Archive for June, 2008

Own Your Own Grumpy Joe Catapult

It seems Grumpy Joe has spotted a new income stream, and built himself a new website, on the back of his chicken-shit catapult. You can now protect your home with one of your very own for just £75. ‘Simply load with rotten eggs, chicken poo or any other suitable noxious substance and aim at intruders.’ Oh my.

Even more shocking is, that if you read his Biog page, you’ll discover one half of the source of Joe’s misery, Mr X, is actually his own son Michael (his partner in crime being convicted fraudster David Sharratt). The plot thickens into one that’s positively Shakesperian.

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Grumpy Joe Catapults to Fame

Following my previous post applauding Grumpy Joe’s unique marketing techniques, he has recently featured in one of Channel 4’s 3 Minute Wonder films: Living With Surveillance. It seems Grumpy Joe is now fighting the good fight armed with a canon that fires chicken shit at prospective vandals, having adapted the home-made human canon he used to use to fire his wife over the River Avon. Bloody brilliant.

Further clips of him arming his property with weaponry Wile E. Cayote would be proud of can be found on BBC Nottingham, who interviewed Joe.

According to Will Pavia’s article in The Times, ‘Nottinghamshire Police said…that they would send an officer to offer advice on “conventional security techniques” and on the use of “reasonable force”’. Yeah, best of luck with that.

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Grumpy Joe

As an administrator I handle an awful lot of junk mail. It’s pretty annoying and, unless it happens to fluke and arrive at a time when I’m getting quotes for that particular thing anyway, invariably goes straight into the recycling bag. This is why I personally think direct marketing is a bit stupid. It’s not direct, far from it – it ends up in the hands of gatekeepers like me who throw it straight into the bin before a decision-maker lays eyes on it.

But one that caught my eye and imagination this morning was a letter from Grumpy Joe’s Flooring Sales, who deal in entertainment flooring and furniture. The name got me first of all. And beside his name on the letterhead was his logo, an old bald man illustrating his grumpiness with hands on hips and a deep scowl. I found it a bit odd – what the hell did this have to do with flooring? Not exactly doing what he says on the tin.

It intrigued me enough to read the letter, which got even more bizzare. ‘Despite all attempts to stop us, and despite vandalism and arson, the Gluing Ladies DID have a good Christmas….’ What?! You’re trying to sell us flooring but veer off into casual mentions of violent crimes.

This aroused my interest enough to follow his link to his website: ‘Anyone still not sure about why I’m Grumpy and what happened…look at the press release on the website www.portableflooring.co.uk/grumpy.pdf.’

It’s thrillingly shocking. There’s betrayal and back-stabbing, a deeply sinister Mr X and Mr Y, one brave man’s struggle against adversity and the mob’s attacks on his and his family’s property. Who would have thought the world of flooring could be so cut-throat?

But what really grabbed me is that, as a piece of direct marketing, this seriously worked. The letter grabbed my attention enough to read it fully. What was in the letter motivated me to visit their website. Probably exactly what a piece of junk mail is meant to do.

Now I’m no marketing professional, but I’m guessing if I spoke to one they wouldn’t advise a business building a publicity campaign around getting shafted by a couple of gangsters with a mob of thugs at their disposal. But that’s what Grumpy Joe’s done and it’s brilliant. If I or anyone I know needs a portable dancefloor Grumpy Joe is the first person I’ll think of. I’ll keep his details on file, even if it is for novelty value. And he’s definately achieved one aim in that I or anyone I advise won’t touch Portable Floormaker Ltd with a bargepole.

Now either Grumpy Joe is a genius or he’s unwittingly hit upon promotion gold. From today, in my head specialist portable flooring = Grumpy Joe. Surely that’s any advertiser’s dream?

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The Wonderful Interweb

National Library of Ireland

Photo by Stephen Dedalus

Whilst on holiday in Dublin a couple of years ago I discovered the National Library of Ireland. It’s a grand old building that houses exhibitions on Irish authors and literature. My idea of heaven.

When I was there they were hosting productions of short Yeats plays. In the one I saw a young Irish republican makes his escape after the Easter Rising by hiking under cover of darkness. Whilst walking he meets two masked figures, the ghosts of a strange man and young girl who are locked in a weird purgatory where they can see but not touch each other. They beg the young man to release them from their torment by forgiving them for their crime of falling in love, but he finds he cannot.

For some strange and stupid reason I got my ancient Celtic love triangles mixed up and, with the passing of time, became convinced the ghosts were those of the legendary Tristan and Isolde, an Irish princess who had an affair with her husband King Mark’s adored nephew.

It’s funny how your head plays tricks with you and replaces gaps in your knowledge with the nearest thing to hand. I was totally wrong, they were actually the ghosts of Diarmuid MacMurrough and Dervorgilla, historical figures in 12th Century Irish history. Diarmuid, chieftain of one of the Irish tribes, stole Dervorgilla from another prince. When the offended prince threatened to retaliate, Diarmuid called upon the assistance of the Normans. This turn of events worried the English and Henry II sent in colonizing forces, thus beginning 800 years of oppression. Which means the play makes far more sense.

When racking my brains and the internet years later to try and find out what play it was I saw I inevitably hit a brick wall. Googling ‘Yeats + Tristan + Isolde’ and similar proved fruitless because no such thing existed. But this is the beauty of the internet – I stumbled across a Yeats Discussion Group, joined, emailed them my query and got a full explanation the very same day: the play was The Dreaming of The Bones and my memory’s shot.

This was a real revelation to me – I could source something that I had scant and just plain wrong information on by finding experts within something as obscure as a Yeats Discussion Group. When I wondered aloud people looked at me as if I’d only just seen a mobile phone and went, ‘yeah, so?’ I feel like Rip Van Winkle waking up. At 31 years old, I’ve just discovered how bloody brilliant the internet can be, undoubtedly years after everyone else.

I still get emails from the group and, despite having an answer to my Yeats question, can’t bring myself to leave. The subject headings are things like “The Torso of Apollo”, ‘as the leaves of autumn wither and fall…’, ‘That knowledge increases unreality…’ and my favourite so far: ‘Like yourself, Annette, I also am haunted by lines and images of The Statues, “l’ve lips pressed against a plummet measured face”’. I’ve the most beautiful spam in the world clogging up my Inbox.

But where I see the light, others inevitably stumble in the dark. I met a maker of quality rocking horses last Saturday who said the internet had killed his business by opening up the market. Try as people present did, there was no convincing him that he could somehow convey his superior craftsmanship to online customers, who would all buy the cheapest, crap rocking horse they found on Ebay. Which is as insulting to online consumers as it is harmful to his business.

It seemed so sad that someone who should have thrived in a new marketplace did the opposite because he just wasn’t ready for the world of possibilities the internet opened up. Go on! Go forth into the wilderness, on your handcrafted wooden steed, and conquer. And if you come across a young Irish republican on the run, offer him a lift.

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Loldeidre: on the move

Loldeidre Hula Hoops

Hula Hoops may be armless fun, but it seems Councillor Deidre Aldren doesn’t feel the same about Loldeidre. Captioned photos of her have been disappearing from the Flickr Loldeidre account, hence the ‘FAIL’ picture vanishing from my previous Surface Unsigned post. Boo.

But it seems she can still be accessed via http://loldeirdre.tumblr.com/. Hooray for the internet! Loldeidre does not die, she just moves about a bit!

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