Friday, 28 May 2010

Great unidexters of history.

Maybe you knew this already, but I've just discovered that Robert Louis Stevenson based the character of Long John Silver on his friend, the physically imposing, charming, and one-legged William Ernest Henley. Henley was also a friend of J.M.Barrie, and it was his daughter Margaret Henley's description of Barrie as her 'friendy-wendy' that inspired at least the name of Wendy in Peter Pan.

So, Wendy Darling's father was Long John Silver. No wonder she took Captain Hook in her stride.

Bonus facts: William Earnest Henley wrote the poem Invictus, which Nelson Mandela found so inspiring, and which gave its name to the film last year.

Captain Hook is described in Peter Pan as 'the only man Long John Silver ever feared' Also, he went to Eton; as did Bertie Wooster, Peter Wimsey, and James Bond.

Throughout 'Treasure Island', Long John Silver is referred to by his fellow mutineers by his nickname... 'Barbecue'. Which, for me, slightly detracted from his menace.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Mad Men. No, actually mad.

Advertising has got very sophisticated these days, very subtle; but sometimes a good advertising executive has got to know when to go back to basics, to the old reliable methods that always have sold product, and always will. 

Sometimes, in other words, it's time to wheel out a cartoon of a little girl shouting into a dog's arsehole. 

Now just sit back, and watch them fly off the shelves.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

And leading away from it... Woozle tracks.

Do you have a child? Or know a child? Has that child done something to displease you? Would you like to make that child cry? Indeed, do you wish to disturb that child's dreams and psychologically scar it for years to come? No problem! Just show it this picture of something I came across this afternoon.

Job done.

Monday, 17 May 2010

...And the Dutch, who are probably high, may or may not have something to say about our pepper.

Quote from the blurb on the back of a packet of sea salt:

"The French, as fussy about health as they are about food, make great claims for the rare salts contained in Sea Salt."

This may be the most arm's-length recommendation of one's own product I've ever read.

"The French..." (Not us, you understand, we're not French. And not any particular French. Just, you know, the nation in general)

" fussy about health as they are about food..." (Silly faddy Frenchies. I wouldn't listen to any claims they might happen to make, the big Gallic fuss-pots.)

"...make great claims..." (We're not saying what the claims are. And we're certainly not saying whether or not they're true. In fact, with the adjective 'great', we're rather hinting they're not.)

"...for the rare salts contained in Sea Salt." (So, just so we're clear, these unspecified and unsubstantiated claims made by unidentified people are not, in fact, for our product, but for trace elements found within it. So, no suing, Ok? But, yeah, basically, salt is good for you.)

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Another box of soap.

Review of a downloadable audiobook: "Reader is good, very old school British accent". Praise that I'm sure will delight the reader, one Alec Guinness.

Talking of things you can download, the first in a new series of  David Mitchell's Soapbox, which I co-write with the titular box-owner, is available at the link above, or from iTunes. Free, in either case. And coincidentally, the reader is good, with an old school British accent.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Things Change With Time And Circumstances Shock! Read All About It!

Strapline on BBC News website story about Cameron and Clegg's press conference:

"Election clashes? Apparently that is all behind them."

Well, yes. I imagine that will be to do with the election being behind them as well. Honestly, whatever you may think of Cameron or Clegg or both, I don't see that you can blame two professional politicians for adjusting their behaviour towards each other in the contexts of a pre-election debate and a post-election co-alition. I think what really annoys me, though, is the smirkily insinuating style of the strapline, as if the perceptive writer has rather devilishly noticed something that seems to have passed everyone else by. I look forward to his or her sports interviews:  'So, I can't help but notice that now you're both on the podium, neither of you is trying to punch the other one at all...'

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The liver, though, stubbornly refuses to talk.

Meanwhile, exciting news from the world of medical science:

Ah, so that's what those are. I thought the neighbours had left the TV on. 

Monday, 3 May 2010

'Excuse me, do you sell eggs?'

I thought I'd seen the ultimate in up-front salesmanship with We Sell Paint. But of course I should have realised that for true no-frills plain-speaking, I needed to visit Yorkshire. I mean, it could be argued that the vendor here could have got his message across in fewer words. But my God, he makes every one count.

In other news, I'm doing the Vote Now Show again tonight - broadcast at 11pm on Radio 4. I also did the one last Wednesday, which will still be available on iPlayer for a bit.