Achieve Real-Time Retaliation Within Two Sweeps of the Radar
Excerpt from the novel The Relatively Constant Copywriter, Northern Writers 1972
The Account Director said: "Aaaarghh, here we are!"
The party disembarked, stretching their cramped limbs; the chauffeur saluted and drove away. All around them empty fields stretched away to the boring horizon, rim of the world, and birds in droves banked high in the watery sky.
"This is the life!" said the Account Executive.
It was impossible to see through the windows into the building because all one could see was the reflection of the sky. Atop the flag-pole the company's flag fluttered and flapped in the stiffish breeze. It was cool but nice.
"What time are we leaving?" asked the Art Director.
Having replenished their lungs with good fresh air the party attempted the short steep climb to the double doors vibrating gently, creaking slightly, from the onslaught of air moving across the flat open fields. Inside sudden warmth enveloped them.
The Copywriter didn't say anything.
The entrance hall consisted of large square smooth slabs grouted with a black
plasticky substance, a gold clock proud of the wall, a semi-circular reception
desk and a grey cube illuminated on all sides by concealed fluorescent tubes.
A small placard bore the caption: Achieve Real-Time Retaliation Within Two
Sweeps of the Radar. It meant nothing to any of them. The uniformed man behind
the desk extended a pen and indicated the company book lying diagonally across
the red leather surface. The Account Director stepped forward ingratiatingly,
signed his name and handed the pen to the Account Executive who did the same,
handing the pen to the Art Director. The Copywriter was the last person to
sign his name in the book.
"Whom do you wish to see, sir?" the man said.
The Account Director's reply was drowned by a sudden deep rumble from somewhere
inside the factory but evidently the man behind the desk understood for he
smiled and picked up the telephone gracefully. Speaking into the instrument
and then listening, then speaking again, he replaced the receiver and smiled
with apparent sincerity.
"Would you care to wait a moment, gentlemen. Mr ------ " another
rumble obliterated the man's name "will be down to collect you presently."
There was nowhere to sit so they stood in an ungainly group chatting intermittently
about the landscape, the uncommon warmth in the entrance hall and what could
have been the cause of the sound, low and menacing, from deep within the works.
The Account Executive cracked a weak joke at which they all laughed gratefully.
After not too long a period a man appeared at the head of the open staircase
and descended rapidly to shake hands with them: Account Director, Account
Executive, Art Director and the Copywriter last of all.
"Did you have a pleasant trip?"
"You're in good time. The manager of XUDepartment is waiting in the
"Aaaarghh good," said the Account Director.
The party followed him up the staircase, along a featureless corridor, past
a series of glass-walled rooms in which serious white-coated men were bending
with intense concentration over chemical apparatus and control panels, down
another featureless corridor, through heavy leather-bound doors that opened
and closed in complete silence, up yet another featureless corridor and finally
through a padded door which gave access to a large light well-ventilated room
featuring a long central table and ten chairs, with a cinema screen and two
revolving blackboards set in the walls. Two men awaited them: the manager
of XUDepartment and his assistant. This made a total of seven: three company
men and four from the agency.
"Did you have a pleasant trip?" the manager of XUDepartment asked.
"These are very nice premises," someone (probably the Account Executive)
"Thank you," the young assistant said. "We have a tremendous
number of PhDs to the square inch." Everyone laughed at this pointless
"Aaaarghh, now then," the Account Director said, "where do
The young assistant said promptly: "Isn't the first thing to establish
the general overall policy for the coming financial year and then to seek
ways in which that policy can best be implemented?"
The manager of XUDepartment looked thoughtful, pressing his fingertips to
the bridge of his nose, and cleared his throat. Everyone waited without breathing
for him to speak. He stared out through the brilliant window and then let
his hands fall slackly to the table. He opened his mouth, changed his mind,
and eventually decided to say: "What do you mean by general overall policy?"
"I was thinking in terms of defining our general attitude to advertising
in the coming financial year. I take it we do intend to advertise?"
"Of course," the manager said. "That is the whole purpose
of this meeting. Let's be sensible, Jeffrey."
The Copywriter experienced a growing dislike for the manager of XUDepartment.
It was always the case, personalities and internal politics interfered with
the job in hand. The information he required was quite simple and straightforward
and had he been allowed to interrogate the manager, the young assistant and
Mr ------, could all have been obtained within an hour, two at the outside.
"Excuse me, but I think I am being sensible," the young assistant
said. "These gentlemen have travelled a long way to see us and I think
it only right that we set our thoughts in order before proceeding any further
with any sort of detailed discussion."
"I think that's very wise," the Account Director was about to say
but didn't get the chance.
"Let's not forget who is the manager of XUDepartment," said the
manager of XUDepartment. "It was I who called this meeting in the first
place and as my assistant I expect you to act in that capacity."
The young assistant lapsed into a moody silence, contributing little or nothing
during the remainder of the meeting.
"To continue," the manager said, happy now that he had irrevocably
established his superiority and rightful place as the most important person
in the room. "I think that before we begin we should adjourn for coffee.
No doubt you gentlemen have had an extremely tiring journey - "
"Actually it was very pleasant," the Account Executive said.
" - so, if I may be allowed to continue, a break at this point might
prove most welcome."
"It will indeed," said the Account Director, smiling horribly all
Almost immediately a middle-aged woman entered the room pushing a tea-trolley.
She poured coffee into seven cups and placed two plates of biscuits on the
table, one at either end. Everyone drank coffee and ate biscuits (the manager
of XUDepartment chose one with silver paper wrapped round it, the Copywriter
noticed) and then when this was over and done with bent their heads into notebooks,
schedules, BRAD, tabulations, calculations, etc., riffling stacks of papers
importantly while they waited for someone (the manager) to break the silence,
break the ice, crack the whip, get them back on the right tack. But it was
the Account Director who spoke. "Aaaarghh, may I ask a question?"
The manager retained a blank expression for a moment and then smiled bleakly.
"Please. By all means. Isn't that why you're here?"
Everyone laughed good-naturedly and all at once the atmosphere in the room
"Well, first off," the Account Director continued, "I should like to thank you for the coffee and biscuits. Very nice."
"The company's pleasure."
"Yes. Now. Could we, do you suppose, begin by defining - in vague general
terms - the way in which you hope your advertising policy will develop during
the next financial year? I would find it most helpful and I'm sure my colleagues
"I'm sure we will," the Account Executive said.
"Oh yes," the Art Director said.
The Copywriter said nothing.
"Good idea," said Mr ------.
The young assistant went "Hummphh" and received a stern glance
from the corner of the manager of XUDepartment's eye.
"I can answer that question quick enough," the manager said confidently.
"Or rather Mr ------ can."
Everyone looked expectantly at Mr ------. Mr------ in his turn looked in
a puzzled fashion at the manager of XUDepartment. "I'm afraid I don't
"The memo," the manager said briskly. "The interdepartmental
memorandum I sent you asking you to prepare a report outlining the way in
which we hope our advertising policy will develop during the next financial
"Oh that." Mr ------ lapsed into an unhealthy silence. Then he
appeared inordinately pleased with himself. "I initialled it and passed
it on to - "
"Me," the young assistant said.
The manager of XUDepartment went white. "On whose authority did this
take place?" he demanded to know. "Need I remind you once again
that you are my assistant and I suggest you fulfil the duties of that position
rather than interfere in matters which do not conern you. Where is the memo
"I initialled it and passed it on to you," the young assistant
"Me?" Mr ------ said.
"And the report?" the manager said.
"I thought he was doing it," Mr ------ said.
"Me?" the manager said.
"Did you do it?" the manager asked the young assistant.
"I thought you were doing it."
"Me?" the manager said.
What followed is hardly worth describing. Accusations flew from left to right,
counter-accusations flew from right to left and the manager of XUDepartment
and Mr----- had to be physically restrained from assaulting each other and
the young assistant. The Copywriter fell asleep; well not actually asleep
but drifted languidly into a soft subtle world composed of people asking simple
questions and other people answering them simply. The trouble was (he dreamt)
there was no longer any such thing as a simple question. "What is your
name?" used to be a simple question but not any more. And "Which
way is up?" was now a very questionable question indeed. One could fill
a book with such questions. The question was, who could answer them? See,
stumped already. Question answers question. The answer to a question is a
question. Ask a stupid question and you get a stupid question. The only way
out of this dilemma (the Copywriter dreamt) was not to ask any questions,
not a single one, but simply let people prattle on and on until they talked
themselves into the ground or dropped dead from exhaustion or just stopped.
For what were the manager of XUDepartment and Mr ------ and the young assistant
talking about right this minute? And who cared? Nobody was listening except
the Account Director whose sole task in life it was to listen emptily to clients,
and would have listened to them slurping their soup, to the sounds of their
love cries, to the noises they made behind the lavatory door, smiling horribly
all the while. But nobody else: the Art Director was asleep (really asleep)
mumbling through clenched lips "What time are we leaving ... time are
we leaving ... are we leaving ... leaving" while the Account Executive
was miles away in a darkened bedroom with another man's wife, worrying in-between
orgasms about his thinning hair. (So the Copywriter dreamt.) In this fashion
the morning wound drearily on its way until the lunchtine hooter rasped like
a blunt saw through the last lingering remnants of the all but burnt-out argument;
desultory derogatory phrases limping wearily across the table fell dead to
For lunch they drove a short distance through bleak furrowed fields to the
company guesthouse and were ushered inside a delightful old stone mansion
by an attractive woman, the manageress as it turned out, who seemed to have
more than a mere business understanding with the manager of XUDepartment.
They patted and fawned over one another making the party from the agency avert
its eyes. First they all had a drink in what had been the sitting-room and
was now the main reception room, eating salted peanuts from shallow glass
dishes and sinking lower and lower into enormous hideous armchairs, their
feet suffocating in thick pile carpet. Then the manager of XUDepartment departed
from the room leaving them to their own devices, presumably to steal a kiss
and stroke the bum of the manageressin the cold capacious larder while trussed
chickens and stuffed turkeys looked on with sightless arseholes. Back in the
reception room the party from the agency was growing restless with hunger
and Mr ------ was trotting anxiously to and fro plying them with drinks and
more shallow dishes of salted peanuts. The young assistant remained sullen.
Just when it seemed that none of them would ever see food again the manager
reappeared smiling broadly and smacking his lips, jovially admonishing them
to "get a move on" as the mock turtle soup was already steaming
on the table. As indeed it was. And what's more it was delicious. The table
itself was beautiful bare mahogany or some such timber, trimmed on all four
sides with delicate little paper doilies and melamine-laminated hunting scenes
on which to rest the plates and dishes. After the soup came steak and kidney
pie, cooked so deliciously that any ill-feeling there might have been was
soon forgotten as everyone attended dutifully to their heaped plates and brimming
glasses. The Copywriter was becoming well-oiled. To date he had drunk: one
medium sherry, three whiskies and ginger, two glasses of white wine and was
now in the process of demolishing a third. The pleasant room was beginning
to feel strange; the curtains, for example, hanging so tidily on either side
of the large window - who had made them? Why were they that particular pattern,
that certain colour? And why had whoever had made them made them so that they
just barely touched the carpet instead of allowing excess material for shrinkage
which would most certainly be needed following the combined action of constant
sunlight and repeated washings (dry cleaning?) with some harsh detergeant
that judging from the quality of the fabric would do the fabric no good at
all, and quite possibly, almost certainly, sure as eggs is eggs, some positive
harm? The question was (here he went again!) should he point this out to the
manager of XUDepartment or even the randy manageress herself? It would save
them a great deal of trouble in the long run, maybe even in the short shrink.
But even as he was debating this he was back in the mainstream because in
answer to a question put by the Account Director - smiling horribly at everybody
- the manager of XUDepartment was saying: "What do we manufacture? What
do we actually make? Well, to give you some idea: Silicon Semi-conductor Devices;
Wide Band, Solid State, Linear Integrated Circuits; Solid State Digital Circuits;
UHF and Very High Speed Switching Planar Transistors and Diodes; High Voltage,
Subminiature and High Power Rectifiers; Parametric Amplifiers; Frequency Multipliers;
Varactor Diodes; Photocells; Field Effect Transistors; Strain Gauges; Power
Transistors; PNPN Switches; Zener Diodes and Regulators; Germanium Tunnel
"Really?" said the Account Director.
"Industrial Cathode Ray Tubes; High Resolution CRT Displays; Radar Tubes;
Monitor Tubes; Fibre Optics Tubes; Telerecording Tubes; Flying Spot Scanner
Tubes; Oscillograph Tubes; Microspot Display Tubes."
"Is that so?"
"Ceramic to Metal Seals; Single and Multiple Seals for High Temperature
and Pressure Applications; High Vacuum Equipment; Getter Ion Pumps with pumping
speeds in the range of 1 to 400 litres per second; Absorption fore pumps;
High Vacuum Valves; Control Units and other associated equipment; Industrial
and Special Purpose Valves; X-Band Klystrons for Local Oscillation and High
Power Applications; Stroboscopic Light Sources; Linear Light Sources; Voltage
Stabilisers; Vacuum High Voltage Rectifiers; Cold Cathode Relay Tubes; X-ray
Tubes; Radio and Television Valves; Triggered Spark Gaps; Photographic Flash
"You don't say - "
"Microammeters, Milliammeters, Ammeters and Voltmeters of moving iron;
Moving Coil, Rectifier, Thermal and Electrostatic Types; Induction and Dynamometer
Wattmeters; Power Factor Indicators; Synchroscopes and Frequency Indicators;
Hermetically-sealed Instruments; Cell Testing Voltmeters; Clip-on Ammeters;
Railway and Pole-type Clip-on Ammeters; Clip-on Volt-Ammeters and Clip-on
Wattmeters; Current Transformers; Electronic Summation and Maximum Demand
Metering Equipment; Disturbance Recorders (Oscilloperturbograph); Earth Leakage
Relays; Voltage Supervisory Relays; High Voltage Indicators; Phasing Equipment;
Live Line Testers; Railway High Voltage Indicators; Small Self-starting Synchronous
Motors; Rotational Viscometers; Tesvac Vacuum Testers; Transducers; Peak Acceleromters."
"Who would have believed it - "
"Electrically-driven Artificial Horizons in 4.5in. or 3.25in. S.A.E.
Cases; Vertical Signalling Gyroscopic Units with Electrical or Mechanical
Outputs; Horizon Gyro Units; Directional Gyroscopes; Compass Systems; Control
Units for Gyroscopic Units including provision for Boosted Run-up and/or Automatic
Levelling of Gyro Wheel; Transistorised Control/Inverter Units for operation
of Gyroscopic Equipment from a D.C. battery supply; Transistor Inverters for
general operation of aircraft A.C. components from a D.C. supply; Transformer
Rectifier Units; Transistorised Voltage Regulators; Helicopter and V.T.O.L.
Flight Systems, Autopilots and Autostabilisers; Inertial Platforms; Lightweight
Homing and Approach Systems."
"Well I never - "
"Electro-Mechanical Analog Computers for Fire Control Applications;
Shipborne Gyro Stabilisers for Gunnery Platforms and other Applications; Range
of Stabilised Electronic Power Packs and other Electronic Units associated
with Military Applications."
The manager looked round triumphantly and set upon his sweet which the manageress had placed before him. Everyone ate in sloppy silence. The Copywriter ate his sweet with the rest of them, which was a sponge pudding soaked in layers of Drambuie, Benedictine and Cointreau. It was delicious and powerful and before very long he was feeling distinctly uneasy. He wanted to get up and open the window or walk out in the fresh air or lie cold and secluded somewhere. Yet still the conversation continued:
"Aaaarghh good, now we're getting somewhere," the Account Director said. "Now of the things you've mentioned which do you wish to advertise?"
The manager of XUDepartment was astounded. "None of them, of course."
"Oh I'm afraid I misunderstood," said the Account Director, smiling.
"I thought you said - "
"What I said was: 'What do we manufacture? What do we actually make?'
I said nothing about advertising."
"Then you don't wish to advertise anything at all?" the Account
Director interpolated tentatively.
"But of course we do!" the manager said. "What do you think
we're here for in the first place? Here in the first place for, or whatever
the saying is. What do you think is the point of all this? The point of all
this is for?"
"I'll hazard a guess - " the Account Executive began.
"Rhetorical question," hissed the Account Director.
"To make a profit," the manager made clear. "To make sure
the company is a viable financial proposition, a going concern. Where would
we be if we didn't or weren't? (The Account Executive opened his mouth.) "Isn't
that the function of any company worth its salt? We don't come here every
day for our health, you know. The company isn't meant to serve as a holiday
camp or a rest home for the elderly infirm or a country retreat for the sons
and daughters of retired gentlefolk. Its true function is as a living, breathing,
dynamic, fast-moving, quick-thinking, gigantic industrial complex, swift to
praise, slow to chide, ready and able to dig out people's real needs and desires
and satisfy them by means of tough, no-nonsense, uncompromising, hard-hitting,
switched-on manufacturing and marketing techniques designed to move consumer-orientated
products fast - but fast - to the people and organisations who/that need them
most. It isn't a sloppy or wishy-washy or couldn't-give-a-damn philosophy
but a very fast real-time on-line pre-programmed fail-safe strategy whose
sole purpose is to make and sell, make and sell, make and sell, sell, sell.
So when you say: 'Then you don't wish to advertise anything at all?' you're
talking utter balderdash and what's more insulting the people here - thousands
of them - who devote their working lives to researching, investigating, verifying,
planning, designing, developing, test-batching, quality-controlling, producing,
despatching, critical-path-analysing, cost accounting, commissioning, eating,
sleeping, breathing -
" - yes and shitting, pissing, farting!" he added fiercely, "to
raise our standard of living, give everyone a square deal, feed the poor,
house the homeless, help the infirm and sickly, kick out the perverts and
politicians, overcome apathy and ignorance, promote health, wealth and happiness
and make this world a better place to live in and in which to bring up children
"I wish I'd said that," the Account Director said, beaming. "Now what can we do to help?"
(The Copywriter was feeling genuinely ill by this time.) "What specifically
can we advertise?"
"Systems," said the manager definitively.
"Aaaarghh, what kind of systems?"
"All kinds of systems."
"But what kinds of systems specifically?"
"All kinds of systems specifically."
"Could you give me a 'such as'?"
"Such as what kinds of systems specifically?"
"I was rather hoping you could tell me."
"I can, of course I can, I'm the manager," the manager said.
"Of course you are," said the Account Director.
"Very pleasant," the Account Executive said.
"What time are we leaving?" the Art Director said.
The Copywriter said nothing.
(He was about to throw up, literally. They were now drinking very old French
brandy and smoking long fat cigars. The room reeked of brandy fumes and stale
stagnant smoke. His skull was screaming get me out of here ... get me out
of here ... but nobody listened, everyone talked on and endlessly on as the
vomit bubbled in his chest and burned the back of his throat, making sweat
stand out on his brow like round translucent beads stranded on dry parchment.
Good God, he thought, I'm going to be sick all over this beautiful bare mahogany
table with its delicate little paper doilies and melamine-laminated hunting
"You sell systems," the Account Director grimaced briskly.
"We sell systems," agreed the manager of XUDepartment. "Air
Traffic Control Systems, Tactical Control and Action Data Automation Systems,
Radar Data-Handling Systems, Digital Data Transmission Equipments for Civil
and Military Systems, Special-Purpose Digital Computers and Digital-Handling
Systems, Air Defence Systems, Military and Naval Data-Handling Systems, Message
Collection and Switching Systems, Military Simulators and Training Systems,
Guidance Control and Data Processing Systems for Guided Weapons, Training/Simulator
Systems, Real-Time On-Line Control Systems for Commercial and Industrial Applications,
Aircraft Digital Computer Systems, Digital Remote-Control and Indication Systems,
Stock Movement and Control Systems, Process Control and Consultancy Service
Systems, Data Transmission Systems, Industrial On-Line Process Control Systems,
Integrated Navigation Systems for Civil Aviation combing miniature inertial
navigation computation and flight-deck displays, Gyroscopic Weapon-Aiming
Systems, Angle-of-Attack Systems, Lightweight Inertial Navigation Systems,
Stick Push Systems, Stall Warning Systems, Electrical Connection Systems,
Numerical Measurement Systems, Microwave Pulsed Data Transmission Systems,
Scientific Instrument Measurement and Control Systems."
"And which of these would you like us to advertise?"
"Difficult to say. Haven't given it much thought. Do have another brandy.
And care for another cigar?"
"Could you expand on that?"
"Don't you mean expound?"
"Yes, well, do that as well if you wish."
"Well now, let's see ... have another glass of very old French brandy
and another cigar if you so desire. We've plenty here. The brandy is for drinking,
the cigar for smoking. I can recommend both. I always say that no meal is
complete without a bottle, or several, of very fine old French brandy, and
a good cigar is worth every penny of the money in itself. It isn't very often
I indulge myself but when I do I find a bottle of very old French brandy and
a fine cigar 'make the meal' as you advertising types say." He stopped.
"Very pleasant," the Account Executive said.
"What time are we leaving?" asked the Art Director.
The manager said (the Copywriter said nothing): "I'm afraid there's
little more I can say about very old French brandy and a good cigar. Perhaps
my colleagues ..."
The young assistant shook his head moodily.
"Don't know a thing about either of them," said Mr ------.
There was an awful silence.
Into this plopped the words, "What do these systems do?" spoken
like a man by the Copywriter. Immediately the manager of XUDepartment, the
young assistant and Mr ----- delved into their piles of papers and produced
three large white cards which they held up for him to see, and on each was
printed the word:
"What does that mean?" he asked.
"Ssssssssssssssshhhh!!!!" said the manager. "For God's sake,
do you want to get us all shot?"
"Is there nothing we can advertise?" the Account Director would have liked to know.
"Nothing at all? Any small thing will do. Anything ..."
"I'm afraid not."
"Could we possibly, do you suppose, see an actual system in the works?
Could we write about one of those?"
"Not really. You see, we haven't actually built a complete system as
yet. To be honest we haven't even started. We're working on it, of course.
It's in the development stage at the moment. But even if we had one to show
you we couldn't because it's classified."
"Wha - " began the Copywriter.
"Ssssssssssssssshhhh!!!!" said the manager.
"Can he talk to me?" the Account Director said with a toadying
"By all means."
"As they haven't anything at all to advertise," the Copywriter
said to the Account Director, "couldn't they advertise the fact that
they've nothing to advertise?" Needless to say he was being facetious.
The manager brightened. "That's an excellent idea! Quite excellent.
In that way we can advertise without saying anything, giving the game away
or letting the side down."
The manageress appeared. "More very old French brandy, anyone?"
They all had some more very old French brandy.
The manager patted her rump. She didn't seem to mind.
"Aaaarghh, now that it's been decided what to advertise, can we discuss
media?" the Account Director said.
"Discuss away" - the manager - "what do you suggest?"
The Account Director preened himself and took a breath: "Interavia,
Aviation Week, Nato's Fifteen Nations, Armed Forces Management, Missiles and
Rockets, Flight International, Flugwelt, The Aeroplane, Air Transport World,
Air and Cosmos, Aviation Magazine, Flying Review International, American Aviation,
Flug Revue, Deutscher Aerokurier, World Aerospace Systems, Reed's Aircraft
and Equipment News, Science Journal, Electronics, Computer Weekly, Electronics
Weekly, Electronic Engineer, Design and Electronics, Boilerhouse Review, Management
Today, The Director, Woman's Realm, International Management, Business Week,
"I agree," said the bored Account Executive.
The Art Director said the same old thing. "What time are we ..."
The Copywriter didn't say anything.
"What about actual presentation?" the manager asked.
The Account Director frowned. "I don't think we should discuss that
at this preliminary stage. Far better if we go away and have a blue-sky-brainstorming
session behind locked doors, under wraps, zipped lips. That's how we creative
people like to work. It can't be done over the boardroom table. We must kick
it around a bit first, run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it,
put it through the mangle and see what emerges, drop it from a great height
and hope it lands in one piece. There's more than one way to skin a cat,"
he finished proudly.
"We might go to double spreads," the Account Executive suggested,
"full-colour bled-off into the gutter for impact, and follow them up
with fourteen ten-by-eights over the peak seasonal selling period."
"We might," conceded the Account Director generously.
The Art Director woke up. "Rough flimsies using paste-up half-tones
or stylised line-and-wash to establish an image and boost corporate prestige,
backed by a neat logo or symbol and strong call-to-action and/or coupon would
"Mmmmmmm," the Account Director nodded. "But first we have
to decide whether or not a second colour might not be preferable to bleed,
which costs ten per cent extra, because that will involve three Zincos and
God knows how many stereos if we're to cover the media I've outlined above.
In addition, an institutional rather than a prestige approach is desirable,
I suspect; there again, are trichromatic reds, blues and yellows subtle enough
to create the identity we're after? And should we submit scamps, layouts or
go the whole hog to finished artwork? It's a question of time and expense.
I rather fancy that once the copy platform has been approved we could go direct
to typesetting on coated fine-art stock, mounted on board, and present it
complete with logo, symbol, slogan, pay-off, coupon (if necessary), address
line, coat-of-arms, Queen's Award to Industry, picture of the chairman, aerial
view of the factory, the lot, and take a chance that it will be approved en
totale, so to speak, the entire shooting match, for better or worse, warts
"You have a point there," said the manager of XUDepartment, not
having understood a single word.
The Copywriter said, "Nothing."
"What did you say?" the Account Director asked.
"Nothing," the Copywriter said.
"Aaaarghh; is there anything else to discuss, gentlemen? We've had what
seems to me to be a very frank, useful and illuminating meeting. We've covered
all the points that required covering. Now, is there anything else? Any further
"What time are we leaving?"
"I'd like to raise one," said the young assistant.
"I'd just like to say that it wasn't my fault the memo was passed back
to you. I know I'm only your assistant, but I do try, really I do, to give
of my best. If anyone is to blame it's him."
Mr ------ went white.
"Well it is," the young assistant asserted. "If the manager
addressed it to you why did you pass it on to me?"
"I'll have you remember I'm your superior," said Mr ------ hotly.
"You're only the assistant to the manager of XUDepartment. How dare you
speak to me in that fashion?"
"Oh bugger off," the young assistant said under his breath.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Do you know what you're saying?"
"Do you realise to whom you're speaking?"
"I never heard such - "
"Well - !"
"Gentlemen, gentlemen," the manager broke in smiling, (the Account
Director smiled with him) "all that's dead and buried, water under the
bridge, yesterday's headlines. Let's make up and be friends, bury the hatchet,
let bygones be bygones."
"It's all very well for you," the young assistant started up.
"L-o-o-k," said the manager with gentle menace, "I'm letting
you off the hook. Don't push too hard, Sonny Jim, or I'll have to do some
pushing. It'll be the day of reckoning and the night of the long knives all
over again, in spades."
"It's not bloodywell fair - "
"Ssssssssshhhhh!!!!" said the Copywriter.
"Well it isn't."
"What time are we leaving?" asked the Art Director.
"Right now," the Account Director said horribly.
"I trust you'll have a good journey back," the manager of XUDepartment
"Very pleasant," commented the Account Executive.
"Thanks for bothering to come at all" - Mr ------.
"S'not fair," the young assistant said.
"I've warned you!" the manager warned him.
"Well it isn't."
"For the last time - "
"Why pass the memo on to me ..."
"Do I have to exercise my authority?"
"... that's what I want to know."
"Do I have to turn nasty?"
"He's as much to blame ..."
"I can if I have to."
"... more in fact."
"It won't be the first time."
"If he'd done as he was supposed to do ..."
"I can be strict when I want to."
"... none of this would ever have happened."
"I'm the manager, remember," the manager suddenly remembered.
"Oh all right," the young assistant said. "I'm fed-up with
this conversation anyway. It never gets you anywhere."
"Time we were off," the Art Director said.
"It is indeed," the Account Executive agreed.
"Aaaarghh!" went the Copywriter, being sick all over the beautiful
bare mahogany table with its delicate little paper doilies and melamine-laminated
The Account Director said nothing.
© Trevor Hoyle 2008