Today marks the start of what is going to be quite a busy week. Tomorrow is the Bank Holiday where we intend to do absolutely nothing and to go nowhere unless the weather turns unexpectedly mild in which case I will get myself outside and finish off the weeding job I started the other day. But being a Sunday, we watched the Politics program at 9.00am which is really just a ‘holding’ program until the results and the implications of Thursday’s local elections can be well and truly chewed over. But we were very pleased to get ourselves installed in Waitrose and in no time at all, our University of Birmingham friend turned up. I managed to surprise him because I took with me a copy of one of the local ‘free’ newspapers that we do not usually see. In this, there was a match report followed by a quote on a noteworthy retirement from Bromsgrove Rugby Club. We asked our friend about this and he was a little intrigued as he had written a match report and included the quote at the end of it on the Club’s website. The local newspaper had evidently visited the website and extracted the quote which was properly attributed but our friend had never actually seen any of what he had posted on the website appear in print in the local newspaper. After this, we amused ourselves by remembering the list of famous adverts that we could remember over the years. I am sure I have seen a programme in the past which has shown the most famous adverts in reverse order (to build the excitement) I think I can remember the top two but I have forgotten the order. One of them is the Guinness advert which is a video ‘tour de force’ in which huge waves are turned into race horses (which sounds odd but is actually very impressive) The second memorable advert is ‘For Mash, get Smash’ which shows little extra-terrestial creatures laughing that anyone would eat actual potatoes rather than buying the product. (Incidentally, I buy cheap packets of mashed potato in Asda when I can see it to act as an instant gravy thickener but being a low cost item it is not always in stock or easy to find) Another memorable advert was the National Coal Board’s ‘Come home to a real fire’ showing a dog, a cat and a mouse lying peacably side by side in front of a fire. Incidentally, I remember the artistic director of this advert explaining how the making the animals cooperate was a piece of cake compared with the squabbles and arguments that arose between the various pet owners as to whose contribution was the greatest. The advert that the Marketing textbooks quote as one of the greatest flops of all time was the ‘You are never alond with a Strand’ cigarette advert. This was shot by Carol Reed, who directed The Third Man and is regarded as technically brilliant. But the image of a man, alone on a rain-filled street, lighting up his cigarette, made viewers think that the cigarette was aimed at lonely, isolated men and sales actually plummeted – hence, the advert had a marked effect but in the wrong direction.
So we got home and had our Sunday lunch of ‘spatch-cocked’ chicken which was actually delicious and not especially overcooked. I made some onion gravy to help make the meat a little less dry and served it with a baked potato and some broccoli. We have a lot of it left over for later on in the week as we only consumed one breast (incidentally, the Americans with a degree of uncharacteristic prudishness call this ‘white meat’) leaving the other and the two legs for later meals during the week. This evening there is going to be a ‘serious’ program on King Charles III which is promising as some never before seen footage is to be shown which might be worth a brief watch. But we are actually more looking forward to two hours of a more irreverent look at the coronation to be broadcast on Channel 4, catering no doubt, to minority views within the viewing public as a whole. I think it is interesting that it is rather an endearing feature of British life that we have an ability to laugh at ourselves and hence a spew of comedy programms which other nations would find offensive. One thinks of ‘Spitting Image’ as the best example of this genre and, sometimes, although they say they do not mind being lampooned, some politicians never actually recover. For example, the example the way in which David Steel was portrayed as a little manikin who fitted in the top pocket of David Owen in the ill-fated alliance of the Liberals and the SDP dealt a blow to his reputation from which it was hard to recover. I can also remember the point at which Margaret Thatcher was portrayed on Spitting Image as absolutely mad (‘staring eyeballs, odd gesticulations’) and which marked the point, to the second, where Tory MP’s started to panic and realised that Margaret Thatcher could not lead them into another election victory and hence her de-fenestration when she failed to secure enough votes to secure an outright victory in a ballot for the Tory Party leadership all of those years ago.