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.'

Smashing a banana with liquid nitrogen

How many people remember the chemistry lesson where you learned to calculate moles? How many people remember the chemistry lesson where you learned about the properties of liquid nitrogen? Which lesson was more fun?

You know they had a laugh making this

This is an example of a something that you know, you just know, that they had a laugh making. Which goes on to become part of its attraction.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


“Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.”

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”

“With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.”


8 irresistable principles of fun



Wasting time (six reasons why you should)

It’s hard to waste time these days.

I’m not talking “being busy doing work that’s actually, when you think about it, a waste of time” … that’s WAY too easy (and part of what you have to say ‘No’ to so you can say ‘Yes’ to Great Work).

I’m talking about doing things for the joy of it, just because it’s fun and creative and playful. Or just because you want to.

Why bother?

1. It’s indulgent, a small luxury

2. It increases your capacity to problem-solve and be creative

3. It’s not a should/must/have to

4. It makes you smile, makes you happy.

5. It’s practice saying Yes to something for you

6. It helps you suspend the “Is this good? Does this suck?” double-punch question that we beat ourselves up with. (Lynda Barry’s latest book What It Is explores this brilliantly).

Courtesy of Box Of Crayons

Whistle why you work.


Why do we grow out of having fun?

For most people, having fun involves doing something other than work, something that relieves stress or appeals to your inner child: playing golf, camping, going to the theater, dancing, playing with your pet, going out to dinner, even carving a pumpkin for Halloween would all qualify as “fun.”

Between careers, kids, families and other obligations, though, many people push aside fun as something that can be done later, after all of the “important” things are finished. Well, we’d like to suggest that having fun is one of the most important things you can do with your life, as according to an article in the Early Childhood Education Journal, adults need play to:

  • Satisfy a developmental need to experience your own creativity through self-expression.
  • Relax and experience competence, power and concentration
  • Experience a healing activity
  • Have fun and reduce stress
  • Learn through playing with the possibilities, being flexible, staying loose when things go wrong, being curious, thinking creatively and problem solving
  • Take initiative, make choices among possibilities, and act and interact

“Everyone is born with the natural ability to have fun. However, most of us lose touch with this natural ability as we mature into adulthood,” says Hale Dwoskin, CEO and director of training of Sedona Training Associates. “The access to this natural ability is based on two main things. The fact that children have fewer responsibilities and that children have not yet identified with or centered their lives around their “stories” -- their identities. Children live in the now and naturally let go. This results in the ability to have lots of fun with great ease. It is critical for adults to have fun as well, as this reminds us of that beautiful child within.”

Read the rest at