Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Final Countdown...


Oops. Here I was talking about layers, and obviously has a few of its own! I decided to call Jason of Any Junk (see recent blog), and had a pleasant chat. With luck he may drop by to visit at the show this week as I see some potential between us. Of course I cheerfully offered him a slot on the site, and said they’re already on it! Next time I get adventurous I’ll check with Emma first!!!!

I went on one of my regular Cap ‘N Cork rounds yesterday, and actually had a not bad haul. Only from a minority, but it was nice when some faces lit up at my arrival and I got presented with a bag of carefully collected caps.

Looking through today’s paper, and stumbled across the lead letter of the letters page in the Daily Mail. Headed ‘plastic is turning me into a bag lady’, yet another member of the public expresses their frustration at needless waste. Coming on top of the similar themed article by a reporter in these same pages a few weeks’ back, we have fired off another cheery missive in the hope that we may yet see the coverage that seemed so hopeful at the outset of this show still materialise. It is one thing to be lost in the clutter of people gunning for the media’s attention, but we seem not only to be invisible but actively getting ignored, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why.


Following on, as they are related, I was reading some public feedback to the hugely successful ‘The Apprentice’. What caught my eye were a couple asking why some ‘contestants’ were patently not what was articulated as winning material. Of course, not being dumb they acknowledged that it made for good TV, which is actually the only reason for the show, rather than any genuine attempt to discover a talented business apprentice.

I really think that this description of such broadcast entertainment genres should desist. It is plain inaccurate as there is simply no reality at all.

And now I spy two more, brand new ones starting today.

One is about an educationalist, entitled ‘Don’t Mess With Miss Beckles’. I’m prepared to bet that this will not be an accurate reflection of the state of anything except a bunch of kids’ desires to be on TV at any cost. Harking back a long way, if someone turned up at my school with a camera, our behaviour was anything but ‘real’. I’m sure there will be a nice fight in the offing to spice up the ratings.

More promisingly, there’s another in our ‘zone’ called ’It’s Not Easy Being Green’. I certainly look forward to catching up with it once I return from the show. From the snippet I saw they are at least not preaching so much as trying to inspire by example, which is good, but I again wonder how such efforts would turn out should the resources of a film crew not be in evidence. ‘All these people have turned out to help’ sounds lovely and heart-warming, but to what extent this was altruistic remains to be seen. Having seen a queue of teenagers waiting for the cameras to roll before planting floral tributes at a dead ‘friend’s’ chosen lamppost of vehicular termination, I have a cynical view of most people’s motivations these days.

But then maybe this is now the new reality.


On one of my Cap ‘N Corks rounds I came across a stall selling a device that extended your reach and picks things up. Pretty useful for my task. They were £4.99. I asked if he could let me have one at a discount. No dice: full fare. Still, I bought it. On my travels subsequently, several folk asked me where I got it, but for some reason I couldn’t recollect. How much better for all concerned had the chap seen the obvious potential in helping me out.


A little detour this morning to the Science Museum to the press launch of their ‘Dead Ringers’ show, which is basically about recycling mobile phones. Read my review here []. I must say that these things are falling into a bit of a routine, with a lot of dosh resulting in a load of PR folk, pols, academics and a load of media being brought together for a few speeches and a press pack which then most likely get dutifully rehashed and lost at the back of the odd minor medium.

I actually asked a few questions and did not get many answers.

However, I did meet a few more ‘great and good’ from such as DEFRA, SITA, etc, which with luck will be helpful. One such was Prof. Sue Grimes, Chair of Waste management at Imperial College. Nice lady. I hope we may be able to communicate further.

Came back to find the show in full swing. ‘Busy but not buying’ seems to be the order of the day. In my brief trip from entrance to stand, I ‘assisted’ one lady who was trying to cram her water bottle in the paper slot of the recycle bin, and stopped by the loos to switch off two hot taps left running.

My frustration is building. There’s not much I can do about having being totally suckered financially with our presence at the show, but it still galls me that I was taken in by the claims about all that was being done to cut us a great deal because what we were doing fitted in so well with the theme. However, having just finished talking with – and apologising to - yet another person who came to visit because they saw we were attending on our website, I am set to ask some serious questions.

This lady had had great trouble finding us because we were not in the guide. One of the many dispensations we thought we’d been granted was not having to pay for the compulsory £1500 ad in the guide, which sadly meant we were not listed. Strange then that many of the highly commercial enterprises in our area also managed to avoid this, along with paying one tenth what we did for their pitches. I also suspect the few others scattered about who are dealing in green issues paid little, if anything at all for their massive pitches. I wonder what WRAP has to say about all this?

But where I am really not happy is the sheer level of tokenism being shown to the environmental cause by the show itself, and its marketing.

Of course I’m only getting a handful of people interested in our message, because you’d have to work very hard to find it being promoted in any meaningful way, if at all. I have no access to the site, but I doubt it is any more overt than when we started looking having signed up, and no ad I have seen anywhere makes any mention.

Meanwhile my positive efforts, while being ‘allowed’, are being treated as no more than a quaint indulgence. I honestly feel quite let down by those who saw only our money rather than our sincere intentions, and used the latter to make a few more cheap scores of the former to doubtless meet some target.

However, we are still seeing a steady stream of quality, which is some compensation for the total lack of quantity.

Yesterday I had the Corporate Director of Thurrock Council swing by, and he seemed very positive about what we are doing.

Meanwhile today I had a great chat with a lovely couple of businessfolk – Adam & Gail of [] - who had come all the way down from Bolton to check out… you guessed it… the environmental theme. They arrived disappointed but I hope left our little site at least a bit happier that some areas of mutual interest had been discussed. We identified a lot of synergies, and I am hopeful there may be a worthwhile relationship there to explore later.

YOUR WORLD. YOUR (well those of you who get chosen) SAY.

I missed the issue the day before that prompted it, but I bought the Independent that had the title ‘Your World. Your Say’, boasting an eight page special issue devoted to readers’ responses on how best to change the climate.

However, before I could wade into this mighty collation, I first had to remove, with a wistfully ironic chuckle, the twenty-four page Property section, with articles and ads advocating homes in Spain, Bulgaria, Dubai, etc. Bless.

This self-same section also has a green bit, by one Will Anderson. I quite like his style. There was some common sense and we must get in touch. And then, on present evidence, never hear back. But you never know.

Anyway, it was worth having a scamper through the thoughts of the UK’s great concerned, or at least those the Indy has chosen because it suits their editorial policy. We will be guilty of this too at, for it is just human nature, but let us never forget that nothing is ever without a level of spin.

Sadly , the result was... predictable. I learned nothing new. The majority were ‘isn’t it all awful, we must do something’, with very few actual suggestions (new or otherwise) as to what.

I was going to do a detailed analysis. Sorry, can’t be bothered. With a few… very few… exceptions of common sense, pragmatic un-PC parapet-popping and a couple of sensible notions that stand a s**t-show of being adopted by any of today’s polls, this was just a talking shop for eco-worriers to share each others pain, littered with a few loons from each extreme popped in to ensure the debate bubbles along, albeit fruitlessly. Frankly a waste of eight pages.


This was the mantra we used at my agency, and has served me well. In business, it simply is not possible to do all three and achieve a satisfactory result.

As my recent adventures have distanced me from financial issues (not in a good way), I have started to think that a trimmed down version without ‘cheap’ can be applied to what I am doing a lot currently, namely writing. You can write something quickly, but it is unlikely that it will turn out to be very good. One of my favourite sayings (which I may or may not have come up with) is that ‘Cream rises to the top. You can’t push it’. With such as these blogs, my haste to get it out there often results in something that is not as good as I’d wish it to be.

The issue of the readers’ responses to the Indy feature made me revisit this. Pretty much all were ‘via email’. Issue and response neatly concluded within 48 hours. I missed my shot because I simply had no window. It’s the era of the quick… or the unpublished.

But even if I had fired something off, it would have been an initial draft. Not crafted or mulled over at all. Sad really. And prevalent across every aspect of life. The demands of producing anything no matter what almost ensure we never make whatever it is worthwhile.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get back to when something is worth wait for?


Either there was not much on TV last night, or the critics are reading my blog. Anyway, the only programmes to get reviewed were the reality shows I mentioned the other day. And without even seeing them it looks like I was pretty much bang on! The feisty lady’s attempt to kick kids into gear has not gone down well. The green family fared better, but the Indy critic did pause to wonder how being a consultant in the defence industry squared with planet-saving. But hey, I still like to write ads. Better to have that as a day job and do what he’s doing to mitigate, rather than compounding the deal by not caring. Highlights the problems we all face juggling jobs, family... and our environmental impact.


Just a thought, but what is the point of all these targets? Seems ‘we’ just missed one to do with emissions, and the sum total of the response has been a collective ‘Oh well’, and simply setting another target. No one lost a job, and indeed no one was actually mentioned as being responsible. It just sort off ‘happened’.

But hit a target and the gongs are handed out quicker than you can say ‘peerage for sale’.

There’s the usual ‘we’re disappointed’ noises from the eco-groups, but about the best they can come up with is ‘must do better’. Er, how? If our Government can’t police itself enough to do what it should, what chance do the rest of us have?