Archive for 2010

It's our first Guest Blogger!

We’re looking to get people of all ages, walks-of-life, opinions, political backgrounds and sensitivities to ‘guest’ on our blog. People with something to say about: ‘How we Communicate’. It’s a broad topic, so would you like to be one of them? If so, contact us at build.creatingsparks.com/dunning, to tell us why it should be you!

Gillian Lamarra (yup, that’s her real name) studied advertising and PR at the College of Commerce in Glasgow before going to Uni, to study Mass Media and Communications. She’s taking a break from studying and has worked in many places (including in a pub), whilst attempting to crack the world of ‘Advertising’ . On this journey, Gillian’s realised that she has a passion for writing.  She’s 23 and “still clueless about where I will end up, I’ll let you know when I get there”. We quite like her writing, here’s her Guest Blog:…………

The Laugh Police

Every single day when I work in the pub, I ‘m strained to serve yet another old, lifeless bugger who can barely look after a beer, never mind themselves.  You know the sort, someone who sweats more than Gary Glitter in a nursery when they are down to their last two quid because essentially, this means they are on to their last ‘Mick Jagger’ of the night.

Working here could be seen to be a bit grim but it’s not, because there’s one important thing that all these unshaven punters have in common. It’s their ability to laugh at any aspect of life, even the most saddest.

Working behind a bar, you hear the meaningless banter between friends and punters and the jokes that come along between conversations are usually distasteful, pretty much always disrespectful and sometimes incredibly insensitive. The question I’d ask, which is actually buried underneath all their interaction is,  how far is –  ‘too far’?.

For instance, I was discussing the latest expose, with BBC NEWS commenting on the release of an unsurprisingly grim-faced Peter Moore, the British hostage seized in Iraq in 2007.  For the first time, after becoming desensitised and thick-skinned to any unpleasant chin-wagging between the punters I was shocked to hear one of them say:

“That Iraqi hostage Peter Moore arrives back in UK…Personally, looking at the miserable f**ker,  I would have shot him too!”

A couple of years ago, comedian Billy Connolly got into a lot of hot water for being equally dismissive of a hostage, who unfortunately did not return to UK but was killed by his captors. He was roundly criticised, so it’s obviously dangerous territory. However, I’d ask, does comedy and it’s values sometimes allow us to escape from the horrors of the World and what is considered ‘Politically Correct’? The uptight,  ideological society that we’ve managed to construct, has it created insecurities, not only for us as individuals but as Nations as a whole?

Who or what constitutes our right to laugh, or the right to gasp, at any particular joke or comment?

Thinking about this more, I relate back to a now infamous comment that our ‘lovable’, outrageous and not-so-discreet Jimmy Carr made about the servicemen within our armed forces, back in October of last year:

“Say what you like about servicemen amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re going to have a f*cking good Paralympic team in 2012.”

I chuckled at that but then found it contradicted with my morals, in terms of what is socially acceptable in my head. I feel that no one is complete without compassion and even though I can sympathise with the victims in this joke, I’d also suggest that laughing at life’s pity is better than drowning in it. In time, some of these limbless service guys might even think this is funny. Insensitive maybe, totally wrong? I don’t think so.

Eddie Izzard says “comedians will go as far as their conscience takes them”. Now, I’m not a comedian but I can appreciate that sometimes, if you don’t laugh then you cry. While Jimmy’s joke may have been a ‘Carr-crash’ to some, I’d suggest that cutting-edge comedians have to push on boundaries and carry on regardless. Life is hard, upsetting and depressing enough without putting limit and restraints on ‘laughs’.

Its time we all started to laugh again. Man up, chin up and realise that sometimes you just have to say ‘f*ck it’.

It's our National day – its a Holi-Holiday!

Because our new Digital Strategist Aleks is sort-of Australian (well, he sounds Australian) we all went out, to celebrate Australia Day (yes, I know, lunchtime drinking, in the nanny state of Scotland, absolutely outrageous!). Anyway, in- between mouthfuls of Victoria Bitter and Kangaroo curry (no joke) we got round to discussing this issue of ‘Nationalism’.

In Oz, January 26 is a National holiday and it’s an opportunity for them to indulge in the Three ‘B’s (beach, barbeque, beer) and generally have a good time and express their Antipodean-ness. It’s fun, it’s harmless and it’s an excuse to meet people and tell them about how good your country is, in a bit of a tongue-in-cheek way.

We know that the whole aspect of ‘Nationalism’ is a bit of a touchy subject but we reckon that if it’s a good excuse for a bit of a knees-up, Nationalism is a great idea. We think that the aspect of demonstrating ones  ‘superiority’ over others is how some nations like to demonstrate their one-ness, which is obviously a bit wrong. However, a day off for everyone, for a bit of bondai-ing? That has to be a fantastic idea. Why don’t WE have a National ‘Scotland-Day’ Holiday?

That’s why we think that St Andrew’s Day HAS to be awarded Official Holiday status. We’ve been looking on the internet and it seems to be that any half-decent country that likes to be taken seriously, has a National ‘Day’, on which they celebrate their ‘Identity’. It’s time Scotland did this properly and stopped faffing-about!

According to Tom in here, some aspects of Scottish Government had a day off last November 30th anyway but as per usual, there’s been a somewhat half-arsed and muted response from other Mandarins, as to what we should really be doing?

It needs to be made clear and quickly agreed on. November 30th, St Andrews Day, a celebration of our Scottish National identity, for all sorts of reasons. Let’s not leave being Scottish to the odd football match, Hogmanay or even Burns night.

In the past, we’ve even resorted to MAKING-UP things like ‘Tartan Day’, or ‘Edinburgh’s Hogmanay’, when we’ve already got a perfectly good, historical reason to shout-out that we’re proud to be Scottish.

There’s been lots of crazy petitions on Facebook and the like recently, so perhaps it’s time to start an official ‘MAKE ST ANDREW’S DAY A HOLIDAY’ campaign? That’s something that’s NOT so crazy. Who’s up for it?

Don't shoot the messenger

If we told you about a Hampshire firm called J. Chandler & Co who have been all over the Scottish press this week, you’d probably ask us “who they?”.  However, if we mention the name of the drinks brand they distribute and market, you’d probably…(no, let’s make that definitely) have heard of their product. It’s a tonic wine called Buckfast.

Now, Buckfast’s not exactly the elixir of the Gods but it’s not alone in this situation. It’s not the only ‘cheap’ alcohol product aimed at what could be seen as the ‘underbelly’ of Scottish society. It retails at over 6 quid a bottle, so it can’t even have the label of ‘cheap’ booze levelled at it.

If you were a distributor or purveyor of ‘honest’ alcohol drinks, you could probably be seen to be incredibly  jealous of a product which seems to fly off the off-licence shelves in North Lanarkshire, usually with little or no promotions. No supermarket shoves, no frowned-on BOGOF deals and certainly no engaging, bus shelter campaigns. Which is a bit ironic, because bus shelters and Buckfast, ‘gang thegither’, as our National Bard probably would never have penned.

Yup, lots of drinks firms would probably love to be in this situation with one of their products. This is, if it wasn’t for the heinous, satanic reputation the popular claret nectar enjoys. It’s called for everything. A poison which is damaging our youth. It fuels violence and religious hatred…It’s blamed for every social malaise in Central Scotland, from Baillieston to Hermiston Gate and beyond. There’s even a recent statistic which fuelled this story, one which linked it directly into a number of assaults in Glasgowshire and The Lothians.

Really? Whilst we wouldn’t argue with the fact that alcohol and accident and emergency go hand-in-hand, (there are squillions of hard facts that point clearly this), we’re very wary of suggesting that blaming or banning a certain alcohol product is going to make a blind bit of difference. Prohibition demonstrated that banning alcohol simply drives consumption underground. Banning the use of ‘weed’ has not exactly helped it vanish off the surface of the Earth. We’re also very mindful that there are lots of Scandinavian statistics that point to less alcohol = less violence and again, we’d agree wholeheartedly with this.

It’s just that we think, in a Society like Scotland, it’s going to be REALLY difficult to change overall patterns of behaviour and banning some sickly tonic wine made by monks will be next to useless. In fact, it might be worse than that, it might just lead to lots of copycat brands or ‘worse’ products with clever marketing moving into the void left by ‘Buckie’.

There’s been broad talk of a minimum pricing policy which is going to be introduced and again it could be argued that a society where a ‘slab of ‘cooking’ lager can be bought for a little over a fiver, is asking for trouble. However, Buckfast’s not premium by any stretch but it’s not peanuts either, so would adding a quid or two to the price make any difference?

It’s also a bit of a myth that it’s only the tracksuit and skip-cap brigade who drink Devon’s finest Tonic wine. There’s a much broader cross-section of the population drink it. Most of them enjoy ‘getting blootered’ without a doubt but they don’t kill people, stab anyone or throw bottles at fire engines.

We’re not a paid advocate of ‘Buckie’ although several of our ‘crew’ have tasted it. It’s certainly got a unique taste and many would say, you can develop a taste for it and perish the thought, even get to quite like it. There’s a lot of snobbery comes into it. For example, many ‘gastronauts’  extoll the virtues of eating Oysters but not everyone has developed a taste for them. According to comedian Frank Skinner eating them is “Like licking spittle off a tortoise”. Just because you’re drinking Penfold’s Grange at £several score a bottle doesn’t mean you’ve not got a problem relating to alcohol.

So there we have it a eulogy in support of an Abbey in Devon, not something we thought we’d ever be doing! To finish, we’d simply  say, anti drinks lobbyists, don’t shoot the messenger, look beyond the product and give ‘the yoof’ a bit of a break. Their relation with alcohol is probably the fault of their parents who were led to believe it was the devil’s brew, rather than having a sensible view of it, like they do in most other places on planet earth.

Hopefully, this might be read and cause a bit of debate and we’d love to be told we’re talking through our ass. Until then, we’d say, ban Buckie at your peril, what will people turn to instead of it?

Buckfast, elixir of the Gods

Buckfast, Elixir of the Gods