Friday, 27 November 2009
Graham Bandage: Tell me how this whole thing started.
Tommy Cannon: It was back in the late 70s, during the national typeface strike. It cost us a fortune at the Daily Mirror to reproduce the Prime Minister's name in headlines because letters were so scarce.
GB: I can see how that would be a problem.
TC: The letter L was in particularly short supply.
GB: Bloody 'ell.
TC: I know...
GB: Heh, bloody L. L!
TC: Anyway, I was quite a junior sub-editor at the time, and I came up with the idea of abbreviating his name. That's where J-Cal came from. And that was it - I was set for life.
GB: It must have been Ford Capris and Warninks Snowballs all the way for you.
TC: Not at first. I mean my head was turned. "Look who's here," people would say, "the man who's revitalised the newspaper industry through cunning use of abbreviation." Who could fail to be flattered?
GB: Not I.
TC: But I had an early failure. M-Tha didn't take off. People kept pronouncing it as 'mutha.' We were a laughing stock in the Compton projects. Richard Pryor did a famous routine about it. "The Lady's not for turning? I'll turn her jive ass." Then the Daily Express nipped in with Mrs T. If only she'd come to prominence a few years later, the whole Mr T thing would have rendered that abbreviation unusable.
GB: So what happened?
TC: Chinese got into type manufacture. We got a load of cheap letters. All of a sudden the type shortage was a thing of the past. M-Tha had broken the font unions.
GB: It does sound a bit like 'mutha,' to be fair.
TC: Shut up. And I was suddenly flavour of last month. I was sacked for being rubbish and spent the next 15 years or so faffing about the likes of Chat, Forum and Woman's Own, subbing knitting patterns, stuff like that.
GB: Soul-destroying work.
TC: It gets worse. I ended up on one of those celebrity magazines, Photoshopping cellulite onto Gwyneth Paltrow's thighs.
GB: Rock bottom.
TC: She has, that's why it felt so wrong.
GB: No, I mean...
TC: And that's where it all turned around. The editor couldn't spell Jennifer. Kept writing "Jeniffer." It was fine as long as there wasn't a famous Jennifer - I mean, at this time Jennifers Connolly and Grey couldn't get arrested in Hollywood, not even for doing a Winona. But when Ms Lopez came on the scene, he was proper buggered.
GB: Yeah, I heard that sort of thing went on in those places.
TC: So I walked into his office one day with this:
He was stunned. He called me a crazy fool, said it would never work. "Tom," he said, "Our readers are serious people who would no more abbreviate a celebrity's name than they would ring a premium rate telephone number several times to stop somebody being on the telly every night." But I knew, I knew...
Anyway, one night we were doing the cover and it was painful, "Gennifer. Jenifar. Jennyfur." He tried everything. In the end he was exhausted. He collapsed over his mouse. And I took destiny in my hands. I wrote on the screen that fateful headline: "Do you reckon J-Lo's bottom is on the large side?" and sent it to the printers.
GB: That took gumption.
TC: It certainly did. But it paid off. That was the biggest-selling edition of "A Bit Snide About Celebrities" magazine ever. After that I was the go-to guy for abbreviations. Set up on my own as A-CONT.
GB: Beg pardon.
TC: Abbreviation Consultant. I followed up J-Lo with Brangelina.
GB: That was you?
TC: Yep. Li-Lo, K-Fed, TomKat. All me. But not R-Pattz. Even I have limits.
GB: You must be very proud.
TC: No. I hate myself.
GB: Tommy Cannon, thank you.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
But are they? I don't think so. I think that it's just occurred to them that they've forgotten something very important.
I have noticed in recent times that ladies out on the town rarely remember their coats. This baffles me, as I never forget mine, especially when it's chilly.
I wonder perhaps if there's some sort of chemical in lipstick which makes young women forget this sort of basic stuff. Actually, there might be something in this. When was the last time you saw a transvestite in a duffel coat?
Anyway, I'm digressing. The point is young women, particularly in northern towns and cities, rarely wear nice big coats when they're out at night, even when they're wearing skimpy little numbers. Admittedly their hands are often warmed by bags of chips and/or kebabs, but that must be small comfort to a shivering young miss who's forgotten her coat.
I know what you're thinking: there's a top-notch business opportunity here. And you're right.
What I'm proposing is PRS - the Parka Rental Scheme. For an annual subscription and a 10p deposit, members, when leaving a club for another establishment, could pick up a coat from the cloakroom. Not just any coat, that would cause a fair bit of trouble I imagine.
No, these would be special dayglo parkas, with lovely furry hoods, probably with some sort of anti-binge drinking message printed on them. The young popsies would put them on and walk to the next drinking den/copping off palace all toasty warm.
Then, when they arrived, they'd whip it off and hand it in to the cloakroom in the new club.
I know what you're thinking now: what about going home? Well, there would be special parkas with lots of pockets for the hometime journey. Chip shops, instead of filling paper or cartons, would shovel the lovely hot salty chips straight into the pockets of the parkas, keeping the whole body warm, not just the hands.
Members would have to return the coats next time they went out, on pain of losing their 10p PRS deposit. But this would ensure that they didn't forget to wear a coat the next time they were off out.
I'd make woolly balaclavas available for men with shaven heads as well.
This will definitely work.
Friday, 20 November 2009
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Buying prescription drugs over the internet is a bad idea. You don't need me to tell you that. Let this chap below tell you that instead.
I'm a bit baffled by that advert. The point it seems to want to make is that you shouldn't buy drugs over the internet because there might be rat poison in them. But rat poison is not the same as a rat, any more than Kryptonite is Superman. If anything, take these drugs and you're taking the opposite of a rat.
I'm glad I don't work in advertising. I'd probably have done something more straightforward and not completely counterintuitive. And then all the chaps and girls back at the advertising agency would point at me and laugh. "Look at the big fool," they would say, "with his daft way of presenting the facts as they are rather than doing something spectacular and a bit mental."
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
I'm no expert in these matters, but I reckon not having a gas leak is the first thing that bird-fanciers would expect. It probably beats the availablilty of biscuits and adequate car parking.
I particularly feel sorry for the birds who survived. It must have been like 'Nam.
Of course, canaries were often used in the past down coal mines to detect gas pockets. Although it was an important job, I imagine it would be a difficult sell down at the canary Jobcentre. And here I am, imagining it...
INT. CANARY JOBCENTRE - DAY
AMANDA, CAREERS ADVISOR, WAITS AT HER PERCH.
ENTER YOUNG CANARY.
How can I help you, young canary?
I'd like a copy of the Daily Mirror.
No, I'm winding you up. I want a job, obviously. (SNEERING) Thought this would be the ideal place, what with it being, y'know, A JOBCENTRE.
(DEEP BREATH) Name?
Of course. What sort of work are you looking for?
Oh, anything, really. Something with a bit of glamour. Secret agent, that'd be good.
Not scared of a little danger, then? Handy...
What have you got?
I... have... got... a mining technician role that's right up your street.
Technician. That sounds a bit... technical.
Oh, it's all on the job training.
What do I have to do?
Well, you go down with the miners and you monitor the levels of gas in the air. It gets too much, you let them know and they pull out.
It's a very responsible job.
Go on. It sounds a laugh.
Great. I'll just get the forms.
So I get some special equipment, do I?
To check the gas levels.
Well, you'll know if the levels get too high.
Yeah, but do I get an actual monitor?
Just sign there... and there. You'll get all the usual equipment. And the cages are lovely. Just like that one Tweety-Pie's got on the cartoons.
Fantastic, my own place. I'll be able to bring a bird back.
Right, well, good luck. I hope you'll have a long career.
Yeah, cheers. Bye
(UNDER BREATH) But I wouldn't sign up for the pension scheme, if I were you. (BRIGHTLY) Bye!
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Right, I've been to one of the coffee shops and I think I've been too naive. Anyway, I've had a rethink.
INT. "MOO" - DAY
TERRY IS IN THE QUEUE AT THE BOVRIL SHIP - NAMED "MOO" - AND IT'S HIS TURN TO BE SERVED.
And how can I help you, sir?
Calf, Cow or Bull?
Small, medium or large?
Oh, er, cow.
BARISTA TAKES OUT GIGANTIC CARDBOARD CUP AND GOES OVER TO MACHINE.
STEAM ACCOMPANIED BY HISSING AND BANGING SOUNDS.
BARISTA BRINGS BACK CUP.
Would you like a swirl on top?
Ugh, squirty cream? No, thank...
No, sir. It's not cream. It's condensed cream of chicken soup.
Oh, well, in that case, swirl away.
BARISTA FLOATS VERY THICK CHICKEN SOUP ON TOP OF BOVRIL.
I'm not sure chocolate would add to the occasion. Unless you mean hundreds and thousands. And even then...
(chuckling) Very good, sir. No. We use mince.
BARISTA SPRINKLES SOME MINCE OVER THE CHICKEN SOUP.
And a complimentary sausage.
BARISTA PUSHES IN A SAUSAGE, FLAKE-LIKE.
That'll be £17.87. Enjoy!
Oh, hang on. Is this vegetarian?
I think that's more like it.
My good friend Inappropriate Richard reckons a Bovril shop would be a money-spinner, but I wasn't too sure. Anyway, I had a think about it, and I imagine he's right. And here I am, imagining it.
INT. BOVRIL SHOP - DAY
TERRY IS IN THE BOVRIL SHOP QUEUE AND IT'S HIS TURN TO BE SERVED.
And how can I help you, sir?
Certainly. Here you are. That's 45p.
Actually, I'll probably do a bit more research. Back later.
Monday, 9 November 2009
So, anyway, I handed over £1.10 from my back pocket. I wouldn't normally have change there, but there's a little hole in my front pocket. And then time mysteriously slowed down. For I was caught in the penny trap, the trap we all fall into when we overpay by a penny.
All the permutations ran through my brain. Stay and look like a miser? Or shall I walk away nonchalantly? "Cuh!" my action would eloquently state, "I am far too important to stand here waiting for a mere penny. I wear a suit to work, for heaven's sake."
But then the fear of the callback clutched at my heart. The dread of the moment when the checkout assistant would say, "Ey, love, you've forgotten your change." And then I would have to skulk back, in front of the queue, to retrieve my dull penny.
I decided to wait. But the checkout assistant was chatting. And painfully slowly she reached into the till, took out the penny and kept it in her hand. I immediately switched from "imperious penny change avoider" to "tight-fisted penny change hoarder." Now I was waiting, waiting in front of a load of people all watching and judging me, waiting for a penny - a unit of currency so small it doesn't even buy a penny sweet these days, so small I'd need a hundred of them just to buy The Guardian.
"Why didn't I hand over a £2 coin, or even £1.20?" I railed at the heavens. "Nobody would bat an eyelid at a man of my bearing and position hanging about a bit for 11p."
The sadistic checkout assistant finally dropped the hot penny into my hand. "D'ya wanna receipt?"
Did I want a receipt for my £1.09 purchase? (Oh, all right! It was a bottle of Coke.) I have a £2 limit on receipts. I can't imagine bringing anything back to the shop for less than £2. It's not like a bottle of Coke can be corked. And I can't imagine going back to the shop and saying, "Can I exchange this? It looked all right in the shop, but when I took it into the daylight it was very lacklustre. Do you have an Irn Bru in this size?"
"No, no, it's all right," I said, desperate to get away from the tills and into safety. I bustled out of the shop, shoving my change into my front pocket.
The penny fell out through the hole and rolled down a grid.