The morning had brought some good news, via email naturally, releasing me from a hideous one month contract of writing impossible bureaucratese for a client whose acquaintance with the English language ended, or began, I’m not sure which, with ‘digital contact points’, which they shorten to DCP, because everyone knows what they are, of course. They have acronyms in every paragraph and they capitalise words to give them more importance. Goodbye.
Then the telephone had rung. Yes, some people still ring you up. The person ringing me up was an old work acquaintance of the nice kind, wanting to know if I was free on Monday for a month. That was like losing the wicked witch and gaining Snow White.
Later, finishing a morning’s business in the city, I had ridden the escalator down into Melbourne Central Station under a backlit sign advertising Earth Hour. They were all over town. Electric signs telling people to turn off their lights for sixty minutes on Saturday night to save electricity. Nuts. Imagine the conversation at the agency:
MEDIA BUYER: We’ve come up with a media plan targeting commuters and city professionals, with neon signs in all major loop stations to get Earth Hour out there to the greatest possible numbers.*
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: How do they work?
PRODUCTION GUY: They’re backlit, providing greater noticeability.
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE (SPLURTS HIS SINGLE ESTATE ESPRESSO COFFEE): Backlit?!?
ART DIRECTOR: Yes. How do you think people will see them if we don’t light them?
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: But we’re trying to tell people not to use electricity.
PRODUCTION GUY: These signs are very efficient. Thousands of people see them. We use a little to save a lot. If we get half a million people to turn off a single bulb on Saturday night and have them agonise in sheer darkness for an hour before resuming their Agatha Christie and trying not to forget the plot or trip over the dog, we’ll have saved enough energy to almost recoup the cost of the power used in the campaign.
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Almost?!?
PRODUCTION GUY: Well, who’s counting. It’s all about the message, not the volts or amps or whatever the hell they measure the stuff in.
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Sounds like spin to me.
ART DIRECTOR: Well, you’d know. Anyway, who the hell cares? Research shows that most people who turn off their lights will watch TV instead.
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Ridiculous. TVs use more energy. How am I going to sell this to Earth Hour?
PRODUCTION GUY: Tell them the signs are solar powered.
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE (A SNEER CURLING HIS LIP): In the underground rail loop.
ART DIRECTOR: Why not? There are wires. It’s been a nice summer.
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: This is nuts.
MANAGING DIRECTOR: Not it’s not. It’s a multimillion dollar account.
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: I thought it was pro bono.
MANAGING DIRECTOR: It’s always nice to sacrifice a little income for a lot of publicity.
ALL EXIT TO LUNCH AT DOYLE’S, OUTSIDE OF COURSE. IT WAS A NICE DAY.
Something like that. The world is nuts. Now it was nine o’clock on Friday night and the table was a mess of children’s leftovers and I hadn’t eaten. Easy. I boiled some tortiglioni (ridged rigatoni), drained it and added the plate of leftover plain-boiled vegetables (potato, carrot, broccoli), added the last of the home-made pesto (pecans, olive oil, parmesan, garlic clove, two handfuls of basil from the garden, salt, pepper), tossed through a tablespoon of Greek yogurt, swirled it around and topped it with a dusting of parmesan, and a couple of basil leaves. Delicious. Some of the things that work best are the ones you just make up as you go along.