Can I be open with you?
Sweet, tangy caramelised onion jam
from Jones the Grocer.
Hi, my name is Hans Mackenzie Main. I write satire and copy for clients in the advertising and publishing industries. My work sells products and entertains several tens of people every day. To tap into the power of words, contact me today for a FREE quote.
Writing: $50-$100 USD/h
Editing: $40-$80 USD/h
Proofing: $30-$50 USD/h
I am highly trained. My skill set includes, but is not limited to, people skills, typing skills, ideation and in-office skills such as meeting attendance. Product of the AAA prep school for highly skilled writers. I read briefs in full. I sit upright at my desk. I don’t jump up on clients. I let self out. I have a Moleskin notebook that helps me to project an air of proficiency. It’s the most expensive notebook I’ve ever bought, and may be the last. Shorthand still in development; penmanship: okay. My IT skills are suspect and I will require assistance with new email log in, browser settings, cookies etc. etc. Coffee machine capability: exemplary.
I’ve been in operation for 10 years. I’m web savvy and can move about the office at a reasonable pace, stopping only for polite conversation and to enquire about jobs currently running. I smile a lot. Great capacity for small talk should there be time for it. I have a great “feel” for current events and read the paper often. I can sit in a meeting for one hour. Longer if there are croissants or buttered scones. I’m in top shape – bants when not at the office - and will occasionally take the stairs. Small talk on the stairs will probably not happen.
I turn around quickly both as a writer and a human being. Writing, I’m able to turn around work in two hours if required. I work early mornings, which means, if you send me a brief by COB (close of business), I should be able to send the work the following day. Again, if it’s required. As for hours I can receive briefs, I’m open 24/7 throughout the year even on Christmas Day and all other major holidays - religious or otherwise.
I am Skype-enabled and have extensive knowledge of ceilings and wall art in offices both local and abroad. My Skype name is a mouthful at present for I have not had the time to figure out how to change it. It’s live:4e40a964f8b40492. And although it says ‘live’, I’m not live all the time. Email me and let’s set up a convenient time to Skype and make sure we’re on the same page.
I also enjoy meetting in boardrooms. I believe a boardroom is an important space where important decisions get made. Deciding Thursday is the new Casual Day next to the water cooler simply does not have the same gravitas as doing so in the boardroom. The more glass your boardroom has the more cutting edge your company appears to be. A glass table is non-negotiable. Glass walls are nice to have. Glass chairs, well, that’s the future isn’t it? Boardrooms are rectangular, never triangular and most definitely not round. The only round spaces of importance involving tables are found at the United Nations headquarters and around the Knights of the, you guessed it, Round Table. The President of the United States does have a round office but you’ll notice even he has to talk over a rectangular desk. Too much wood in your boardroom makes you come across as old, environmentally angry and frankly a little up your own ass. Add gold to the foyer and you’re basically Donald Trump with less money. A boardroom is a place of business where no one should laugh for more than 5 seconds; anything in polystyrene - be it human, beverage or food - is frowned upon; only one person should talk at a time. Experience has taught me not to fidget, stare or whistle in a boardroom. Quipping, “Nice jugs” when the receptionist walks in carrying two jugs of orange juice is also not ideal. Whenever I walk into a boardroom, I like to note where my superior takes a seat. The client will invariably take position opposite him, which means I must sit two positions down from my superior so as to avoid direct fire from the client, but at the same time not appear to be unwilling to engage. Art in a boardroom is to be appreciated from a distance. Stroking the art - or knocking it to the ground sliding against the wall trying to avoid physical contact – is not only unnecessary, but disruptive and potentially embarrassing. When the PowerPoint in the boardroom does not work, do NOT under any circumstance stand up to try and fix it yourself. Call someone from IT. Make a prompt apology for the delay and the IT guy who, no doubt, will appear wearing jeans and tekkies and commence with small talk. Depending on the quality of your IT guy, you could be talking for anything from 5 to 20 minutes. If you see a sign outside a boardroom with the words ‘MEETING IN SESSION’, it means the boardroom is booked out and occupied. If you see NO sign outside a cutting edge boardroom it’s easy to look through the glass walls to see it’s booked out and occupied. Any boardroom occupied for longer than the allotted time is playing host to a discussion of such high importance that schedules become redundant. A boardroom in this state must be left alone. Any disruption subtracts precious seconds from the discussion, adding countless minutes to the time you are going to spend outside waitting. Once inside, people often suffer adverse reactions to boardrooms ranging from turning red to being unable to speak to falling asleep without intending to do so. In extreme cases, an individual not getting enough eye contact in a boardroom can drift off into their own thoughts for several minutes only returning to the boardroom when the speaker asks, “Garth, are you with us?” The victim will answer “yes” but the boardroom will know he or she means “no”. Anyone turning red in a boardroom not speaking or being spoken to is suffering an allergic reaction to nuts found in muffins found in boardrooms. This is a physiological response to the nuts and can not be directly attributed to the boardroom. It’s probably a good idea to evacuate the boardroom and call in emergency services at this point. Unlike most office spaces, boardrooms don’t have emergency evacuation plans. The general consensus is to go with the flow: board members first, executive committee members second, chief executive officers third and so on. Managing directors are required to switch off the lights. Managing members must please remember to put a dustbin outside the door to let everyone know the boardroom has, indeed, been evacuated. Cuting edge boardrooms obviously do not need the dustbin. It’s easy to see through the glass walls someone inside is suffering an acute allergic reaction to nuts found in muffins found in boardrooms.
A party is the last thing on my mind. In fact, I think freelancers who have the time to party misunderstood the ‘free’ part of their job titles, and are missing out on the opportunity to make cash. Freelancers who don’t party are of immense value to your business. Here’s why:
Pay close attention to a freelancer on-site and you’ll notice a specimen operating at the very peak of his or her powers, wholly detached from his or her environment in a display of focused disassociation found in sociopathic serial killers. Small talk decreases in size to be virtually non-existent, which leaves little room for office gossip and even less room to slander you, the boss. Shrouded in silence, the freelancer can complete a day’s work in the same time it takes to describe how you, the boss, have zero compassion, below-par dress sense and a laughable Instagram account.
Savings on Coffee
Any freelancer worth his salt fills his bloodstream with superior-quality caffeine before he sets foot out of the house. Roaming the office with pupils sufficiently dilated, the freelancer can go up to five hours without having to dig into the agency’s, admittedly, B-grade stash. Including water, milk, sugar, electricity, dishwashing liquid and man hours wasted waiting for the kettle to boil, the potential savings for your agency could run into the tens of hundreds of rands.
Less Talk of A Raise
The day a freelancer walks into your office to demand a raise chances are you have kept him or her on for too long which gave him or her the impression that he or she is now a full-time employee. Such behaviour by a freelancer is a gross violation of a number of sections of the freelancer’s code and brings into question the mental capacity of an individual clearly unable to process the information contained in a boilerplate service level agreement. There’s no point engaging. Simply get HR on board and escort the freelancer out of the building.
Space on the Team Photo
Freelancers are not into team building, which is why they’re freelancing. This “outsider” attitude might not appear beneficial on the surface, but look a little deeper and you’ll discover a worker irrationally invested in work because work is the only thing that stands between a freelancer and a life on the streets spellchecking the cardboard posters of his or her “new friends” freelancing at robots across the city. Cut the freelancer some slack and allow him or her to finish the job while the rest of the office fool around. Freelancers might not be part of the family, but like well-paid mercenaries they’ll keep their heads down to deliver work of the highest standard to ensure they’re called back to freelance another (half) day.
The universally accepted way to start a formal email is “Hi”. “Hi” is the standard; the norm. Not “Hey” or “Hey there” or “Hiya”. Just “Hi”. After a solid “Hi” you can continue and sound as formal as you like. Try to wrap things up in 100 words or less and finish off with a widely accepted and often insincere, “Regards, so and so”. Your regards can be “best” or “kind”. I prefer “Best regards” over “Kind regards” and just a simple “Regards” over the lot. Under no circumstances should an emoticon come into play. Regards should end after the fourth email. When you’ve emailed someone and they reply and you reply and they reply you have established what’s known as a rapport. Regards now become redundant and should be avoided. Unless of course it’s part of your email signature in which case it’s redundant anyway. In extreme cases even “Hi” falls away and the emailing takes the form of a casual conversation. Sentences get sent back and forth with little or no punctuation. One word emails start to appear: “thanks” “ok” “excellent”. This is where you want to be. It’s the digital equivalent of having a drink with your colleagues and clients on a Friday afternoon. Everyone chills a bit and conversation becomes easier. Just like with Friday afternoon drinks though, you want to avoid using swear words and getting too personal. “What are you up to tonight?” and “That’s fucking great” are frowned upon.
A while ago I emailed Absa bank to lodge a friendly complaint about birds in their (bank) branches. The matter was referred to customer service manager Magrietjie Dreyer (not her real name) who addressed the issues head on with a pr ompt reply and apology. Apparently, the white Cockatoo has been a problem in the branch for a while.
Due to circumstances beyond
my control I had to head
down to your physical
address to make a deposit
recently. Having not been out
for a while I was looking
forward to the outing.
Regrettably, it was an
As I came through the
revolving doors, immediately
to my left, there was a man
with not one, but tw o birds
on his shoulders. On his hand
was another one. All three
birds were alive. The two on
his back could have been
Cockatoos or fancy
Cockatiels; the one on his
hand was definitely a budgie.
Walking a wide circle around
the freak I made my way to a
marble table where I filled
out a deposit slip.
After this I headed t o the
queue where I took position
facing a guy named Gar y and
with my back to someone
named Larry (I knew their
names were Gary and Larry
because they greeted each
other as such and s tarted
conversing about balustrades
and building practices and
things straight "through" me
like I wasn't even there. Gary
kept nodding his head but I
could tell by the look on his
face he didn't agree with
what Larry had to say).
Eventually I made it t o the
front of the que ue, but when
the digital contraption went
off, Larry dashed straight past
me to teller four.
After a while he look ed up
and asked if he "jumped" me.
I said if b y "jumped" he
meant took my place then,
yes, he "jumped" me.
About ten minutes later I
made my deposit at teller five
and on my way out - a little
flustered by what just
happened - I bumped in to the
guy with the birds upsetting
one of the Cockatoos setting
it off on a viole nt rage - the
animal squawking and
flapping its wings some thing
I doubt any of you noticed
this. How could you? Working
behind glass that thick how
were you to know the
descending into anarchy?
For this reason - and because
you have better things to do
than teach your customers
manners - I took the liberty
of penning a letter you can
send them to improve
conditions. Please find it
I don't bank with Absa, but
I'm happy to do this for the
[PROPOSED LETTER TO ABSA CLIENTS]
Dear Absa Client
It has come to our attention that people still frequent our branches to do their banking offline. To accommodate this we’d like to remind everyone of some basic rules and regulations.
Queues were designed to create order in front of the tellers and elsewhere. The way a queue works is everybody lines up front to back to form a line. The person at the front of the queue has first option to be helped when a teller frees up. A digital device in the roof above the queue will indicate the next free teller with a red stick figure running towards the number of the teller able to help. The person at the front of the queue can then briskly walk to the teller indicated. Please don’t run.
Please leave birds and other pets at home when you visit Absa. If you absolutely have to take your bird(s) with you when you go on errands, kindly leave them in the c ar with the windows cracked while you do your banking. Our banks weren’t built with birds in mind and w e most certainly do not have the manpower to deal with a situation should one of them decide to take flight. Please respect public spaces reserved for humans and enjoy the company of your bird(s) in the comfort of your home.
Thank you for your time. We wish you happy banking moving forward.
FROM : ABSA
Thank you for your e-mail. We had complaints from clients on 25th April as w ell, and the moment I saw the client with his birds on Friday, I called him to my office to speak to him in p rivate. I explained to him that he is not allowed to bring his pe ts into the bank, and that the white Cockatoo walked into one of the consultants offices the previous day and damaged a clients handbag. We have not seen the client since Friday in the ban king hall again.
I also want to apologise for another client jumping the queue.
My condolences to the client and her handbag. Thank you kindly for getting back to me I accept the apology.
This was a piece of satire for the Mail and Guardian newspaper.
Hey everyone, welcome to
social media class. My name
is Stacey and I’m
super-excited because today
we have a sequence for the
complete beginner. So, if
you’re new to social media,
or you have been curious
about social media and all its
beautiful, wonderful benefits,
this is a g reat sequence for
You don’t need any blocks, you don’t need any blankets; all you need is an open phone and an open mind. If you have an iPad, that’s great; otherwise, slide to unlock and let’s get started. Place your right hand on the phone’s screen, slide your index finger on the surface and open Facebook. Remember to breathe, everyone. Go to the keyboard and type what’s on your mind. Click on “public” and hit “publish”. Your post can now be seen by everyone. Are you with us, Dianne?
Now take your palms and dive forward on all fours. On your next inhale, move the shoulders, drop the belly, and look forward. A little Cat-Cow stretch here ... Curl your toes, walk your fingers back and come up for a little rest. This is a great opportunity to roll the wrists out and reflect on your post. Did anyone denounce Islam or post a picture of the Prophet Muhammad? No? Great. We’re doing great, everyone! Stay connected to that breath. Walk your palms out and slowly bring the knees back to come into our first Downward Dog. Pulse in and out of it a few times and visualise your post. Are there any hints of racism or bigotry? Are your spelling and grammar correct? Did you call black people monkeys? Penny? You did? That’s okay.
Penny, I want you to slowly rise up into the Mountain Pose. Now lift your shirt so I can lay into you with this sjambok. This is called a Twitter Backlash, everyone. It’s a perfectly normal reaction to something that was said on the in ternet. It’s important to remember that all social networks are connected. That’s why they’re called networks. Okay, everyone, extend the right toes out long. We’re just going to take a few seconds here to breathe into that back leg. Notice that I’m rocking a little back and forth here. Chris, you tweeted “Apartheid victims are increasing along with a sense of entitlement” 30 seconds ago. That’s okay.
Chris, I want you to press away from the earth, press on the tops of the feet and just check in with one Hovering Cat or Suspended Banker. This is a gr eat pose to gather your thoughts and punch out an apology.
Okay everyone, let’s come back to Table Top, bring the two big toes together and bring the knees as wide as the mat. Great. Inhale. Loop the shoulders, heart radiates forward, exhale and send it back. Extended Child’s Pose. Here I want you to hold the pose for the rest of the week. I think it’s a good idea for you guys to lay low for a while and think about the hurtful things you said.
This was another piece of satire for the Mail and Guardian. Emails to the top staff of a failing Fortune 500 company.
And happy August. Just a quick heads-up that this year’s Secret Santa cap has been dropped to R500 000 post-tax, down 50% from last year’s record high of R1-million.
The focus on this year’s event will pivot away from material values to the much more meaningful principle of giving for giving’s sake — for isn’t that what Christmas is really about?
We’d also like to extend a sincere apology for the awkwardness of last year’s event that saw gifts exchanged between our chief executive and chairman only. A thorough, and fiercely independent, audit revealed that buying the world’s foremost racehorse, wrapping the animal in g old paper and delivering it via drone down a chimney was indeed out of reach for most Steinhoff employees.
That being said, it’s a bull market and nothing says you care like a controlling share in a top performer such as Walmart, so get out there and buy, buy, buy! Enjoy Spring Day and good luck with the shopping spree.
Happy Movember everybody!
A quick update on Secret
Santa: R100 000 is the
maximum you can spend this
year. That’s an additional 50
percentage points lower than
the grossly inflated amount
we communicated previously.
We know this is highly
irregular, but it se ems we’re
heading for a highly irregular
Christmas that will have to be
celebrated in the highl y
irregular shade of an
irregularly small Christmas
We’d also like to take this opportunity to inform you that your Christmas bonus will come to the irregular sum of zero.
But keep those chins up g uys and don’t let it dampen your appreciation for your colleagues. Our very own Pep Stores is having a remarkable sale on socks and soaps with up to 80% markdowns so go out there and buy, buy, buy!
We’d like to squash the toxic rumour going around that the delay in the publication of our financial results points to fraud in the company and that this might have an effect on Secret Santa. Secret Santa will go ahead regardless of hearsay drivel.
To keep the event afloat our intrepid chief executive made the snap decision to buy himself a Christmas gift in the form of all the R5 Stores and Cash Crusaders in the country. There is no shame in shopping at these stores so go out there and buy, buy, buy!
It is with great regret and sadness that we have to inform you that this year’s Secret Santa has been cancelled. The Steinhoff family will not be e xchanging gifts in 2017.
Instead, we’d like to ask you to write a message of hope on stationery brought from home and slide it under a colleague’s door. For isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Giving each other the things that money can’t buy? Season’s greetings everyone, and a happy New Year from all of us in top management.
More satire for the Mail and Guardian.
Hello friends! This is note
from Igor, your goalie. I’m
just writing to say hi, we
haven’t spoken for maybe
How is it going on other si de of field? Wait, no, I have answer for that. It’s going great! We are attacking, attacking, attacking. Keep going!
Me? I am doing ok ay. Resting a lot. Thinking. Bit sad, really. Missing all of you. But I must be strong. We are strong team. Attack-minded. I must also be honest with you. I am lonely here. If you look back you will see. It is just me. I have water bottle, yes, but, of c ourse, water bottle doesn’t talk. The net doesn’t talk. The people they just shout and scream, no talk.
So I was thinking, Merka, my friend, what if you hanged back? Keep me company? What do you think? We have good relationship, no? It will be fun. I can walk out of my box, no problem. I will bring water, we can get ball, kick it around.
But, if you’re busy, Merka, I will understand. Everybody is busy. The life of a professional soccer player, very busy. Off the pitch I am also very busy. A real “busy body”, as they say. This morning, while you were signing autographs with the team, I was already busy packing. I have a lot of clothes to pack, Merka, more than you. I have long shirt, long pants, underpants, shoes, socks and also gloves. It is true, the kids don’t want my autograph. They say I am like drummer of team they don’t care, but I don’t c are too. The drummer some times the most important part of the band, the loudest. Without drummer, who will be at the back?
I know what you’re thinking and, yes, you’re right. To be alone with self is import ant. Introspection, important. But also important to remember no man can be island. I say that, but it’s not entirely true. I am an island, Merk a. I am being honest again. I am feeling lonely even here in a stadium of 80 000 people. Why? I don’t know why. Very hard to explain.
I come from good home, good school, good village. Before goalie, I play golf. Before golf, I hit tennis ball against wall. Do you see a pattern? I have been to doctor, psychologist (he tell me to take up team sport, football) and priest — no one can help. I am still single, Merka! Thirty-two and still single. I bring shame to my family. I bring shame to the team. I am no good. I’m thinking coach might take me off, tell me to “hit the showers”. I will probably cry in shower, I am so sad right now. New low.
What is all this cheering now? Crowd is restless. It is counterattack! I am going to end note now, must make defence. Merka! Are you waving? Yes, you are! Run to me, Merka! My old friend! We will make defence together.
I wrote this for a publication called Post Matric aimed at school leavers going to college or university.
The worst thing you can do
standing in the shade of a
large oak tree in front of an
admin building where the
miracle known as student life
was handed to you moments
ago in the shape of a roster
that indicates Monday classes
only start at ten and you
basically have the whole of
November and December off
and the birds are singing and
the sun is shining and you see
the next three years flash
before your eyes and there
are parties and siting on
grass doing nothing and more
parties and a bit of studying
and a lot of sle eping and
more parties and you come
back to the present and there
are your parents standing in
front of you - your father
beaming with pride, your
mother fighting off tears.
The worst thing you can do in
that special moment is to
turn around and run, kicking
your heels in the air
screaming, “Free at last! Free
at last!” at the top of your
Saying goodbye to your parents on your first day as a student calls for some restraint. The two people in front of you – your mom sobbing openly now; dad consoling her – were by your side for nearly two decades guiding you, loving you, bathing you and embarrassing you pretty much the same way they’re doing now from the bottom of their hearts. The least you can do is to tone it down and say goodbye with a fake lump in your throat and make-believe regret that the years fighting over curfew times have come to an end.
Now. Faking emotion requires energy and practice. The face has 43 muscles, all of which are hard wired to express the deep joy you feel about the prospect of embarking on a new life. It’s called muscle memory and, for the purposes of our exercise, is enemy number one. Saying goodbye to your folks as campus life erupts into life around you will trigger your face muscles to respond with smiling or laughing or both. Training those muscles to say the opposite of what your heart is telling them is therefore of the utmost importance when parting ways with your guardians. At that point, you want to communicate sadness and intense fear of the great unknown that lies ahead. The internet tells us that sadness is best conveyed by crying, but I’d advise steering clear of such an outp ouring of emotion so as not to arouse suspicion. Besides, mom might be crying already which could make dad feel left out. I therefore recommend drooping your eyelids and furrowing your brow.
Fear is in the eyes, more specifically, in large eyes showing enough white to blind an owl. You want your eyes to scare your parents, but not to the point where they revoke your scholarship. The right amount of fear will move your mom to say “Shame, did you see how afraid he looked?” to your dad in the car on the way home. Nothing more, nothing less.
Body language is a clear indicator of where your head is at and I think it goes without saying turning on your heel, running away from your parents as fast as you can, is not the bes t way to go. You want to be subtle. Drop your shoulders and kick in the dust while looking down. Lifting your hand to touch dad’s shoulder won’t hurt either.
Wikipedia advises actors to “gaze at nothing in particular” to convince audiences of their sadness. I would advise against that for the simple reason that everywhere you look on the first day of the rest of your life will fill you with excitement about a lot of specific things: the people around you will appear to not have a care in the world. They will walk in groups, not lines. They will carry their textbooks for the day in one hand, or not carry textbooks at all. They will look happy and content.
Looking at them – your future fellow students – will only fill you with hope and hope is the shortcut to unbridled joy. Maintain your composure. Try to stay focused on your parents and keep looking sad for as long as possible. When you feel happiness coursing through your veins and push up into your face, turn around and slowly walk away from your folks. When you are about ten metres away, turn around and face your former house mates. Smile and wave.
Blowing the previous belief that goldfish have a three-second memory out of the water, a fantail from Japan has stunned scientists with a memory
that seems to stretch back as far as four seconds. Filmed circling its bowl with a knowing look on its face, the fish is believed to be one-of-a-kind. “We got this call from a pet shop owner in Japan who claims he has a goldfish that appears to know things
the others don’t,” said lead scientist Claude Epsteen. “Naturally, we followed up and sure, there it was, swimming around like it owned the
Working on the premise that knowledge is power, scientists linked the goldfish’s dominance to an extended memory.
“Like, what else could it be?” Epsteen asked.
Scientists will continue to study the fish to establish whether its memory increases with age.
“We’ve clocked it at four seconds,” Epsteen said. “We’ll give it a day and check again. It could go for four and a half.”
Guy Birkenhead, a bank teller at Fintech Bank in Liverpool street, London defiantly broke with company protocol
yesterday when he smiled directly at a customer.
Catching management off-guard, Birkenhead was allowed to smile for several seconds before being told to quit.
“It just went on and on,” claimed colleague and fellow teller, Chris James.
Receiving the smile point blank, 26-year-old businessman, Marvin-lee Kinsley, said it took him a while to figure out the gesture was aimed at him. Kinsley said he subsequently tried to reciprocate the smile with a thank you spoken
through the gap between the
safety glass and the counter, but
gave up gave up after failing to
solicit a response.
“I got right up in there cheek against marble. Said thank you once, maybe twice, but left it.” According to branch manager, Freddy Mueller, an internal investigation should reveal what prompted the outburst from the teller.
“It’s highly uncommon and, frankly, regrettable,” he said. “We’ll deal with it accordingly.”
Citing a high number of
alumni failing in business,
a business school in
in Manhattan, New York said it
will introduce a course on how
to successfully sit through a
meeting. Launching next
semester, the course will
require students to sit around a
table for hours on end trying to
stay on topic.
“Today, if you can’t meet, you can’t do business,” said the school’s headmaster, Derek Mansour.
According Mansour, the course will not only focus on long meetings, but also meetings that follow one another.
“At the end of the day there is no real difference between sitting in one meeting all day, or many meetings over the course of a day,” he said.
Open to all and sundry,
Mansour said he is confident
the student body will embrace
the new curriculum with
“I don’t foresee any problems getting five to ten students together in a poorly ventilated room to talk from 9:00 to 12:00, have lunch, and then talk some more from 13:00 to 18:00,” he said. “It’s what business is all about.”
Aman caught walking in a park without a dog has been taken into custody, police confirmed yesterday. Apprehended in the upper east corner of Trafalgar Park, the man caught the attention of park regulars who acted quickly to calm the situation. “At first I assumed he was just passing through so I left it,” said Linda Bukowski owner of a stunning male Weimaraner. “But then he took a left and when he looked up at the trees, that was it. I called the police.” According to Bukowski, Trafalgar Park has operated for years under the unwritten rule that patrons should have at
least some form of company. “A baby, a bird, a cat… anything” she said. Lieutenant-colonel Nic Kuiper, who’s handling the case, said the drifter will be detained in accordance with the Loitering Act and could be charged with public indecency. “This guy broke so many laws it’s unbelievable,” he said. “I mean, what kind of sicko goes to a park and just wanders around?”
Awoman estimated to be in her late sixties struggled for several minutes to free a shopping basket from a bunch of other baskets, eyewitnesses confirmed yesterday. Seen shaking a stack of baskets before moving on to the next stack, the woman reportedly intensified her efforts as she went along. “Yes, she flung her handbag onto her back and gripped the top basket of the second stack with both hands,” said Darren Burns who watched the scene unfold a short distance away. “It looked like she got one out, but no, you could see there was another one still stuck to the top one.”
According to Burns, after the woman noticed she still had two baskets in her hands, she focused her efforts on separating them. “She sort of threw them forward without letting go,” he said. “She did it, I don’t know, maybe five times.”Burns went on to say the woman gave up at that point and opted to go for a trolley. “She didn’t look happy,” he said. “I don’t think she was there for a big shop.”
Saying they will tighten up security, a cereal company has apologised to consumers after the top half of an apple was found in a box of their flagship brand yesterday. Speaking from a company factory, company CEO Marcus Behr said it was unclear how the fruit landed up in the cereal. “We don’t know where that apple came from,” he said.
According to Behr, more than 10 000 boxes of contaminated product have been recalled, but he urged consumers to be cautious when sitting down for breakfast. “I’m not saying don’t eat breakfast,” he said. “Just be vigilant.” Behr said although all the company’s factories have been swept for signs of fresh produce, other forms of contraband may still be present. “Truth be told, we caught a guy concealing a peanut here the other day,” he said adding that he was “fired on the spot”.
Kyle Moseley, a 41-year-old IT specialist from Soho, sat down at a cocktail party late last night, sources confirmed. CCTV footage of the incident shows Moseley hovering at the edge of a group of guests before reaching out for a near by wall and collapsing into a crossed-leg sitting position. Young and vital, Moseley claimed he simply came to a breaking point. “It was involuntary,” he said. “I went down like a ton of bricks.” Moseley’s acquaintances said they lost track of him when he disappeared out of sight.
“We thought he’d left,” said
Kristy Tyler who met Moseley
while he was still upright.
The event’s organiser, Mark
Bleary, said he was
surprised at Moseley’s actions
since everything at the party
pointed to it being a standing
“It really is sort of unacceptable. The tables we chose were extra high with no barstools added,” he said. “Does that sound like a place you’d make yourself comfortable?”
Internet regulators have issued an official caution to members of the public against spelling correctly online. In a statement riddled with spelling errors, whoever is running the internet said far too much effort is going into the correct spelling of words - and that that goes for basic grammar principles too. “Is there really any difference saying ‘click here’ or ‘click there’?” asked internet spokesperson, Ben Copeley.
According to Olivia Main,
founder of 24-hour spelling and
grammar service Main Editing,
the difference is vast.
“Saying ‘click there’ essentially implies whoever built the website is speaking over your shoulder, which is both unlikely and makes no sense since the call to action comes from the screen.”
Copeley refuted Main’s statement saying a click will be forthcoming, regardless of phrasing, as people on the internet usually do as they are told.
“I’d bet a fair chunk on users clicking on anything if the button is big enough,” he said. “If it flashes, I’m all in.”
Hello Go! Magazine
I’m writing with deep concern for the
immediate future of your intrepid travel
Your columnist could be recruited by a non-profit organisation Non-profit organisations such as Greenpeace are notoriously deficient in the spelling and grammar department. With his or her command of the English language, your columnist could be of immense value to these troublemakers with regards to the coming up of slogans, manifestos and insults; and proofreading of posters, flyers and T-shirts. Monetary gain in the non-profit industry is, admittedly, next to nothing and here you have the advantage. However, don’t discount the power of your writer’s star sign (I assume he or she is an Aquarius with a fiery desire to change the world). The cosmic pull of destiny is powerful enough to lure any man or woman away from his or her keyboard. I’ve tried my hand at fulfilling my destiny, and have failed dismally. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Your columnist could simply stop being your columnist Delirium and early-onset dementia are not rare among writers. A theory is doing the rounds that the onset is in fact there from the get-go and that writers emerge from the womb with the very real delusion that simply coming up with stuff will sustain them for the rest of their lives. When it dawns on them, so the theory goes, that the gravy does not run forever, some – if not all – writers will suddenly go by the name ‘Clive’ or 'Laura' and take up residence in a caravan on the outskirts of nowhere. I’m not saying this will happen to your columnist – he or she might choose a tent. All I’m saying is: it’s good to have the details of a columnist not called Clive or Laura on your books just to make sure you’re covered.
Belinda Pratley, from
Fourways in Johannesburg
has left home without checking
Reportedly in a hurry, the young professional walked out into broad daylight not knowing what to expect next.
“It all happened so fast,” she said. “I was lying in bed, saw the time on my phone, next thing I knew I was out the door.” According to Pratley, an app she doesn’t remember installing tells her what the weather is going to be like, provided she unlock her device.
“It’s annoying,” she said. “You’d
expect the weather to be front
Pratley said she wasn’t considering getting a different phone just now, but hoped to have better access to the weather by the time she qualified for an upgrade.
“You know, the contract costs me - I don’t want to say exactly how much - but quite a bit,” she said. “For that kind of money, I’d like to see the weather on the
Calling it a “useful exercise”,
office manager Justin Kelly
of Honey Well advertising
used his Monday morning
planning session to find a way to
reduce the ength of future ones.
Entirely devoted to the cause, the
session ran well over the allotted
Kelly, however, claimed the exercise was a huge success with a number of ground breaking ideas tabled.
“Look, it’s going to take a while to fine tune the thing,” he said. “But
I think we’re on the right track.”
Junior graphic designer, Dillon
Wolpert, echoed Kelly’s
sentiments calling the session
“necessary” and a “sign of
“I’m willing to give it a shot,” he said. “Time costs money, don’t it?”
Award-winning creative director, Simon Bull, criticized the session however saying a Monday morning was hardly the time for out-the-box-thinking.
“Shortening a Monday morning planning session is something to be discussed during a Friday afternoon round-up,” he said. “On Friday afternoons we’re fresh. It’s all systems go.”
In 2019, a new Gillette ad asking men to behave better sparked widespread outrage. From men. This was my column on it.
I get the uproar. For us men, shaving in
the morning is one of the last vestiges
of our absolute maleness. In front of a
He was a clean-shaven jester;
probably a Gillette fan; probably
one of the scores of others
boycotting the brand henceforth.
He will, I guarantee, tell his joke at a
future opportunity because he is, of
course, the epitome of the problem.
Will an ad campaign change him?
No. Can an ad campaign change
popular opinion? Maybe. Does the
advertising world have any
business speaking out on
socio-political issues? Absolutely.
As a money-flush information
channel with a ruthless focus on
repetition, they should go out of
their way to not change, but sway
opinion. It’s a gentle curve, in my
opinion. Drill the same message
into a guy’s skull for long enough
and he’ll come around eventually.
You don’t change a caveman in a
But Gillette got it wrong both in the tone of their advert and its radical departure from their previous work. Changing their tagline from the possessive to the aspirational is, for lack of a better term, a mind fuck for men - some of whom bore witness to the Great War.
For them and countless others the territorial dispute that is the Me Too movement has gone too far this time. Hold it right there, my brethren appear to be saying. Stop your advance. If you want to pick a fight, let’s do it out on the streets or in the workplace, but not in the bathroom. And be gentle about it – we’re a sensitive bunch.
Sunday Times, 20 January 2019
Popping up on the
settings overnight, a newopping up on the neighbourhood’s
overnight, a new wi-fi password
has shaken the very foundations
of a community in the suburb of
Ferni Glen on the city’s eastern
Listed as a secure connection, BigData69 has left residents dumbfounded in an area known for its family values. “I’m stunned,” said long-time resident, Ben Dunkley who added a public network was not the place for fun and games. “I’m fully aware what 69 stands for, and let me tell you right now, there are a lot of kids out there who know too.”
Not everyone in Ferni Glen shared in the hysteria, however. Despite the widespread outcry,
many younger community
members gave the owners of
BigData69 the benefit of the
“Personally, I don’t have a problem with BigData69,” said Kyle Montgomery who lives just up the street from Dunkley. “It’s entirely possible they actually have a lot of data.” Fellow resident, Arthur Kirsten, agreed the password could be the result of a large amount of stored data, but added there definitely seemed to be subtle innuendo at play.
“I wouldn’t say it’s overtly sexual,” he said. “But you’d have to be braindead not to realise ‘data’ is but a very handy placeholder for ‘dick’.”
Leaving several motorists
dumbfounded, the driver of a
black BMW accelerated really fast
yesterday afternoon the moment a
traffic light turned green.
One of the motorists, Susan Foley,
who drives a 1995 Volkswagen
Passat described the BMW
reaching the opposite side of the
junction well before the other cars.
“He definitely won whatever race
was on,” she said.
Another motorist, Clive Barns, disputed Foley’s claim saying he didn’t think there was a race on at all.
“I didn’t think we were racing, no,” he said.
Carla Muller, the driver of a Volvo XC90, agreed with Foley that there may have been a race on, but didn’t close the door on the possibility that the BMW driver was just being a dick. “If it was a race, it was poorly organised,” she said. “My gut tells me the jerk was just showing off.”
A pile of random stuff including
keys, change, light bulbs, clothes
pegs, flyers and paper clips
located in the kitchen of a house
has seen remarkable growth
over the last week, eyewitnesses
Reportedly growing by the day, the pile is said to have covered the corner of a counter on Monday but has since spread to an area the size of a small table cloth.
“I’d say it’s growing exponentially,” said Barbara Malone who’s lived in the house for several years. “At the rate it’s going we might lose the counter altogether.”
With no clear plan on how stop the pile’s magnificent growth, Malone said the logical thing to do was to start piles elsewhere. “The amount of shit on that counter is only going to get more,” she said. “Spreading the load is the only way.”
It happened long ago. I was still young.
At the time, I had a scooter-like
motorbike I used to cross the Karoo,
My mind is still; most of the venom
that boils up now and then is
directed at cyclists who know to
simply follow me home should they
think I've stepped over the line (or
trolled them in person, if that's even
I guess you could say this is how the other half lives. Or rather, social media's one percent.
We're a sedate bunch, the fraction of the world's population not actively using social media, but infinitely more alert, I think. I would venture to say, among our ranks, few have walked into open manholes. We're not the ones hogging the phone charger or squeezing a whale into the 4.7 inch screen of a Samsung Galaxy A8.
I haven't started a sentence with the words 'That moment when' or ended it with a hashtag for well over six months now In fact, next time you're out whale watching, take a break from your phone and scan the crowd. Look hard enough and you'll see an individual, arms at his or her sides, watching the mammal in full colour. That's one of us. But we, and I, still have social media accounts. We threaten to take Facebook off our phones, and sometimes do, but say nothing of keeping it on our desktops. We have learnt not to look directly at the follower count, but still have eyes only for notification alerts. We're off the hard stuff, you could say, but still need to "check in" every now and then in case we missed something.
It's a tough position to be in and I'm not proud. Trust me, I want to delete my Facebook account, I really do. I've Googled how to do it. I know where to go; what to click on. But I just can't. For all the misery it's brought me, I simply can't muster the strength to kill my Facebook profile where the cover photo's been the same for a decade. My therapist posts on Facebook. He's touring the Tankwa Karoo National Park at the moment, taking stunning photographs of rocks. By the look of it, he'll be back by month's end and I'll probably go see him to discuss deleting my Facebook account.
It's not come up in his posts yet (he's really into his rocks) but I'm sure he's thinking of my Twitter story about riding through the Karoo listening to music. How could he not? He's right there.
Sunday Times, 26 August 2018
Along-time employee of a
reputable accounting firm, who spoke under long-time employee of a
reputable accounting firm, who
spoke under condition of
anonymity, has delivered a
stinging critique on the
appearance of the company’s
Reportedly using her personal email more and more, the employee claimed the signature to be “too big” and “out of focus”. “I’m not trying to be difficult,” she sai. Approached for comment, the firm’s director Paul Manafort
happy with the company’s signature as is. Manafort added he
had no problem reaching a compromise letting his employee
carry on using her private email, provided she credited the
company at the bottom of each
“Just a small note to say it’s also from us,” he said. “Would go a long way, I think.”
A photo on record shows me half a
metre high in a Knightrider T-shirt, my
hair blow-dried to resemble a perm as
would do, and definitely something to aspire to. The other male ego 2.0 I’d like to put forward is easy to miss. Mark Zuckerberg is a man under siege looking steadfastly ahead while making his way through throngs of journalists. His company is on the verge of collapse and he’s widely blamed for the current failings of democracy. On the surface there seems not much can be taken from him, but look deeper. The Zuck is an (overly) sensitive fellow and that’s something to be celebrated. Google ‘Zuckerberg News’ and you’re presented with an ashen-faced man, his eyes downcast - lips pressed tightly together - with an expression that seems to admit guilt before guilt has even been assigned. It’s a great look for the modern male; something worth practicing in the mirror. Current ego 1.0-in-chief, Donald Trump, has recently invited Dorsey for a sit-down to discuss “the health of the public conversation” (though we can assume what took up most of the time was the health of @realDonaldTrump). A picture shows Dorsey - a gold piercing through his nose, his hair in his eyes – sitting opposite Trump, the presidential desk between them. Trump has his little hand in the air doing his level best to assert authority. At first glance, the arrangement looks like a pupil getting it for, perhaps, working remotely at places that’re not his desk (the hair and the piercing not helping his cause, at all). Oh, but that is not the case. At a low enough blood sugar level, Dorsey could very well kick @realDonaldTrump off his platform - and therein lies the real triumph. The nerds have taken over the world and they’re taking all us pansies with them to a bright new future where real men order salad, or nothing at all, and cry if they want to.
Sunday Times, 16 June 2019
Mark Shapsack, a 9-year-old from Cresta in Johannesburg, said losing his parents in a shopping mall was the best thing that's ever happened to him. Found shopping for socks, Shapsack claimed life at home with his folks was a "living
nightmare" and that it was simply "time to get out".
"I just got tired of the grind," he said. "Every morning I wake up and there's these two strangers in the house telling me to get off the iPad, get dressed and go to school. It's bullshit."
Shapsak said he considered digging a tunnel to the playground from his room or stealing the family car, but settled on a mall run after he managed to shake his parents at a flea market once.
"The mall was a no brainer, really. It's huge. I'm surprised not more kids took the opportunity to make a break for it." According to the youngster, the future looked bright as he entered a time of "reflection" and "personal growth".
Shapsak aimed to finish his shopping for the day before heading to a friend's house to lay low for a while.
Saying he regretted opening the thing in the first place, German tourist Hans Utge, spent a day trying to get a travel brochure back to its original form.
According to Utge, the ordeal started when he folded the cover of the document to the left after which he proceeded to unfold the brochure to its full size.
Witnesses described the tourist reading the brochure in full before attempting to re-fold it by folding it back on itself. According to reports, this only made matters worse.
"He got his arms twisted in a very funny way," said Betsy Clemens who watched the drama from a shop window. Around mid-morning, Utge experienced a brief moment of hope when he managed to manoeuvre the
cover of the booklet to the front and the back page to the back. It appeared to have done the trick, but the brochure bulged in the middle which suggested there was still a problem on the inside.
Asked to comment, brochure expert Steve Rhemy said he expected better from a seasoned tourist such as Utge, but that folding a brochure was not any man's game.
"As soon as there are more than two pages you have to really pause and think about what you're doing," he said. "I like to think of it as a Rubik’s Cube"
“Thank you for reaching out” is a line in
an email I received the other day. I couldn’t tell whether it was meant
go for a coffee to discuss a burning
issue they might need help with.
Things that cannot be fully
expressed via email. But I haven’t
heard from them since so maybe
they found help elsewhere. Or
asking for help was never the
intention. If they were really in
trouble, I would have received an
email by now.
That leaves flippancy as the motivation, which makes me sad in a way. For a seemingly sincere line such as “Thank you for reaching out” to be stripped of its power — made redundant — and take its place next to “Hope you’re well” is a loss to us all. But a shout-out is called for to those who still try to work with what they’ve got. Every now and then a “Hope you’re well?” pops into my inbox and my heart lifts by as much as one question mark can lift a heart, and I’m very tempted to respond: “I am. Hope you are too?”
Or I see an email signed off not with “Kind regards” but “Kindest regards”, and I wonder is there even a better kind of kind than that? Or someone sends their “Warmest regards” at the end of an email with contents as cold as ice and I think to myself, kudos for trying.
I typed “Thank you for reaching out” in an email once (this very morning, in fact) but deleted it and replaced it with “Thank you for getting in touch”. I’m not ready to use the line in a flippant manner, nor deal with the consequences should the recipient of my email think it sincere.
As elsewhere in life, there are boundaries to honour when we email each other. Boundaries that will facilitate effective communication and allow relationships to prosper. At least, I think so.
Mail and Guardian, 21 May 2019
The Professional Hunter’s Association of South Africa (PHASA) has decided to lower its scope to focus on little game. The decision
comes in the wake of a public outcry resulting from the killing of a collared lion named Cecil that stood about hip-high. The association will also not be killing any animals wearing collars
for "the foreseeable future"
"We've decided to give animals on any sort of radar a break," said association president, Theo Bronkhorst. According to Bronkhorst his association will target animals like rodents and birds as part of its ongoing commitment to conservation. "You kill an eagle, you save a rabbit," he said. "It's simple math." PHASA will communicate their decision with the help of an
infographic showing the size of animals considered "fair game for now" and where to look for collars and other tracking devices. Bronkhorst said the association regretted the killing of "a lion with a name" at the hands of a dentist and reiterated that PHASA members are but "reasonably skilled". "Our guys are middle-management at best," he said. "Hunting is not a thinking man's game."
It’s been a tough year. Maybe the toughest
one yet. Tough at the beginning, the middle
and the end - the year has left but to look
The breaks (tax and otherwise),
the binging (series and
Yes, 2018 was tough, but when
last did we not have a tough
Last year was tough, the year
before that was tough — but
none of those compare with 1932:
a downright depressing year that
apparently set the tone for 1933
through to the present day.
We’ve always lived in tough
times, it appears, nothing has
been a-changin’ (with all due
respect to Bob Dylan).
From the get-go it’s been an uphill battle for humanity just to get through the day, the week (the year!); make it over the last hump before Christmas; give it that one final push.
Which brings me to C, which is come on, for the love of God, let’s look back on a so-so year. Let’s say 2018 had its ups and its downs, but overall things are not that much different now than they were 365 days ago. We’re all still (mostly) in one piece basking in the African sun. Seen from outer space on nights without load-shedding, South Africa shines bright. I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay. On a long enough timeline, “future events are likely to turn out so that they balance any past deviation from a presumed average”. It’s called the law of averages and I’d like to presume it’s true.
And if you had a horrible year in 2018, take heart for wheels, tables and tide — they all will turn. “The slow one now,” Bob sings. “Will later be fast.”
Mail and Guardian, 14 December 2018
Holiday makers across South Africa returned to work today with the express aim of slowing down for the Easter holiday coming up in April.
Describing severe levels of fatigue and burn-out, employees expressed relief to be back at the grindstone following a gruelling 2017 festive season that simply didn't seem to stop.
"Look, it's been bumper to bumper for the past two weeks, said Sandton IT specialist, Garth Myburgh. "I just want to go to work for the next couple of months, kick back and take a break for a while."
Karen Mackenzie, a magazine editor from Durban, echoed Myburgh's statement saying the period between Christmas and Easter could not have come soon enough. "Every year I say to myself 'I need a holiday from my holiday' and this is it," she said. But not everyone was happy with the amount of time available to clock in for some much needed rest. "I don't know if 3 months will be long enough to fully recharge," said Peter Masike, a quantity surveyor from Springs. "It's frankly sad how little work days we get per year."
Send me an email with 'Quote Request' as the subject. I'll know what you mean. In 5 sentences or less, tell me what you require. For example, "Hi there, we require three headlines for a major car retailer. Kindly send us a quote." Upon reading your mail, I'll get my quote chimp to draw up a quote and send it on to you. If it's a go, the chimp goes back in its cage and I will get busy writing at which point you should give yourself a pat on the back. You've succesfully completed my Quote System.
"Incredibly quick."Carmen Lerm, Fusion Design
"Top-notch copy."Karen Jeynes, ZANEWS
"Dynamite articles every time."Shaun De Waal, Mail & Guardian
"Brilliant... a one-stop shop for words."Elna Smit, Columinate
If you noticed I spelled the word
‘proofreading’ wrong in the
heading above, congratulations,
you grasp the basic concept. If you
didn’t, try to pay close attention
to the following.
The traditional, and best, technique to pick up spelling errors is to read copy back to front so as not t o get hooked on its meaning. For this, repeat the mantra, ‘just the word, just the word’.
Side note: Repeating the mantra, ‘ohmmm, ohmmm, ohmmm’ does not work as there is some discrepancy as to how ‘ohmmm’ is spelled. Google advises to spell the word with ‘as many Ms as is necessary’ which is also an accurate guideline on how long one should meditate, but does little to solve the problem. Experienced proofreaders contend that the only real vacation a proofreader can take is to travel to places where the wrien word is illegible to an English speaker such as South Korea or a doctor’s surgery.
On to apostrophes. Nothing takes a consumer’s mind off the health benefits of fruit juice quick er than, ‘It’s good for you’ spelled ‘Its good for you’. That’s not good for you, it’s atrocious.
Worldwide, words are spelled the same except in America where words are spelled differently because in America they do as they please. Try to remember where you are in the world and spell accordingly.
That’s it for today. I left one spelling error in the piece. If you can find it, well done, you’re on your way to becoming a competent proofreader. If you can’t, switch on Word’s spelling and grammar function and find it that way.
The newsletter always had the odds stacked against it. If it's not hard news and it's not a letter what exactly is it? I don't k now. But here's five tips to make yours a must-read.
If readers make it past the word 'newsletter' in your headline you're in with a chance. The first sentence now becomes super important - like the ridiculously good-looking yet caring receptionist in a dental surgery. Make it count. Exclamation marks, used sparingly, work well so slot a couple in early: Here it is! Your jam-packed, bumper issue quarterly newsletter. Note the words 'jam-packed' and 'bumper issue'. Intro gold.
Be topical, but stay relevant
April Fool's Day is a g ood topic for a newsletter. Rising tension in the Soviet Union is not. So sa y it's winter and you sell perishable fruit like the Perishables Products Export Control Board (PPECB). Go with a seasonal approach and add health tips: It's PPECBrrrrrr cold, isn't it? Here's a tipp to keep the flu away: Eat fruit before we export them!
Do interviews, but do the m well
Everyone will be wondering about Jim in IT. No one will be wondering how long he's been with the company. Find the six degrees that separate Jim from the CEO and ask him if he'd like to be CEO one day. Get the CEO's take on it, maybe get them to swap jobs for a day. Already you're way beyond 'Jim's hobbies' and onto a very powerful team building article.
Quelling fears of rampant dyslexia ravaging the company from the top down is as e asy as printing out a hard copy and reading it back to front. This way you can see every word seperately and notice it's spelled 'seperately' and not 'separately'.
Get a professional
I'm not saying this because I
charge money to write
newsletters (maybe I am a little).
I'm saying it because two
sentences saying the same thing
(next to each other!) are just
Yes, it costs a bit of mone y to get a professional, but why sound like a six-year-old in the special class when you should sound like a leader in your industry? Your newsletter is a hard-working PR tool. Give it the TLC it deserves.
Don't let the fancy French name
fool you, brochures are
down-to-earth vehicles for
informave promotion. Having
said that, a little flair c an go a
Here's five tips to make yours a must-read
Sell the sizzle not the steak
Often a brochure starts with a statement: Shelley Beach Lodge is a stunning holiday destination on Kwa-Zulu Natal's North Coast.
That sounds great.
This sounds better: Let the beach sand push through your toes while you have trouble deciding whether the cocktail tastes like coconut with a hint of vanilla or vanilla with a hint of coconut.
Like the plague. Same g oes for words and phrases that can't be found in the O xford English Dictionary. Yes, it's tempting to describe the GTL capability of your Flexo MS printer because you know for a fact GTL technology is the way of the future. Just keep in mind the man on the street does not.
3. Don't make lists
Any sentence with more than three commas is a no-no. Listing services loses its po wer when you don't have the luxury of counting them on your fingers. Rather break them up and give each one its fifteen minutes of fame with a little writ e-up of what makes it special: Mail Lodgement: A computerised service resulting in timely delivery at the minimum cost.
4. Shoot for an idea
Ideas are the currency of advertising. Brochures are advertising. Bring the two together. Say you're Bidvest Data and you happen to like data, go with a Facebook theme. Now add like-minded (pun intended) copy: We like data. We like to analyse data. We like to process it, enrich it an d store it.
5. Use pictures
This may come as a surprise from a copywriter but, with a little humility, I'm willing to admit that a picture does indeed tell a story of a thousand words.
Plus it's a big help since ther e's only space for 500 or so w ords in a brochure. Combine high-quality visuals with brilliant writing and, voilà, you're left with a beautifully functional brochure with flair to boot.
I get an SMS during the last scene of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Katniss comes across Peeta convulsing on a bed he's strapped to after he attacked her. Oh yes, spoiler alert. The SMS reads "Hi Hansie, I need copy by 13:00 can you help?!" I don’t respond immediately out of respect for my fellow moviegoers still basking in the afterglow of that last scene. There were four of us. People don't watch movies in the morning anymore.
My sister and I leave the cinema discussing the movie. She reckons it's better than the book (she’s read all three). I comment on the amazing special effects and how well they managed to keep things interesting although half the movie takes place underground. I start texting while walking careful not to bump into things or lose track of what my sister is saying. My reply reads, "Sure, no problem. I'm online in half an hour. Send the info."
My sister and I are heading home on the R44. I get another SMS calmly asking if I can send something by 12:30 instead. I tentatively reply "Yes." Conversation in the car turns to cars. My sister says it’d be cool if the next VW beetle had the old vintage shape with all the add-ons of the modern era. We reminisce about an old family beetle that used to break down every week. I remark how that's part of the lifestyle if you own an old beetle. We both chuckle because it’s true. I tell her she can go a little faster there are no cops around this time of year.
We arrive home. I tell my sister I have some work to do thanks for a great morning and she's off. I open my inbox. Apparently SARS owes me money. I ignore that mail and shift focus to a mail from client outlining the job: Gordon’s Dry Gin needs a press release to announce their new "Next Legend". I get to work.
As it turns out using the word "distinguished" more than once in a press release takes away some of its power. I resign to that fact and bang out a 370-word release also featuring words like "trailblazing pioneer” and “true legend". I give it a once-over for grammar errors and print it out for fine-comb treatment. Checked I send it off in 12pt Calibri font and make coffee. The email from SARS turns out to be a hoax. No surprise there.
An email from client comes in. They love the press release except the part about Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe and Ernest Hemingway being world figures who enjoyed great success and Gordon's Gin. I don’t argue since I can't, in all honesty, speak to the drinking habits of either of them so I take it out and send the revisions on. According to IMDb, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is being released on November 15. I SMS my sis to save the date.
Boardroom #1: Colour
Walking in I was struck by the table and chairs. In quick succession.
The table got me just below the hip pushing me off course into the uppermost chair on the side of the table facing the window. The wall on the opposite side was painted green.
My client sat with his back to the green wall creating a green screen effect which made it hard for me to focus on what was said. I imagined all sorts of things on that wall.
Braveheart came in from the left riding a magnificent horse to meet up with Jon Snow from Game of Thrones of all people. Together they rode to the North to fight the wildlings. David Attenborough's voice – sounding eerily similar to my client's – talked us through a caterpillar traversing a money tree. A synoptic chart came up. A beast of a cold front was pushing in from the west making landfall just above my client’s head.
My client. The brief.
We were discussing paint. Specifically, names for a new paint shop in the north, our north: Mpumalanga.
The Colour Lab and Top Coat were on the table.
I suggested Hue and Me and The Green Room.
Boardroom #2: Caffeine
A small space, but big enough to swing a young lion if you're careful not to hit the big screen to the right and the huge pencil sketch of New York to the left. Sliding doors made for a good escape route should it come to that.
I was there to discuss web copy for the coffee shop across the street. A PA – as is custom – asked what I would like to the drink. I ordered Rooibos.
The Rooibos arrived in a branded paper cup, which was weird. The owner of the coffee shop walked in. I noticed the logo on his shirt matched the one on my paper cup of tea.
It was awkward.
We watched some cartoons on YouTube for inspiration. I remarked how the coffee shop was a light-hearted space with a sense of humour. The owner agreed, but added that the coffee was serious. Very serious. I moved my Rooibos to the farthest end of the table and assured him I took coffee very seriously.
I told him I'm going to send him two coffee copy samples: a dark-roasted think piece and a lighter cafe blend for everyday use.
I joined the library. I passed
through the turnstiles, inhaled
the distinct odour of aging book s
and presented my proof of
address. A form was filled in and
a card gained.
I now have access to a medium-sized catalogue and four full rows of DVDs and CDs. I can check my email and read the latest magazines. There is even a couch.
Perhaps the best thing about joining the library is the de adline for finishing a book. It’s still two weeks and I’m not sure what punishment will be me ted out should I fail to return it on time.
Unlike in other sphe res of life, at the library it’s okay to miss the deadline — to take the book back, walk up to the counter and say out loud: “Repeat.”
But I don’t have the courage for that. To proclaim my reading speed falling short of the standard, and doing so in a r oom filled with pros. (“Three whole weeks he spent on a novella. Can you imagine?”)
I haven’t yet found the reference cabinet in my new library, and so strike out on my own. The snaking flow of the alphabe t is clearly indicated on signs: A with an arrow going this way, B with its arrow coming back and so on. I enjoy having to re-acquaint myself with the order of things sometimes having to stretch myself three leers deep (J… JA …JD … JO … JOH … JO V … ah! . .. JOY … JOYCE).
It surprises me that it’s taken me this long to (re)join the library. Was it pride that kept me away from the turnstiles (the poor man’s bookshop)? Distrust that they might not have what I’m looking for?
A definite contributing factor is the row of books on my bookshelf that’s stopped growing for now. As with feeling the pages of a book slide ag ainst your fingers, something is to be said for looking at a bookshelf packed to the brim.
I’ve heard it said that books on display, like an aquarium in a waiting room, tends to put people in therapy at ease. Rich people dedicate entire rooms in their mansions to books, going so far as to call it their library.
Circumstance unfortunately require that I live on take-outs at the moment and, truth be t old, it’s not all that bad. I’m still left with the experience of having read a book and the joy of carrying it around the house for a fortnight.
I’m a book surrogate, reading and abandoning books at the speed others go through a cupboard of clothes. Some books bore me and I take them back prematurely.
There are no hard feelings — it simply wasn’t a good fit. We part ways amicably, avoiding the discomfort of having to see each other in passing in the hall or bump into each other in the garage.
The split is complete (and no money is lost conducting “business” with a se condhand bookshop either).
To the books I love, it’s harder to say goodbye. They never really fitted in, covered in plastic thick as tarp; their spines covered in stickers and ink, but they were a part of the clan when they were
On a Friday a pigeon flew in the
window of the open-plan office
where I worked on contract
without making prior
arrangements. Linda who works
in the kitchen threw her arms
up as if praising the bird, while
Josh and Carol from accounts
herded the animal with
mousepads and keyboards and
no respect for boundaries
stepping into its personal space
which set it off on an ody ssey
to the back of the office.
The fun was over and everyone returned to their desks with the staff increased by one – a ray of light considering the company’s no-pet policy and the plethora studies outlining the benefits of animals to reduce stress and create a positive workspace.
A man in a light-blue uniform walked in and set the alarm off that, thankfully, wasn’t as loud as the car alarms that drifted in from the street probably because we were indoors and had work to do.
“It will only take a minute!” he yelled above the noise, but I put my headphones on anyway to listen to the sound beach waves crashing on an app tha t also has ‘blowing wind’ and ‘rain on car roof’. It created the impression of siting on ab each not far away from an office where they were running routine tests on the alarm system.
I regretted not spending extra cash on noise-cancelling headphones that promised choice with the proposition “What you hear is up to you” which is a lot mor e empowering than the phrase “You only hear what you want to hear” often heard by people not very good at not listening. A Skype call came through which required my immediate attention. I ducked under my desk for privacy and to commune with my colleagues’ feet.
With the rest of the office conveniently featured as the background to foster that all-important “business feel”, I nodded my head profusely to indicate I understood what was being said while the end of days played out around me. Behind the laptop I noticed Tracy was wearing the same shoes she had on the day before which tells you something about the money we earn. Ronald’s foot was bouncing which indicated nervousness.
I watched everyone walk by that took me back to childhood hiding from life under counters and blankets, the main difference being watching the adults as an adult that angle probably amounted to sexual assault.
The alarm died do wn. I poked my head out. The whole office had stopped not working and moved to the window like a herd of sheep. The pigeon flew in from the back.
Across the street was an ancient 80s high-riser standing in the way of progress and parking. The explosives were packed, somewhere a guy had his finger on a button, the countdown: three, two, one and down it came, cubicles and all, just like you see on TV. Josh said it’s about time they took that thing down and went to the kitchen to make everyone coffee. We hung around for another half hour to watch them clear the rubble for
“Please do not unplug or power
off your machine” the screen
read which I took as a threat
minus the “or else” bit so I did
what I always do when I receive
threats and sat dead still while
the machine got busy installing
update 1 of 52 – a ne w record.
The threat came at an awkward
time – the middle of the night –
together with the sudden
realisation that the baffling
daily updates could be Silicon
Valley’s dress rehearsal – their
Beta version I believe it’s called
– to reverse aging starting with
my rapidly deteriorating
Toshiba A40 series, which at
that point had installed five
updates. I was exactly 15
I sat back to consider the ramifications of eternal life and how that could be employed to decrease my monthly credit card payments. I considered my age: 38. A really shit time to stop aging considering life starts at 40.
I realised, kind of alarmingly, how the technical assistants at Incredible Connection appeared to remain, if not vital, eternally young. Thin arms. Robust skin problems. Limp wrists. It struck me that the geeks could stop time itself if they put their minds to it and that time indeed might stop for a man if he had a scr aggly beard and a greasy pony tail running down his back.
I wondered whether the geniuses in California really thought this thing through. Whether they will put overpopulation next on their list of things to solve or, at the very least, change the brochure from ‘live forever’ to ‘live on top of each other’.
The PC asked me to wait while it restarted and my thoughts turned to Violet Mosse-Brown (117), who became the world’s oldest person when Emma Morano (117) died recently. I wondered whether Emma might have lived longer had she used Windows 7, that hardly ever updates, instead of Windows 10 that updates almost daily. It was an interesting thought.
The laptop came back to life with a message that started off well enough telling me it was busy “configuring windows updates” and that it was “35% complete”. The tide turned at the end unfortunately with the direct order, “Do not turn off your computer”, which I obeyed without thinking.
I looked at the clock that now said 1 am. I w as exactly five hours older since the or deal started. I looked down at my arm. Old man skin. The scr een went in and out of focus as delirium took hold. At 55% complete, I suffered a mild stroke, followed by a heart attack at the 75% mark.
I called family and friends with the sad news that I think I might be dying waiting for my laptop to shut down. They rushed over and stood around me holding my hand as we all waited for the screen to turn to black. Instead it read, “Shuting down”.
I saw my soul leave my body from a vantage point a couple of metres away as my limp frame slumped forward onto the keyboard. The paramedics arrived a little while la ter, so I was told, and rushed me t o Grootte Schuur where they brought me back to life. The doctors gave me one year to live.
Sad, they said, considering life begins at 40.
As part of my ongoing study of
the tastes of the world I
emailed a number of outlets
about an item called Gordon
The dish I notice d on their menus shared many characteristucs with the French classic, Cordon Bleu, with the obvious difference being the spelling.
Most of the restaurants didn't respond leading me to think their obsession with spelling runs so deep it' s preventing them from sending emails.
The more relaxed outlets did respond, however, and offered a variety of explanations of why they chose to name ham wrapped in chicken after a guy called Gordon.
I noticed a dish called Gordon Bleu in one of y our KwikSpars. I was wondering who Gordon is? My first thought was maybe he works in the deli and deli s taff think so highly of his chick en skills they decided to name a dish after him.
Then I thought, no, Gordon Ramsay is a bona fide chef so probably the ham-filled chicken balls are named after him. That would make sense, but Gordon Ramsay endorses Checkers so there's that.
I know for a fact it's not Gordhan Pravin (different spelling plus the balls ar e pretty expensive) which only leaves Flash Gordon. Is it Flash Gordon? Because it's a KwikSpar?
Please let me know.
Embarrassing but you have
made it so funny!
Which Kwikspar was this at and I will have it fixed up asap.
TO: UNIVERSITY OF JYVÄSKYLÄ, NORWAY
I’m studying the ‘Tastes of the World’. I noticed a dish c alled 'Escalope of Turkey (Gordon Bleu)' on your menu.
I was wondering who Gordon is?
My instincts tells me he hails from the British Isles; the name Gordon having its origins in England. Why he chose to travel to Scandinavia I don't know.
The Turkey connection also baffles me.
Please can you assist in this regard?
TO: UNIVERSITY OF JYVÄSKYLÄ, NORWAY
Thank you for your contact! Gordon is one of the oldest friends of our Stude nt Union. Gordon lives in Turkey (maybe this is why you are confused) but he visits he re in Jyväskylä once in while.
His mother is from England, which explains the name roots. Everybody loves Gordon, especially his bleu eyes. I hope to see him again soon.
I hope this ans wer is satisfying you.
If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to contact. I will gladly help you! Good luck with the research, I can't wait the results!
TO: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
My partner and I are having an argument we need your help with. We noticed a dish called Gordon Bleu on your menu. We're wondering who Gordon is?
We're both vegan (one of the things we have in common) so we're a little thin on culinar y history.
My partner says he's one of the owners. I reckon he's a French man (surname Blue) who got married at Stukkies Liefde and raved about the dish. Kindly let us know so we can settle this little lovers' quarrel.
FROM: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
You are right, it is a specialty of the caterer, whose grandfather was Gordon. It was his special take on the classic Cor don Bleu.
TO: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
Who is right? Me or my
By the way, I'm scouting for a wedding venue so be careful who you choose.
FROM: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
You of course :-)
TO: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
Well Lizelle, you’ve twisted my
My partner and I would like to tie the knot on your plot on October 4, 2014.
We're planning a rugby-themed wedding to accommodate guests who want to watch the game between South Africa and New Zealand.
Kick-off is at 17:00. We will need three big screens next to the aisle at the wedding service and another three in the tent at the reception.
To make up for the wedding's male skew, we're inviting Nataniël. Gordon Ramsay will be accompanying Nataniël - strictly as a Checkers branding partner - and this is whe re we need your caterer's help.
Gordon hates "fucking Gordon Bleu". We'd like to keep obscenities down to a minimum so can we ask your caterer to name his take on the classic something else?
There is a university in Norway that call it "Escalope of Turkey Gordon Bleu", but that still has the word Gordon in. Maybe "Escalope of Heidelberg"?
Let us know.
FROM: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
I suggest that you come have a
look at the venue and then you
can decide where you would
want the big screens.
For how many people would it be?
Sure, I will be uploading n ew menus anyway within the next few weeks.
TO: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
My partner is not happ y with the rugby theme - we'll have to re-consider and get back to you.
The wedding is off for now.
Thanks and regards
FROM: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
Hmmm I’m not really surprised. Good luck with that.
TO: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
Good news! The wedding is back on! Turns out the sporting code was the problem.
My partner agreed to a cricket-themed wedding, so we'll still need the big screens only this time we’ll need them up for five days.
South Africa take on the West Indies from January 2 to January 7, 2015 so w e'll need the venue from 2nd to the 7th. Please let me know if this is doable.
FROM: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
Ok great that is do-able. So you want to rent the venue for 5 days??
TO: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
Five days, yes. Just to let you know, we're geting very excited this side. Stukkies Liefde is absolutely perfect for our nuptials, regardless of the fact that it's in Heidelberg.
We are looking at other venues, however.
Please will you let us know if the below requests are doable? Would be great if you could answer each bullet point separately:
• We want guests to arrive by boat on the river next to the venue. The boat will embark from Joburg and navigate the network of rivers connecting the city to your venue. We are concerned that, upon arriving at the venue, the boat will have nowhere to moor forcing guests to swim ashore risking damage to their electronic equipment (cell phones, iPads etc). Does Stukkies & Stokkies have a mooring facility and will it be open on Januar y 1, 2015? Please can you also supply us with a map and the names of the rivers between Heidelberg and Park Station in Joburg?
• We're thinking of strapping a GoPro to a dog to capture the wedding on video. Do you have a dog that can go the distance for 5 days? A Great Dane would be great for its height or if you have a Yorkie we can ask someone to carry the dog for head and shoulder shots. It would be nice if the dog was dipped (for the sake of the GoPro and whoever will be carrying the animal) but if it's not that's also OK. We'll dip it in the river ourselves if you can just get the go-ahead from your neighbors down stream. It'd be sad to have a Erin Brockovich type situation after all the excitement of the wedding.
• Many of our friends ar e Buddhists, sorry, nudists (some are both) which means the y can drop their kit at any moment. Are you okay with that? We can confine them to the pool area and call it a colony - maybe add some penguins for effect - but we can't guarantee they'll stay there for the duration of the wedding. Do you perhaps have wooded areas out of vie w but within walking distance from the main reception area?
Thanks and regards
FROM: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
The river boat ride would not
be possible unfortunately. The
stream is not big enough f or
boats and boats are not
We have 2 huskies, but I do not know whether they would do what you request. They tend to run away.
Yes we are ok with nudity and it is quite covered from public view is that is your thing.
TO: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
That’s a shame about the stream. I expected more from Heidelberg. It’s OK, we can drive people in and float them down the stream on blow-up rubber boats. Or tyres. We’ll work out the details. Don’t worry about the dogs, we’ll discipline them. Your position on public nudity is refreshing.
Please will you send us a pic of your new menu with Gordon Bleu changed to Escalope of Heidelberg?
FROM: STUKKIES LIEFDE
BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
Our menu has changed. You can see the new menu on our website.
TO: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE
What?! What's happened to the Gordon Bleu?
FROM: STUKKIES LIEFDE BOUTIQUE WEDDING VENUE