Tag Archives: The Melting Pot

Mish-Mash

My pet chickens need feeding and all I have in the fridge is a spicy chicken pizza. Mmmmoral dilemma. It’s probably no one they know, but best to be on the safe side. In the absence of any grain I find myself pushing a trolley round Tesco Express.

‘OK, you’re a chicken,’ a rather attractive woman overhears me say out loud to myself, ‘what do you like the look of?’ A key-lime pie takes my fancy, but it’s completely impractical. My beak’ll never pierce that lid, and what am I going to do with the ramekin afterwards? Channeling poultry doesn’t appear to be one of my skills.

Back at home the hens seem non-plussed with the selection of cakes I set out before them. The guilt at having forgotten to stock up on their favourite nosh drives me to boil up some rice. A good ten minutes is spent wondering whether or not to add seasoning. Eventually, on the proviso that they’ll taste better if I ever decide to put them in a pie,  I reason that I can stretch to a bit of salt and pepper.

In a scene straight from ‘Come dine with me’ I apologetically serve up the chow. They wolf it down affecting clucks of contentment, but they’ll probably slag me off in the taxi back to their coop.

It wasn’t my idea to get the chickens, but I’m glad that they’re here. Their entire day consists of asking ‘is this edible?’ The answer is invariably ‘yes’.

I order more bird seed online, which instantly infuriates me. Modern life is too easy and too well defined. There’s a slick way of doing everything – ordering seed, buying pre-packaged grub, uploading blogs. Even previously off-the-beaten-track holidays are now pretty much nailed down as experiences. Just once it would be nice to find something ill-defined and reckless (if only so I could complain about it not being better organised). I pledge to go out foraging for sustenance and a female of child-bearing age, but my hunter-gatherer instinct has taken the day off, and I find that women generally object to being clubbed on the head and dragged back to your house by their hair.

So anyway, that’s breakfast out of the way. I check yesterday’s post. The copyright office informs me that my next book ‘Froth’ has now been copyrighted, but that my William Shatner-based satellite navigation – the ‘Shat-Nav,’ has not. The reasons for this rejection (written in biro) are that:

1. William Shatner has already copyrighted himself.

2. The uneven timbre and spacing of his voice may well misinform motorists, leading to peril.

Besides cooking for farm animals I’ve also published ‘The Melting Pot’ on the site ‘Smashwords.’ This means that, in addition to the already published Kindle version, it is now available on i-Pad, html, pdf and several other digital formats:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/131778

Spread the word. I thank you…

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The sick, the lame and the criminally insane…

I’m writing this entry on a scrap of paper, six hours into a hellish British Rail-hilariously detouring-replacement bus-journey between Stafford and Reading – stranded in Watford of all places (nowhere near either!) The idea of the trip had been to get a much needed break from endless commuting – A plan now well and truly knackered.

‘Frustration’ is very much the word of the moment – bored with corporate life, unable to get any literary body to recognise my work for the undiscovered work of genius it so clearly is (!) and watching as the slowest, most jam-packed train in the world pootles down the track whilst a woman next to me rips into to her husband on the phone; chastising him for not being a mind-reader and getting the evening meal ready too early

What to do?

I’ve used the trip to start writing in earnest again for the first time in about three months – a story based on a phrase my father used to say in the eighties – ‘We’ll take anyone here – the sick, the lame and the criminally insane.’

There’s nothing more frustrating than when the words won’t come, and by contrast, nothing more elating than when they do. 

Having garnered some much needed inspiration, I now feel better prepared to endure the final five legs of my journey, and am less likely to take a member of staff hostage and barter their life in exchange for a refund…

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Why I write…

Walking through a crowded Waterloo station each morning I catch snippets of obscure and often harrowing conversations. Yesterday I overheard a man say ‘…Two years ago I was happy…’ followed by a woman uttering, ‘…Christ, if something doesn’t change soon I’ll take…’ Similarly this morning I saw two women weeping uncontrollably whilst being consoled by complete strangers. Not to concentrate on the macabre, I’m fascinated by the idea that, as I walk down a busy street, all these little stories are passing me by – mostly unheard, often interlinking, sometimes fantastical – and every so often people forget their British foibles and just erupt.

Most of my stories tend to come from this angle – the question of what is going on beneath the surface of apparent normality.

Of all the tales ever conceived The Melting Pot has burned the brightest so far. I was very driven to get it into print, and spent a considerable sum of money in pursuing that purpose, but it’s only recently that I’ve stopped to ask myself why?

I certainly don’t have any designs on being famous – quite the opposite in fact. I like the idea of one day being on a train, seeing someone reading the book and being able to watch their reactions from afar without being recognised – anonymity AND notoriety…

I just said all that out loud…I’ll shut up now…

Latest Google-search: ‘guerrilla marketing constipation.’

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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:

‘Hello.’

‘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.

03032008006.jpg 

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

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Keyser Soze

…But for a technical hitch here is the best piece of guerrilla marketing ever… 

I work around the corner from the Old Vic theatre. Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum are currently appearing in a play called ‘Speed the plow.’ Today whilst out for lunch with a colleague Kam we passed a man in cycling gear and dark glasses walking a dog.

‘Did you see who that was?’ Kam asked excitedly.

‘Who?’

‘Only Kevin Spacey!’

Now, I’m of the opinion that most famous people probably get brassed off with the proletariat continuously gawping at them, so I didn’t make a big deal out it. Twenty minutes later Kam nudged me a second time. ‘Look, there he is again, sitting outside Cafe Nero.’

Back in the office we told the team about our celebrity spot.

‘You should give him a copy of your book,’ another colleague Nick suggested.

‘I’d be embarrassed.’

‘Alright, I’ll do it then and pretend I’m you.’

‘OK Great.’

I hastily scrawled ‘Hey Kevin – Love your work,’ on the inside cover and handed it to Nick. When he re-appeared sometime later without the book I asked how he’d got on.

He told me that he’d approached grinning from ear to ear and said ‘I’ve got a present for you – a book that I wrote.’

Unfortunately at this point our lack of ground-work was exposed. Kevin said ‘Thanks…what’s the book about?’ to which Nick replied with ‘Er…smuggling or something,’ before running off.

So there you go…not the most flawless of executions…but Kevin Spacey! Keyser Soze himself (for anyone who’s not seen ‘The Usual Suspects’ I have just ruined the twist).

At this moment a copy of The Melting Pot is either residing in the dressing room of a Hollywood A-lister, or else is nestling in a bin somewhere in South London!

I’ll be out tomorrow lunchtime combing the streets for Jeff…

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Harrassing shoppers

The site www.guerrillaguru.co.uk has some great ideas for guerrilla marketing – one of which is Blue-jacking i.e. using the bluetooth functionality on mobile phones to send photos to complete strangers within the immediate vicinity.

Obviously this could be quite alarming / annoying for the recipient, so timing and location are important:

Timing: after work when people are in less of a rush.

Location: near books so as to catch the right target audience.

Yesterday evening I found myself walking around Piccadilly’s Waterstones mailing people at random with this:blue-jack3.jpg

After a few tense moments I received my first reply: ‘Sod off,’ and a second: ‘I have informed a member of staff.’

It was then that it dawned on me – as bluetooth only has a reach of about 10 metres it would be relatively easy to work out who was sending the messages. A number of people were already giving me suspicious glances. Calmly and with cat-like precision I ran to the toilets and locked myself in one of the cubicles. A few moments later there were footsteps outside and I heard a voice whisper: ‘I think he’s in there.’ A couple of carefully executed grunts seemed to allay suspicion.

‘Is this a spectacular failure,’ I asked myself, ‘or was infamy the objective here?’

Either way the best course of action was a swift exit.

Back on the ground floor I decided to send just one more. A phone beeped in front of me and a woman stared from her phone directly at me. I had my hands in my pockets, was dressed like a slightly posh burglar and looked as guilty as sin.

I winked and bolted for the door…

Latest Google searches: ‘Marketing to illiterates’ – ‘Gangrene’

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