Posts Tagged 'gifting season'

The doctor is in

Welcome back to work everybody. Except for those of you who work in call centres, for whom Christmas is just a chance to meet a new set of people asking idiot questions; and Scots, who put their feet up for one more day than the rest of us.

Sorry for the absence of talknormalising in the gifting season: there’s been a lot going on which, among other things, forced me to delay the second annual Plattie awards. Specifically, I’ve been finishing the Talk Normal book, which will be out later this year. It’s a sort of remix of the greatest hits plus lots of all-new tracks that you will never be able to read online. Let’s see if the strategy works. It did great in the music business.

If that doesn’t sound compelling enough, The Finch (my publisher) promises me there will be a special deal on the book for friends of Talk Normal. I’ve got no idea how it will work, but he means you, free subscribers.

While you wait for the first post of 2011, I’d just like to point out that the British government has declared an end to the War On Motorists this week. You might consider that the government is involved in a couple of more important wars that it might have put a stop to first. But that would imply that we were talking about actual change, rather than grabbing a cheap headline, so I’ll merely point out  that Talk Normal’s opinion of this particular war is already on the record.

The Win-Win scenario

You might recall I promised to buy an Oxfam pig to help a family in Cambodia if 285 of you signed up to receive Talk Normal by email before Christmas. The excellent news was that at least 100,000 times that number of people assured me that they were just about to sign up right now just as soon as they had finished doing this thing that they were doing just this minute, but of course many of them (translation: “you”) were lying. As long as you keep coming to visit we’ll overlook it; but if you stop reading Talk Normal don’t come crying to me when your conference calls last three hours or you can’t understand your own press releases.

Thanks in part to you but mostly to me, Win-Win the Talk Normal charity pig has now been purchased. He’s happily snuffling around his sty in Cambodia, as you can see from this official photo:

Subscriber or not, thanks to everyone for reading, commenting and suggesting in 2009. The long yet rewarding process of Talknormalisation continues in 2010.

My Katie Price boob job shame

You're meant to be looking at the books

Though Radio 4’s Thought for the Day is still out of bounds to those of us who don’t have a religion, the god-botherers at the BBC can’t censor Talknormalism’s Christmas Message to you:

As this is a time of year when we buy things we don’t need, it is the perfect time to tell the story of Katie Price’s decision to acquire larger breasts, my influence on her decision, and how those iconic breasts inspired Talk Normal.

Many years ago, Jordan (as she was then) was an up-and-coming young topless model, and I was asked to appear on the same TV programme as her. It was an after-the-pub Friday night show put out by Meridian TV, and my job was to explain how to log in to the internet to watch amateur webcams, empowering a generation of drunk men to scour chatrooms for an internet friend who might take her shirt off after hours of pleading. For some reason the researchers had called the editor of Guardian Online for advice on this noble pastime, and the Guardian (understandably not wanting to soil itself, but correctly assuming I’d do it for £60 cash plus train fare) suggested me.

Jordan had been booked to do some flirty links for the show while wearing tiny clothes. It’s a good job they didn’t get our scripts mixed up, though she could probably have done a decent job with mine.

Anyway, someone had broken something on the set, so we all sat in the green room for a few hours while men with hammers fixed it. There was a glum American stand up comedian and a guy who rode muddy motorbikes for a living. Jordan’s Gladiator boyfriend Ace was there to keep her company while we tucked in to the free booze and crisps backstage. Comedy, motorbikes, muscles, partial nudity, chardonnay and modems. That was the 1990s for you. Crazy, crazy days.

And so it came to pass that, after a few glasses, Jordan asked us all her opinion on whether she ought to have a boob job. At that time her breasts were what a certain type of web site calls natural, though it wasn’t the first adjective that popped into your head when you met her. She was thinking about it, she said, because a newspaper had offered to pay for her breast enhancement on the condition that they got an exclusive right to photograph the results. It seemed like a good offer to her. Ace stared furiously at the Doritos and said “I always tell Katie she’s got quite enough already”.

When it was my turn to speak, I planned to say, “What are you thinking? You’re hardly out of school! The tabloid press will turn you into a human freakshow! You already look like a pencil with two tennis balls sellotaped to it! Are you mad?”

Instead, when she pointed herself at me and said “what do you fink? Should I have them done?”, I looked at my feet and said, bravely:

Oh I dunno.

I don’t know who paid for her boobs in the end, but the next time I saw her in the newspapers she was a much bigger woman. Maybe, in reflective moments, when she contemplates the sadness of being made to eat bugs in the jungle by vengeful reality TV viewers, she thinks, “why didn’t that bald nerd I met all those years ago in Southampton warn me it would come to this?” I’m sorry, Katie.

It is this failure of nerve that resolved me to do what a blogger should do at all times: to speak truth to power, no matter how many product marketing managers, marketing communications consultants or brand ambassadors I upset. That is why without Katie Price, we wouldn’t have this fragile and precious thing we call Talk Normal.

We all have times when we talk crap to avoid saying what we know to be true. My Christmas wish for you is that, the next time you are faced with what philosophers call the Jordan Boob Dilemma (JBD) in your work, don’t mumble about challenges and facilitation and win-win scenarios while thinking “that is a truly terrible idea”. Honour Talknormalism by saying what you think, as I should have done all those years ago.

Happy Gifting Season.

Happy Gifting Season!

Don't let small children see this picture

It’s that time of year again: the time when the press runs stories about how loony councils are stealing Christmas. Evidently, it’s political correctness gone mad. Every year you have to start your Christmas rant earlier to beat the rush, and so I discover that the Bishop of Lichfield kicked off the annual they’re stealing our Christmas season more than a month ago.

Religion looks like it is on the way out here, but tell it to the Pagans: they will tell you that no one gets to keep the Winter holiday for ever, you just get to mind it for a while until someone takes it by rebranding it as their own celebration.

The classic scare story is that Birmingham tried to rebrand Christmas as Winterval so that non-Christians wouldn’t get upset. Then there’s Luminos in Luton, for example, which regularly gets remembered as the council’s attempt to take the Christ out of Christmas.

Let’s get this straight: the stories are dangerous rubbish.

Winterval’s a pretty silly name, but you try and find something catchy to call the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hannukah, Diwali, Eid, and all the other festivals at this time of year. Not to mention, for example, the Pagan holiday called Yule.

Our quaint British War on Christmas worries is small beer compared to what’s going on in the weird mind of Bill O’Reilly at Fox News in the US, where such happenings are part of secular progressive agenda that includes legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage.

That’s one hell of an office party.

If you want to find out who is doing the rebranding, loony councils and crazy teachers are an easy target. But I’ve noticed a charming phrase that’s popping up in news stories and even more in press releases: it appears December is becoming Gifting Season. I can’t find a mention of the phrase before the mid-1980s, and around two thirds of all the mentions of Gifting Season I could find in the press have occurred since 2006. It’s really the only phrase that conveys the profound and committed consumerism of:

The Container Store™ Thinks Outside the Box with the Selection of CashStar’s Online Gift Cards, or

Carphone Warehouse’s 21 new mobile phones.

The Gifting Season may be shallow and cynical, but it is also a profound and spiritual phrase for the marketing communications enthusiasts among us, because you get to have it both ways: on the surface it promotes the spirit of giving, but it has never been used without some mention of how you should spend your money.

But you won’t find irate Gifting Season articles in the press this year. In this economy newspapers and networks know better than to turn their fake outrage on the greatest Seasonal Gift of all: the gift of advertising.


Cut out your waffle: buy my book

Type your email and click the button and you will automatically get every new post.

“This excellent collection” (Director Magazine). Click to order:

I tweet