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My Award-Winning Blog Joy April 3, 2012

Posted by markswill in Media, Politics, Schmolitics, That's Entertainment.
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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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Comments»

1. julesbollocks - April 3, 2012

maybe the sausage won its award in local business innovation.

and have I mentioned that readers can spend a weekend in Mark’s rural shoes [not the nice red suede ones we only see him wear when he’s off to london] by attending the fabulous [award winning] international music festival known as Sheep Music [tickets £60] July 20-23. goto sheepmusicfestival.com

markswill - April 3, 2012

Note Jules’s shameless hi-jacking of my weighty social commentary for his own getting-down-with-the-kidzzzzz rockaboogie promotion. He clearly deserves some kind of award for piracy.

2. noel - April 3, 2012

The first thing I checked was the date
hmmm not the 1st of the month

Ok lets see what my friend google can find

The first two entries took me to a certain blog ……..

Then it was Teresa Mays home page.
Wow, Im so deeply into politics these days, I didnt remember she was Home Sec. or is that just a memory issue ……

Anyway having checked her hot news back to the previous century, I feel inclined to call you out.

While Im obviously impressed at the title of your recent award, Im a little puzzled as to its progeny.

Noel

award winning gravel heap organiser for Royston Veysey 1977-78

3. andie mcgrath - April 3, 2012

not so long ago tesco decided to open one of their charming express stores in my neighbourhood (wimbledon chase). they seemed not to care that the locals were more than happy with the co-op that had been there for many years, and nor were they bothered about the concerns some of the older residents had over the relocation of the bus stop to make way for a special tesco delivery truck parking bay. in fact any concerns the local residents had were completely ignored by the local council, one can only guess what machinations were at work behind ther scenes. and so one fine day last year the evening before the tesco express opened one local took it upon themselves to express their displeasure by lobbing a brick through their window. no matter – a glazier was soon dispatched to correct this wanton act of vandalism. unfortunately a short while later the vandal/s struck again – 2 windows this time were taken out, again it was repaired. and again they were destroyed. the final time it happened tescos decided against repairing it straight away, and for quite some time it stood like this . alas this campaign against the man fizzled out, and the tescos still trades, but for a few brief weeks back in late summer last year i don’t think i’ve ever been so proud of being british.

markswill - April 4, 2012

And with good reason, Andie. But I’m afraid it’s too easy to forget that many folks in these wretched times we live in feel that they have to shop at Tesco for economic reasons… even if many, many of their so-called price advantages in fact, aren’t.

4. andie mcgrath - April 3, 2012
5. Clare - April 4, 2012

liked the ‘award winner’ but also like Daisy Waugh- she has the talent in her genes, leave her alone!

markswill - April 4, 2012

Daisy Waugh? Where did she figure in my carefully measured critique of the Awards Culture? Or anywhere else for that matter? Perhaps you’ve been watching too many movies, Clare.

6. John Rushworth - April 4, 2012

I look forward to you ‘regaining a sense of local pride’. And with the ‘implausible nature of a local honor’, as you spell it – I wonder does this mean deliberate sarcasm is still well and truly alive?

markswill - April 4, 2012

Yes! And also that the latest MS Word spellchecker corrects things without even telling you… in American-ese of course.

7. Hed Maginnis - April 4, 2012

There’s the faintest whiff of optimisim here. Is everything ok?

markswill - April 4, 2012

It’s just a temporary blip Hed: I didn’t have any booze yesterday. Normal service will be resumed after I get back from the pub tonight.

Hed Maginnis - April 4, 2012

Cool, watch the mood swings they can be a bit of a bastard.

markswill - April 4, 2012

Yeah, the mood swings can be a bit of a bugger, but I find a bottle of vodka a day and a few swifties down the pub of an evening tend to even things out.

8. paulblez - April 4, 2012

MW: “Yeah, the mood swings can be a bit of a bugger, but I find a bottle of vodka a day and a few swifties down the pub of an evening tend to even things out.”

That comment brings to mind your fellow-Welshman Richard Burton, Mark, whom I watched last night very late in a re-screened old interview. Still looking good and sounding fantastic he said, with all apparent seriousness, something along the lines of “I’m not sure that I ever really was an alcoholic but a friend persuaded me to see a doctor and have some tests when he noticed that I had got through 4 bottles of the hard stuff in a single day; when the (anonymous) tests came back the doctor said “If this person doesn’t stop drinking at this rate he’ll be dead within a fortnight”. He went on to say that his experience of meeting people dying of cirrhosis of the liver should be enough to put anyone off drinking too much….but I don’t think it did, since he was diagnosed with cirrhosis himself and died at 58 (albeit from a brain tumour). Who would have predicted that Liz Taylor would live to be nearly 80 and out-live him by 27 years? Then again, who would have predicted that you would live longer than Burton?! 😉

9. Norman and Doreen Barker - April 4, 2012

As an ex pow of the Japanese, an amputee and primary caregiver to my invalid mother and living on a very limited budget I have no choice when it comes to Tescos or our corner shop when shopping.
Mr Patak refuses to stock our preffered brand of Maxi Pads in the jumbo pack size we require so we have no alternative but to take the motorcycle and sidecar up the motorway up to Tescos in Orpington and load up.
And I’m quite sure we are not the only pensioner members of our chapels congregation that do so.

markswill - April 4, 2012

Nice try Bazzer, but the Orpington Tescos doesn’t stock adult incontinence pads: I know, because I’ve tried ’em. How’s young Norman’s ‘personality problem’ by the way? Is he still under police curfew?

Norman and Doreen Barker - April 4, 2012

Happily because of his voyeurism and means of gratification, Normans curfew like your own is only in place during the hours of darkness.

10. Marie Rice - April 11, 2012

Many years ago when I was working in Israel I met a young American guy who funded his trip around the world by writing to every restaurant in America telling them that they had been chosen as restaurant of the year by his ‘dining club’ and if they would like a plaque to commemorate this honour to send him one dollar. Several thousand did. I always thought this was such a cool scam that I would do it myself one day, but haven’t to date.

markswill - April 11, 2012

Wish I’d thought of that, too. Gives guerilla commerce a good name.

11. andy tribble - April 11, 2012

I’m all in favour of awards. Only time your boss pays for you to go out and fraternise/fight with/flirt with the competition once a year. Also a chance to wear evening dress, which is a big laugh, but you must own it, never hire it, get it from a charity shop. And the girls always look lovely. A friend who works for the UK Press Gazette told me that the annual awards (before they stopped) generated the vital profit that kept the mag going for the rest of the year.


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