So today was the beginning of the end of lockdown eh. The start of the route-path back to normality with non-essential shops opening and bars and hospitality venues opening up for outside trade. I popped out around lunchtime to do a bit of shopping and to see if I could drop off a load of CDs and DVDs liberated from the renovation of our daughter R’s apartment. The bags of them have been hanging around our place and given that there’s at least 100 items we really want to offload them to some charity shop.
So hello again dear readers. It’s been a while since I last posted. I’m not sure why really. I like to write about stuff that interests or amuses me (even if the laugh is on myself) or stuff that really pisses me off and I feel the need to vent about it. I guess I just got fed up writing about the terrible covid situation and this Government’s hapless handling of the pandemic. Well 6 months or so later and, sadly, not a lot has changed has it? It remains a very difficult scene but I felt the need to hit the keyboard again because I’m not looking forward to what further restrictions the PM may be announcing later this afternoon. You could say I’m writing this with some trepidation.
Now I’m very conscious that I may have turned off my huge army of female readers with the last posting about 50 year old Yerkshire men in their trunks grappling with each other. So for something a little more contemporary and hopefully a touch more amusing and for all, I was just wondering if you’ve been watching the new programme on C4 A Very British Hotel Chain: Inside Best Western? This show is more fun than you’d expect, though maybe not in the ways intended. Here’s C4’s publicity image of the main characters…
Presumably Best Western thought a three-part series filmed in May last year would be a handy publicity boost for their 265 hotels, with its portraits of the wacky but lovable workforce. But thanks to the coronavirus it now looks more like a portal to a distant far-off time and a completely different business.
It did make me wonder fairly quickly what the point of this series was though. Cut to today and Britain’s largest chain has closed all but 60 or so of its hotels, presumably on a temporary basis, they must hope. And to be fair they are one of the few hotels staying open to give key workers in local authorities a welcome and convenient break from their work tackling the covid crisis. But sadly none of that comes through in this tv series which is very much played for giggles not serious business niggles.
So to the unintentional humour. It’s clear that a career in the leisure business demands a thick skin and eternal optimism and at Best Western’s HQ in York (back again – it could only be set in Yerkshire) they have tons of both. The new CEO Rob Paterson, an ex Aussie footballer, is just David Brent with an ozzie accent. He loves his slogans from the 1980’s with lots of exclamation marks like Beat Yesterday! Own It! Give a Shit! And his dopey staff suck it up with gusto. Mark Stanley, head of hotel development, grins away and loves his staff to tell him how great he is. We saw him revelling in a sales, marketing and revenue conference, as staff were covered in pink gunk for charity. Brilliant! raved Mark, Best Western madness. Actually he might just have out-Brented his CEO.
Mark’s number 2 is ambitious Head of Acquisitions Terii (with two ‘i’s) whose job it is to sign up new hotels to the chain. We find her trying to get Marco White to allow his Rudloe Arms to join up. Marco teases her a little showing off his pixellated sexy artworks and larger than life images of himself to see what reaction he gets from her. But Terii’s (two i’s) made of stern stuff and won’t be put off. I love it, she replies, sniffing the scent of a deal being done.
Then there’s slightly camp and arch Alasdair, the wisecracking but ruthless hotel inspector who follows up on Terii’s (two i’s) new signings. He announced himself as if he were a righteous superhero: I am the hotel inspector. I cannot be bought. More sharply he mentioned that he likes to measure TV screens to see if they are as big as the new hotel claims. I pinched this out of my mother’s knitting box, he says, unfurling a measuring tape. She’s been dead for 20 years. Hard man eh. Then I noticed he’s quite the peacock, wearing wacky glasses and different brightly coloured socks. I wonder if you can spot him in the picture above.
There was also a lady whose name escapes me who’s a Marketing Manager at one of the bigger hotels and she just comes up with barmpot ideas for entertaining guests like creating a rocket ship cabin just off the foyer for people to experience. How it was relevant I just couldn’t fathom. And it was totally crap. Unbelievable. And if you want to see how they magic-ed things up here’s what the whole marketing team supported by the CEO came up with for their Xmas promo campaign. If it makes sense to you, you might just need some therapy…
I was just shocked that they didn’t include the only funny line that exists about our four-legged friends – what do the donkeys on Blackpool beach get for lunch? About half an hour. Now Mark would piss himself at that one: BW donkey jossing, brilliant!
I’m tempted to ask what’s the difference between the BW senior management team and a donkey. They’re all asses but at least the donkey does something useful. Ouch
There have been lots of tv ads which have capitalised on the covid crisis to position companies as the most caring of brands. You’ve seen them – that Co-op one with Marcus Rashford aimed at driving donations to food redistribution charity FareShare is a classic. It’s not his woodenness that jars so much as the creative thinking behind the need to create empathy with the viewer. The charitable purpose is absolutely fantastic but that over-familiarity bit where the bloke goes ‘You’re on mute Rashy’ makes me squirm. Check it out…
Regular readers might remember that on a trip down to Italy a few years ago I somehow managed to get pleurisy on the drive down and spent a coupled days in Como hospital getting it under control. The doctors reckoned that spending 8 hours cooped up in an air-conditioned car might have been the cause. It turned out to be a traumatic trip which you can read here if you’re interested but it’s a sad story. I got over the pleurisy but I remember the painful discomfort all too well. So what? you ask. Well a week or so ago after our first long drive in months to go and see daughter Becksy in London I started to get this hurting feeling in my chest and back which slowly got more uncomfortable as the week wore on, not helped by a second longish drive to visit Becksy on Sunday, lovey as it was to see her. I woke up yesterday morning and after a really troublesome night’s sleep I thought I’d better get it checked out. I called my GP and she advised me to go to Horton hospital A&E straight away as it could be covid-related or a heart issue or a return of something more sinister. Oh lord.
Well my last posting on the subject of surprise endings took a while to get going. To be honest I was scratching around for inspiration until Mr Josh happily popped into my mind. I was actually going to write about two quite separate subjects before that and I might still get round to them later. But the surprise thing seemed to resonate with me and it might have been a little intuitive because lo and behold we were delighted by some more surprises which are worth sharing I hope.
Now the majority of blog/vlog sites are single subject affairs. People talk about the one thing that really interests them be it fashion, celebrity, make-up, football, politics, animals, cooking…whatever. And from what I can see, the more focused you are the more likely you are to become a billionaire by the age of 25. But all you really know about is lipstick. I do wonder if Jamie Oliver ever wants to talk about his interest in, say, Southend United or tortoises or Northern Soul music instead of fucking food recipes. Do you ever think he gets bored out of his box whilst counting his £millions? You’re probably right – nah. Continue reading
Well I see that the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is having talks today with football administrators and medical experts over the possibility of allowing top class English football to return next month behind closed doors and at neutral venues. Now nobody would be happier than me to see football’s return – so long as it is safe for all concerned. Indeed yesterday the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, was gushing about how the Premier League’s return could ‘lift the spirits of the nation’. Wow it only seems a few days since Matt Hancock publicly pilloried top flight footballers for their wealthy lifestyles and shaming them into making a bigger contribution towards the cost of the NHS (that is in addition to the heavy tax they pay on their massive earnings) which many were already doing privately. It makes you laugh doesn’t it. The Government targets easy scapegoats but with 30,000 covid-19 deaths already on their watch (the largest in any country bar the USA which does have 4 times our population) they are suddenly in need of those overpaid footballers to take the attention and the pressure off them. And people accuse me of being cynical. Pah