Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

12.2.16

Pigeon Post.

Yet again we delve back into the archives of Kitchen Hand's head, from his ongoing life as a copywriter in advertising. Every one of these stories is 100% true and accurate, even the slightly exaggerated ones. Only the names have changed. Reminder: language warning, but no worse than in every agency - or construction site for that matter - across the land.

*

Another morning in the advertising agency. Another awards night over. Another trophy in the cabinet. Another lost night. Another hangover. Another growing feeling of dread about what happened, where it happened, and who it happened to. Another hamburger with the lot from the café over the road, cooked to order on the greasiest part of the grill to soak up as much brain-soothing fat as possible.

Another account service person walks into Leopard's office without knocking. Leopard is the creative director whose name was Leonard until he got into advertising. Thinking his name a little tame for a creative director, he employed the now hackneyed technique of changing one letter, moving the 'n' two letters down the alphabet.

TONY: Debrief on the CEO empowerment campaign in the boardroom in half an hour.

LEOPARD (DOESN'T TURN AROUND TO FACE TONY): Are you talking to me or reading your diary out loud in the personal space of my office?

TONY (SNAPS HIS DIARY SHUT): Both, actually.

LEOPARD: Then fuck off. And how about 'Good morning, Leopard, how was your night?'

TONY: Good morning Leopard, how was your night.

LEOPARD: You didn't mean that. Go away and come back again and say it sincerely.

TONY: What is this, fucking acting school? I'm not Take Five in one of your pretentious TV commercials, you know, Leopard.

LEOPARD: No. You're a bag carrier, Tony. You're a lot further down the food chain than an actor. Why don't you just send an email or a meeting reminder or something. Like everyone else does.

TONY: Because no-one ever turns up to meetings set up by email.

LEOPARD: That could only be a good thing, Tony. Meetings are mankind's single greatest waste of time after Facebook and bureaucrats, perhaps not in that order.

TONY: This one will be short.

LEOPARD: You say that every time, Tony.

LATER, IN THE BOARDROOM.

ROBERT (CLIENT): In short, we loved the concept for the DM campaign (direct marketing, known to the public as 'junk mail'). We loved the way you open the three-dimensional carton, and we loved the outer teaser that read "Are you pulling enough strings in your organisation?", and we loved the way when you peeled that off, it revealed a piece of interactive string with two words that read "Pull here to make your ideas fly", and we loved it when we pulled the string and the pigeon flew out.

LEOPARD (NODS CURTLY): Go on.

ROBERT (CLIENT): It flew around the room, and then it sat on top of the power point screen and it fouled the ledge where you put the pens and the remote control, but we still loved it!

We're just worried about the legality of using real live pigeons.

TONY: Leopard's done his research, as always, Robert; and he assures us we will use only carrier pigeons used to being transported and released, so that once you let them go they will fly straight back to their abodes or nests or boxes or whatever you call them. They cannot possibly come to any harm. Isn't that right, Leopard?

LEOPARD (YAWNS): Yep. Plus they're only fucking pigeons for Christ's sake. Take a look outside. There's a million of them playing in the traffic and shitting on the buildings. More heritage buildings in Europe are destroyed by pigeon shit than were bombed in world war two. Rats of the air, they call them. And anyway, we should be eating them. Pigeon pie. You'd save a million chickens from life as battery hens. So don't worry about their welfare.

ROBERT (CHOOSING HIS WORDS CAREFULLY): I'm not worried about their welfare, as such, Leopard, I just don't want a hundred worldwide animal rights activist organisations up in arms when we launch the campaign.

LEOPARD: What are they going to say? Homing pigeons used as homing pigeons? Birds made to fly? Attempted pigeocide?

TONY GUFFAWS BUT QUICKLY CONTROLS HIMSELF.

ROBERT: No, just the initial confinement.

LEOPARD (PATIENTLY): Robert, they have been hired from a pigeon fancier society, who has approved the program, the treatment of the birds, and the size of the vented box. They are being packed and despatched on the same day, and couriered direct to each of one hundred leading names on your database - all in one city - and delivered personally to the name on the pack.

ROBERT: What if they're not opened on the spot?

LEOPARD: The courier is instructed to personally hand over the pack to the CEO with instructions to open it immediately, preferably in the open air, or to return it to the depot where the pack will be opened, the pigeon restored to its temporary travelling cage and re-sent the next day.

ROBERT: You seem to have everything covered.

LATER THAT WEEK.

TONY (IN LEOPARD'S OFFICE): Well, we did a good job convincing Robert and the campaign flies today. Literally.

LEOPARD: I do the puns around here, Tony. Did you put me on the database so I can see first-hand that it works?

TONY: Yes. And myself. I just rang home. The pack had been delivered, and my wife released the pigeon and it's already been registered as having arrived back at its homing place. Worked perfectly.

THAT NIGHT, ABOUT 8PM. LEOPARD'S CAR PURRS INTO A GRAVELLED DRIVEWAY. HE GOES TO THE FRONT DOOR, FIDDLES WITH A KEY, STEPS INSIDE AND IS GREETED BY HIS WIFE, TIGER.

LEOPARD: Hi honey. How was your day? By the way, a large parcel should have arrived. Did you see it?

TIGER: Yes. Junk mail. I wish you'd put a sign on the letterbox.

LEOPARD (TURNS TO HER): It should have come to the door. It was one of my campaigns. I work in the business, as I've told you many times.

TIGER: It did come to the door. Still junk mail though. I opened it in the lounge room.

PAUSE.

LEOPARD: Yes?

TIGER: The door was closed.

LEOPARD: And?

TIGER: The cat was in the room too.

LONGER PAUSE THIS TIME.

LEOPARD: Oh no. Every pigeon was pre-identified by its addressee. Did the cat ...

TIGER: I'm afraid so. It took me all afternoon to clean up the carpet.

LEOPARD IS AGAPE. IN THE SILENCE, A SOFT GREY FEATHER FLUTTERS TO THE CARPET FROM THE CHANDELIER.

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