Saturday, 30 June 2012

Go Compare - Go Fuck Yersel

Just to be clear, the point of this piece is that I want to live in a world where anyone can freely graffiti billboard adverts without fear of prosecution for vandalism or hate crime. We are bombarded by outdoor advertising with no choice as to whether we see it or not, if people could freely amend adverts as they see fit, marketeers would be forced to take into account the views of local communities.

It makes me gag with frustration, there are actually people out there who think that this is a spontaneous eruption of hatred and vandalism against one specific car insurance comparison site, and not just a slightly edgy marketing job.

I'm genuinely concerned that people think that out of all the things in modern life that a spontaneous uprising of graffiti could be about, it would be about one TV advert.

Not the Aleksandr from compare the meerkats, or Churchill the disagreeable/agreeable bulldog or that dapper Admiral. lot of people think that its genuine amusing vandalism, then so be it.

What I think would be awesome if if some lads with spraycans went out and cranked the Go Compare graffiti up a notch and added their own unauthorised graffiti. "Go Compare - Go Fuck Yersel", "Go to Compare the Meerkat", "Go back to Italy", "Go anorexic you fat fuck"

If this is the reality that folk think they live in, then embrace it. I eagerly await the same graffiti creeping into other adverts, a wholesale takeover of billboard advertising by lads with spraycans, inspired by Go Compare.

Especially around the Olympics

That would be awesome.

Any advert that annoys you or rubs you up the wrong way, just grab your cans, don't say it, spray it. If anyone stops you, tell them you have implicit permission from the PR company to purely and genuinely express the feelings of the local community towards advertising.

When I used to stay round Shields Road in Glasgow, an area with a large Muslim community, whenever the clothing companies put up posters of scantily clad women wearing £4.99 bikini tops, a few days later the skantily clad woman would find herself covered up. Someone had been out with a ladder, a tray of black Dulux and a paint roller, and covered her modesty.

This happened a few times until the advertisers got the message that you don't do scantily clad women in some areas.

I guess in a sprawling metropolis like London, it doesn't matter if an advertiser pisses off a large section of the eyeballs.

A few weeks ago the same thing happened in Walthamstow (and Tower Hamlets according to the Evening Standard), with this year's H&M £4.99 bikini tops adverts. By Blackhorse Road underground someone had tried to paint over the skantily clad women and failed miserably, only one of the four ladies was covered.

Our awesome MP tweeted about it, we have different views on this. I think its a pure and genuine expression of a community's distaste for advertising that's vulgar in their culture, and she thinks its a hate crime. Some people feel threatened by it.

I was tweeting about it yesterday and received this

I don't really want to invoke Venn, but it is possible for graffiti to be both vandalism and hate crime, and also for vandalism to look like hate crime when it clearly isn't, in much the same way that a marketing job can look like vandalism when it clearly isn't.

One person's hate crime is another's censorship. If you're going to mush all these concepts together to match whatever your worldview is, then you'll find me up a ladder painting beer bellies on posters of Olympic Team GB and complaining that they're already airbrushed to unrealistic perfection and encourage the youth of today to develop eating disorders.

Anyhoo, the Go Compare graffiti campaign is a rather sweet anachronistic affair, harking back to a time when people did things differently.

We don't use ladders to deface adverts now, these days we use software, like on MyDavidCameron and the anti-terror hotline remix

 Alas, if Go Compare created a macro generator website, no one would use it, no one feels strongly enough about their adverts to actually go out and vandalise them.

Only in the dreams of marketeers.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Thick Creamy Podcast 12-06-2012

Its been weeks and sweeks since this gig, but here's a podcast of The School, Just Handshakes (We're British) and Knickers gig at The Queen of Hoxton, from 12-06-2012

It was the first time I'd been to The Queen of Hoxton, just a few blocks away from Liverpool Street Station, maybe five minutes walk. The place was one of those cool, dark neon lit places that you'd imagine were created by The Mighty Boosh.

Although there were posters up advertising the gig, I couldn't find where the bands were playing until I asked the barmaid. There's this big staircase in the middle of the room with a sign clearly marked 'Toilets', then there's this big octagonal room, its like something from dungeons and dragons, there's like eight doors, two of them lead to certain toilets, and only one of them leads to the venuey band playing bit. It was dark but I could just about find my way.

Of course I'd arrived a bit early so there was a good deal of standing around, and I wasn't quite sure which band was on first, I hadn't seen the Just Handshakes (We're British) since Indietracks last year and I didn't want to miss them, on the other band I see Knickers more often than I watch the news, so it could easily nip out to get my dinner when they were on.

So Knickers kick off the night with an awesome set featuring favourites My Baby's Just a Baby, and A Thousand Miles and some of their more obscure b-sides such as  Wowie Zowie.

Just Handshakes (We're British)
I found a fish and chip takeaway a few blocks away, although I have to confess, technical difficulties meant I couldn't clock in on FourSquare. The football was on, I saw Blaszczykowsk's goal. just as the man asked me if I wanted a sausage with my chips. 

Moments later Just Handshakes (We're British) took to the stage.

They were alright.

They'd played in Newcastle a few weeks before and much of their between song banter was based around Byker Grove, that was cool, but does it say something about the age of the audience, I mean, it hasn't been on TV in over five years, and Geoff's been dead for over a decade.

The School
Headlining the evening were The School. The first couple of songs were beset with technical problems as the mixing desk died, so songs became acoustic numbers halfway through, but it was all taken graciously.

They played a long set of track from their first album 2010's Loveless Unbeliever and their new album Reading Too Much Into Things Like Everything

And so it was that I skipped home through the warm Hoxton streets.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Phone Box Library #37 Little Hadham, Hertfordshire

So we were tootling around Hertford again, with time on our hands, so we headed to the tiny village of Little Hadham. Not to be confused with the larger Much Hadham a mile or so to the north. And there just round the corner from Hadham Forge, we found the 37th telephone box library book exchange.

It is an awe-inspiring four shelf affair with an additional set of shelves on the floor, home to 136 books.

Dan Brown's Angels & Demons was present
I left a copy of Ian Flemming's Casino Royale that I'd previously acquired from Henham, but been unable to read due to Gormanghast committments, and grabbed myself a copy of The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart. Dice Man had a dose of mildew, probably as a result of its stay in the phone box, the protection from the elements provided isn't the best for books, but I guess its adequate compared to the pulping if it was thrown away.

A notice on the wall of the phone box hints that the keeper of this phonebox book exchange is a councillor called Geoff Williamson
The verge home of the phonebox could do with being cut back as  nettles were encroaching. That said, maybe it has been strimmed at the start of the summer and grown rapidly in the recent good weather, its not easy to stay on top of these things.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Plants and stuff: Definitive listing 2012

Roughly a year ago I did a blogpost listing all the plants that we were growing in out back garden here in Walthamstow. In the pre-ramble I was pondering whether in the years of going to gigs I'd actually seen 1,000 bands. Sadly, over on the gig listing site, Songkick, that sort of quantity information just isn't visible.

Anyhoo, back to gardening, with a year's worth of experience, learning what works in our garden and what doesn't, its all blooming right now, and I thought it about time do do another role call of what's growing
  1. Apple - cooking
  2. Basil
  3. Basil - red
  4. Beetroot
  5. Blueberry
  6. Butternut squash
  7. Chives
  8. Cornflower
  9. Cottage Pink Iced Gem
  10. Dead bathroom tree
  11. Irises
  12. Lavender
  13. Mint
  14. Oregano
  15. Parsley
  16. Parsnips - one variety
  17. Parsnips - another variety
  18. Peppers
  19. Poppy
  20. Potatoes
  21. Pumpkin - Atlantic Giant
  22. Pumpkin - dwarf
  23. Random red tree stolen from work
  24. Raspberry
  25. Rhubarb
  26. Rosemary
  27. Sage
  28. Sweetcorn
  29. Thyme
Crikey, twenty nine different types of plant, the same number as this time last year, but a different mix, still enough for a decent balanced meal.

No tomatoes this year as we seem to have late blight in the soil which just makes the them rot. Late blight also affects the potatoes, but if I harvest them before September, they should be okay.

The parsnips won't be good to eat until next year, and likewise the sweetcorn won't have any cobs until next summer, but its nice to watch it grow.

The apple tree is doing better than last year, the fruit are bigger and more numerous. I'm not sure whether they'll grow big enough to eat, but it still an improvement over the falling foetal buds of last  year.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Phone Box Library #25 Henham, Essex

The other week during atrocious weather I found myself cruising the winding roads of the Essex / Hertfordshire borders, the rain was coming down torrentially when my wee car pulled up in the village of Henham to check out phone box library #25.

I'd read about this one a few months ago in an article which also covered the phone box library in Arkesden, seven miles away on the other side of the M11. I was somewhat confused about the photo in the news source it was unclear which phone box it was of.

The Henham phone box library was established in mid September 2011, and is still going strong. You can't miss it, slap bang in the middle of the village, huge verges on all sides, pairs of puddle ducks waddling past enthusiastically.

Inside there are four shelves bolted onto the back panel, about a hundred books in total. Shamefully there is no Dan Brown, but making up for this shortfall there are half a dozen Stephen King books, most of his Dark Tower series.

I'd say it was a tiny bit untidy, a couple of books piled on top of rows of books, but at least there were no piles of books on the floor.

I exchanged a copy of my own novel in return for the first of Ian Flemming's James Bond books, Casino Royale, an edition from 1978 with a boobie lady on the front cover.

The rain lessened off a bit, so I ventured out of the phone box to return to my car, taking a few photies of the fine looking duck pond, sign posts and villaginess of the village.

The phone box book exchange in Henham is well worth a visit if you have a spare forty minutes around Standsted Airport and if you love the windy country roads of Essex.

View Phone box libraries in a larger map