The Obscurer

Election Special

I wasn’t going to write a post about the election, I was just going to include a post-script to my previous post “Commercial Break” explaining how and why I wasn’t writing a post about the election; until I realised that in explaining why I wasn’t going to write about the election I had started writing about the election, and so writing about the election in a post-script about how I wasn’t going to write about the election started to look a bit silly. So here is my separate post, about the election, what I wrote.

The reason I wasn’t intending to speak on the subject is because I seem strangely uninterested in the whole affair. I suppose I take it for granted that Labour are going to win, and so there is nothing really left to say. Perhaps if a Tory win looks likely then I may spring into action, but unless anything dramatic happens I suggests you look elsewhere for election commentary; the Election Blog is a good place to start, which features articles from Nick Barlow, Chicken Yoghurt and the ever excellent NoseMonkey, amongst others. I have placed a LibDem advert on this page, as they will be getting my vote, but it is the equivalent of a poster in the front window of my house. It is me saying “I’ve made my mind up…now LEAVE ME ALONE!”

I will be voting for the LibDems, just as I almost always have. I suppose politically I have shuffled slightly from foot to foot over time, a bit to the left, a bit to the right, but always within the LibDem’s orbit while Labour has shot straight over my head. In particular I will get out to vote because my constituency, Cheadle, is the most marginal in the country, with a LibDem majority of only 33 over the Tories. My vote really could count.

I won’t go into details about why I won’t vote Tory. Suffice it to say that I still view them as a party of absolute and unrestrained evil, and I don’t believe that this is an unreasonable view to hold. I wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire, unless I was able to piss pure paraffin. Damn them all to hell. Don’t get me started on the Tories; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.*

I can’t say I am a big fan of Labour, of course, or of Blair, but there really is no question who I would prefer to form a government. While I understand where the Backing Blair campaign is coming from, and despite eight years of a Labour government, I still view politics in terms of being pro- or anti- the Conservatives. Even if it was in my gift, I just couldn’t bring myself to vote Tory in order to give Blair a bloody nose. I know the risks of the Tories getting in are tiny – the BBC have a handy election seat calculator here, which the other day showed a Labour overall majority of 40 seats even when both parties had 36% of the vote – but I couldn’t live with myself if the calculation went awry and Michael Howard went to see the Queen on Friday the 6th. It is too serious a business and is simply not worth it.

So that’s my election special. You will notice I haven’t gone through the parties’ policies or tried to justify why I am voting as I am, I have just bashed out a bit of prejudice. I figure most people who read this already know who they are voting for and why, and will also know why I will vote as I intend (see my previous posts if you are not sure).

I expect a third Labour term; perhaps even as part of a coalition with the LibDems if required, and if we are lucky. On that basis, I doubt I will write on this subject again. Wake me up on 05/05/05; unless something interesting happens.

*Update: I have had a rethink since writing this criticism of the Tories, and I feel that I have been unfair. It was over the top to describe them as a party of absolute evil. In addition, I believe that in all probability, if placed in the situation, I would piss on them, if they were on fire.

Commercial Break

I love terrible adverts. One of my favourites recently has been for Bonjela, I think. It features a bloke underneath a sort of clear plastic sheeting dome which he punches while shrieking in an effort to be the personification of a mouth ulcer. I’d just love to imagine how you carry this off with any dignity. I can’t help but imagine the scene as he gets home after the shoot…

“Good day at work, love?”
“Great, I played a mouth ulcer who was obliterated by antiseptic gel.”
“Ooh, things are looking up. Better than being in The Bill.”

I know acting is a precarious profession, and actors are probably just happy for any work to come their way, but if you pass the audition and are chosen to play an ulcer, do you have a skip in your step for a few days, wondering if this could be your big break? What would you think are the chances of a director from the RSC seeing the advert and thinking, “That’s the fellow! We’ve just found our next Iago”? I would have thought being obscured behind plastic sheeting in this case could be a benefit, so no one associates you with such an advert. Wither the Shake and Vac lady, who probably did all right for herself by appearing in that infamous ad, but who ruled herself out of any other acting job, ever. You couldn’t really see her subsequently popping up in an episode of Cracker, could you?

But my current favourite advert features no such unfortunate actor. The “At Home with Beefy and Lamby” ads for meat are astonishing. If you haven’t seen them (and if you haven’t, you can watch them here) they feature computer animations of Ian “Beefy” Botham and Allan “Lamby” Lamb…well, eating beef and lamb. Inspired.

You can see the thinking behind them; presumably advertising execs were having a brainstorm, probably considered using Ian Botham first because of his Beefy nickname (I would be amazed if it happened the other way round) and perhaps wanted another person to play alongside him whose name or nickname also had some sort of butchery theme. The probably asked themselves if there was a John Pork, or a Mike Chicken, perhaps even a Fred Slow-Roast, when suddenly.

“I’ve got it! Allan Lamb! There’s an Allan Lamb! And he was a cricketer too! They even played for England together!”
“It’s perfect. It cannot fail. Eureka!”

High fives all round. But in all the heady enthusiasm I wonder if they forgot to ask themselves just what demographic such ads would be aiming for. I like cricket, but I would have thought the vast majority of the population have no interest in it at all. Even among cricket lovers, there is probably an entire generation who have no idea who Allan Lamb is, and certainly won’t be able to associate with the CGI version of him. More people will of course know Ian Botham, if only because of his Shredded Wheat ads, but how many youngsters will know him as Beefy, and will recognise his animated caricature? And as for one advert where Beefy and Lamby bash out the “Soul Limbo” tune on the pots and pans, won’t there be a huge number of people who won’t get the reference, having been introduced to cricket via Channel 4 and Sky? It must be years since the BBC used that tune to introduce the Test Matches; although I guess “Mambo #5” is probably a bit more difficult to replicate on household percussion.

No, I am convinced that this advertising campaign is a grave mistake; which can only guarantee that it will be a huge success. It will win a string of awards, sales of Lamb and Beef will rocket as a result, and I will have found yet another career for which I am wholly unsuited.