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

What We Can Learn About Life And Work From The Band Soft Cell …

I recently read an interview with the members of 80’s art-pop band, Soft Cell.

Sure, I liked their song ‘Tainted Love’ but that was about it.

I thought they were try-hard and much preferred my heavy metal bands.

But as I’ve got older, I’ve realized how blinkered I was … how judgmental … and this interview rammed it home.

I love so much about it.

Their attitude to music.

Marc’s phenomenal and ferocious attitude to the frankly, horrific homophobic rumours that I remember hearing way back in my college days.

And their approach to their working relationship.

It’s funny with bands … you expect all the members to love each other. Have deep bonds that last a lifetime.

Of course part of that is cultivated by the record companies, but you still want them to be mates who hang out together … but often, they’re not.

It’s not that they don’t like each other – though that can happen too – it’s more their chemistry works in one environment and they’re good with that.

It was funny seeing it in print because it kind-of captured how I felt with Cynic.

While Andy, George and I talked every day … we weren’t close friends.

We didn’t socialize much together. In fact, we probably do it more now we’re not in a business together than we ever did then.

But it worked.

We liked each other.
We trusted each other.
We valued each other.

But it never really extended beyond the work environment.

And this probably helped us because unlike family – where the focus is not to cause upset – this situation allowed us to always tell each other the truth.

We would be considerate. We cared about each other. But we would never hold back.

And when I think of the best work experiences I’ve ever had, this has been the constant dynamic.

Blunt truth wrapped in visceral respect.

Where you felt you were better at your job when you were together, but had other enjoyable lives when you were apart.

And the joy of the working experience meant you kept coming back.

Not because you had to, but because you wanted to.

Or to paraphrase David from Soft Cell, a creative relationship rather than a creative marriage.

I didn’t realise how special that was.

It certainly doesn’t happen often.

And while you may ask why some of those relationships still end, the bigger question is why do so few ever begin?

For me, it’s all about trust and belief.

That you got together because of how you all see the world, not because you found yourselves in the same room or office.

And while you may share the same philosophy, you have different ways of embracing and executing it.

And that’s thrilling.

That’s the tension that drives both of you to be better.

That lets you say stupid stuff because it’s part of the trust you have of each other.

Part of the standards you hold each other to.

While I have some of that still, I miss some of the stuff I had.

And why I still feel a great privilege for having lived it .

But here’s the good news … because while many of those relationships are no more, the experiences, lessons and ambitions that were born from them remain and blossom.

So thank you to all of you who had – and have – that impact on me.

You know who you are.

And thanks to Marc and David for waking me up to it. Again.

Comments Off on What We Can Learn About Life And Work From The Band Soft Cell …

Bonded By Bikes …

While it may not mean much to you other than being an old photo of a street, it’s the sign that says ‘Raleigh’ that means so much to me.

You see when you’re a kid, you look for a sign that where you’re from has value. Something that lets you feel like you’re in a special place. That you have a shot at something, even if it’s by osmosis of geography.

For me, there were 2 things.

Nottingham Forest and Raleigh Bikes.

In the case of Forest, it was the beginning of Brian Clough’s era at the City Ground … where he took a provincial team to the heights of Europe. Not once, but twice.

For a young kid, just getting into football … that was the best feeling in the World.

To know you were from the same place that had the King’s of Europe made you feel on top of the World.

But those days were just unfolding, which is why there was another sign that I was born in a special place.

Raleigh Bicycles.

While the actual business was a bit of a nightmare – always flying close to the wind – no one really knew that because the company was World famous for 2 bikes.

The Chopper and the Grifter.

While they made many bikes … and there were many different bike manufacturers all over the world … those 2 of all the bikes they made and were available, were icons.

Even later, when they helped popularise the BMX with their Tuff Burner range, nothing came close to the impact, social kudos and design distinctiveness of those two.

The Chopper – specifically the Mark 1 and 2 – were the creme de la creme.

Despite being notoriously dangerous – both for its bad weight balance [especially when giving someone a croggy] and the location of it notorious groin busting gear lever – it became an instant classic.

It looked like the motorbike in the movie Easy Rider … which for a kid felt like the ultimate in cool rebellion.

And then there was the hefty Grifter that came after it.

Like a Grand Tourer Harley, it was heavy as hell with massive, chunky tyres… but it also was more sturdy and solid than its Chopper cousin. And while it didn’t possess the same danger to your future parent potential, it still had this massive metal bar running along the top of the bike that had the ability to hurt you if you stopped too soon.

I didn’t have a Chopper, but I had a Grifter and even though I sold it when I turned 15 – so 37 years ago – it still has an indelible mark on me.

Which is why Raleigh’s demise still hurts.

Because back then, it was more than just the demise of a brand that I had put so much of my identity in … it was a sign that great can fail.

In many ways, it was the first experience I had of collapse.

I appreciate that sounds ridiculous – and privileged – but it’s true.

It was a sign that whatever your best intentions, success was not assured.

Worse, even if you do achieve it, you may not keep it.

It was a life lesson that really hit me hard … made more challenging by me finding school hard.

Especially exams.

Of course, now I am older I also appreciate that hardship can sometimes become good … if you work hard and have a bunch of luck. But I wish I had worked that out earlier, rather than placing so much importance on things that had nothing to do with me other than being from the same geographical location.

But I still feel loss about Raleigh.

Nottingham is a great city, but it’s icons keep dying.

From the lace markets to the coal mines to the factories that churned out everything from cigarettes to technology equipment to even the ownership of Boots The Chemist.

Maybe that’s why Forest are so important to me.

That even though they faced 23 years in the wilderness, they are still alive.

Better yet, they managed to defeat the odds and stay in the Premiership.

A sign that the place I was raised, still is worth something to the people who live there.

I hope so.

Because Nottingham offers so much more than simply being the place where the iconic Raleigh Chopper and Grifters were born.

Comments Off on Bonded By Bikes …

No Shame …
May 29, 2023, 8:15 am
Filed under: Corporate Evil

Walking through an airport I saw this …

It’s a special sort of evil that can proudly announce how many ‘puffs’ their products offer customers, when there’s a great big government warning on the packaging that states every puff can kill you.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more obvious example of a company revealing how blatantly confident they are in their customers addiction to their product … but then tobacco companies have no shame.

Nothing highlights this than Philip Morris who continue to spout they are on a journey to being a health company when they make so much of their money from destroying it.

For all the evil manipulation of Murdoch and the fictional Roy family, no one comes close to the pride of evil adopted by the tobacco companies.

Comments Off on No Shame …

Flushing Money Down The Toilet. Literally.
May 26, 2023, 7:45 am
Filed under: Advertising, Attitude & Aptitude, Crap Products In History

A while ago I wrote about the worst ad I’d seen in an age.

It was for Uber Eats and it was utterly horrific.

An overloaded polystyrene box of unappetising meat.

And I LOVE meat.

But it’s been beaten [excuse the pun] by another once-hyped beast …

An emergency car urinal.


Is there a non-emergency car urinal?

And why the fuck have they made it look like a massive Smurf cock?

Seriously, it’s huge.



What’s it that big for?

Do they think people will hang it out the window so they can just pee straight into nature? Do they think people can hold the equivalent of the Pacific Ocean in their bladder? Was it designed by some tragic bastard who wanted to delude themselves they were hung like a horse?

Or should I say, my best friend’s penis?

Which, no doubt, they’ll label ‘small’ to show how much of an immature, sexist, fragile prick they really are.

Oh I know they’re trying to claim its unisex.

And the choice of ‘blue’ seems a deliberate attempt to communicate ‘health product’.

But let’s face it, Groupon makes Wish seem like Harrods … which is why the only people who’ll buy this will be pissed up farts who think it will make a funny addition to their dress outfit.

Literally pissing their money away.

Even with a 70% discount.

Which kind of sums up all the problems with programatic marketing.

Where volume trumps quality.

Efficiency is more important than effectiveness.

Even though so many of the brands who use it, talk about premium quality and effectiveness.

At least Groupon are doing what you expect them to do. Pile shit high, sell it off cheap.

Thank god it’s Friday so I can calm the fuck down. Seems I need to …

Comments Off on Flushing Money Down The Toilet. Literally.

Airport Advertising Is Crazier Than Perfume Advertising …

Over the years, I’ve written a bunch about perfume advertising.

How it must be the equivalent of an architect being asked to design a building in China or Dubai – because absolutely anything goes.

At the other end of the spectrum is airport advertising.

Like perfume ads, the goal is not to really sell … but to create illusion and impression.

A way to drive awareness or influence with a captive audience.

And while there are the odd moments of magic – like the Gentle Monster face I worked on – the vast majority are beige-as-batshit ads for banks, universities and fashion houses.

Of course they don’t think that, as I saw recently, they consider themselves the creme de la creme of prestigious ad placement …

Now don’t get me wrong, getting on a plane still has some element of glamour attached – a teensy bit – but a picture of a plane with the words ‘creative advertising’ under it hardly does them service.

And yet, like perfume advertising, there are some who think normal rules do not apply.

While in Croatia, I saw this piece of insanity …

What the fuck?

I mean, I know airports get all sorts of people passing through them.

And, as I said, ads in airport are more about awareness than driving immediate sales.

But … but … an ad for a war plane?

Who is going to pass through an airport and go, “oh yes, that would be perfect for the military coup I’m considering igniting”

Hell, even if it was in Duty Free with a 30% discount, I doubt you’d have to beat people off with a shitty stick to buy one.

And what the hell does ‘Challenge. Create. Outperform.’ even mean?

Then there’s ‘unbeatable combination’.

What’s that then … plane and death?

I am so confused and can only say that whoever bought/sold this ad, is either a genius, a maniac or a dictator.

Comments Off on Airport Advertising Is Crazier Than Perfume Advertising …