If you look at a typical brand or organisation’s brand guidelines, you’re sure to see a few common tick boxes. Logo rules? Check. Gradients? Yep. Fonts? Absolutely. But tone of voice? More often than not it’s a page, maybe two – if it features at all – in a 40+ page PDF, comprising of a few floaty statements and top level tips. “Engaging”, “jargon-free”, “friendly”. It’s like asking for design that “looks good”.
There’s nothing specifically wrong with these tips and statements as such. Top level “vibes” are useful to get a sense of things as a copywriter. But they’re too vague. Guidelines are meant to be a rulebook. They need to be practical. And without practical application pointers alongside the bigger picture stuff, then how can writers be expected to create something worth reading?
In conversations around tone of voice, MailChimp rightly comes up often as a brand who have put time and attention into articulating its Content Style Guide. But there are plenty of other organisations you might not expect who are smashing it too, such as the The University of Leeds or even The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA). What puts these three examples ahead of the pack in my opinion is that they’ve gone beyond the floaty statements and nailed down the mechanics of how you create the tone of voice. MailChimp goes into granular detail on writing for its different formats and platforms. Leeds University carefully couples every “what” with a “how”. ICSA plots out the road to good writing from A to B in clear and informative steps.
These three examples show that tone of voice can be well-articulated to great effect. It can be done. So why isn’t it being done more? Why are these examples so rare? Why are we still seeing these long, clunky guideline documents from brands big and small that don’t give tone of voice anywhere near enough time as design? Rob Mitchell, co-founder of We All Need Words, writes for Design Week that “the hard part of any tone of voice project is finding a lateral way to put all the brand stuff into words.” That it’s high time “visual identities budged up a bit to share some of that rebrand limelight with their wordy cousins.” And I couldn’t agree more. The attention that goes into the visual needs to go into the linguistic too.
If we don’t commonly see rules as important to copy, it’s surely at least part of the reason that there’s so much weak writing around. There’s golden work going out every day, but there’s also, as Velocity Partners’ Doug Kessler has eloquently established, a deluge of utter crap.
Would copywriting as an industry be better if we held it to account more? I sure as hell think so. And one place to start is by organisations taking the time to lay down some rules and articulate their voice and tone. It’s not an easy or thrillingly exciting task but the results could be epic.
I’m no rigid stickler for the rules. Rules should be played around with, toyed with, sometimes even broken. But I also think that the rules should be respected and at the very least known, even if they are then consciously ignored.
I’m a millennial.
And along with the rest of the world – when I’m not monopolising avocado yields or just whingeing somewhere – I hate the term. More than that, though, I hate what comes along with it.
The always having to be ‘on’, always worrying about what’s next, always judging yourself against others because you’ve been conditioned that way. Yada yada. A recent BBC article on ‘millennial burnout’ explains that ‘it’s all about being hyper-healthy, hyper-clued-up, hyper-fashionable – and it’s exhausting.’
It sure as hell is exhausting and more than that it’s boring.
But an intriguing thought struck me recently:
Could all this ‘millennial anxiety’ be positively fuelling our creative careers?
It means thinking about and documenting words and ideas whenever inspiration strikes. Working on the go and never being limited by the surrounding set-up. Texting on the night bus? How about tactics on the night bus?
It means writing for any platform or format. Twitter? Yep. Web? Yep. App? Yep. When the machines enslave us all, maybe I’ll curry favour through delightful binary.
We’re all obsessed with ourselves, so naturally that extends to our jobs. Being a millennial means I know my work is the only significant work going in the land. Everything I do is of crucial import and no one else could possibly get me.
It helps us to stay modest and powers us to work harder in the creative industries. I’m constantly expecting my boss to stand up and bellow ‘get out, fiend’ in his best Ian McKellen voice.
It adds pressure that forces us to hit deadlines and fuels us to produce the best work we possibly can. It also leads to crippling mental and physical health issues but let’s just sweep that under the rug.
It keeps us competitive, researching what others are doing and always topping up the inspiration. It also means we’re constantly coveting other people’s wondrously emerald grass.
So what do we reckon then? Could being an anxious millennial make us better creatives?
Maybe I’m asking the wrong question. Maybe the real question is: how do you be a millennial and a creative…while being content?
[Adapted from an original guest post for Bank of Creativity]
Is ‘conversational copywriter’ just another marketing term to add to bullshit bingo? Quite possibly, yes. But, however you want to define it, the copywriting landscape is evolving.
‘Copywriter’ in its purest form used to be, and in many circles still is, the catch-all name for the token words person. And in recent years we’ve also seen a shift into niches such as technical copywriter, SEO copywriter, creative copywriter, marketing copywriter etc, etc.
It’s a word that a lot of us hate as it’s reductive, misleading and even just plain ugly. But it’s the one we’ve got. So why not throw an adjective in front of it to give it a little more character?
With that in mind, here’s why I think the conversational copywriter is going to be the next big thing for the marketer’s arsenal.
The world of design used to be dominated by graphic and web designers. But in recent years, (thanks to the growth of technology and the increasing empowerment of the consumer) they’ve had to make room for user experience design – or UX – to get a look in, too.
More and more companies are putting thought and attention into their UX strategies, and a UX rep or entire specialist teams are becoming typical features in any organisation worth its salt.
But is something lacking?
At its core, UX is all about presenting information in a way that is useful and accessible to the end user. It’s about what the person experiences on a website, how they interact with the content and creating seamless navigation.
And this is as much about words, tone and messaging as it is about design and navigation. So, where’s the focus on UX copywriting?
Specialist UX writers exist, and UX writing as a whole is certainly a growing medium. But I think it’s about to get a hell of a lot bigger.
You can’t load a news site without seeing a headline on AI, the Internet of Things or automation. What a day to be alive. But it is true that technology is slowly seeping into every element of our lives – and we’re loving it.
But pleasant as it is to imagine that there’s a friendly copywriter sat typing furiously inside every machine we use, the reality is, technology’s automated ‘voice’ is growing.
Combined with the rise of UX, this has created the need for conversational user interfaces (UI), aka platforms that mimic a conversation with a real human.
But to build these platforms, and to build them well, we’ll need more people that can write for them. However ridiculous this sentence reads; a human touch is needed for giving voice to a robot that sounds like a human.
The number of writers that specialise in conversational UI will surely grow to meet this need.
According to PwC, 35% of consumers ranked ‘trust in brand’ among their top three reasons for choosing which retailers to shop at. And look up any advice on marketing to millennials and the word ‘authenticity’ will undoubtedly feature.
Audiences will settle for nothing short of authentic. If trust is at all in question, they’ll simply take their business elsewhere.
The concept naturally extends to tone of voice – one of the key ways of building (and losing) trust along the user journey. ‘Conversational’ is becoming a more common stylistic tone across the board (although it has to be said, with varying levels of success).
There’s a difference between writing in a ‘human’ voice conversationally and writing for a robot in a ‘conversational’ way (with a chatbot for example). It’s a nuance that is often unfortunately missed. To quote my editor, Libby: “Don’t wish me a good day! You’re a machine!” And she’s not alone… 48% feel that it’s creepy if a chatbot pretends to be human, while 60% feel patronised if a chatbot starts asking how their day is going.
To project voices that are authentic and that people respond well to, we’ll need more specialist copywriters powering the technology to achieve the right nuances.
I’m no business mogul, but I know that it’s harder than ever for businesses and brands to stand out. Over-saturation of markets, a huge amount of competition – cutting through the noise, remaining relevant and achieving longevity is a challenge.
But tone of voice and copywriting can be a key differentiator.
Look at MailChimp Paddy Power, the Dave channel, Old Spice, Firebox, Bellroy, Dollar Shave Club and more. Their tones of voice are recognisable and powerful in a myriad of ways.
So much copywriting out there online, in print, at events – wherever – is just terrible. Why not be the organisation that champions it, and bring your voice to the fore?
The copywriting renaissance is long overdue, but it is coming. It’s happened for video, it’s happened for design and it’s happened for UX.
It’s now time for copywriting, and in particular, the ‘conversational’ copywriter – to finally get its time in the sun.
Festive work parties are kicking off, ambitious present wish lists are being swapped and someone in your household as we speak is loudly crying their way through Love Actually. The countdown to Christmas is in full swing.
It’s all fun and games for many of us right now, but for some, for a multitude of reasons, it’s not the most wonderful time of the year. More people than ever before are turning to food banks, while more than 22,000 young people could be homeless in England this Christmas.
“I know”, you tell me miserably, “but between work dos and weekend plans my festive calendar is full to the brim!” I hear you, I do. December in particular is always a hectic one. But what if I told you you could do something good for society by dedicating as little as an hour of your time?
If, like me, you’re feeling like you can and want to do more, then now is as good a time as any to get involved. Here are a few opportunities that have caught my eye:
What: A bunch of charities (I’ve added a small handful of links below) across the city are looking for volunteers to wrap presents for customers in shopping centres. You can offer your time for as little as an hour or take on several shifts, it’s totally up to you. Enjoy getting Christmassy with some lovely people while raising funds for some great causes, though be prepared to find sellotape on your clothes for days afterwards.
When: Various dates/shift times between 28th November and Christmas Eve
What: Lend a hand to make the Christmas Soul Concert Event at Camden’s famous Electric Ballroom a night to remember. From stewarding to social media to sound production; you can do your bit to help in the fight against cancer and bring support to those suffering from it. You might even run into Heather Small…
When: The main event is on Sunday 15th December but there are also plenty of ways to help out in the build-up to the event too
What: Shake up your normal busy commute by stopping to shake a bucket instead (in optional festive attire). I for one am looking forward to showing off my bootleg, Frozen-themed Christmas jumper to the masses. You can do one short shift or more, and while I’ve added a couple of links below, there are dozens of charities doing things like this at multiple stations, so do a bit of research to find the opportunity that works for you.
When: All throughout December
What: If you’re free on Monday 23rd December, why not spend the day delivering hampers to those in need, joining The Basket Brigade’s mission to feed families who struggle to put food on the table. It’s just one day and will make a huge difference to hundreds of people. Bonus points if you have a car to contribute to the effort too. Put some cringey Christmas tunes on and sing your way through a memorable road trip.
When: Monday 23rd December
What: Christian Aid London are after volunteers to look after guests and help with the running of the musical fundraising event: A Gospel Christmas. You’ll also be able to watch the performances for free (!) which is pretty cool for a few short hours of volunteering if you ask me.
When: Saturday 7th December
Who: Christian Aid London
What: Crisis famously manage one of the biggest missions to help homeless people at Christmas (as well as the rest of the year, of course), and they’re looking for all sorts of help at this critical time. Caterers, good listeners, behind the scenes movers, team leaders, IT wizards, hairdressers – the list is endless. Ideally, they want volunteers to be able to commit to a minimum of two shifts.
When: Multiple dates in the run up to Christmas
What: Every year, St John’s Hospice hosts a Christmas Fayre to raise money for the care and support of over 4000 patients and their family members and friends. Event volunteer duties could include selling tickets and merchandise, stewarding, assisting with setting up and more. You can choose one short shift or decide to volunteer for the whole day, whatever you prefer. I for one am intrigued to learn the difference between a ‘fair’ and ‘fayre’.
When: Sunday 1st December
Who: St John’s Hospice
What: Get a small group together and spend the morning prepping, cooking, serving food and more for hundreds of people who rely on this amazing service. It’s a great team-bonding experience and you’ll get to meet and support some lovely people. You can also do it all in an elf hat like the lovely man in the explainer video.
When: Multiple dates, contact the charity to choose a time that works for you
Who: Whitechapel Mission
What: Christmas in the Village is coming to Wimbledon and they need helpers to bring the event to life. Sing carols, help with activities like biscuit making (potentially also eating), be part of Santa’s grotto and more. Offer your time for as little as an hour or the whole day, whatever you can spare.
When: Sunday 8th December
Who: Wimbledon Guild
What: The Market is a fancy VIP event attended by a member of the Royal Family (I’m gunning for Phillip), the Lord Mayor of London and…you? Sell raffle tickets, encourage people to take part in the Silent Auction, serve drinks – there’s lots you can do to help raise a shed ton of funds for a great cause.
When: Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th November
Who: British Red Cross
Hopefully something has caught your imagination. If any of the opportunities interest you, click the links and get in touch with the relevant charities, I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.
Remember that the list above is by no means comprehensive, there are thousands of things going on all over London, so if you have any other ideas, feel free to share them in the comments below.
Let’s make it a Christmas to remember!
What does it mean to be “creative”? To be an “ideas person”? Or to be “artistic”? They’re just words aren’t they. Devoid of any real meaning.
“Creativity isn’t a particular discipline. It’s the quality of originality and unexpectedness that you bring to whatever you do.” – Dave Trott in Creative Mischief
“There is no algorithm that can tell us where it will come from and when it will hit”. – Tim Brown in Change by Design
“To have a good idea, you must first have lots of ideas”. Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry
Black Mirror is just awesome television. With sharp scripts, a killer cast (Don Draper, anyone?) and impressive genre-switching, it’s a definite Brit favourite. But I would argue that it’s the conceptual idea for each episode, above all else, that gives the show its edge. Offering an illuminating (and often terrifying) insight into humanity’s not-so-distant future, we watch Black Mirror to explore the intriguingly twisted worlds of Charlie Brooker’s creation.
Being of a similarly twisted ilk, I’ve come up with four concepts that I’d like to see on the next season:
Every child gets the same education with a hologram teacher leading all classes.
This episode follows a typical British family, with two children who are subject to the modern hologram teaching method. The younger child has known nothing other than this style of learning, whilst the older sibling can remember being taught by humans. The government and school boards are encouraged by the fair and systematic rolling out of education standards across the board, but certain groups of adults and children alike are unhappy with the lack of creativity and human touch involved.
Lack of creativity and human touch
Things escalate when the award-winning education system enters the home, and the hologram tutor begins acting as a quasi-mother figure, even reading the children bedtime stories. The younger child becomes attached to the parental figure, but the older child joins a rebel group at school, which involves underground classes and rebellion against the modern education system.
No one ever goes on holiday. Vacations are implanted virtually into a person’s brain, and while feeling like a month or a week, trips only last a few minutes.
The story follows a small group of “Holiday Makers,” whose job is to create the immersive, virtual experiences that people pay for. They have the rather exciting job of travelling to cool places and then using their experiences to design trips for holiday-goers. Employers offer employees bonuses in the form of virtual trips, with office workers leaving the room for five minutes, then returning with souvenirs for all and a sunburn.
Vacations are implanted virtually into a person’s brain
This world is presented as idyllic, until one of the Holiday Makers discovers that none of these places they travel to are actually real. The world as we know it is a deserted wasteland, with experience existing solely in the imagination or from memories of places past.
Every dream and every nightmare you’ve ever had are recorded. Throughout life, you are unknowingly part of a scoring system, the results of which help a jury dictate where you deserve to go after death.
The story begins with the SparkNotes version of a man’s life — the ups and downs, important relationships, key moments, etc. Then in his middle age, he abruptly dies in a sudden car accident and wakes up in a place akin to purgatory. This purgatory has the clinical feel of a dentist’s waiting room, and a big door leading to the “Boardroom.” The man (let’s call him John), walks through the door where there are 12 juror-types sitting around a big table. They explain to him the scoring system that has followed him his entire life, and that with his score they cannot determine whether he deserves Paradise or Perdition (the names on two clearly visible doors in the Boardroom).
Every dream and every nightmare you’ve ever had are recorded
So to decide where he belongs, John must prove to the 12 jurors where he deserves to go. John doesn’t know what’s happening, so the Jury Foreman gives him a taste of his potential future at stake by allowing him five minutes in Paradise then Perdition. Seeing the place of his dreams and then the place of his nightmares (quite literally), John is keen to make it to Paradise. The jurors then put John through his paces in a series of life situations to see the actions he takes and how he reacts. Seeing his score drop and rise from each test, John is unbelievably stressed. It’s the trial of a person’s life, with average members of society allowed to decide the fate of a dead man. Society plays God in the highest stakes version of an assessment centre that could ever exist.
Everything we own and experience we have are downloaded. The higher the income, the more you can download, but if you can’t afford the payments then parts of your life are repossessed.
A young couple are shown around a small but brilliantly decked-out house by an over-enthusiastic estate agent. It’s actually the bare bones of a house, but in this version of the future, estate agents use augmented reality technology to show what a house could look like, and can even show visitors the vision of them living in a house. Sold by this exotic vision of their future, the couple buy the house. Reality isn’t as romantic, as it takes a lot of hard work to do up, but steadily the couple builds their life together. Working long and hard hours at work, they earn enough tokens to download items for their house, starting from basic necessities like food on the table, to cabinets and square feet of lawn.
Everything we own and experience we have are downloaded
A few years later and the couple have children and even download a dog — steadily “upgrading” the place. But to maintain the lifestyle, the couple must work constantly. When one of them gets ill, they have to gradually “downgrade” their house, they fight constantly and times are tough. Success is dictated by material possessions, lifestyle and the “smart” home. As their income decreases, their social standing drops and everything steadily caves in. Things hit an all-time low when the dog is repossessed and they are reduced to the absolute basics of living. But rock bottom brings the realisation that they can be more self-sufficient. Instead of downloading firewood for warmth, they learn to chop it. Instead of downloading dinner, they grow vegetables and learn to cook themselves. Ultimately, losing everything upgrades their family life.
I can’t seem to get Black Mirror off my mind. So please, for the love of God, comment your episode ideas below so that I can have someone to talk to about it.
Before I kick things off, if you haven’t yet seen ‘Hereditary’, ‘Get Out’, ‘The Witch’ or ‘Housebound’, I’ll be dropping all sorts of mad spoilers so you might want to leave this page. Alternatively you could bookmark it, reassess your priorities, run to a cinema and then you’ll be good to go. Let’s continue!
If you’re a fan of scary films like me, you’ve probably heard words to this effect when you suggest watching a horror on movie night. Swiftly followed by “slashers and gore are so gross”, “what kind of sadist wants to be scared” or the more and more common; “they’re all the same these days, you can guess the ending”.
These are all reasonable, if slightly reductive, points. And sometimes horrors do glorify gratuitous violence, give you nightmares and become overly-predictable. This last point is especially true. Just check the average horror film rating on IMDb, it’s rarely higher than the typical drama, comedy or thriller. Not like those good old golden days that had ‘The Exorcist’, ‘The Shining’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, right?
So modern horror films haven’t generally had a great rap. Until now. The change? A wave of new directors taking a slower, more intelligent approach to the genre than the ‘Human Centipede’s of this world.
Ok, so not everyone loved the ending to 2018’s ‘modern Exorcist’, but good god did it awesomely play with your mind through various push and pull pacing techniques. One minute it’s crazy as hell action action action before it’s then paaainfully slow.
One scene in particular sticks in my mind:
Peter (played by the incredibly expressive Alex Wolff) races home in the car while his sister Charlie (the suitably mysterious Milly Shapiro) hyperventilates in the backseat due to eating peanuts (despite an allergy). Peter races on, swerves to avoid an animal and then there is a horrible thud as we hear, not see, Charlie’s head hit a telephone post. We don’t see Charlie, we don’t see the animal. We simply see Peter, frozen in his seat. Too terrified to do anything or look into the rear-view mirror. Slowly, Peter then drives home, parks and walks up to his room in an apparent daze. The camera silently still stays on Peter as we hear the dreadful scream of Annie (Toni Colette) discovering her beheaded daughter the next morning.
Director Ari Aster’s debut deliberately toys with the audience, but not in an arrogant or for-its-own-sake way. He masterfully withholds shots and sound to illustrate the true, senseless horror of trauma. And we, the viewers, are just one example of the various doll house inhabitants meticulously manipulated throughout, to look where we’re told, hear what we’re told and be fully at the mercy of ‘Hereditary’.
‘Get Out’ was one of the best films of 2017, rightly winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and bagging a decent crop of nominations to boot. The twist was also darker and weirder than I thought it was going to be – a rare thing to say about a modern horror.
Part racial satire, part mysterious thriller, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut beautifully glides through genres and smartly builds up the hints and symbolism around the principal themes of vision and distortion.
It’s all about the notion of sight and really ‘seeing’, viewpoints and perspectives and even on a more literal level, eyes themselves. Take the still above of protagonist Chris (played by the exceptional Daniel Kaluuya), the most recognisable promotional image from the film. His eyes are what stand out. Wet, shiny, giant and red. What is he seeing? What is he realising? What has happened? Why is he seemingly frozen in pure, unadulterated fear?
As we progress through the film, we realise that every shot, every line and every facial expression has something to say. Some deeper meaning. There are darker truths at work if only we’re able to see them.
There aren’t many films (to my knowledge) that feature a goat named Black Phillip as the devil incarnate, but here we are. Kidding aside though, Robert Eggers’s 2015 feature debut ‘The Witch’ is a spectacularly bleak vacuum of claustrophobia, paranoia and intensity.
The cast is fantastic, the plot is great and the script is suitably minimalist, but it is the cinematography and the broader tone created that give ‘The Witch’ its power. The best way I can think to describe it is it’s like this cloying, dank filter permeates each shot. Like a sickness. The bleakness of the colours, the trees that loom imposingly over the family, the almost painfully stark mise-en-scène. All of this helps the film possess an intriguing cinematic quality, with noticeable hints of John Hillcoat’s post-apocalyptic ‘The Road’, Alejandro Amenábar’s ‘The Others’ and Tomas Alfredson’s ‘Let the Right One In’.
Every shot has an ominous sense of ‘otherness’ to it, whether in a mysterious supernatural fashion or in a more unblemished, puritanical and devout way. It’s hard to watch but it’s equally hard to look away.
We know that horrors are much-maligned, plus they say that comedy is supposedly much harder to pull off than drama – so for Gerard Johnstone’s 2014 film ‘Housebound’ to smash it on both counts is really quite something.
The low-budget, Kiwi movie follows Kylie (a wonderfully mopey Morgana O’Reilly) as she is forced to return to her childhood home to live under house arrest with her overbearing mother (the scene-stealing Rima Te Wiata).
All the classic horror tropes you’d expect are there and are hit well, with the art of suggestion à la ‘Babadook’ playing as big a part as the characters in the maze- of a house. But it’s the humour that steals the show. From an opportune ‘righto!’ to an absurdist rant from Wiata; the script is immaculate and the comic timing is absolutely on point. Exhibit A:
Amos: What are you gonna do against a hostile spirit? You just gonna crack jokes?
Kylie: No, I am going to smash it in the face.
Amos: You cannot punch ectoplasm.
These four recent slow burn horrors are bringing new life to a genre that many had written off. We’re seeing films that are slower, more three-dimensional and much more likely to linger in the brain long after the film has ended.
Maybe it’s just coincidence or maybe we’re in the midst of a lucky streak, but what’s amazing is that all these films are directorial debuts.
In most jobs, it takes a bit of time to warm into your role. An Olympian isn’t born overnight, just as a great actor rarely starts out with the role of their career (George Clooney in ‘Grizzly II: The Concert’ comes to mind).
But maybe the rules just don’t apply for film directors.
Are we alone in the universe? What’s lurking under Trump’s wig? Is Shia LaBoeuf insane or just trolling us? These are legitimate life questions. One question, however, that I just don’t understand, is why more people don’t watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Carol Vorderman herself could not answer this conundrum.
This blog is for any of those annoying on-the-fencers, anyone who thinks the show is “not their bag,” and for anyone who needs to send a would-be fan some much-needed literature. I’ll try not to include any big spoilers but it’s going to be a struggle so bear with me. Or just do us all a favour and go and watch it…
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the best TV show and people need to know. Here are my reasons why.
In “the Gang,” we find Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton), Deandra “Dee” Reynolds (Kaitlin Olson), Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day), Ronald “Mac” McDonald (Rob McElhenney) and Frank Reynolds (Danny DeVito).
Or in other words,
They’re all just awful.
If it wasn’t enough already that the main cast is awesome, the supporting cast is equally spectacular. There’s the milk-drinking, robe-clad, incest-loving McPoyle Brothers (a great Halloween costume if ever I’ve heard one), the “street rat” Rickety Cricket (who used to be a priest) and Charlie’s creepy uncle Jack, a man obsessed with his small hands.
“I don’t know how many years on this Earth I got left. I’m gonna get reeeeeal weird with it.”
Whether chasing “delicious nose clams” or crawling out of a sofa oiled-up and naked, Devito’s Frank Reynolds is beautifully repulsive. Most people will have seen him as the crazy dad in Matilda or the pasty villain in Batman Returns, but he’s even more over-the-top here. Every self-respecting person needs Frank Reynolds as their spirit animal.
“The Birds of War,” “I Like Paddy’s Pub,” “Dayman,” “The Nightman Cometh.” For the uninitiated, these are just random words. Fans of the show know these musical numbers as pieces of strange, strange genius. Get on YouTube and check it all out for yourself.
For this point I’m just going to list some of the best lines completely out of context that showcase the show’s crass intelligence:
“Any amount of cheese before a date is too much cheese.”
“Here’s a confession: I’m in love with a man. What? I’m in love with a man. A man called God. Does that make me gay? Am I gay for God? You betcha!”
“Do not plug an open wound with trash.”
“Hi. Um, I’m a recovering crackhead. This is my retarded sister that I take care of. I’d like some welfare please.”
“I’m not fat. I’m cultivating mass.”
Words to live by.
In fact, there’s the exact damn opposite. The best example? Rickety Cricket. He goes from a successful and healthy priest to absolute rock bottom on the streets of Philadelphia with half his face burned off. Every character on the show gets more selfish, more disgusting and more pathetic over time and it’s just great.
Just read some of the episode titles. “The Gang Gets Racist,” “Underage Drinking: A National Concern,” “The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis,” “Charlie’s Mom Has Cancer,” “Who Pooped the Bed?” Compelling stuff.
“Kitten mittons.” Rum ham. Incest. Golden gods. Fat Mac. The gruesome twosome. Motown. Green man. The D.E.N.N.I.S. system. Paint huffing. Dumpster sex. Dance offs. Rats. Trolls. Wine in a can. Karate. Hitler paintings. Ghouls. Pepe Silvia.
If I haven’t demonstrated the value of the show by now, then you don’t deserve it. The show is a veritable mecca for anyone who’s sordid, depraved, cynical, eccentric, disgusting, or just wishes they were. I’ll let you decide which camp you fall into.
I left my job last month.
I was surrounded by talented, wonderful people and don’t regret my time there (so much so that I’m now freelancing with them), but ultimately, it just wasn’t the right role for me.
So here I am, on the job hunt. And between a handful of freelance projects to keep me ticking along, I’m writing applications, pursuing and creating opportunities and networking my ass off. It’s hard.
We’ve all been a job hunter at some point in our lives. And whilst every job hunt is unique, the one recurring theme is that everyone hates it.
The recurring theme of any job hunt is that everyone hates it.
But does it always have to be so tedious?
Of course, there are always serious factors that come with job hunting and possible unemployment, be it having dependants, making rent, paying bills – serious responsibilities to rightly prioritise.
But when you’re in a situation where these aren’t desperate concerns (immediately anyway) – why is it that the job hunt is still as depressing as ever?
It’s a challenge to get motivated, stay positive and feel like you’ve been productive, even when you’ve spent all day and evening actively working. And I know I’m not alone in these thoughts. Whilst I’m not naive enough to believe a mere change in mindset will make all these issues disappear, I’ve gone full Pollyanna and thought about the 3 reasons I – and any others in a similar position – should make the most of this situation.
Whether it’s an interview, a phone call, a run in the park or lunch with a friend; I don’t have to plan it around my work day. So tomorrow I’ve planned a museum crawl around London, and I’ll job hunt in the evening. Because I CAN!
What do you really want from a new job? What do you really not want? What do you want to do with the rest of your life? You know, small stuff like that. If you’re always operating at a million miles an hour there’s no time to think. Until now.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. This is one of the hardest things as a job hunter – giving yourself time off. But it’s necessary. Fresh air, friends and food make a day decidedly better, and they’ll without doubt improve any applications.
I won’t lie and say that the job hunt is a walk in the park. Except possibly tomorrow when I do plan to walk in the park. But it doesn’t have to be a complete misery. Yes you’ll feel vulnerable, frustrated and sometimes just plain low. But it’s also so rare to have the flexibility, time and mental space that come with this situation.
Will it ever be fun? Probably not. But I intend on making it as fun as it can damn well be.
TEDx Brighton was inspiring. I try to avoid this word as it’s overused and dramatic but it’s the only word that applies here.
There were laughs (host Mark Dolan was on excellent form), intensity, ideas, sadness and a whole lot of surprises. An epic event with some epic speakers, and messages that will stick with me for some time to come. Here are some highlights from three of my favourites:
Jake, who describes himself somewhat harshly as a “suicidal waster” who found purpose, spoke about his ongoing battle with depression and the great healers of Nature and movement.
Just a year and a half ago, he seriously considered ending it all, phoning his mum one last time to hear her voice before he went.
Everyone in the Brighton Dome seemed to be holding their collective breath as Jake explained the thoughts and feelings that were going through his mind. His simple but eloquent description of these dark thought processes and their potential effects was both upsetting and humbling.
“Depression club’s biggest trick is convincing members that they’re the only one.”
But with the help of his Mum, his GP and finding his purpose, Jake pulled it back from the brink. He was very clear to say that depression isn’t ever done, it’s not something you can complete. It’s a constant battle. But in articulating this battle and communicating it with others, it saps its power. A modest man, Jake found his purpose in the modest act of walking.
His goal is simple – to walk his way to recovery. “My plan is to walk around Great Britain, covering every National Park in order to show people that there is beauty nearby.” Documenting his experiences with depression as he goes – I don’t know if I can think of a more noble vocation.
It’s unbelievable to think that a year and a half ago he was in the darkest stage of his life and now he’s fighting it head on, completed the London Marathon with the show ‘Mind Over Marathon’ and is getting more and more people behind his cause. Myself included.
“The feeling I have right now, I don’t want to die, I want to live forever.”
These were the words Jake said to himself on completing the marathon and the words he used to end his talk. A powerful, simple message on how engaging with the outdoors and physical health can help your mental health and then some. I’m looking forward to following his adventure.
(Try saying that after a few beers). Tim’s missions is to “bring on the Ping Pong Revolution”. On the face of it, this might sound like a slightly obscure life mission. Until you see exactly what this means.
Tim’s talk was decidedly different to the rest because he didn’t just wax lyrical about the great work that was being done, he showed it.
Sharing the stage with him for the majority of his talk were some of the people who play at Brighton Table Tennis Club. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more diverse bunch. But the one thing they have in common? Ping pong. Watching them laugh and play together said it all. Across age, race, gender, background, class. It’s just not important in ping pong.
It’s a social revolution that’s beautifully simple and incredible to see in action. (Plus props have to go to Harry Fairchild for being a total legend).
I was skeptical about this talk. From the start the idea that we needed more positive news seemed almost crass from the founder of Spark News. When terrible things are happening the world over every day is that really what we need?
“Sharing positive stories can change the world for good.”
But as I listened on, Christian made a clear distinction. His message was not to share more and more “fluff” that’s unimportant. But by sharing success stories around the world centred on solutions, we can inspire more answers to difficult problems.
To illustrate his point, he showed a video of blind women, who are being brought in to perform breast exams on people who might have a tumour. The idea to use disabled people in need of work to use their heightened sense of touch to help find medical problems before it’s too late is absolute genius. This news story isn’t fluff, but it’s positive, and it shows an innovative solution to multiple societal challenges. By showing more of these kinds of stories, we’ll inspire more ideas like this. Christian, you converted me.
The common thing that all these three talks shared was that they were simple. The messages and ideas they put forward might not be easy to implement by any means, but they are simple and elegant in their logic. Utopia doesn’t need to be a distant dream.
TEDx Brighton, you did not disappoint. I have much to think upon…