Thursday, 18 June 2009

Brightening up a dull train journey

Every day I spend an hour and a half on one of these trains along with lots and lots of middle-aged, blue-suited, daily mail-reading conservative businessmen. Sometimes I imagine what each of them really think about their wives and colleagues.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

PLAY football

Roger Spry has spent the last 25 years in 18 different countries as a conditioning coach, working with players like Portuguese internationals Luis Figo and Deco. Here is an extract from a BBC interview.

"English football traditionally has always been based on athletics, we are taught to be athletically and physically strong.

"But in Portugal and South America, the game is based on dance-like movements.
"They emphasise creativity, physical agility and dexterity and above all the ability to disguise.

"I work on a combination of fitness, agility, mobility, with and without the ball - call it technical conditioning."

The pursuit for the missing component has taken him to Portugal and Brazil, where he learned the 'Joga Bonita' philosophy was based around a martial art banned by the Brazilian government.

Capoeira is a 'fight-dance' martial art which was practised by enslaved Africans transported over to Brazil by the Portuguese in the 19th century.

The movements rely on surprise and improvisation, two integral traits of the Brazilian football philosophy.

"I would say 99% of Brazilian players's movements are based on Capoeria," said Spry, a fluent Portuguese speaker.

"Players are taught them as a part of their coaching curriculum, using these skills to read their opponent's movements.

"That is what Cristiano Ronaldo or Figo will do.

"These guys are very difficult to read because they never do the same thing twice. All their moves are based in their opponent's initial response to their first movements."

"It's like teaching someone to write - you teach them the alphabet but what they write is down to their creativity."

"We are more interested at winning at a young age, we must get out of this mentality," said Spry.

"You see it at six, young kids playing with parents and coaches screaming at them, the kids are terrified. There are none of those pressures on Portuguese or Brazilian players.

"They are more interested in development. They have a wonderful saying in Portuguese - when you start playing football, the word is play football and you don't spell play 'WORK'.

"Football is freedom and expression, joy - it is a spiritual experience with your friends whether you are playing with or against them."

Steve Henry on mischievousness

I reckon most of the great breakthroughs in the modern creative world have a sense of mischief about them - whether it's the early Beatles, or Malcolm McLaren with the Sex pistols. Damien Hirst's titles have got a sense of cheekiness about them, Gilbert and George are nearly always having a laugh. The Surrealists were poking fun at everything. Hollywood in the Golden Age was a bunch of kids making it up as they went along.

It's because if you're going to stand out, you've got to break the rules, and the people who do that tend to have a sense of mischief about them. Life is always like that. Think back to your school days.

The people who were obeying the rules were po-faced and serious, the people who were breaking the rules had a cheeky grin.
Look at the Gherkin. Fucking awesome - but it's just very FUNNY, as well.

It's doubly true in advertising - because only an idiot would take advertising seriously. I reckon most of Crispin Porter's work has got that sense of mischief about it. The "Burger Virgins" idea for Burger King has it in spades.

Most of HHCL's work was inspired by the idea of breaking the rules and having fun doing it. Look at the whole idea behind Blackcurrant Tango - make a 90-second epic about a letter of complaint.

I reckon the surest sign of success in any creative venture is the faint sound of a couple of people sniggering in the background.


Extract from the diary of Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willet Gonin DSO who was amongst the first British soldiers to arrive at the Nazi Death camp Bergen-Belsen. it was liberated in April 1945 close to the end of the second World War.

"It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived.
This was not at all what men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things and I don't know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did it, it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance.
I believe nothing did more for those internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the post mortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick.
At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity."

A sad sight

I was on holiday and saw this recently at the Eden Project. Is this a sign that could go above your agency?

Fun Invention

When the Beatles stopped having fun.

For millions of Beatles fans, it was a painful chronicle of the disintegration of the band they worshipped.

Shown briefly in cinemas in 1970, the documentary Let It Be laid bare the antipathy which consumed the world's biggest pop group.

McCartney always felt it showed how the interference of Yoko Ono led to the break-up of the band, with the rest of the group ganging up on him. Lennon and Harrison, on the other hand, loathed the film - and always blocked plans for its reissue.

'John and George hated the film, which is why it's been hidden away all these years. Lennon used to describe it as "a project set up by Paul, for Paul".'

McCartney, however, believed at the time that Let It Be could help recapture the joy of the group's early years.

The documentary was filmed over one month in early 1969.

But, as enthusiasm for the project evaporated, the original idea of filming in exotic locations such as the Sahara was downgraded to shooting at the atmosphere-free Twickenham Film Studios.
When the four decided they could not face playing a proper concert for the finale, they instead performed live on the roof of the Apple offices in Central London.

By the time the documentary was released in May 1970 the party was over. McCartney had already announced he would never work with the Beatles again.

Those who saw the film were left in no doubt why they had split up - they simply did not get on any more.

Some felt the continual presence in the studio of radical Japanese artist Yoko Ono, Lennon's then girlfriend, showed the Fab Four turning into the Fab Five.

Lennon said later: 'It was hell making Let It Be - the most miserable session on Earth. It was just a dreadful, dreadful feeling being filmed all the time.'

Harrison said: ' It was a very difficult, stressful time and being filmed having a row with Paul was terrible. I thought, "I'm not doing this any more. I'm out of here". I got my guitar and went home.'