My Award-Winning Blog Joy April 3, 2012Posted by markswill in Media, Politics, Schmolitics, That's Entertainment.
For my sins, once a month I physically distribute to shops, libraries, pubs and cafes the free local listings magazine for which I am, ahem, film critic. I used to kid myself that the few quid I get paid for this were adequate compensation for the brilliant (if unpaid) reviews of movies I pay good money to go and see, but with unleaded at 150p a litre and my big, fat Citruin proving just about the thirstiest car I’ve ever owned, that’s become a bit of a joke. Still, when the weather’s nice it’s a joy to swoop through the Marches and drop off bundles of mags to folk who are generally pleased to see it and have a brief chat, even if my day’s work yields about tuppence profit. And of course I can boast to any of my industry peers who’ll listen that unlike them with their media studies degree and secretaries called Felicity, I’m experienced in every part of the publishing process.
Last month on my rounds I was striding through one small town when I saw in its sole remaining butchers a handwritten sign proclaiming its ‘Award Winning Sausages’. Now me, I like a nice sausage from time to time so I went in, bought half a pound of pork’n’leek bangers, then idly enquired as to who’d made the award. “Local chamber of trade,” came the guileless answer. But having left the shop, I reflected on the implausible nature of a local honour given to an enterprise that essentially had no competition. And then as I blew a few hundred thousand hydrocarbons into the air firing up the mighty Citruin, on the more general absurdity of what I shall christen the ‘awards culture’.
You can’t have escaped noticing that every other company these days trumpets their wares with some kind of award. Waste a few minutes of your precious life with Mr Google and you’ll find dozens if not hundreds of portentously bestowed Texas chili recipes, metric socket sets, computer monitoring software, continental lagers, lingerie shops and, for all I know bomb-making kits and DIY pornstar manuals, any real value they obtain from such accolades surely debased by their sheer numbers?
So personally I pay little or no attention to such trumped-up trifles – unless sausages are involved of course – so I wonder if anyone else does? Years ago, when I was editing and publishing magazines, I did in fact inaugurate a trio of fatuous accolades handed out by the motorcycle magazines I then helmed. With the exception of the International Bike of the Year which genuinely sought the opinions of bike hacks across the globe, the others were determined by my colleagues and staff and geared very much to the manufacturer who the advertising staff reckoned would pay the most for double page spread celebrating their triumph. Or even their Triumph.
I can only assume such cynical maneuvering lies behind most or all of the fatuous honours granted to estate agents, call centre operators and tyre fitters, and also assume that you, too, will regard them with appropriate scepticism. Except of course the Teresa May Digital Halfwits’ Award for Blog of the Month which, by an extraordinary coincidence was most recently won by Mark’s Sparks Will Fly. Let’s see if my numbers, if not my number will be up as a result of this… and the vagaries of Search Engine optimisation?
Meantime some addenda to a few of my much beaten drums.
PADDY – 2 , TESCO – 0 Although the Scottish parliament jettisoned a similar proposal in back in January, Northern Ireland is to increase business rates for retail properties valued at £500,000 or more by 15% which will apparently raise £5million which will be used to reduce rates on struggling smaller shops. Naturally Tesco, Sainsburys et al whined furiously about this, and naturally I think it’s a topping wheeze which, given that NI is part of the UK, might be seen as a more hopeful sign that our wonderful government is finally willing to consider rebalancing the retail landscape than any gimmicky posturing by the likes of Mary ‘Big Knickers’ Portas.
A TOWN WITHOUT MALICE ? If so, it might just possibly have some benefits for our own little town. My regular reader may recall that we recently lost our major employer, a specialist foundry that put too many eggs in an automotive industry basket and hadn’t used their profits to re-tool for when the car makers inevitably adopted new designs and left them with nowhere else to go. Not uncoincidentally, the local HSBC bank followed soon after and I recently spent a few hours at a public ‘Town Regeneration Meeting’ designed to try and stop the rot. But I’m afraid needless to say it was largely a talking shop in which local councilors, our two MPs (UK and Welsh) and lots of consultants in Next casualwear talked shop and made worthily vacuous appeals for we citizens to “regain a sense of local pride” and “get involved”. Quite in what wasn’t made clear, except perhaps in mastering PowerPoint presentations and manning charity shops, but I rather rashly put my name down as a potential volunteer and shall keep you posted.
CHANNELING TAX AVOIDANCE And then there was George Osborne announcing in his recent budget that he’s plugging the VAT loophole exploited by major online retailers like Amazon, Dixons and fleaBay whereby they can avoid or severely reduce VAT on goods posted from subsidiaries in the Channel Islands. This will level the playing field for smaller and even some large online and mail-order outfits that can’t afford or aren’t inclined to cheat the exchequer to the tune of some £140million a year which, although I found almost everything else in the Chancellor’s latest tax grab punitive and socially divisive, is basically a good thing. Except for the outfit I buy my award winning re-cycled ink jet cartridges from.
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