboration of the highest order. Etc.

Now. I don't mean to carp - much0 and forgive me if this an unwarranted thought, or one that will be dealt with as the monumental edifice is built.

But where the hell are the transient objects?

You know, the ones that get thrown away. Or consumed.

Like food.

Like the hot dogs that get sold outside the British Museum, in fact.

Doesn't this class of object have something to say about who we are?

Or are we merely dealing with stuff that's 2,000 years old, and chiselled out of bauxite?

Just wondering.

(Mustard and onions, thanks.)


Friday, June 04, 2010

Reportage: Rubik's conqueror

After Old Street station, 8.57pm

And it really was a conquering; a blitzing, an over-running. Howlingly, repeatedly successful.

If one could be said to be able to over-run a cube.

His left hand was the anchor, slow, almost static, with some fingers twirling. You could see it anchoring Beethoven's First at the keyboard, rocksteady.

Whereas the right was a wizard,a spy, a ghost. 'Dexterous' wasn't an adjective, it was a state of being, as his fingers flew round and round, blurring the nine faces into one flesh-toned bowl of colour.

Sometimes, he even looked down his aquiline nose to see what his digits were doing.

It was impressive enough to distract a woman with a lazy bob of can't-be-bothered sandy hair to stop fiddling in her Oxfam bag for a moment, and imagine what his fingers could do when unleashed on something really worth playing with.

She blushed, and bit her lip.

In hope of banishing the thought, she dived back into her bag to find a book.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Listorama: Facebook status updates vol 16

And now we show whether it’s true…

Slips, hitches and other knots

Snow, blood etc

is a paper prototype

could get washed away soon

is the curse of thinking

is blaming the rogue portabello mushroom

is tentative

Hola Sevilla!

Where’s the accelerator pedal again?

is open to offers of nationality. Consideration of quality of said country’s national day given high priority

was on the losing side in the Hundred Years War

The state of my union is strong

Who would you be in my roman a clef?

is catching up with himself

Dreaming of aphorisms is tiring

Old radicals were so much better, weren’t they?

No one’s ever ‘jazzsteady’ are they?

Oh why can’t you just keep things the same?

I might wake up soon

is about to unleash the digs of lust

‘Look beautiful, look busy’ – my new mantra

Rage as much as you can; it’s better to burn out than never flare

will throw these wings away

dreamt the Headmaster Ritual, military two-step n’all

is a damp wolf

Bric brac nic nack tic tac go!

is drowning in links

would like to be harvesting stories

Hello Today, I believe we were due to be introduced at some point before you disappeared

And now to hit the road

is considering The Wykehamist Fallacy

is in flames

One slip and you tumble down

is demanding free passage through

The sky says spring

is trying to digest the thin end of the wedge

Just suppose you juxtapose

is entering his middle style period

is only halfway through his acceptance speech

Today, my Achilles’ heel is literally my Achilles’ heel

has left Nosleepsville and is on the way to Tempertown

is accounting for all the rattlesnakes

is a flat track bully

is doing it for the kids today, and Wednesday and Friday too

Fingers, pies, confusion

is very proud of Treason, the fighting boy cat

would like the big dance number to start now

I think. I know. I am

After hibernation

And then I decided it was fine to find myself in the lingering cadences of forever

Panic in its first day

Panic in its second day. And it started earlier too

Panic in the face of imminent illness

Sunday in my palm

And now it’s time for the shakedown

is somewhere in the venn diagram

Assaying some essays

The joke’s on who?

will be throwing over some windows later


was dazzled by a diamond knuckle duster this morning

Buffalo gals go round the outside, round the outside, round the outside

Entropy, all is entropy


is a system of thought

is America’s Team

is a cor Anglais duck

Uncork the otters!

is batting over .400

is singing sci-fi lullabies

drowning in desperately thin stuff

has the fear

A title, a title, my words for a title

is all about expected contours today

A kingmaker is never a king

has voted

Cracking on


is preparing for a trip down someone else’s memory lane

is far away from election fever

is ready to serve in the nation’s interest. The nation in question being Fredonia

That last gin and tonic. Wow

is looking forward to returning for The Great Patriotic Wait

Back, sans bags

Imagine no possessions. You can, if you fly US Airways

welcomes Nick and Dave, the new Bert and Ernie, to the street

is flight status neutral

is bigging himself up

The future is hidden in the past

For The Draw

is a Chris Ware cartoon

is chic le freak

Wingwalking is too good for him

is down on the disco floor

Welcome to today’s yesterday

Scrape the sky


is part of The Hudson Valley Conspiracy

didn’t throw up while running down The Mall


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Poetry: 2010: 30/30 National Poetry Day challenge

Just to let you know that traffic might be even less heavy than normal, as I have rather rashly agreed to take part in a random poetry challenge for June. 30 poems, 30 days.


You can follow my progress on facebook, or the tumblr I've set up.

See you in July.