Thursday, September 28, 2006

The ad:tech Jester Experience

I’ve just come back from the ad:tech trade show. This Internet sell-fest is an alluring combination of boorish young men in Ted Baker shirts, hired ‘hospitality’ girls in leotards and cheap promotional gewgaws (“oh, they’ve given me a juggling ball with their logo on it, I must give them a £ multi-million contract!”) in the shabby scuffed bowels of Olympia.

It’s possible that the exhibitors may offer something of value to someone in this benighted world, but as a copywriter I was horrified by the debased techno-jargon that streamed forth like a turd tsunami raging through the already despoiled Cheddar Gorge of my head. I waded through ‘end-to-end solutions’ that were, of course, ‘scalable’, ‘flexible’ and indeed offered ‘significant ROI' per 'click-to-conversion'. I briefly came up for air, only to find myself confronted by a man dressed as a jester promoting an online casino.

I left after an hour or so, making my way past the online marketers outside the main entrance, their delegate passes fluttering in the wind as they indulged in a sneaky fag. If the Internet is the wild west of capitalism, ad:tech is the Deadwood, with Ian McShane playing a dead-eyed clown.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Scooter Rant

My impotent urban rage is reaching dizzying heights this week. My scooter has been kicked over in the middle of the night, scratching the paintwork. It was also knocked over by a pissed South African driver recently (I know he was South African from the cheery accented “Shit!” yelled as he hit it and drove off). My scooter, battered to shit by idiots, now looks like it’s been test-ridden by Richard Hammond on crystal meth. All because some twats have no respect for other people’s fucking property.

I’m currently considering buying an anti-personnel mine from eBay (I haven’t looked, but I’m sure they’re on there) and rigging it so it explodes when my scooter isn’t vertical. Of course, judging from previous frequent experience of trying to ride off with chains still on back wheels, I’d forget it was there and blow my own senile arse up.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dwarf Fear

Writing about Frankie yesterday reminded me of the abiding fears that parents have for their children. I haven’t conjured up any fears over Stan yet, but I’m already getting anxious about Mila and boys. Having now bought two swords from eBay, I’m sure that I’ll greet any boyfriends by sharpening my sidearm on a whetstone and threatening them with it when she’s out of the room.

My biggest fear for Frankie used to be that he’d turn out to be a dwarf (or midget, but I’m not getting into that debate here). He went through a number of years of being somewhat under-sized for his age – fitting t-shirts for 3 year olds when he was 5 and the like. He’s shot up a bit recently, which has eased my worries. However, I’ve recently started thinking – well, would it be so bad if he turned out to be a dwarf?

Let’s face it – he’d always have a career in show-biz to look forward to. I’ve never seen a dwarf at a Job Centre and I’m convinced that’s because they’re all still living off the money they made being Ewoks in the Return of the Jedi or down Shepperton Studios being made up as gnomes for the latest Harry Potter epic.

I’m pretty sure that, with his winning personality, Frankie could even be up there amongst the dwarf megastars like Wee Man from Jackass.

Ahh, a father can dream…

Wee man on the pull

Monday, September 25, 2006

Jungle Japes

My son Frankie and I had a great day together yesterday. We walked far and wide across London under Indian summer skies, taking in everything from Pokémon in Forbidden Planet to mummies at the British Museum.

We started out with lunch at the Rainforest Café, a huge tourist trap located in Piccadilly. I don’t know what made me suggest it, as it’s the kind of global franchise I generally loathe, but Frankie seemed enchanted by the fibre glass jungle setting, fake waterfalls and tank full of tropical fish we sat by. The service was also good, if a bit mechanically good-natured. The waitress made a special fuss of Frankie because it was his birthday. This included standing him on his chair and insisting that everyone around us sang happy birthday to him.

The food, however, was extremely average – my steak was utterly tasteless and Frankie’s meatballs could have come out of a tin. We also discovered the downside of being sat by the fish tank – dozens of kids and parents trooping around us to look at the aquatic wonders within. I had to have words with one four year old lad who tried to use my chair as a climbing frame to get a better view. He was German, so couldn’t understand a word I said, but my tone made him cry, which was a satisfactory outcome.

All in all, the Rainforest Café is the kind of soulless experience that you try to make the best of because you think your kids won’t see the cracks in the fibreglass trees and the regimentation behind the friendliness of the staff. For me, it evokes a world where the real rainforests have been destroyed and the fake jungles of franchise restaurants are the only distorted historical record.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sunflowers and Spiders

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself after a day of feeling rank, so this evening I went for a little saunter around the garden to take some photos. Most of it's a bloody mess, but I'm really proud of my sunflowers. I planted the seeds with Mila and Frankie in May and now they're bloody gigantic (the sunflowers, not my kids).

There are also loads of spiders in the garden. Apparently there's a spider epidemic due to the hot, wet weather. They're certainly everywhere I look in Leytonstone.

Man's flu and Children's Parties

I’m at home today with what I call the flu and Emily calls ‘man’s flu’ (i.e. a heavy cold). I think I caught it from Frankie, who was complaining of a sore throat on Saturday and is known for his plague-spreading abilities. One Christmas, as a baby, he passed on a stomach infection so severe that the whole of Lucy’s family came down with it. Lucy’s dad was convinced he’d given everyone food poisoning with the salmon he’d cooked. But, no, it was ‘Typhoid Frankie’.

It’s Frankie’s sixth birthday this week and I’m feeling melancholic over the fact I won’t be with him on the day. Lucy has organised a party for him at his school and made it pretty clear that it would be awkward if I came along.

I admit that I’m secretly relieved, as I detest children’s parties. This is, I’m fairly sure, a man thing. We kind of stand around on the periphery of the chaos, grinning and bearing it as the mummy network marginalise us and other people’s kids try to punch us in the knackers or smear chocolate on our trousers. This is bad enough, but it gets much worse when you’re a divorced dad. Rather than being ignored, you are the villain who gets glared at by the mummies.

At the same time, I know that Frankie was keen to have me there and I think he’s vaguely anxious about being pushed out of my affections by Stan. He’s certainly been a bit out of sorts on the last few weekends we’ve spent together. Frankie doesn’t like to articulate his feelings, so it’s hard to get to the bottom of things with him.

The solution I’ve negotiated is that Franks and I have a ‘boy’s day’ together next weekend. I’ll take him out to lunch and then we’ll go to Forbidden Planet to get him more Pokémon cards.

Assuming we’ve both got over ‘man’s flu’ of course…

Monday, September 11, 2006

Wedding Date Set

The big news in the Fitz-Allport household is that Emily and I have set a wedding date – we’re getting hitched on 2 December. We’ve planning to do the do all year, but impetus suddenly built up after we registered Stan’s birth and found that Walthamstow actually has a really nice registry office.

Now all we have to do is organise everything. This will, no doubt, be a fucking headache. If one reads wedding magazines, this involves everything from sourcing bespoke bone china napkin rings to having seasonal flowers flown in from the rain forests of Borneo.

It’s more likely that we’ll spend all our money on booze and have a party at the house…

Bunk bed built!

Last week my friend Franco very kindly took me to IKEA to buy a bunk bed for Mila and Frankie. Oh, what fun I had building the fucking thing on Saturday! I understand why IKEA supplies purely visual instructions to multiple countries with different languages. However, when the diagrams appear to have been drawn on an Etch A Sketch by someone with advanced Parkinson’s Disease, this hardly makes life easy.

Of course, after spending three hours sorting through the random bits of wood and erecting the noble sleeping edifice, I found a bit of paper at the bottom of the box telling me to use one type of plastic nail and not another. Naturally I’d used the wrong type of nail already.



By the way…

I’ve decided to discontinue the Fitzness blog, as it makes pretty boring reading for anyone but me. Do you really care that I went to the gym 5 times since the last entry and am now lifting 47 kg on the bench press?

Thought not.

That being said, I’m pretty chuffed at how quickly I’ve felt revitalised by a bit of exercise. Obviously that long weekly walk to the Forbidden Planet and back with my friend MJH wasn’t enough to keep me fit!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Most Incomprehensible Client Brief EVER

Client briefs are often not easy to follow, but I’ve had possibly the most incomprehensible client brief EVER land in my inbox and I must share it. It’s from a Korean client, so it’s pure Engrish. I’ve removed brand names etc to preserve his anonymity!

Here’s the brief in full:

Project overview

1) Invitation to the XXXX exhibition at Salon international

Target: Female consumer age 24-44 whom would spend 100 pound p/y for skin care product.

Format: A5

Project deadline: 8 September

Project objective: Sing copy line on front, short description on back.

We need a copy line which representing product benefit with female manner. The word should be simple but intentional and attractive.

Here are examples of copy that I have discovered while having a brain storming with designers.


“Make up doesn’t improve your skin but XXXX does”

“Even better than a bottle of water”

“You don’t need worry about limescale on hair”

“Wash your hair which you actually can drink”

“No point using hair conditioner if your hair ware already damaged by water”



Find out ultimate skin care product XXXX at

Salon International 2006

ExCel London

Time: 9:00 -17:00

Date: Saturday 14 – Monday 16 October 2006

2) XXXX product AD

Target: Female consumers age 24-44 whom would spend 100 pound p/y for skin care product.

Format: A4

Project deadline: 8 September

Project objective: Sing copy line and short description on front.

This AD campaign will be place on HJ (Hairdressers Journal Salon) magazine.


Rescue you skin/hair

Picture: Skin looks very dry as if it is look like dried grass. Firefighter try to rescue you dried skin.


Picture: water vain on human skin.

As blood supplies minerals and oxygen to our body cell, filtered water gives energy and good minerals to our skin.

This will give the idea that filtered water is essential thing for your skin.


How much do you spend or take care of your body?

Picture: a Person and arrows points part of body

e.g.: mouth: Organic food £00.00
Clothes: Eco Friendly £00.00
Skin: XXXX £ 42.95

However I would inform you once we have been generated more ideas for XXXX product AD.

Best regards,


Monday, September 04, 2006

Hitler Plays Aragorn

I’m about half way through Norman Spinrad’s The Iron Dream. As previously discussed in this blog, it is a novel within a novel, imagining a sci-fi story (named ‘Lord of the Swastika’) written by Hitler (in an alternative timeline where he becomes a hack writer in the US).

The novel works brilliantly as an exercise in sending up Hitler’s obsessive, repetitive nature (the same histrionic phrases like ‘smashed it to flinders’ are repeated endlessly in the text), the allure and warped morality of fascism (the fictional hero Feric, with a fetish for black leather and phallic metal truncheons, rises to power like the real-world Hitler, but is a tall, strapping Aryan Übermensch) and the conventions of sci-fi and fantasy novels (lone hero, destined to become king, subhuman hordes of enemies).

However, as a novel it becomes increasingly hard to endure. The stylistic satire – repetition and ridiculously over the top prose – becomes unbearable. Perhaps this is a bit like spending an evening with Hitler, who was prone to rant on about the same things over and over as his cronies sucked up to him.

As I love bizarre things like this, so I probably will persist with it. However, I’m guessing it wasn’t end with a debilitated, deranged Feric trapped in a bunker as the ‘hordes of Zim’ advance through his ruined nation…

The Demon Scriptwriter

We’ve had my mum down to visit this weekend. There are two things that are guaranteed to happen whenever she comes down from Leamington Spa:

  1. We’ll have a heated debate about politics where we end up shouting and Emily sits there quietly, trying to stay out of it
  2. My mum will lament how little she sees her grandchildren and I’ll nag her to move back to London so she can see them whenever she likes. This will infuriate her and an awkward, polite phase will follow
Both of these things happened, as expected. It’s strange how one ends up in the same old scenarios with relatives, time and again. It’s like they’re scripted by some demonic hack who likes conflict and repetition. All you can do is repeat the lines you’re given on the mental autocue.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Night Fears

Well, the first episode of the Sopranos has, frankly, fucked with my head. I’m thinking of the sequence where Eugene Pontecorvo, doomed by Tony’s diktats, looks at photos of his son in happier times and then hangs himself. This put me in a very dark place. It wasn’t simply the way the camera lingered as he jerked around on the noose; it was the man’s despair at his boy’s loss of innocence and heroin addiction. As father of two sons, that taps into a deep fear for me – the prospect of being alienated by your own children as they drift into hopelessness.

This didn’t particularly hit me until I was disturbed at 4am by a fly crawling on my hand. Ironically, it was the dying, drowsy fly that I thought I had killed before I went to sleep. When I had swatted it from the wall with a magazine it must have fallen onto the bed. Still half-asleep I brushed it from my hand.

Then I dreamt that Amazon actually worked by employing flies with their wings pulled off to sort information in a shoebox.

I think I heard the buzzing of the fly and awoke to find it crawling on my duvet. I flicked it onto the floor and tried to crush it with a book. Although horribly injured, the bloody thing just wouldn’t die. It just kept righting itself and crawling feebly. This obviously put me in mind of Eugene hanging in his garage, the life taking forever to rattle from him. Then my thoughts turned to his son and my sons, night fears seizing me.

I suppose good drama provokes an emotional reaction. Or was it the parmesan I had on my pasta?