Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Wednesday

Thick fog to start the day, then rain, then just bloody cold.

For some time there has been a man in Hastings, aged about 40 - who went everywhere wearing a bright orange boiler suit and a dinner jacket / bow tie / top hat combo. After a flirtation with fake fur when he substituted the boiler suit for a bear outfit - he's now evolved to a full Vegas style Elvis jump suit with sequins and Marlborough man cowboy shirt and hat. He looks OK. Quite normal for this town.

Had a better than expected conversation with a client earlier, then sent them an invoice. Spent most of the day working for free.

One of my best clients has lost their place on a design roster that brings on a big chunk of their income because - according to the procurement rules - they don't charge enough. So, after keeping the costs down and giving their client - who they have worked for for many years and really helped their business, including winning many awards - they have been dumped for being too cheap. This is how things are now.

The list of Tesco stores that are to be closed does not include anything local - which surprises me.

Everyone I know is trying to do their tax returns. For what it's worth, I did mine in April. That's probably the only thing I've done right this year.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Bad day at black rock, and everywhere else.

I shouldn't have got up this morning. I should have just stayed in bed. It would have been better for everyone. Mostly me.

I went to the studio to complete a piece of work I'm doing for free - the politics of my industry etc. I get a lot of that. I needed to go to Brighton at some point to talk through the work with the client, and - as it happened, another client was at Hastings to see someone else and driving back there after lunch so I tagged along for a lift. I say 'client', I used to work with them a lot but they took on a design manager who hates me and wanted to bring in their own people - so I stepped away - partly for the sake of retaining some dignity - and partly because we have been friends for years and I wanted to keep that intact.

The meeting in Brighton was OK - still have more to do - but hopefully it will lead to something paid. As I was leaving ( remember I still have to get the train home and it's essentially the same price as a return, so I've not saved any money by getting a lift) I picked up a voice mail from a very aggressive woman at the Inland Revenue - something I've been dreading for a while. I have to deal with it in the morning and I'm not looking forward to it. I'm a bit fucked there.

After that - I checked my emails on my phone, and received something that made me so angry and despondent that I nearly burst into tears in the street. Basically - I've been shafted by a client I've worked with for years - I don't think they even realise how shabbily they have treated me - so, that's 2 clients gone in one day - about 30 - 40% of my income. I sat on the train all the way back brooding, with two uniformed police officers opposite me and a bearded lady to my left (I'm not making this up).

When I got back to the studio I was told that another of my main clients has just lost most of their contract work. I literally have no fucking idea what I'm going to do next.

I tried to be practical and decided to walk home, buy a couple of cans of beer to relax, and watch a film - just to wind down - rather than literally make myself ill with worry. In the shop, I bought dog food, milk and 4 cans of cheap beer. Behind me in the queue was a man with a small child, I think he was her grandfather.  She was very talkative, and pointed at my basket and said 'look - that man's a drunk'.

I'm now at home, I've already had a couple of really depressing conversations with other designers in the same situation as me - it seems to be the theme for this year already. I'm watching a film about a zombie outbreak in India - it's just far enough away from reality to keep me sane.

Everything is worthless.

Last week I watched a film called 'Frank' based on a book by Jon Ronson about the musician, Frank Sidebottom. I enjoyed it so much I decided to buy the book - it had been serialised on the radio but I didn't catch very episode. I tried Waterstones' and another independent - happy to pay full price (it's only a year old) but with no luck, I tried the charity shops and book exchange - again, no luck. In the end I looked online - I loathe Amazon - but it was an easy place to start. The book was available for everything from £10.00 to 1p. That's the price for a new copy in hard back. 1p. How can a book seriously be worth just 1p. After 10 mins agonising about the ethics, I bought it - having realised that essentially - it's all I could afford.

So - that's a really good book by a well know writer, less than a year old, that was made into a major film, hardback - with a nice cover, brand new, delivered to my house, for 1p. Where is the logic in that? How does anyone earn a living in this world?

I had to listen to David Cameron on the radio earlier - smarming his way through a very sycophantic interview. The next 'big idea' is to cap benefits for the very small number of people that have more than 5 children - a bit like social engineering - possibly to encourage them to smother their children. He thinks the parents should get a job - which is going to be difficult with 5 kids. The savings are probably enough to keep Whitehall in toilet paper for a month.

This Indian Zombie film is actually pretty good.

ps. after the the depressing email and about an hour and a half of deep thought - I sent back an angry reply that will 100% guarantee that they never work with me again.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Monday

Slightly warmer today - due to get colder. The weekend, Saturday in particular, was immeasurably improved by a big increase in sunlight, and an equal improvement in my mood, actually found myself feeling quite happy for a change.

Worked on Friday - only went in for a 10 minute meeting in the morning and was there until 9pm, and all day Sunday - putting together a pitch for a job in Europe that we probably won't get - and is being paid in Euros - which, after today's Greek Election result, will probably crash to junk status and we'll end up paying them for the privilege of working for them.

I'm in the office now - waiting to go to a meeting later (more painful attempts to procure work) and then working on a couple of random things - possibly until quite late, and possibly at home.

Last week I was lucky enough to catch the film Headhunters on iPlayer - Norwegian thriller set in the worlds of corporate recruitment and art theft - sounds terrible, but it's FANTASTIC, the kind of film Hollywood doesn't have the balls or brains to produce - as they assume we are all too stupid to follow even the most basic plot. If you like 'The Usual Suspects', David Fincher's 'The Game' or the clever double cross of Fight Club - you will enjoy this - here's a link to the iPlayer stream.

Also watched 'Night Must Fall' on C4 - the film about the documentary made after the liberation of the concentration camps that was deemed impossible to show at the time. Deeply upsetting and humbling stuff.

Finally got round to taking the Xmas lights down - left me with a dead, hollow feeling - 2015 looks rubbish, have had exactly the same conversation with a host of people in my industry who are at the point of giving up and walking away while they still can. I'm clinging on with my fingertips.

Cut all my hair off at the weekend, got bored with waiting for the barber to be open when I needed it. I actually feel a bit sorry for him, a new barbers is about to open directly opposite him, with quite a bit more investment - he'll be able to stand in the window watching people pile into his competitors. Not a great feeling.


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Thursday

Today  

I am waiting for a client to call so I can have a detailed and difficult conversation about something they have done wrong - yeah... REALLY looking forward to that one. Also another call about a difficult piece of work that's going to end up as a phenomenal ego clash very quickly.

Last night I watched the drama /doc about the broadcast of the Eichmann trial - I really enjoyed it, I thought it was phenomenal television and very well acted, written, produced and directed. It was beautifully paced and pitched. Of course, most of the reviews I read hated it - with most critics going to great lengths to say why they thought it was wrong and how they would have done it. That's pretty much what I've always suspected about critics, frustrated at their own lack of success they bash anyone else's and just wrap it up in big words to try and make it sound clever. - which leads me to...

Woolf Hall

Loved it, really great piece of television drama. Beautifully paced, didn't feel as if it had been chopped up into tiny parcels of 10 min so that the overseas sales could accommodate advertising, wonderful acting and casting, characters actually seemed to be thinking about what they were saying rather than rattling it all off like amateur dramatics and bad Shakespear, and I loved the sound of birdsong all the way through - London was a collection of villages after all - it felt just right. I thought the domestic scenes were natural and believable, and the controlled pace matched a world without instant communication or the printed word - messages from 'the emperor' would have taken weeks, it felt just right. Of course - according to the critics, I'm totally wrong about everything.

It's colder inside this house than it is outside. That happens about half way through the winter - and it takes half the summer to warm up again. Never buy a north facing house.

Tomorrow I'll be in-house helping put together a proposal and talking through some potential work - I'm not feeling very optimistic about it.

Page Three.

Told you so.

Seriously - don't know what they are thinking, massively pissing off the whole media, including their News International stablemates and making a lot of people look foolish, inciting the fury all the activists who thought they had actually won, and backing away from something that had received pretty much universal praise. The Sun is a nasty rag - always was, always will be.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Wednesday

There is a play on the radio - part of a series about crime in Britain during the 50's and 60's. It stars Ross Kemp - that's all we need to know - I had to turn it off.

I've installed software onto all my computers designed to identify and correct / prompt all my spelling and grammatical errors. Something I should have done years ago - but I was trying to soldier through, actually - It's very good - but at first - the constant chastisement and hectoring tone really put me off. I didn't realise I was so illiterate.

On Friday - I'm working with another consultancy to try and put together a pitch proposal for a medium sized piece of work. The open brief and call for entries is so staggeringly poor that it's almost impossible and will take the whole day, I'm not looking forward to it.

I was in a particularly grim mood earlier,  looking at my empty inbox wondering where it all went wrong and how did I manage to fuck up so badly (please excuse the random and slightly hysterical episode of self-pity), and then I was reminded for some reason of the father of a girl I went to school with. They were posh, middle class, stuck up and snooty, they had money and all the nice things in life. They were also 'big' in my local Catholic church. And then one day he got arrested and sent to prison. Apparently he worked for the local authority in some capacity or other and had for many years been taking huge back-handers to allow rancid meat to be passed as fit for consumption and then distributed to school, hospitals and old peoples homes. Well, I'm pleased to say that I've never fucked up 'that' much.

It's cold, about one degree above 'snow' cold - which isn't as nice as it sounds.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Complete waste of a day.

I’d already set myself up for being in London all day - so trying to salvage anything from today was a waste of time. Work not being regular has also messed up my sleeping patterns and that really bothers me. Additionally, I may have fed the dogs twice by mistake.

Today’s snow lasted until about noon, now it’s just cold, damp and grim.

Reading today that The Sun is ‘probably’ ditching page 3 topless girls. ‘Probably’ - because although filtering them out for some time - there hasn’t actually been any confirmation - so I kinda expect a ‘triumphant’ return at some point when sales flag or someone needs exposure - and besides, they are still printing semi-porn. I wouldn’t really call it a victory of any sort, more of a token, and I have a feeling that Murdoch has lead worked out a strategy for long term profitability on this one.

Had a chat yesterday with one of the independent retailers in town, apart from business being really terrible for everyone, some thoughtless fool has triggered a series of events that may well end up with several well know independent stores closing, I really wish I could say more - just trust me, some people really should think before they act - and not put their own interests first.

Someone has bought the public toilets on the edge of the harbour o the seafront and is turning them into a gift shop and cafe, it’s actually a really nice building, and good luck to them - but there are already the murmurs of small town discontent.


I’m watching an old British film, someone has just walked across the road in front of The Old Bailey and straight into Peter Jones - Sloane Square. That’s annoying.