Monday, 23 March 2015

let's play a game.

this week i will carry out a little experiment on twitter. 

i will be copying and pasting random phrases, changing any person into 'brand', and tweeting them with #SocialMediaMarketing. 

will engagement increase?

Friday, 6 March 2015

it can't be done. they said.

“This is it. This is it. This is it”, he says to himself.
“I’m not ready. I’m not ready. I’m not ready”, he thinks to himself.

He takes a deep breath. He remembers that someone, somewhere, once told him that it was a good way to slow down your heart rate. His heart, which is battering against his sternum, slows down. Slightly.

“Now!” he says and thinks to himself. 

He explodes into movement, bounding forward. As his legs accelerate his mind runs. Back to when he first discovered what he wanted to do with his life. Back to the first moment he knew that he had no choice in the matter as it was his destiny. And no-one was going to stop him, not even himself. They tried, though. The other kids at school. His parents. His brothers and sisters. Every single one of them told him it couldn’t be done. It could. And if it couldn’t he was about to find out.

This thought drives him forward. Every muscle in his body contracts and relaxes in quick succession as they thrust him forward. He is now nearing maximum velocity. He is nearly there. He now focuses on his target. He hears all the voices of the doubters in his head. If only they could see him now. The voices get louder and louder. His legs move faster and faster.

“IT CAN'T BE DONE. IT CAN'T BE DONE. IT CAN'T BE DONE.” the voices are now screaming.

“YES IT CAN!” he shouts as he shuts his eyes and jumps.

Jimmy the weasel grew up being told he would never fly. Lectured by his elders about his wild imagination. Bullied by his peers because he saw possibility where they saw futility. But he knew. Or rather, he was chosen. He was put on this earth for this sole reason.

He opens his eyes. The world below him is getting further and further away. He is airborne. He is flying. He is doing what he has been destined to do. He has only one thing to say to those who lacked faith in him and in personal dreams….







Tuesday, 9 December 2014

zoella bad. penguin badder.

So, a book has been ghostwritten but this time the short reign of peace that existed after the last online furore (Russel Brand vs The Sun, anyone?) has been broken.

Yes, a book has been ghostwritten and the inaudible screeches of the ever-suffering online population come spewing out of the screen toward me. Engulfing my otherwise uneventful daily visit to Twitterlandia. I want to make a comment as I, too, will have two deluded tweenage daughters (maybe more) in ten years time.

First, the book was ghostwritten. You know what, who cares? Not the first time it was done.

Second, we have the people-are-just-jealous crew versus what-about-all-the-struggling-writers-trying-to-get-a-book-deal gang.  Yes, there could be a degree of greenness, or degreenness, in the fingertips of lesser known/unknown authors a.k.a. ‘I-keep-a-blog’ers as they click-click-clickety-click their views into the virtual highway. However, it is 2014 and self-publishing has become a viable avenue for getting noticed. If you have the touch and the determination, you can get noticed. Sell a couple of thousand copies through this system and the publishers will be knocking at your door. The good stuff always comes to the surface, this is something I am adamant about but also something I need to believe for my own sanity. I may be na├»ve but it is a small price to pay to keep my mental health.

Third, there are screams of ‘no way a tweenage-internet-idol wrote a book!’ What is this argument all about? It’s not Catcher in The Rye, and it is not trying to be. And she is 24. Dylan Thomas wrote and had ‘And death shall have no dominion’ published when he was 18.

Fourth, the girl is taking a lot of stick since the news broke. But, hey, she built a following on what those who watched her ramblings via Youtube believed to be an open, honest (and perhaps personal) relationship. She broke that trust but with the help of a publishing house and its marketing strategy. Yes, leverage some of your hate in that direction. A publisher once requested to take a manuscript off my hands if they could put a Z-lister’s name to it. I said no. That was in 2010. Trust me, the big boys had taken the manufactured ‘X-factor’ route long before Zoella logged on to Youtube for the first time – but at least One Direction were manufactured in front us, in the open. Her greed, be it financial or professional, led her into the trap. And to think, all she had to do was say that it was ghostwritten from the beginning. So, so simple.

Fifth, yes, 78,000 copies were sold in the first week. It broke all existing debut novel records. Let’s put that into a more appropriate context: 1.3% of her Youtube subscribers bought it. One point three percent. If I published my book today I reckon I could get five of my followers to buy a copy. Yep, 8% of my following. Smashing her record out of the water.

Finally, the girl was quite happy to lap up the attention as the records fell around her. She always dreamt of writing a book, who hasn’t? A couple of weeks ago she stood in front of the lenses of the world, beaming, proudly clutching her book knowing the truth. Her publishers stood by and were definitely high-fiving each other on a job well done, because it is a high-fiving industry. And quietly, in the shadows, sat the ghost clutching the non-disclosure agreement she had signed, legally-bound to bring the secret to her grave. Which brings me back to the vlogger’s age. She is 24. An adult who built a huge following by being open and honest. Clearly she is a smart woman. There is no doubt about that. But, it is because she is a smart woman it makes it that much harder to forgive her for deciding to go along with the publisher’s suggestion. You have to take the good with the bad, Zoella, that is just how life works. As for the publisher, just like when any scandal occurs nowadays amongst the ranks of the powerful, they will throw out some nonsensical non-answer to the pestering public and will hope everything will settle down. Why should they worry? There will be another ‘celebrity’ to market their wares down the line. And so the circle continues. Remember Pippa’s party book flop? Ah well, you win some you lose some.

However, it is this consistent attitude by those who hold the reins that the public is stupid that is the real issue I have. This saga is just another example. We have a duty to stand up for one simple moral: don’t lie to us, don't undermine our intelligence.

That is all. 

p.s. My 11-year-old niece, for once, decided to listen to her old uncle and would like a refund of the £12.99 she spent of her hard-saved pocket-money on ‘Online Girl’ as the description she was given when she made the purchase does not fit the product – Sales of Goods Act 1979, Law 1.01. Yeah, she is making a mini-stand.

p.p.s. I am looking forward to Twitter’s reaction to Zoella’s inevitable ‘coming clean’ vlog but I am sure there will be other occurrences to ‘outrage’ the good folk in the Twitter-sphere before then.

Monday, 20 October 2014

back in the room

this blog will resume shortly.

si si?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

we are all potty

maybe we would have waited longer to start the 'training' but at nineteen months and with a new little stranger in the house there was no choice. it was time.

now, you can look up how to go about it - the internet is at your finger tips - and you will be told a million different methods. all these methods state, in way too many steps, how to get your child to sit, poop and then how to wipe the kid ('instilling cleanliness' is the term one site used). after flicking through some websites i decided that it was best to phone my mother. she had nine children, so her advice could only be worth while. after all i am pretty sure that all my adult brothers and sisters are now out of nappies. she must have done something right. 

her method is quite simple: get a potty - not one of those 'toddler loo seats' (another gimmick for parents to buy) as children usually have a hard time getting up on to a toilet by themselves - and a book. put the potty in the bathroom. fair enough. put the book beside the potty. during the day give the child nappy-free time, the little ones are like clockwork so you should know when their bowels kick off. pretty simple but now here is the trick: you have to go to the toilet with the child. lead by example and all the rest. so on our first attempt, i disappeared into the bathroom with my little buddy and we both got comfortable, me in my seat, her in hers. after half and hour of reading, we got up, instilled cleanliness and, proud as the judge who imprisons corrupt politicians, we brought the potty to mummy. "good girl" she exclaimed on seeing the big, steamy result. so, potty training can be quite fun and apparently easy.

my wife, however, never questioned how such a little girl produced such a big result. not to worry, as I have taken it upon myself to look after the 'potty training' and she need never know. wives are happiest when they see results, right?   

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

who's there, spit?

if you are over one-year-old and your parents spend money on you from time to time, you will probably have received a copy of eric hall's "who's there, spot?". for those of you not familiar with the yellow puppy who runs around wondering who is knocking on the door, who is in the tree, who is in the bath, well, the following is some of the text: someone is at the door, spot. i'll go, mom! knock, knock! who can it be? hello, spot! hello, helen! tweet, tweet! who is in the tree? we're hungry! 

however, it is the little flaps that you can look under on each page, to see who is there, that is the main attraction. i not only like the book but i also know it of by heart. after all, i do read it four times a day. but i like it because it reminds me of a time when you would go outside to meet people. you know? when we, and little puppies, would physically move our hairy asses to interact with others. do you remember? but some people might prefer the times we live in. you know, a time when a city the size of london can be held under the thumb of a few teenagers thanks to their organization via social networks and mobile phones. it is for these people that i propose that mr. hall introduce "spit", spot's twin brother. a more in-tune puppy with the times that we are living in. you can tell the difference because spit has three marks on his back, while spot has, well, one.

below is the completed draft for "who's there, spit?" enjoy!

Monday, 8 August 2011

london's burning but the kids are alright

i am sitting here, like most londoners, watching the third day of riots unfold on the television. i live in N4 and in the last three days they have rioted in tottenham, hackney, enfield. basically all my neighbouring zones. all the shops here are boarded up, precautionary action, which meant i had to get turkish take-away. but what i want to share with you is not my opinion on the on-goings here in the english capital. i want to share with you my daughter's nursery weekly planner, it is sent to my wife but i requested that she forward to me this week's. she goes three days a week to a very pleasant - what i like to call - playgroup. i just don't like the word nursery. it is a house with girls and they look after lots of toddlers. a playgroup. in any case here is the weekly planner (sic):

Dear parents,

Please find attached this weeks planner, sorry its late.

You will notice all trips will be to Wray crescent, with all the riots and looting I feel it's best to keep the children very local to ensure there safety, if at any point I feel this is not a safe place to take the children I will cancel all trips until further notice, we will  be cutting out afternoon strolls until order has been sort on this situation following a full risk assessment I feel the risks are far greater when children are on foot and we have all the local teenagers on school holidays.

This evening a few of our staff have reported some difficulty getting home due to trouble in both Holloway and hackney, I am confident at that moment that this will not affect us  but cant rule this out, however I will keep up to speed with the news and any  threats in our local area. and ask that you do too.

Warm Regards     

Sunday, 7 August 2011

new shoes, old me

it was time she got her first shoes. they keep your feet clean. and she has been walking now for a month or so. i never understood three-month-olds with shoes. i always knew she would get her first shoes when she started walking. when, if not? anyway, it was time for these shoes. we live in london. not only can you find every possible shoe for adults but also its miniature. and when all kids under ten months are already wearing converse, as are their forty-year-old parents, buying shoes may become a statement. personally i am glad that i don't have an adult-sized version of my first shoes which i still have. they are hanging over a mirror. they are hanging there because not only are they my first shoes but they look like a pair of first shoes from the 1920s. 

we went to jimmy's shoes. i recommend it. it has a very good selection. they have everything. the front of the shop was lined with all the miniatures of big people shoes. nike, adidas, converse and what not. you know the made-by-children-for-children products? it was while i looked at all these horrible sewn bits of plastic and rubber that i turned to the girl and said "have you got any start-rites?" and as the words slipped out i realised that i had become a father, but not any father. i had become my father. a lover of all things wooden, leather and metal. a hater of anything synthetic. but now i understand. i am not going to have my child's fast-growing foot in a pair of flat, heavy trainers because they look good. because they are fashionable. because they are cool. i am now officially not cool, and therefore i will take my children down with me.    

Saturday, 14 May 2011

subtle family planning

so my sister, who has two children, has come to the conclusion that the only reason one cannot take children of a certain age in a car without the appropriate seating is because 'big brother' wants to keep our numbers down. any young family - if they have a car - will have a small hatchback, maybe a station-wagon but not a school bus, right? and how many baby-seats can you fit in the back? that's right, two or possibly - and with a bit of a squeeze - three. therefore, if you want to have more than two children under 135cm at any one time, well, you will have to stay at home and forget that road-trip to blackpool for the summer holidays, unless you take the train. but how annoying are children on trains?

Sunday, 20 February 2011

the bird says 'would you all shut up?'

it was time to get a book of nursery rhymes. not for the kid but for me. the kid is too small still to appreciate a nice book. i needed one to brush up on my rhyming skills. the kid enjoys clapping her hands to verses. i needed to get the verses right, right? i found a sweet little book for a fiver: 'the nursery rhyme book'. it was nice to flick through it. i actually had quite a good strike rate, recalling seven out of ten rhymes. then on page 37 i found my favourite rhyme, i liked it when i was a kid and i like it even more now. word to the bird.

a wise old owl

a wise old owl lived in an oak;
the more he saw the less he spoke;
the less he spoke the more he heard.
why can't we all be like that wise old bird?