Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Happy Christmas from all at Bravo Enterprises!

We open on a single snowflake, drifting gently through a night sky to land on the upturned nose of a child, wearing a bobble hat. Holding a puppy. The music tinkles in: a baby-voiced woman whispers a melancholy cover of Wombling Merry Christmas, at a third of the speed of the original. There are some pan pipes in the background, and the whistling of a winter breeze through some pine branches on a distant hilltop.

Cut to a bevvy of slow-motion women in sequinned cocktail dresses, laughing into each other's hair as they put on lipstick for the office party and open secret Santa presents, all of which turn out to be a loofah set. They are very happy with the loofah sets, and laugh into each other's hair some more. Outside the window, a train travels past. The snow is now thick as a duvet, and yet it is not delayed. It is not First Great Western or First Capital Connect, but a special variety of First Festive Express with nostalgic slam doors and velvet curtains and a toilet that smells of cinnamon whirls.

Cut to the North Pole, where Mrs Claus has been working very, very hard to make Christmas magical for her apparently incapacitated husband and family. Santa and the elves smile vacantly from the sofa while she whirls around in a tinsel haze, prepping sprouts and making nativity costumes and buying the right girdle for Granny and icing the cake and finding the spare batteries and de-icing the car and giving Dasher his antler medication and wrestling a polar bear for the last orange-centered Christmas pudding at the Lapland Superstore, because as we all know, only Mums can do these things without risking serious physical harm. Good old Mums!

Shortly afterwards Mrs Claus will neck a bottle of cooking sherry and slump in a miserable heap under the weight of society's sexist expectation - but it's ok because the advert will be over by then and she can cheer herself up with a nice bit of sale shopping.

Cut to a black forest gateau the size of a paddling pool, over which Olly Murs and someone from TOWIE hold hands and sway, as a Nolan sister plays piano, sitting in the centre of an enormous king prawn ring. Underneath the buffet table, a Furby and a Bratz doll have fallen in love.

The child from earlier arrives at the party, creating a sense of narrative cohesion. The snowflake has melted, but we know it is the same child because the puppy is now wearing the bobble hat. One of the sparkling, laughing ladies puts down their loofah set and scoops the child up in her arms, so that it can place the star on top of the Christmas tree. The Festive Express races past the window, this time drawn incongruously by reindeer. One of the reindeer winks at the puppy. The words [insert heartwarming message] appear on screen, then some small print explaining all items are non-returnable and may cause choking.

Fade out.


Are you weeping yet? Good.

In which I twhinge

This weekend, I tweeted Wandsworth Council to complain about the organisation of the Battersea Park fireworks display.

I’d like to pretend that it was an uncharacteristic move, borne out of sleep-deprivation, frustration at having to collect pre-booked tickets from the park before noon on the day of the fireworks, and perhaps a touch of over-excitement because frankly, I love fireworks more than most things in life.

I could pretend that, but I know in my heart (and also my brain) that the weekend before, I tweeted Natwest to complain about their shoddy customer service. While I was still in Natwest. I once tweeted Eat to complain that staff had forgotten the puff pastry top to my chicken soup, then discovered it sodden inside the pot. And complained some more.

I never used to be a complainer, mind. I’ve been an enthusiastic tutter and sigher for years, but it’s only recently that I’ve started channeling my dissatisfaction into something more productive. They say it’s never to late to take up a new hobby, and I’m happy to have found a pastime that is both calorie-burning and committed to the greater good.

It’s also a undeniable sign that I am becoming my mother, who once phoned up Baxter’s soup to complain about getting the wrong soup in her can and received £4 in compensation vouchers. “It was my son’s favourite,” she told them. “He’s very disappointed.” The son was 18.

The problem, of course, is that official complaining is so much quicker and easier than it used to be. Twenty years ago, doing a complaint also involved finding a pen, or dialing a number, possibly referring to a Filofax or angrily operating a Photostat machine, by the end of which your anger had probably melted away into just feeling slightly peckish, and all would be calm again.

Now, social media has opened up super express highways for complaining. We can eat an unsatisfactory croissant, receive bad customer service and whinge about it on Twitter before we’ve even wiped the sleep from our eyes. What’s more, we can do it publicly, like ringing a great big bell in the town square and yelling “Hear ye, hear ye! I only got three prawns in my sandwich and M&S are doing DIDDLY SQUAT about it.”

The good thing about all this digital disgruntledness, of course, is that it gives brands the chance to be brilliant back. The brilliant Bodyform video response to a snarky male Facebook commenter, for example, or o2 getting down wiv da kids when replying to ragey messages.

Wandsworth Council, by the way, never replied. But it must be said the fireworks were grand.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Skyfall snoozegate

What did we all think of Skyfall, then? Skyfall! New Bond! Ooh, the explosions! The cars! The shooting! The women, doing shooting! Scary Javier Bardem! Lovely Judi Dench!

Actually I can’t fake it anymore. You’ve wheedled it out of me, blasted watercooler enthusiasm. I fell asleep.

In my defense are the following points: 1) I have never managed to stay awake through a Bond film, so had very little point of reference for this one. Pretty much all I know is the shooting, the ladies, the cars and the fact that every so often he regenerates into a different man, leading me to assume Bond is part Timelord.

2) That Adele song really is very soothing. 3) I’d had a moderately rich Ben and Jerry’s first.

4) Not to go all Hipster Victorian on you, but massive, implausible CGI action sequences just leave me cold. Well done on your clever computing and that, but I’m the girl who preferred the old The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe from 1988, where Aslan looked like a giant talking shoebrush. I like a little authenticity. As soon as anyone in a film has hung by their fingertips from a speeding anything and not immediately died, you have lost me.

5) I don’t particularly fancy Daniel Craig. I’m sure he’s a lovely man, and he’s certainly very good at doing The Exercise and getting The Muscles – but frankly, I like my powerful, world-saving male heroes to have a higher gawk factor (see: earlier Doctor Who reference).

6) It was warm. 7) It was after 8pm. 8) I was sitting down.

In case Sam Mendes is reading this and on the verge of snotty tears, I’d like to stress that these last three are definitely the main factors in Skyfall Snoozegate. I’d say I’ve been semi-conscious for about 37 per cent of all the films I’ve ever watched. High profile releases I’ve napped through include The Notebook, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, The Third Man, Casablanca, Withnail and I and at least half of the Harry Potters.

The most expensive nap I’ve ever had was during the 2008 remake of The Women, which I saw in Leicester Square at the princely sum of £11 WITH student discount – though judging by the 15 minutes of action I saw before The Land of Zs beckoned, I didn’t waste a penny.

My cinema sleepytimes aren’t dependent on quality of movie, however. More on the quality of seating, and whether or not there’s a High Inquisitor sat near me (“Who’s that? What’s she doing? Is he doing to die?”) that requires politely smothering with my coat/pillow first.

So it was no slight on you, Mr Bond. Or you, Judi. Or any of you, clever special effects folks, or you, lighting guys, or you, Daniel Craig’s official abs sculptor. Jolly good job, all of you. And I can say that with enthusiasm, because I’m feeling terribly well rested.