Tag Archives: marketing

Adventures in Pedantry

I ordered something called a Hero Burger. The nice lady asked if I would you like to supersize?
‘Isn’t it already heroic?’ I inquired.
‘It is, but you get more of everything on the next one up.’
‘What’s that one called?’
‘We don’t have a name for that one yet sir.’
‘Shouldn’t that one be called the Hero Burger?’
The nice lady gave me the special look she reserves for vermin. ‘I guess so!’
With shades of my father I added ‘Might I suggest The Super-Fluous?’
Where on earth did that mustard fart of indignation come from? On ninety-nine days out of a hundred I would have let something so inconsequential go by the by, but today my Hero (now demoted to Side-kick) Burger was presumably going to arrive laced with various bodily fluids and interfered with beyond words. Such is the price of perfection.
Back at Castle Cororan (still surprising peckish) I found a package waiting for me. I opened it. It contained three bottles of peroxide. I am a bald man. As such I was perplexed. The invoice revealed that I share my address (different postcode) with a hairdresser across town. Ah, irony abounds. When I contacted them to arrange a pick up their manager was so impressed with my honesty that he left a gift on the doorstep – two bottles of luxury exfoliant. How delightful. I used one and the skin proceeded to melt from my face. Picture the bald man running around in just his pants, howling like a child who has touched a nettle. By Jove I demanded satisfaction.
But what’s the protocol for complaining about free stuff? There isn’t one is there? I’ve found a gaping hole in British (and possibly world) etiquette. I must write to someone. This is marvellous / unacceptable (delete as appropriate).
Scarred for life, but ebullient with my newfound revelation I set off for a corporate shindig. There an old colleague reminded me of an incident that completes the triumvirate of pedantry.
We both worked with a young man for whom English was not his first language (For the sake of anonymity we’ll call him Tim). Tim would’ve spoken perfectly good English had he paid attention in the lessons that had been paid for by the company (i.e. he’s fair game).
As well a possessing poor grammar Tim was also a prolific skiver – both in the amount of days took as sick-leave and in the amount of time he spent asleep in the toilets. Every two weeks or so his line manager and I would get an email explaining why he was absent. Because his English was terrible he would make attempts to describe the symptoms rather than succinctly state the ailment – the most memorable of which was: ‘I not be work now – big stomach – much pooh – also puke.’
A few days after his various misdemeanours had been tackled in a performance review he took me aside and asked for my help. ‘You tell me how to say this?’ he asked, and then proceeded to graphically described diarrhoea. Even in the midst of a bollocking you could see the cogs turning; setting up the next bout of absence. I told him he was giving too much information and provided a shorter syntax for the condition. He thanked me.
Sure enough – a few weeks later the glorious email arrived: ‘I cannot come to work today as I have Ass Mayhem.’


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Grovelling personified…

Once a week I write to Mariella Frostrup at Radio 4’s ‘Open Book.’ At first I begged her to grant me an interview on the show, but now I mostly compliment her on her hair. I thought about sending one that read ‘Can you see me? I can see you,’ or perhaps ‘Did you get that finger I posted?’ but people rarely take stalker-humour in the spirit that it’s intended.

Latest Google searches to find me: ‘Pot urinals,’ ‘Guerrilla night-clubs’ and ‘Sally Gunnell bikini.’


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“You are my Kryptonite…”

…Was universally agreed last night as the answer to the question ‘What’s the worst chat-up line you’ve ever received?’

The relevancy of which is that the lady in question had also tried to order The Melting Pot via Waterstones, but had subsequently been refunded after they were unable to source it…all despite my having gone to great lengths to get a wholesale agreement in place with a company called Gardners. I checked on the website and it seems that the agreement has been cancelled without my knowledge!

This kind of occurrence is the biggest obstacle to a self-publisher – the bulk buying view – where a company will say that’s it’s not in their interests to buy (or even take on sale or return) from a single seller due to it being inefficient time-wise. I’ve mentioned before that I sometimes approach a bookshop in or around Reading (where I live), agree a sale, but then have to post the books via a warehouse hundred’s of miles away rather than just take them in myself!

…And relax.

A guy from the Isle of Man ordered the book on Amazon a few days ago and was kind enough to write and say he liked what I was trying to do. I always massively appreciate strangers taking the time to do this, and it more than counters any frustrations I feel at the logistical constraints of fulfilling orders. This particular reader also relates back to the Waterstones rant and goes a long way to explaining a bizarre phone-call I received from a bookseller a few weeks ago – which went like this:


‘Hi, I’m on the Isle of Man.’

[PAUSE] ‘I’m happy for you.’

‘Oh…sorry…One of my customers would like a copy of your book. Can I buy one?’

‘Of course you can.’

‘Great! Bye.’

‘Wait – how were you planning on ordering it?’

‘I thought you could send it to me.’

‘I can, but I don’t know who you are or where you live.’

‘I’m on the Isle of Man…’

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Spot the impending tragedy…

It’s amazing how often the London underground catches fire! Following general gridlock / alarms several thousand people were kicked out of Paddington yesterday morning; thwarting the efforts of the sneaky soul who kindly fly-postered the Bakerloo 12032008001.jpgline the night before.

To date my exploits have brought me into close proximity with such acolytes as The Henry Kelly of Going for gold fame, and Oscar-winning-Turkish-assassin Kevin Spacey.  

12032008002.jpgStaying on the famous people theme a lady in the office says that she knows Nurse #3 from BBC’s ‘Casualty,’ (or ‘Spot the impending tragedy,’ as it’s known in the Cororan house-hold). We’ve conceived an idea based on the exploits of Sid James from the ‘Carry On’ films. He famously used to supplement his meagre actors salary by surreptitiously placing bottles of whisky in shot and collecting advertising royalties. In similar fashion we hope to get the book into view on the set. The current thoughts are along the lines of ‘man and book impaled on spike,’ or ‘traffic warden-book-anus incident.’ 

…Following this through to its natural conclusion I think I’ll try and get The Melting Pot on the set of ER where it can be used to deflect a bullet fired by a lesbian heroin addict before being shredded by an exploding helicopter…

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Throw me a frickin bone…

If this blog were a graph, then every six weeks or so a whiney, ranty, high-pitched spike would emerge – today would be one such moment…

Why is getting noticed so hard?

The impetus for this mood-swing came from approaching several libraries earlier in the week and asking if I could put up a poster. One of them made me fill in a two page form detailing what I hoped to get out of the experience, and said that someone would call to let me know if my request had been successful.

‘Surely you jest?’ I reasoned. ‘There’s a space on the wall. Here’s my poster. I could’ve put it up while you were explaining all that.’

‘SSSHHHH,’ her colleague interjected!

Annoyingly, every time I think about jacking it in (almost to the second), someone gets in touch and tells me that they enjoyed the book. I then feel suitable reinvigorated to throw myself once again on the merciless bureaucracy of the literary world.

If any of you reading this have any ideas – they would be gratefully received. A work-colleague suggested going up to Camden and setting up a market stall – not a bad idea at all. I’m also toying with the concept of Bus-tagging (i.e. running up behind moving billboards and eliciting sneers from old-age pensioners).

Finally – following legal advice I should point out that I’ve been burgled, that my posters have all been stolen, and that all future campaigns will (may) be perpetrated by an unknown third party…

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Let the illegal activities commence…

I received a shock this week when I enquired as to how much it would cost to advertise in the London Underground.  (Proper) marketing is phenomenally expensive. A TV program a few days ago said that the average Hollywood blockbuster spends around £36 million pounds on advertising. By contrast I’ve just spent about a ton on some high-resolution posters. This represents my entire marketing budget:

My entire marketing budget

I wrote a list of all the best places to put posters in order to gain the maximum effect. Most of them appear to be illegal (which is a shame). Working on the assumption that it’s better to apologise after the fact than to ask permission I set about spreading my message of literary joy.

Initially I’ve started fairly tame and flyered a few phone-boxes…more daring schemes to follow in the next few days…

leicester.jpgLeicester square – Pretending to make a call whilst prit-sticking a poster to the inside glass whilst being heckled by McDonalds pikeys.


The throbbing night-life metropolis that is Reading high-street.

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