A poor advert for the advertising agencies

There are some things in life I just can’t make a decision about. Perhaps you have the same problem?

Well do you or don’t you? Make a decision for goodness sake!

Take advertising, for instance. I’ve seen thousands of adverts on TV and at the cinema. Some were entertaining but many were just plain baffling.

An expensive advertisement shot on glamorous locations featuring impossibly good-looking models can misfire, if you can recall the exotic images but not the product it promoted.

There’s a current TV ad for indigestion relief that I find intensely annoying.

There’s nothing wrong with the product.

I’ve used it many times and bought a bottle for the festive season on the off-chance I might… possibly….perhaps…over indulge.

What makes me angry is the ad’s claim that “It’s two-times more effective!”

Two-times? Is the ad aimed at five-year olds?

Americans may say “Two-times”, but in Britain we say “It’s twice as effective”.

Why? Because ‘twice’ is the correct word.

I’ve posted an English dictionary to the advertising agency responsible. Twice!

As for many ‘humorous’ ads on commercial radio, surely the only people they amuse are the advertising ‘creatives’ who wrote them.

Another problem with radio ads is how frequently they’re repeated – sometimes three or four times an hour, which can transform having the radio on all day into a form of aural torture!

To show how mixed my feelings are about advertising, I’m worried about the welfare of everyone involved in the world of television advertising. I know. I’m just a sentimental old fool.

I fret about the futures of executives, accountants, writers, directors, actors and technical crews involved in multi-million pound advertising campaigns aimed at convincing us to rush out and buy the food, drink, clothes and household items they’re promoting.

In 10 years time there may only be a handful of advertising agencies in the UK because TV ads have much less impact today.

Many of us don’t watch ‘live’ TV, thanks to the brilliant electronic box that allows us to digitally record several programmes at the same time.

Then, when we catch up with them, we can skip through the ads – even ones featuring foxes bouncing on trampolines.

That’s great for us, but bad news for the advertising agencies whose careers could well be in jeopardy because fewer people watch TV ads as they’re broadcast than ever before.

In fact, two-times fewer people. Oops!

Time to enjoy party season

So, the season of goodwill and crazy partying got off to a good start, which I’m sure many of you reading this have discovered.

Towns, villages and cities all over the land have had a taste of the celebrations over the past few weeks and it’s not over yet.

Far from it, there are still a few days to go – but then we have New Year’s Eve.

I’m told that in Opera, the show isn’t over ‘til the fat lady sings. In Karaoke, it’s just getting started.

Most of us love a good party get-together as it brings out the best in us. A chance to relax and kick back a bit and I’m all for it.

But we can quite often over-indulge on such occasions and get carried away (some get carried away in an ambulance and some by the police).

If you don’t believe me, take a walk around Swansea over the next few days.

It’s a great feeling to see families and friends getting together at any time, (yet alone Christmas) and more of this is needed in this fast-changing world and lifestyle most people now find themselves part of.

Bring back the good old days. Well, OK some parts of the good old days!

Enjoy.

I think I’ve gone soft!

Strange as it may seem but I have a confession to make. Our cocker spaniel was on my Christmas present list.

I know I’m not alone as millions of people include their pets in the Christmas festivities as pets have now been elevated to family member status. Now when did this all happen?

To be honest with you, I’m convinced that the reason for this is that they are more appreciative, less argumentative, more loyal, less moody, love unconditionally and don’t pout for weeks on end like their human counterparts.

Pet lovers are all around us and the sale of pet toys and goodies have rocketed in the past five years. So, clearly, the evidence is out there.

Personally, I draw the line at pet jumpers and diamanté studded collars.

But yes, people are buying such items. My spaniel, however, prefers a onesie.

Who’d have thought?

Messages brings gift of smugness

As this is the time of year we fondly look back at past Christmases, allow me to return to a subject I’ve previously written about – the dreaded end-of-year communication known as the ‘Round Robin’.

So-named because when they come ‘Round’, they’re ‘Robin’ us of time that’d be better spent doing something more enjoyable.

(Like standing barefoot in a bowl of ice-cold water, peeling 10 pounds of sprouts, listening to Noddy Holder scream “It’s Chrrrrrrrissssstmas!” at maximum volume, on a three-hour loop tape.)

If you’ve never received one, ‘Round Robins’, are those self-congratulatory ‘What A Fantastic Year Our Family’s Had!’ letters and e-mails sent out by distant relatives you wish were even more distant; ex-work colleagues you barely remember; and that irritatingly smug couple you met on holiday and foolishly gave your address to.

Although you never see any of them from one year to the next, they mistakenly believe you’re interested in every little thing their incredibly successful family achieves . . .

“Amelia obtained 10 A-Levels! A school record! Next stop Cambridge!”

. . . though you’ve no idea if Amelia’s their daughter or their pet hamster.

Mind you, even I’d be impressed by a hamster who managed to get into Cambridge. The traffic on the ring road is murder.

‘Round Robins’ are the modern equivalent of a time when we were invited to spend a tedious evening gazing at other people’s ‘fascinating’ holiday snaps or, even worse, home movies – an experience so excruciating, it made water boarding seem like a fun day out at Legoland.

‘Round Robin’ writers never consider that your year mightn’t have been filled with as many golden opportunities as theirs.

There’s a reason for this.

They don’t care what sort of year you’ve had.

If they did, they’d ask.

Real friends regularly telephone or e-mail each other and offer congratulations when good things happen and commiserations when life deals a bad hand.

What they don’t do is send out an annual list of all the wonderful things that happened to them without giving a thought about your well-being.

However, if you can’t beat ’em, here’s my 2016 mini ‘Round Robin” . . .

In February, I sold my house. I’ll be in trouble when the council finds out.

In May, we lost Auntie Gladys. What a card game that was!

In September, I had 10 teeth taken out and a new gas cooker put in.

Merry Christmas!

Mysteries of the attic

The annual visit to the attic to bring down the decorations is always an interesting one. Why do we keep so much stuff up there?

I don’t know about you, but there are things up there that I’d forgotten about, didn’t know I had, or haven’t used for years.

Things that I will probably never even use again and also things I don’t think I have ever used before. What’s the point of keeping such items up there?

Have I become a ‘hoarder’?

So, as you can see, yet again I have discovered another bad habit that needs dealing with.

Now then – the Antiques Road Show series often had people on with items that they had found up the attic.

Not all the items found were valuable treasures, but many were interesting and had a good story behind them.

Therefore, with this in mind as I de-clutter in the New Year my mind will be focusing on the back story relating to the junk in my attic, which in all fairness could be more valuable than the items themselves.

Taking the Christmas strain

I can’t help but notice that many people are experiencing higher levels of stress at the moment, which could be a direct result of the challenges faced in the build up to Christmas.

Yes, this time of year is not all fun and games for everyone. Far from it.

To be honest with you, I am also feeling a bit of the strain, which is a direct result of trying to please too many people.

I’m not alone on this and my research suggests that our biggest downfall is people pleasing and lacking the ability to say “no”.

This, and the additional demands of crowds and Christmas shopping, makes it very difficult for us to enjoy the season of goodwill.

But just think of this for a moment.

Baby Jesus was born in a stable, with parents who were homeless and his father unemployed.

Now, just imagine, if that was today . . .  a homeless couple, father signing on at the job centre, they’re living in a tent – AND they come to you and say they have just had a son called Jesus who is the son of God (relax, it’s a joke).

Who would you call first, the police or the Mental Health Department?

Nothing funny about drunken hecklers

December! The most wonderful time of the year!

Unless you’re a comedian appearing in a comedy club packed with people who think the most appropriate way to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus is to drink industrial quantities of booze before staggering into the venue and sitting as close to the stage as possible so nothing can get in the way of their enjoyment.

Not that they intend being amused by the comedians they’ve paid to see. No, their enjoyment comes from being amongst a group of pals in Santa hats, loudly heckling, interrupting, swearing and generally behaving like chief guests at a moron convention.

Lacking the ability to behave themselves in public and the talent & steel nerves it takes to stand on a stage and make an audience laugh for half an hour or more, these braying donkeys reserve their loudest laughs for their own ‘hilarious’ comments.

I can’t think of a more pointless exercise than spending money to watch a comedian and then amusing yourself by shouting out half-witted insults which you mistakenly believe are funnier than the carefully-honed material being performed by the professional on the stage.

It’s no better for comedians booked as the ‘cabaret entertainment’ at a company’s Christmas dinner and dance in a hotel function room.

Because a crowd of (mainly) young people – all dressed-up and raring to let their hair down on their big night out – don’t want to sit quietly for 45 minutes listening to some poor soul trying to make them laugh.

If the crowd’s started drinking, they’ll soon tell the comedian he’s not wanted…very bluntly!

Comedy is the only form of entertainment where this happens.

You never hear of a drunken audience member at the circus who decided he could do better than the trapeze artistes risking their lives above his head and began climbing up the rope ladder to show them how it’s done.

Nor has any opera been interrupted by a drunk in the stalls who, believing he possessed a better voice than the leading tenor, climbed on stage, elbowed him out of the way and took his place. Mind you, that might be fun to watch!

Personally I relish getting in amongst the audience at my shows, so drunken hecklers don’t worry me. Because, the next day, while they’re nursing a massive hangover, I’ll be paying my fee into the bank!

Stressed out by mystery cards

Every year this happens and it’s doing my head in.

Yesterday morning the postman delivered that dreaded card that read, “Merry Christmas Phil. Best wishes from John”.

Now then – my address book, phone and Christmas card list has no fewer than 87 people named John. So how am I supposed to know who this is from?

Why do they, or him, in this case, do it?

Doesn’t he realise the blinking stress that he is causing?  For goodness sake man, give me a fighting chance and a bit of a clue as to John who, or from where.

On the other hand, this could be a deliberate ploy to cause me stress and frustration.

The very same thing happened last year and I was still trying to work out who John was in April.

There were even a few sleepless nights trying to figure out which John he could be.

At this rate I will need therapy.

Charity at Christmas

It’s that time of year when every retailer wants our hard earned cash and we are constantly tempted to part with it as those special officers are all around us.

But do we really need all these bargains, or are we just seduced into becoming serial impulse buyers?

At home – clutter and waste is all around us in one form or another. Things we don’t use or need and quite often bought on impulse.

You know what happens after the big Black Friday sales? I’ll tell you.

A lot of people who bought new big screen TVs will take them home, hook them up and then realise they need to do something with their old TVs.

Same is true with other things they bought. Whether it be exercise equipment, bikes, toys, furniture, books, even high end audio gear, they’ll want to get rid of the old to make room for the new.

A lot of unwanted items will end up at your local charity shop, which makes this a good time of the year to visit those stores – because they’ll be overflowing with goodies.

Chances are, you’ll find some real bargains there. It’s win win. You pick up bargains, charities make more money

It’s a strange old world – literally!

We live in a time where Donald Trump is about to become the most powerful man in the world, vegans want to scrap the new five pound notes because they contain tiny traces of animal fats (why not just ask for five one-pound coins instead?) and millions of TV viewers enjoy watching minor celebrities chewing on a dead kangaroo’s you-know-what, while locked inside a box of snakes.

Some readers wonder why I get annoyed with people so dim I’m astonished they can find their way out of their own front doors to wander aimlessly along while texting on their stupid…err…smart phones, oblivious that pavements might just occasionally be used by other pedestrians.

In my defence, there are weeks when I relate happy experiences I’ve enjoyed, recall the wonderfully bright, caring people I’ve met and share a positive view of the world. This, however, is not one of those weeks!

As the correct usage and meaning of words are important to comedians, we’re probably more aware of – and annoyed by – the monumentally stupid things that monumentally stupid people say, especially in the media.

I recently heard a Radio Two programme trailer for a pre-recorded concert which included a brief extract from the singer’s performance followed by a female presenter breathlessly announcing . . .

“Wow! There are no words to describe that! It was amazing!”

So, although there were ‘No words to describe that’, miraculously in less than one second she’d managed to invent one which began with ‘a’ and ended in ‘g’. Amazing!

That was a double win for the world of stupid, because whoever edited the trailer and left in that ludicrous line and didn’t think it through.

On ITV’s “Loose Women” last week, one of the women on the panel was an ex-model with several autobiographies and novels to her name, none of which she’d written or, I’d guess, had even read. I wouldn’t reveal her name at any Price.

Recommending a West End show she’d seen the night before, she said “It was so funny, I literally exploded with laughter!”

As ‘literally’ means it actually happened, if a silicone-bosomed, vacuous ‘celebrity’ had spontaneously exploded inside a theatre, it might have been reported on the TV news, probably, in these dumbed-down days, just ahead of the announcement that WW3 was starting a week Tuesday.

Oh dear. Looks like we’re back to Mr. Trump again!