The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Should Blue Collar Be The New White Collar?
October 18, 2010, 5:59 am
Filed under: Comment

Once upon a time I wanted to be a Policeman.

Not some flashy version like the guys in Starsky & Hutch, but a bobby on the beat with helmet and truncheon.

I knew everything that needed to be known about becoming cop and would tell all and sundary, including the Chief Inspector of Nottingham who was a friend of my parents.

And yet here I am, years later, about as far removed from being a policeman as you could possibly get.

Given the state Nottingham is in with crime, this is probably a good thing, but this got me thinking, where are the next generation of coppers going to come from?

I ask this because we seem to be a World obsessed with material possession … a World that is increasingly judging someone by what they have, not what they’ve done or believe … a World that is more focused on themselves than on the community they live in … a World that views graduates as better employees than people who left school.

Where the hell are the next Policeman, nurses, plumbers going to come from … and do we really want society thinking [wrongly] they’re made up of people who weren’t good enough to get a ‘good job’.

Given adland loves helping out charities [which is a worthy cause, but more often done as it offers creative freedom than anything more worthwhile] maybe it would be good if they also started looking at ways they could help other industries … especially those find it hard to compete both interms of financial rewards and a lack of stigma attached.

Of course they won’t, because Government business is a lucrative business – so it’s in their interests to just promote the problem rather than solve it – but if we all want to live in a society that is safe, clean and healthy … maybe it’s time we started talking, promoting and rewarding these jobs with the level of respect they deserve because even though I may earn more than an average bobby on the beat, I know who I think contributes more to society and I know who we’ll seek out when we get into some sort of trouble.

The New Member To The Campbell Household. Maybe.
October 17, 2010, 6:12 pm
Filed under: Comment

The little bundle of fluff above is a 5 week old kitten my wife found starving in the streets of Shanghai last Friday.

Apparently he was so hungry, he was literally screaming … so Jill picked him up, took him to the vet for a check-up and then brought him home where he is currently fast asleep in our spare bathroom – quarantined from Rosie for a week so we can be sure he’s OK – but otherwise happy, healthy and full of food.

[The vet gave him a clean bill of health, the quarantine is just standard proceedure when bringing strays into a home that already has pets]

Whilst we would like to keep him, it might be a bit difficult, so first of all we’d like to know if anyone in Shanghai is interested in giving him a good home.

He’s a lovely little sod and already litter trained, however as he is smaller than a can of coke and weighs just 400 grammes, we have been told we should wait a few weeks before handing him over so he can get a little bigger and stronger.

So, if you can provide a loving home for a loving little ball of fluff, let me know … we will provide all the things you need as well as the cost to have him microchipped and neutered when he is old enough [which very important & totally humane].

Thanks a lot.

There’s No Place To Hide In Adland …
October 15, 2010, 11:58 am
Filed under: Comment

So last night I went out for dinner with some dear friends of mine, Jonathan and Truus.

Given I hadn’t seen them for almost 3 years, it was fantastic to catch up and at the end of the night, we decided to go for a walk along the canal and grab a night cap.

As we were strolling along the beautiful streets, we passed a pub and by pure chance, realised that inside there were 2 planners we both knew from our time in Singapore.

Let’s get this in perspective …

I haven’t been to Amsterdam for almost 12 years – and by pure chance, I happened to walk along the right street on the right day at the right time and with the right friend so that he spotted 2 planners we both knew, who themselves had decided to go for a late tipple on a Thursday night.

On top of that, the 2 planners – one Scottish residing in Singapore and one Dutch, residing in Delhi – had met each other by chance as one was there on holiday and the other was there on a stop-over before going on to India.

And to make it weirder is that the reason we all know eachother is because at one point in the past, we all worked in Singapore – even though now, only one of us is still there while everyone else lives in a different country.

They say it’s a small World and that adland is a small industry but even if I take on board those considerations, it still blows my mind that situation could happen.

Saying that, it feels kind of good.

Thanks to technology, the industry I work in and my loud, opinionated gob … I can feel pretty much assured that wherever I go in the World, there’s probably someone there I can call a friend. Well, maybe not a friend [I have weird ‘rules’ about when that word can be used] but someone I know, who I can share some time with.

However it also raises another consideration …

Thanks to technology, the industry I work in and my loud, opinionated gob … all the fights I pick and all the bollocks I talk can be heard, discussed & reacted to in the blink of an eye … so if you’re anything like me and have an inability to keep your opinion to yourself, then may I suggest you find something that can overcome any/all negative views, because if you can’t, then even Osama Bin Ladin can’t hide your dirty little secrets from adlands wide circle of eyes and ears because the buggers are everywhere, not just connected online, but in little pubs on little streets in Amsterdam.

Anyway, to my colleagues at W+K, Niko, Jonathan & Truus, Gavin and Dede [plus Katie Dreke, who I’ll be meeting before I go to the airport and head home] thanks for ensuring the shitty experience at the Pulitzer didn’t overshadow the wonderfulness of being back in one of my favourite cities in the World … Amsterdam. It might of been a short time, but as the prostitutes in Thailand say, it was a special time.

When Shoes Met Sandals …
October 14, 2010, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Comment

So after 4 years of waiting, today I met Niko.

He was much taller than I expected [no, I don’t have any understanding of why I thought he’d be smaller either] but once I got over that, we basically behaved like old buddies catching up after a time away.

Now you could say that is exactly what we were – because whilst we’ve only met once, we’ve spoken on the phone a few times and have had an email correspondance that could be classified as ‘bromance worthy’ – however for me, meeting someone face-to-face is different from conducting a relationship online … regardless how much you communicate or what subjects you cover … and so now I’ve seen first hand how Niko talks, conducts himself and acts in general … I can say I genuinely feel I understand him better [even though I don’t agree with all of them – as he well knows, ha] and as a result of that, feel closer to him as well.

Put it this way, I don’t believe you can adore something until you’ve shared something physical with it.

So the difference between loving football and living football is having kicked a ball … or the difference between loving music and living for music is having shared a gig with a room full of fellow fans.

I’m not explaining myself properly – and the examples above are not quite right either – I guess I’m just saying that [at least for me or people of my age – hahaha!] some sort of physical engagement … something that affects the senses and/or the surroundings … makes me ‘feel’ more connected to the other person than if I was to simply share commentary, however personal, via computers or letters for years on end.

Saying that, it still blows me away that 2 guys can meet for the first time in a city that neither live in and can conduct the sort of conversation you tend to only be able to have with those who have been closely engaged in your life for a number of years.

And whilst it could be argued that is exactly what we’ve been doing … I don’t believe that’s true because putting the physical interaction issue aside, our online lives are interjected with a fair dose of things we choose to do not online – whether that’s because of other needs we have, or responsibilities or even values – however I feel better for the experience and I hope I get to do it again very soon because whilst in many ways Niko and I are polar opposites, the fact he’s a wonderful, generous, funny and clever man means I want him in my life and feel all the better for having him there.

FW: IMG00003-20101014-2002.jpg
[Niko trying to not be seen in public with me]

Niko, thank you for the time and the generosity [especially the burger!] and I hope it is not too long before we can do it all again because now we’ve pressed flesh, we’re true mates.

Right, so when do I meet the other sods that come on here?

Well, if you listen carefully, in the distance you might just be able to make out the words …

“Never, if we have anything to do with it”

… emanating from the mouths of Lauren, NP, Marcus, Rob M & Peggy – and if they were to ask John, Age, Charles and now Niko about what it’s like to spend a few hours in my company – they’d be reassured they are absolutely right to have the view.

PS: @Lauren: Niko trod on my foot just as you asked him too. Bitch. Ha.

Service With A Scowl …
October 14, 2010, 2:15 pm
Filed under: Comment

Hotels in the West piss me off.

Apart from the fact they are hideously overpriced and generally hugely underwhelming, what they term as ‘service’ is what does my head in.

I’m staying at the Purlitzer in Amsterdam.

It’s a hotel in a beautiful location … right on the canal … however so far, that is about as beautiful as it gets.

I got to the hotel yesterday morning at 7am.

With traveling time and connections, that means I’d spent over 19 hours to get to Amsterdam plus I had an additional hours delay while Dutch customs officers searched my bags because I apparently have the look of an archetypal drug smuggler … though I would imagine that means the real drug smugglers look completely the opposite to me. Say Brad Pitt.

Anyway, I walk in and after spending a good 10 minutes trying to make eye contact with a receptionist doing her best to avoid my gaze, I then get told my room was not ready.

OK – it was early so these things happen – however when I asked if there was somewhere I could shower and change they said no … not because they don’t have the facilities … but because they couldn’t formally ‘check me in’ they could not give me access to the changing rooms.

So after 19 hours of travel, the hotel that was charging me 299 Euros [+ tax] felt they had done enough and the receptionist asked me to …

“Move aside, so she could serve the other people in line”.


Now I know I’m pro-Asia and that labour is much cheaper over there, so you can hire more people to ‘do stuff’ … but this scenario just wouldn’t happen there, at least in a semi decent hotel.

Whether you were in Singapore, Shanghai, Bangkok or Bali … you wouldn’t see most of the hotel staff talking to each other and ignoring their customers.

You wouldn’t be left feeling that the slightest request was either too hard or not in their job description.

You wouldn’t be left without alternatives.

You wouldn’t be left full stop.

I’m not trying to make a hard luck story out of this – I know how lucky I am to be staying in Amsterdam in a beautiful location – however whenever you stay in a hotel, the experience you receive does have a baring on what you think or remember about a place and that is why I believe a nations tourism board should be placing expectations on service levels at international hotels rather than just leaving it to the hotel.

The reason I say that – facilities & styling aside [and why the fuck do so many hotels in the West – and a few in Asia – not include a toothbrush in the room!] – is because I believe part of the reason for the Purlitzer’s bad service is due to the culture of the country, rather than the company.

OK … OK … I accept that a company should be able to counter stuff like that with it’s training, however as I’ve been banging on for at least 5 years, culture influences/dictates attitude and behaviour far more than it is given credit for … so given I’ve stayed many times at hotels in Asia that are part of the same group as the Purlitzer and had great experiences – I would say the reason for the staffs attitude is something that goes beyond a lack of training.

I remember watching a documentary that said the reason service standards in the West are often quite poor is because they felt ‘looking after a strangers wellbeing’ made them feel a ‘lower class of human’ and as such, behaved in a way that implied they didn’t care as it made them feel superior in the interaction.

Now I don’t know enough about the Dutch culture to say if this applies to them or not [but I’m sure my lovely friends Jonathan & Truus will tell me all about it tonight] however if the generalised and extremely overly simplistic view of them being blunt and not suffering fools gladly is true, maybe that could be a contributing reason for what I’m experiencing at the moment … it’s certainly safe to say that this is one of the only hotels I’ve ever been to where all the staff seem to come from Holland which would mean any outside influence interms of service standards and expectation just aren’t there.

The thing is, good service isn’t about superiority or subserviancy, it is about – in very simplistic terms – ensuring life runs smoothly for the person paying for the experience, and whilst there may be the odd hiccup or bump in the road that can’t be avoided, not making an effort to find a mutually advantageous solution actually makes you feel worse about the place than if they tried something and fucked it up.

Which all goes to show that brand positionings count for absolute shit if you can’t back it up with the experience.

God, I hope Niko doesn’t think/say the same thing about me when we meet for the first time in a couple of hours.