Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Selling half an idea

Anyone ever been on a training course? Did you (or your organisation) pay for it?

Here’s how it works. Somebody had an ‘insight’ or some other ‘good idea’ and realised that they could radically improve upon what everyone was doing before. Funnily enough this idea needed some jargon, acronyms and a book (for sale) to explain it. And some training courses.

You turn up to find the categories they use never quite work, the acronyms are just a leedle bit strained and the human behaviour explained is just a little bit too organised and simplified to be real. However, the descriptions ring true to the extent of raising a half smile of recognition as you sit there wondering who you fancy and what sort of biscuits they might have at break time. ‘Hey, people really are like this a bit aren’t they, when you think about it’ you think to yourself. ‘This guy really seems to have stumbled on something’.

Fact is he hasn’t. It’s a very slightly different way of looking at the ways that people behave. The sort of idea any of us might have over a pint. The difference is that this idea has been expanded into a book and sold. The sort of people who organise these sorts of things get really ‘excited’ and ‘passionate’ about the idea (and as everyone knows, only sex and music are worth the effort of excitement and passion). And before you know it you’re talking utter bollocks trying to put people into boxes and talking about the ‘kind’ of people they are and how to predict their behaviour or manage them. It’s like star signs really – and if you believe in them at all leave now.

You collect the notes, a copy of the PowerPoint show and nick a small packet of fruit shrewsburys on the way out after lying on the feedback form out of politeness to the hosts who were sort of OK, in the end. You put the notes in a drawer and put them in the bin when you leave that job. The information in your head disappeared before you’d got the bus home on the day. £300 a head or something. But it wasn’t the management theory from the 60’s. It was an update.

I'm going to write “The 7 life Changing Habits of Massive Wankers”. And "Discovering the Key to the Inner Self (of the Bloody Drone Office Worker)”.

Mind you, you got a day out of work. This course also adds to the Gross Domestic Product you know. And you could've at least spoken to the woman with the legs.

Breaded Icelandic Cod Fillets

Say it again! That’s right! Breaded. Icelandic. Cod. Fillets!

Ingredients: Cod (55%)! That’s right 55%.

If you or I took some cod and covered it in breadcrumbs (even supposing we were prepared to countenance use of the verb ‘to bread’) how many percent do you reckon you could get to? 2%? 5%? 10% even, at a push if you really piled 'em on?

The cod is of course ‘formed’. I suppose this means they get crappy bits and stick them together with gloop before covering them with orange dyed gloop. Funnily enough, when the ‘forming’ procedure is complete, the ‘cod’ comes out in the shape of erm, a cod fillet. ‘Fillet’ will of course have some legal definition negotiated by the food manufacturers. It will no doubt mean that the bones have been taken out and this will no doubt be technically correct. Anyone who sees the shape and assumes that the product is a piece of cod with some breadcrumbs on it is just asking for it really aren’t they? I mean, no-one is that that duh?

In the real world, put these ‘breaded Icelandic cod fillets’ in front of 100 people and how many people will think that it’s a piece of cod in breadcrumbs? The stupid 98% I reckon. And the other 2 of us are the kind of people with the inclination to read labels and complain. To a blog...

Why is there not a rebellion? And I don’t mean buying a whole a cod from Tescos for £38.50 or whatever. Not that kind of rebellion. I mean the boycott everything, storm the factory gates and start stringing people up kind of rebellion. Or I could write a letter. The reply would burble on about quality control and excellence and, yeah, waddever. Even I draw the line somewhere. At about 55%.

Ink again then ink for a third time

I hate printer ink manufacturers as much as I hate Firstbus. Basically they rip you off and there’s nothing you can do about it. We got a new computer and printer recently. We said we wanted a printer that was cheap on ink as the manufacturers are such rip-off bastards. The man in the shop (a proper computer shop) went on for a bit about how cheap this one was to run. So 2 weeks and half a dozen pages of printing later it’s running out of ink. Well, course it is, I should've known.

Luckily, Epson are on the case, sending emails offering us the opportunity to buy more. £9.79 a pop. That’s not for the full set of course, that’s for one. A tenner for a black ejaculation’s worth of ink. It’d have to be Michael Jackson spunk for me to pay that much (I wonder if his spunk was black? - ask one of the mothers of his dangly children I suppose - ha ha!) But hey, it’s only £33.57 for the full set – a tossing bargain.

Ironically they will have got my email address when I ‘registered the product’. I ‘registered the product’ because it mentioned asking for people’s opinions. I was going to tell them what I thought of their ink prices!
Hoist by my own consumerist, objecting, naively buying into the game bleedin’ petard. You can’t win.

Mmm, lovely green oven

We need a new oven. Boring, not very rock and roll but the old one is shagged out. We really do need a new oven. The door won’t close for a start and I can’t fix it.

But how ‘green’ can we be when we buy a new one? Excitingly, all the relevant ovens in the Homebase catalogue have a green rating of 'A' or 'B'. Brilliant, we can choose any one of ‘em and it’ll be at the top or next to the top of the green-ness tree! We can do our bit by buying more stuff. They’ve even got a nice logo and name ‘Ecohome products that don’t cost the earth’. ‘Don’t cost the earth!’ Wow, these marketing people are clever eh?

Well that’s nice. Clearly 'A' will be the most greenest oven ever. It’ll be a Greenpeace tree-loving oxygen- breathing friend of the earth - the ‘more you buy the longer the earth will survive’ oven. Course it will.

The truth of course is a little different. It turns out that rating ‘B’ is the second worst on the green rating shitometer. This is of course because the range goes not from 'A' to 'E' say. Oh no, that’s just what you unsophisticated uneducated types might expect. It actually goes from ‘A++’ through ‘A+’ and A and stops at C. So, even by the people who want to sell you stuff’s standards 'A' is middling at best and 'B' is a bit shit.

Maybe these ovens need building up due to low self-esteem? Either that or it’s a con. Just give everything a rating that sounds good or at least OK and carry on buying the planet to a crisp. A fan assisted one. In a handcart. A handcart made in natural woven flax in Indonesia by flooded out orphans. Just keep buying and we can all die quickly.