I think I’m beginning to be accepted as a local. I pop into my local shop every morning (bar Sundays) to get my copy of the i newspaper. For the first month or so I was dibbing into our loose change jar to pay for it as I thought this would help the shopkeeper. When I got down to the shrapnel I started paying for it on my card. Two or three weeks ago the owner said to me, look if you pay for the paper with cash, it costs me an admin fee to hand it into the bank. And because I pay a commission on every card transaction, I actually lose money when you pay each day with your flexible friend. I pondered for a second if he was about to ask me to take my business elsewhere. But he quickly noticed a look of disappointment creeping across my face and said, so why don’t you just come in and take your paper each morning and settle up on a Saturday for the week. That way I make a small profit and you don’t have to queue. I said you must trust me. And he said of course you’re one of my best regulars now. Well I could not have felt more welcomed. Continue reading
I’m having a problem with my blogsite platform at the moment. Run by WordPress it’s hardly ever given me any issues since I started writing Pasta Paulie in 2007. Now, and over 1000 posts later, it’s suddenly started playing up and it’s driving me mad.
Sad to hear the news that F1’s foremost commentator Murray Walker has died. They’ll be lots of great tributes so I won’t try and compete. But I thought I’d share a memory. Continue reading
Now I spent 20 years as a marketeer in the telecoms industry heading up numerous activities in sponsorship, PR, dealer and channel management, promotions, literature and PoS, digital activity, website development, corporate hospitality, events and exhibitions, and, not least, advertising. I say not least because advertising usually attracted the largest share of a company’s marketing budget and yet it happened to be the least likeable element of the marketing mix for me. Probably because my personal control was somewhat subjugated by the influence of the expensive advertising agency we usually employed. And they worked hard to keep the whole subject of advertising a dark art only capable of being understood by their extensive team of creatives, media planners, media buyers, client liaison people (bag men and mostly sassy women), talent negotiators, and senior exec’s who only surfaced when it was contract renewal time or when you were being critical of the agency’s work. And then they had a secret hotline to your MD.
Well the last posting got a bit reflective; it started out as one of my many diatribes on the foibles and flaws in the people featured on tv. I love to study anyone who is self-absorbed (and tv is choc full of them) and to then scratch away at their veneer of gloss till I find the shallowness underneath. It sounds cruel but, hey, they set themselves up for some criticism and I mostly try and do it without being unfairly hurtful. And in the last posting I thought I was straying into aiming appearance barbs at people who were just being filmed doing their very caring volunteer work and not seeking celebrity. And I hope we’re better than that. Even if I did feel one person did deserve to have his look at me-ness pricked a tad. Yes SC, I mean you. Continue reading
So as regular readers may know I’m a bit of a creature of habit. And one of the regular features in my life is the early morning routine. Carol and I are early risers and usually downstairs by 6.30am or so. It’s usually a cuppa for Carol then at one minute to 7am it’s Converse sneakers on and I pop out and over to the little Co-op store in the market square to be first through the door to go and pick up my morning paper, the i. And occasionally some milk. Continue reading
I think I might have made a decent forensic examiner once upon a time as I notice little things which are a little odd (and sometimes amusing too). For example I’m watching the Quest tv channel on Dplay quite a lot and some of their programmes are sponsored by Argentinian wine brand Trivento. Their marketing team have devised a series of idents – little promo ads – that appear in the commercial breaks promoting the idea that drinking Trivento sets you off on some ‘bold discoveries’. I know, it’s an over-blown idea; where I’m from that’s just a euphemism for getting pissed. I think there are 8 in the series and all are twaddle but the one that makes me smile is a shot of a surfer girl who says something inane before heading off to go surfing. It’s not so much what she says that makes me smile it’s her sense of direction. Have a look at this video and you’ll see her run to the right then suddenly she veers left as if she’s noticed a better bit of sea to aim for.
Well it may not win the award for outstanding comedy performance at the Bafta’s but it never fails to make me chuckle. Little things, like I said.
bafta paulie (did I ever tell you I’ve got two of the little brass winkers?)
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