LETTERS FROM LONDON
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
19 November 2016
Waxing Not Waning

Surely you need to know this. Madam Tussaud’s is busy producing The Donald
to put on show pre-inauguration. A wax-work that features yak hair. Really. Yak
hair to create that – what is that exactly? – thing on his head. See. You did need
to know to be first in the queue. Yes. Ha ha.


You’ve Been Had

Yes. It’s the season to be manipulated. They’re here; repeated and repeated.
Why it’s the Christmas adverts of course. Oh hurrah! Not. Warning: watch once
and then change the channel. Unless you like being manipulated and for some
truly inexplicable reason you like watching cloyingly sentimental videos. Then
you rush out and buy stuff from the shop. Really? Really. Why? Time to
reassess don’t you reckon?

Unless you already have a trampoline, where are you going to put one? Hmmm.
Are we thinking (?) mind-control here? We are thinking John Lewis aren’t we?
It's pathetic. OK. I’ll give you cute animals jumping. Not the dog. Not cute. So it’s
Buster the Boxer bouncing on a trampoline. So? The point really? Watch it again
– that’s surely not a problem. You’ll thank me.

John Lewis always thinks it’s the festive season winner. Actually, didn’t
Sainsbury beat them last year? No matter. They should have if they didn’t.  
Remember the adorable memorable Mog? Come on now: “ahhhhh”.

More John Lewis leads us to their Waitrose ad reluctantly. Lovely little robin
experiences death-defying feats, to be revived in a coffin-box, to fly joyfully to
meet another robin to share a mince pie crumb. No. Don’t even be tempted to do
that “ahhhhh” again. Girl with bad haircut and dressed in a T-shirt – no, no, no –
not a T-shirt for Christmas dinner! is the main character. OK. It is based on the
actual migration of the Scandinavian robin, but even that plus the Oscar-
nominated Icelandic composer, Johann Johannsson, will not make us weep into
our tissues. Oh stop. You’re being totally manipulated to buy mince pies and
everything else at the way-over-priced Waitrose. And let’s be clear here: over-
priced without justification. Their veggies are often so passed-their-sell-by-date
they are mummified. Trust me here. I’ve seen them.

Sainsbury does it with annual animation. Handmade. 3-D printing.
Contemporary. Traditional. James Corden - hmmm. Why? A single snowflake
on the trainline. OK. That is ‘cute’. But not really ‘a winner’. The good part:
money made through the campaign will go to create brand-new accommodation
at Great Olman’s Street Hospital where families can stay with their ill children.
“We want to make people happy.” We’ll have to give them credit then won’t we?
While Waitrose wants their advert to “…speak to the spirit of togetherness…and
the joy of just coming home.” Just saying.

OK. I’m giving in. It’s a clever M&S Christmas. Another dog plus mince pie.
Tiger vs Buster. The first mistake JL made: Buster? Ms/Mrs Clause (Janet
McTeer) eats a mince pie. Yes. It’s actually a fun narrative featuring ‘the missus’
so rarely acknowledged. To Mr Clause: “Don’t forget Australia.” What’s not to
love? She saves the day. She’s cool. We love her. What we don’t love is the
M&S decision to move its advertising business to Grey London, after 16 years
with its previous agency, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. No! Their adverts
were absolutely brilliant! Brilliant! Why? How could Grey improve their efforts?
We’ll see, but we may not like what we see. I can’t give this up. Have you seen
the M&S food advert? Now seriously. How could Grey ever top that?

All these Christmas ads that are created to raise revenues for shareholders and
C-suits are called ‘cultural events’. Huh? What!? Culture may be at an all-time
low, but really. ‘Cultural events’? Sadly within 24 hours, the John Lewis ad was
viewed on YouTube more than a million times. OK. They win. I give up.
Shopping is clearly the new art form. Where’s my tissue?


Fanciful Fairy Tale

Am I the only one who finds this romance a bit – erm – hysterical? No. Not
hysterical ha, ha. Hysterical in reaction to – well, everything.

Harry is hysterically reacting to the press by saying he’ll ‘protect’ his love of –
what? Three months? – from the hysterical press. He’s paying. He’s acting like a
bit of a teenager-in-love really. Or I suppose hysterically chivalrous. Prince to
the rescue et al. Hmmm. And the year is 2016?

Ms Markle likens the relationship with Prince Harry to ‘A fairy tale’. Oh dear.
Now that doesn’t sound terrible reassuring does it? Fairy tale? Fantasy? See
where I’m going with this? Do I have to mention ‘princess’? I didn’t think so.
We know all the charity/good works Harry is involved in. We know he is
infamous for dressing up as a Nazi and using the terms ‘raghead’ and ‘paki’.
Gosh. But worse – you decide, he also has been reported once saying of his
Zimbabwean ex-girlfriend Chelsea Davy: “She’s not black or anything, you
know.” Oh dear oh dear. Harry. We’re not going to become hysterical, but
possibly we should.
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