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Archive for June, 2008

How bizarre…

Yesterday someone got to my blog by Google-ing ‘wetting jeans’.  I think I might be doing something wrong.

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Bon Jovi – Twickenham Stadium

Yesterday started as any other Friday would.  I donned on jeans and a T-shirt (dress down Fridays) and my flip flops (I believe in positive thinking), trundled in to work and got on with my end-of-week tasks.  Little did I know that by Midnight I would have seen my very first crush, live and in the flesh; for by 10am I had been offered a last minute ticket to see the mighty Bon Jovi in Twickenham Stadium.  So at lunch time I popped in to H&M to buy a jumper and hoped that no-one would tread on my bare toes in the mosh pit (I exaggerate, we had seated tickets so I knew it would be a relatively safe bet).

After a greasy veggie burger and a pint of beer in a plastic cup, the crowd hushed and the man himself came on stage.  The ‘waowaowao’ opening chords to Livin’ on a Prayer played, and we knew we were in for a good time.  And my God, does Jon look good.  It’s as if time has stood still for him – except that he just looks even better than before.  They played all the good oldies, which pleased me because, let’s face it, that’s what we went to see (although there were hundreds of die-hard fans, I tried not to get too close to them though).  Highlights were Always – a school-disco tear-jerker, You Give Love a Bad Name, and Twist and Shout – not strictly a Bon Jovi classic, but it got us bopping all the same.

Negative points?  Yes, there were a couple – mainly the fact that I don’t think Twickenham (or ‘Twickinhim’, as Jon pronounced it) is a very good music venue, it’s simply too open and too big.  Even when you knew the song that was playing, you couldn’t really hear it in it’s full, Rock ‘n’ Roll glory (this was probably not helped by the wind last night either, which must have carried any tunes up, up and away).  I was also stood in front of a group of ‘singers’.  Now, I am not being a miser – I sing too – but I came to hear Jon’s rip-roaring voice, not some drunken 20-somethings yelling out of tune.  Also, the man next to me smelt of wet dogs and B.O.  However, none of these issues had anything to do with Bon Jovi’s performance (and I don’t just mean Jon – Ritchie Sambora has an amazing voice) and, whilst it was a total cheese-fest, it was fantastic to see these iconic rockers performing some of the most memorable songs in soft-rock history.  Who needs Glastonbury…?

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Battle of the Wimbledon hotties

Oh, there are so many to chose from…Tursunov, with his lovely strawberry-blonde colourings, Djokovic, with his fantastic personality, Chris Eaton, with his cheeky boy English charm, Nadal whose tasty bottom must be freed from the prison of his baggy shorts…However, there is a new contender to my Federer-loving heart and his name is Janko Tipsarevic.  Emily and Janko. La la la.  The only problem is that I cannot speak Serbian (other than that, it’s obviously a dead-cert).  I do speak Swiss German though, so perhaps I ought to stick with Rodge (who also speaks fluent French and English.  I love him).  

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Political outrage

OK, so that’s a bit strong.  But I am getting pretty naffed off with all this bumf which keeps getting shoved through our letter box on a tri-daily basis.

Before I continue, I must stress that this entry does not necessarily have anything to do with my political views, more to do with general frustration.

So, a few weeks ago, whilst enjoying a glass of Merlot in our local snootery (The Miller of Mansfield), we met a young Tory-boy who claimed to be a marketing co-ordinator / literature oversee-er, or words to that effect (when, in actual fact I think he just rents a room in the Miller, paid for by our taxes, and then wanders around single-handedly ruining rainforests with the amount of leaflets he distributes).  He rather proudly (and pompously, I might add) informed me that we were to receive up to 13 pieces of literature through our doors before the election  – and this was from the Conservatives alone.  Well, I have to say that I put on my tipsy marketing hat and told him that that was stupid and, if anything, it would put people off. Little did I know that there were dirtier tricks up everyone’s sleeves.

Now, our previous local MP was the ever-popular Boris Johnson, now London Mayor, so it stands to reason that other MPs up for this seat are campaigning extra hard, not least because Boris’ successor is bound to be mentioned in at least two or three newspapers over the coming week or so.  

However, I am displeased with the tactics used thusfar, especially by the Lib Dems who have sent us LOTS of fake newspapers, almost all of which use Tory-slagging stories as their main feature.  Now, I don’t want to be silly, but surely if you’re doing something right you should be shouting about that, rather than consistently demeaning the opposition..?  We also received a handwritten envelope addressed to the whole family – I got excited thinking it was an invitation to something good but, no, it was a pretend-hand-written letter from Steven Kearney, the Lib Dem man. How dare they con us – it’s just blatant dirty tactics.  Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I had a ridiculous enoucounter with a Lib Dem canvasser two days ago.  It went like this:

 

Her (flirting, God knows why, maybe that’s all she knew how to do):  “Hello, are you a Monsell?”

Me: “Yes”

Her: “Great, well I’m campaigning on behalf of the Lib Dems – have you considered who you’ll be voting for on Thursday?”

Me: “Yes, but I’m really not sure at this satge”

Her (coquettishly tipping her head and giggling): “And might I ask who you are leaning towards?”

Me: “No, I’m really not sure”

Her (seeing that this line of inquiry wasn’t going anywhere): “OK, well I like Steven Kearney beacuse he’s green.  Do you know anything about Steven?”

Me: “Not really, except that I understand he’s only just moved here from Plymouth”

Her: “Oh, er, well he’s been here for quite a while now”

Me: “Really?  How long?”

Her: “Um, ha, well, I’m not actually sure…”

Me: “OK, I see, well I have to go on a bike ride now”

Her: “OK, bye!”

 

She couldn’t get away fast enough – you’d think that she’d be prepared for the most obvious question in the book, wouldn’t you?!

OK, rant over, I will try to vote un-biasedly tomorrow – but even while I’ve been sat here writing this I have had a call from a conservative cold-caller – LEAVE ME ALONE, I can make my own decisions!

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Newcaaastle (pet)*

When a friend of mine emailed me to ask if I’d accompany her on an all expenses paid work trip to Newcastle I knew I was on to a good thing.  All we had to do was attend a fair to celebrate the Angel of the North’s 10th birthday and go to the Baltic Contemporary Art Gallery – the rest was fun, fun, fun (and the ‘work’ didn’t sound too taxing either!).

So, Saturday morning saw me excitedly heading up further North than I’d ever been before (bar Scotland) on a shit train journey.  Well, I thought it was shit until the journey home, which really took the biscuit, but I shan’t dwell on the negatives here – Mark the train manager was a lovely Bournemouth man who was very helpful and provided us with plenty of insider tips on which carriges to choose and I learned all about Wayne and Coleen’s wedding from OK.

After a long cross-country trip we arrived in Newcastle, struggling to understand taxi drivers, being called posh and desperately trying to stay dry despite the heavy downpour that was obscuring our vision and wetting our boots.  It was great – what an adventure we had, as we headed to the Baltic Mill to get a behind the scenes tour of the gallery and all its fantastic events spaces. Come the evening and we were ready for cocktails – and cocktails we had, as well as copious amounts of wine and finally, in a bid to fit in with the clientele at ‘Jimmyz’, Southern Comfort.  I suppose I could write a fair entry just about the nightlife we encountered – everything from (rather attractive) hairy barmen to 40-somethings on the prowl with piggy-shaped kitties to keep them in supply of Bacardi Breezers all night long.  One man even kissed my boob and then, when I turn around to ask what the fuck that was all about, tried to fob it off by telling me that he was ‘just sniffing my armpit’.  And I thought Reading was bad.  Bizarrely one of the highlights of our evening was watching the ‘romance’ blossom between a trendy townie and a total minger in Jimmyz – I almost had tears in my eyes as they finally went in for the kiss and his hand rose, tenderly up her short, frilly skirt.  I reckon they were at least 30 – Jimmyz was a classy joint.

Amazingly we evaded hangovers on Sunday and made it up to the Angel of the North by midday, just in time to see a fantastic ska-esque/middle eastern gypsy band play some parp-i-licious songs before the event was cancelled due to an accident, in which the gale force winds rendered a lady hospitalised by a marquee (not quite sure of the details but I think she was fine in the end).  We also managed to make mini angels with the toys from Carly’s company (Mega Blocks-a mention’s the least I can do!), plus the Angel was truly breathtaking.  Rarely do I feel the word ‘awesome’ can be used without sounding like a desperate backpacker on weed, but this was an instance when it was warranted.  Coupled with brooding stormy skies and ska music, I was pretty happy!  Even though the journey home took eight and a half hours (someone stole a power cable in Doncaster.  Who?  Why?), it still couldn’t dampen my memories of a brilliant weekend.  I must admit that Monday back in the office was a trial though.  I’ll fly next time.

*Caution, contains mild swearing

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SATC

Whilst jogging this evening Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA came on my iPod and I felt a curious rush of energy – an odd feeling of kinship.  Was it because of Bruce’s poweful, raging voice?  No.  Was it because of the book I’m reading, in which Bill Bryson is trekking through the Appalacian mountain range, experiencing America in all its raw, natural beauty?  No.  Then it hit me, and the truth was terrible.  It was because I saw Sex And The City last night, and I felt shamed.

How could it be that my subconscious related more to a film in which a frankly selfish, vain and morally warped woman ponces around in ridiculous shoes, than to a true life tale of travel, nature and friendship? God knows, but I do know that perhaps I enjoyed ‘SATC’ more than I thought…

OK, now if you haven’t seen it yet, look away…

…it was way too long and I would have preferred to have watched it in three episodes, but it was definitely enjoyable. I particularly liked Samantha’s story and I felt genuinely touched at a couple of moments throughout. And I did laugh out loud on more than one occasion.  Even my male companion was satisfied on exiting the Cinema – that’s saying something.

So go and see it, but don’t expect intelligent subplots.  Prepare yourself for cheese and settle down for the evening – it’s certainly a good one to get out on DVD (especially with today’s cinema prices – I remember when it was £3.80 down at the ABC on Cheapside…!).

Final warning – if you didn’t like the TV series, do NOT watch it.

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Red Bull Flugtag

Today I had the unexpected pleasure of attending the 2nd Red Bull Flugtag in Hyde Park, London, whereby 41 teams of fruit-loops/nerds (usually both) attempt to cover the most distance in a hand-made craft launched from a jetty in the Serpentine Lake.  Contestants are judged (by a panel of ‘celebrity’ judges including Strictly Come Dancing‘s Craig Revell Hallwood and model Jodie Kidd) on three criteria – creativity (and trust me – some really were dreamed up while under the influence), distance covered (often only a few feet), and performance (they all have to perform a 30 second ceremony before launching in to the cold, murky water).  While it was very entertaining to watch the teams doing their thing, the real story lies in Red Bull’s marketing genius.

For a start, 80,000 tickets were allocated (for free and there were people outside the gates trying to scrounge more).  Of this 80,000 I understand that 72,000 actually attended – any PR person who’s spent days on the phone trying to ensure that guests will turn up to even the hottest events will appreciate that this is quite a staggering turn-out to what is, essentially, a giant marketing exercise.  

So today Red Bull had a totally captive audience of 72,000+ people, each willing and able to take in all the brand messaging the company could throw at them.  Coupled with ingenious ideas such as banner-making tents (I saw quite a few people who’d actually painted the words ‘Red Bull’ on to their T-shirts), and their usual charismatic young promo people (some of whom were offering to rub sun cream in to passers-by, what a caring-yet-cheeky brand it must be), they are laughing all the way into the Superbrands yearbook, not to mention the bank.  Especially when you think about how much they’d be able to charge other suppliers for spaces at the event (such as Cuervo Tequila, who very kindly gave us with free straw hats -emblazoned with their logos).

Anyway, I know many companies run successful events allowing them to engage with their publics, but this really has to be text-book material.  Last month I was asked, as part of a work training exercise, what brand I thought I currently was and what brand I aspired to be.  I chose Sheila’s Wheels and Virgin, but now I’m wishing Red Bull had been my answer.  Gosh, even I’m sucked in, this is some powerful stuff they’ve got going on her.  High five.

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