Sunday, November 28, 2010

Glycolic peel, lingerie, prep schools and orthodontists. It could only be Richmond.

Some years in the future, when a historian is trawling through the ephemeral remains of our early 21st century civilisation, a copy of The Richmond Magazine will surely surface. Delivered door-to-door in the south-west London borough, the glossy publication provides a unique insight into the lives and preoccupations of Britain's wealthy, intellectual elite. Those of us a couple of rungs down the social pecking order, who through a quirk of global positioning are fortunate enough to live within the circulation zone, are merely able to bathe vicariously in the warm glow created by the mag's contents.

Take the December 2010 edition, for example. The offers available to local residents are really quite special. Bodyvie Clinics aren't content with serving champagne and mince pies to clients in the festive season. They also offer a free, 30-minute glycolic peel with all wrinkle reduction and dermal filler treatments.

Rejuvenated by the experience, readers might feel inclined to visit one of fashionable lingerie establishments advertised elsewhere the magazine. Whether it's Via of Teddington, Leia of The Quadrant (opposite Ted Baker) or Sheen Uncovered on the Upper Richmond Road, the ladies of the borough are clearly spoilt for choice. And they don't seem content with lunching as their primary form of entertainment.

A truly bizarre ad has been placed by a firm called Thames Orthodontics. Five women and a man grin toothily towards the camera and challenge us to identify the person among them who is wearing an invisible brace. It's no idle guessing game. If we correctly identify the braced member of staff, we're entitled to a 10% discount on an upper and lower invisible orthodontic treatment with lingual braces. (I'd long been considering orthodontic treatment of this type, but was saying to Mrs W that it was a little on the expensive side. In my heart of hearts, I knew a discount would be forthcoming and am glad that my patience has been vindicated. Unfortunately, I can't tell which of the people is wearing the brace, but feel that if I had the opportunity to slap them mildly a few times, it would quickly become apparent.)

And then, amid the other ads (private prep schools, £1.65m semi-detached houses in Kew, art galleries and period hardwood doors), there's some editorial content. A local divorce lawyer tells you that it may no longer be legal to do private detective work on your partner's finance. Another comments on the recent landmark ruling by the UK Supreme Court on pre-nups. The Bishop of Oxford, who has retired to Barnes, explains why he has started to learn the piano in his mid seventies. The editor, meanwhile, has handed over his 'blog' to a deer called Rudolphus Richmondicus, who pleads for readers to adopt him. Someone needs to tell the editor that a blog is something which appears on the web. I'm not quite sure what they should tell the deer.

I know I ought to be glad to live within shouting distance of this privileged world, but there's something about the magazine that makes me want to jump on the train at Richmond Station and head out towards Dalston. Your teeth can be rearranged in that part of London too, but it doesn't cost so much.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dead ringer

In the Woodford Archive, I have a copy of The Sunday Express magazine from the week of Lady Di's wedding in 1981. Alongside ads for the new Lancia Trevi and John Player Special King Size, there's an important announcement from a company called R J Wiltshire. I know it's an important announcement because there's a large headline which reads 'Important Announcement: RJW Commission Leading Hatton Garden manufacturing jeweller to re-create the splendour of... THE ROYAL RING'.

There's a lovely piece of copy which tells us that although a sapphire and real diamonds have been used in this 'ultimate accolade', they are 'not to the same priceless regal proportions' as the original. Despite this disappointment, I can't help being impressed with the 'very special rodium plate finish to the mount'. Rodium, I am reliably informed, is 'a member of the platinum family, so you can see that no expense has been spared in the reproduction of this timeless creation'. I wonder if The Platinum Family got invites to the service at Westminster Abbey?

Watch this space for similar important announcements in 2011.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

If this ad had MY name on it, I'd be in hiding...



As a copywriter, my heart sinks when I see fellow professionals biting off a little more than they can chew. This embarrassing messaging thread between two m8s rings about as true as Nick Clegg's pledges on student tuition fees. When we get towards the end of the correspondence and Rachel's saying "...that new kitchen has MY name on it...", I'm thinking of those cheesy radio commercials where characters repeat telephone numbers to each other.

The only thing missing from the excruciating exchange is a discussion of how gorgeous the Wickes kitchen planner is. How did the creatives miss that particular trick, I wonder?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Urine trouble now

I can't quite understand why the Samaritans advertise their service above the urinals in the gents at Waterloo station. Clearly people do sadly choose to end it all on the train tracks. But do they always relieve themselves first?

Strange market research rituals

On the 507 bus to Waterloo this afternoon, a guy asked me to complete a short questionnaire about my journey. I was handed a printed piece of paper - maybe 150 gsm - and one of those little pens they give out in betting shops. It was standing room only on the single-decker, so completing the survey while swinging around and guarding three bags wasn't that easy.

I finished as we drew up at the penultimate stop and I handed my form to the guy.

'Are you getting off here?' he asked.

I told him that I intended to travel one further stop to Waterloo.

'Well, hold on to the form, then.'

Meekly, I agreed, but couldn't help thinking that my answers would be the same at this stop - or any stop - on the route.

50 yards further up the road, the bloke came back and asked me for my form. The same form that I had been forbidden to hand in about 30 seconds earlier.

This is market research OCD style. I expect the forms have now been sorted alphabetically by surname. And the information will be entered 20 times before it looks right on the database.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Old Tricks

Mrs W loves Garrow's Law, the BBC's period legal drama. Well, I think she loves the bloke who plays William Garrow, if we're completely honest.

The show is supposed to be authentic in its late 18th century historical detail. Garrow did actually exist and the cases are all there in the archives. Tonight's was about the Zong Massacre - a landmark in the struggle to abolish the Atlantic slave trade.

One thing puzzles me though. If it's all so true to life, why is former Detective Inspector Brian Lane from New Tricks there?

I keep expecting Dennis Waterman to pop up too.

"What say you, Detective Sergeant Standing? Should a man bear witness to injustice and corrupton and stand idly by?"

"Do what? If the geezer's a wrong 'un, I think you need to throw the book at him, as it 'appens..."