Thursday, October 04, 2007

In the dark on green lighting

I am signed up to a doo-dad that means I get sent HMG press releases. And very useful they can be.

And because my 'patch' covers the UK, I have signed up to all, so often a few that can get duplicated according to regions that enjoy the same story.

So it was with interest in noted the following, which covered more than one area: Multi million PFI upgrade for Sheffield's [and others] streetlights

Sheffield's streets are set to benefit from £79.3million in Private Finance Initiative investment, Transport Minister Rosie Winterton announced today.

The funding will allow Sheffield City Council to secure a private sector partner to upgrade 59,000 of Sheffield's streetlights over the next 25 years.

Rosie Winterton said:"Experience shows that better streetlighting helps improve road safety, as well as reducing crime and the fear of crime. I am very pleased that Sheffield is using this PFI arrangement to deliver real benefits to motorists and pedestrians alike. "

Government support of PFI credits for local authorities has been endorsed by the interdepartmental Project Review Group (PRG). A full list of the schemes approved by PRG can be found on the website of the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Now this is all very woo-pee-doo. Why am I blogging it?

Well, there's another aspect to lighting that usually doesn't get a look-in, and that's the eco-aspects. Now it may well be that it is in there somewhere (time precludes), but I can't help but feel that if it was they'd be crowing about it.

Which means there is a slim chance that there is a lot of light... but also hot air... being given off here.

And I still have all my teeth! costs a lot of money. And time. So only today I was at a networking bash trying to drum up some work for the other thing I do - copywriting - to pay a few bills.

I am therefore not encouraged by this: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM IN ADVERTISING

I print it all here as there are some key bits I need to highlight:

Don't look away. I'm not covered with boils or zits. I am not unwashed or uneducated. I don't shout, play my mobile phone loudly, or leak spittle onto my chin. I don't put my feet onto the seat in front of me. I don't rabbit on about Iraq, the common market or Cherie Blair's mouth.

(Perhaps I should?) I am not the ugly man on the Victoria train begging for money, who always gets off at Brixton.

It's just that I'm old. No, please don't look away.

It's a cardinal sin in advertising- especially in London. Everybody knows about it, and nobody does anything about it. I've been to all the headhunters, and as soon as they see me, they have said, one after another, "it's ageism, I'm sorry, it's London. I can't do anything about it. It's just the way it is." Is there anywhere a copywriter in their 40's? Their 50's? What about an art director in their late 50's? With awards, too?

Talking about headhunters? Yes 39 of them - that takes in pretty much everyone, doesn't it? I've yet to hear from any of them. Are they useless or plain *****ing useless, or are they just following orders? And I still apply for stuff all over the world on the net, but as you know, of a 100, only two ever bother to reply, months later, to say that job has been cancelled.

The law supposedly banning ageism came into force in 2006.There was even an ad campaign by BBH. Did anybody register a slightest difference? No.

Another Labour whitewash. There are agencies with bean bags, that resemble kindergartens. Specially geared to the young, obviously. It's deliberately difficult for anyone over 30 to get up from those. Although I've stopped putting my date of birth on the CV, it doesn't take a genius to work out your age.

What was my biggest sin? I went abroad. In that time, the swallowing up of agencies happened. Everyone was bought up, or wanted to be bought up, and they still do. Everyone I ever worked with, is and has been, out of work for decades. Talented people. Big shots. People who were my creative directors, with awards and fancy cars. They're existing on their spouses' salaries- women always manage to get work somewhere, it seems. That's of those I've managed to trace. The rest have disappeared. They're probably running antique shops, dog obedience academies, accordion schools or have become driving instructors.

The biggest insult? Today I got a mailer from Sun Life- there's an irony- about a funeral plan

by: BR team

Unfortunately, the facts support Beverly’s experience. According to the IPA census report published in January, the mean age of the 17,367 people working in creative and media agencies is 33.4, with 47.5% of the permanent workforce aged 30 or under. Only 13.2% are aged 31-40 and only 4.6% are aged 51-60 (or 795 people in the whole industry. And for that fast growing UK age demographic of 60+? Only 94 people or 0.5% work in advertising.

So I wrote in:

I hear you (amazingly, without the need for a hearing aid, too).

It's odd, isn't it? All those committees and talking heads spouting off about legalisation and all, but when push comes to shove there's an awful lot that needn't happen between CV and interview post sound-bite. But a equal-opp box is still ticked each second, I'm sure.

Me....? I was thinking of knocking at least a decade off (as my kids are not even teenagers yet), investing in some Grecian 2000 and lying through my teeth to get at least to a point in a personal mano-a-munchkin exchange in which 'their' overt ageism will be worse than 'my' fibbing on a form. Who dares, wins... compo! I really don't understand what the problem is in their heads. As a a twenty-something writer my loyalty was about as reliable as my attention span and I'd jump for a tenner more, or less if there was a chance at tee-vee. What do they think we mature types are going to do - croak pulling an all-nighter or leave within a year?

Or maybe I'll just work virtually, as really it what you can do that matters, not who you are. The porty, after all... is all, right? Or, from what you say, perhaps not.

What was that movie about the McCarthy era when those with talent and experience had to hire 'acceptable' faces to 'be' them just to get work: The Front?

I'm thinking it might be a wheeze to create a virtual agency of hip young things who don't need to be paid so much on what they can do as how they look, all 'fed' by the real brains who don't fit the image but can still crank out great work (that also works for clients' bottom lines every bit as much as Ivy-envy-generating awards) from the comfort of home.

Make a heck of a reality TV show... if any chrome-dome,
Specsavers-sporting yoof types in broadcasting are up for a real idea with some legs:)

Failing which, well, looking on the bright side, my car insurance is getting cheaper!

Sorry, Junkk-regulars, that this is not too much on eco-mode, but I needed to vent a bit on the state of how things get run, and it does extend to government and beyond, so it could well extend to how this planet is gettingmis-managed by hype over experience at a stretch.


The incendiary tax?

In the 'fight back', I have noticed the briefed cabinet clones and supporting sympathetic/sycophantic media are spinning this as applicable to a very small number of folk and dependents who don't deserve 'it'.

I'll have to leave the reality of that to the lies, damn lies and political number crunchers to fight over.

All I know is that when my Mum hit 75 she could no longer look after herself. So we sold her big house and popped her in a small one next to ours so I could keep an eye on her. Ten years on the system still seems to be working out OK but we're hitting end point soon I fear.

At no point has she been a real burden on 'society' as the family has looked after her, and her own funds have kept her comfortable and helped us in doing so too.

Thing is, at 50, and having worked from home for a decade, with my old CV, any attempt to hit the workforce as a consequence of various downturns, combined with the farce that is the equal opportunity legislation on any practical application (ask anyone over 40 - who admits to it - how a CV gets treated), means I am looking at a very long creek ahead and a very short paddle.

What's left of Mum's legacy would go a long way to mitigating that and help me feel a bit better about where my future will be placed without being a burden on the kids or society either.

So to all those well paid and golden pensioned Ministers and media luvvies who can't see how this might play well with those who do work hard and try and keep things in the family, I have a very short phrase for you: at least I still have my vote.

COMPETITION - Ben & Jerry's Climate Change College

WHEN: October 30
WHAT: Ben & Jerry's Climate Change College
WHAT... MORE?: If you are 18-30 with an idea to lick global warming, then join us on an expedition to the Arctic to study the effects of climate change on our planet
COMMENTS: Not too sure about clips I saw. Looks less than constructive. And more like a party in the Arctic. But as I am ineligible it's academic (geddit?).

What go me here was a thing on a social enterprise site that said 'The Climate Change College consists of a nine month business mentoring programme and a £5000 grant for each successful candidate to launch an entrepreneurial project to tackle climate change.' If you can find it... good luck!

I've written to them:

A little intrigued by the website - have you watched it?

I was not to clear about how the money is dispersed.

But also noted the first project seemed to be vandalising 4x4s.

The second seemed to be saying saving the planet requires travelling (er, how?) to the icy wastes to have parties.

Not against fun (noting it is a very ageist effort as well - why 30 as a cut off?), but if this is what is being promoted, as I can't honestly endorse it much.


I have had a very thorough reply, thanks to the press office:

I checked out the website before putting it in the newsletter and feel confident that it has a responsible attitude. The students do go to the Arctic but their travel is offset through a carbon offsetting scheme and they go to learn the effects of climate change firsthand to be successful ambassadors.

As for the funding, I think this par covers it roughly:

The College consists of a 9 month business mentoring programme (worth €21,000 per student) and a €7,000 monetary grant to launch a unique project. The programme is largely virtual with a 1-1 mentor, except for a 3 day workshop in Brussels in February and a two week scientific field trip to the Arctic in April. All travel is covered by Ben & Jerry’s and is offset through Cool Your Jets which invests in renewable energy projects.

The videos do have a comic aspect (incl the partying in the arctic bit) because they are trying to appeal to young people, and its very much in a Ben and Jerry’s style. The vandalising 4x4s is a jokey ad that ends with the words – There are better ways to fight climate change.

I do take your point about ageism but hundreds of programmes are directed purely at ‘youth’ including a number of government funded programmes (for example the Make Your Mark Campaign) that we are involved in.

And while I can concede most, I did have to make the following points:

My main concern was the 4x4. I honestly missed the end because it went on a bit and I thought it was not something I could support so I clicked off.

I wonder how many others might have done the same?

I made the ageism comment more on a personal basis having been excluded from a Guardian cartoon competition on the same basis.

For 'youth'.... 16 no problem. 18 ok. 21 at a stretch. 30? Next thing I'll find I can't go 18-30 clubbing any more.

Sorry. That's just cynical market demographics at work.

The Currently Can't Reasonably Really Abide Any Party Party

It is a real quandary: What greener politics?

I empathise.

Having toyed with Jedi Knights, NOTA (None of the above) and my most recent favourite, the Currently Can't Reasonably Really Abide Any Party Party, I am faced with the unpalatable fact that any 'protest' I may wish to make that they all suck simply gets dismissed as 'spoiled'.

The alternative is equally unappealing, especially if we enter the realms of 'tactical' voting. Some clown who gets 20% of the 20% who can be bothered to turn out pops up next day to claim a several year 'mandate from the people'.

If you do care about matters green, then the name does lend itself to one choice. But along with the planet I have kids to educate, a dotage to fund, etc, so it's looking like, for me, the lesser of three weevils.

BBC - Green agenda of conference season

Having it all ways?

No, I am not trying to get banned.

It's just what popped into my head when the ever-excellent Ecologist quoted the usually excellent Friends of the Earth on the matter of the Severn barrage (I'll pop in a link if I can find one):

"To seriously damage and important wildlife site to generate less than 1% of the UK's energy is not the way to lead the world in sustainable development'.

Hmnn. I can see a literal point being made here, but surely it is outweighed by a host of practical ones.

The big issue is nature vs. man (as if we are not part of the ecosystem as an organism, and were designed by...?). Yes, this will trash yet more green and pleasant to provide a less than essential commodity to feed such must-haves as the PC upon which I write.

But I am darned if I can see what the FoE expect. Even without Global Warming polar bears would eventually be consumed by Club Nome, as our population expands without check.

I'm afraid that, on a a pragmatic basis at least, if there is going to be a demand for energy that is currently fulled by carbon, I fear 99 more wildlife reserve may have to be sacrificed to meet it.

Or... we could just cut back. Odds?