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Life in Solitary: The Rear End of… What’s Her Name?

Published on: 18 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 19 Sep, 2020

Tony Edwards

The Lockdown Diary of Tony Edwards

My Lost Lockdown Day

At precisely 11am last Saturday I realised it was Friday. The proof was there, in black and white, in the morning paper, Friday, September 11th 2020, it said at the top of the page. I’d somehow taken a mental leap from Thursday to Saturday, deleting Friday on the way for reasons which remain unclear.

Just as well I discovered my memory malfunction when I did because I was about to call the newsagent in East Horsley to complain that my Weekend magazine, normally delivered with Saturday’s edition of the Daily Mail was missing. He’d have concluded, with some justification, that I’d finally lost it.

My brain was clearly in need of a bit of a work-out so I set about exercising my mental capabilities with an on-line test for Alzheimer’s. All very simple, if a tad daunting; just remember the eight numbers which were about to flash across my computer screen in quick succession, and then repeat them correctly – and in the right order – for a winning score. I got it wrong the first couple of times but then managed to drag my brain out of neutral and, if memory serves, got the next five right. I quit the test while I was ahead.

Then I read somewhere, I don’t remember where, that we’re all becoming more anxious about both our physical and mental health as a result of lockdown and the effects of isolation. Personally, I’m not in the least bothered because, as someone once famously observed, I don’t remember who, three things happen as you get older. The first is that your memory starts to fade. I can’t remember the other two.

Carol Vorderman – Rear of the Year 2011 and 2014

Covid Halts Cheeky Awards

Round about now, if these were normal times, I’d be organising a Champagne press reception and photo-call at London’s Dorchester Hotel to announce the male and female celebrity winners of the “Rear of the Year” awards. But this year’s annual celebration of the gluteus maximus as an erogenous zone and fashion indicator, now in its 39th year, is yet another victim of the pandemic.

Setting up some kind of social distancing for the 50-strong pack of press photographers, reporters and TV crews which annually turn up for the presentation in the Dorchester’s Penthouse suite and roof terrace, would have been an impossible task.

But that wasn’t the only problem. Nominations from the general public usually top 10,000 a year, with the bulk of them lodged between March and July. This year the Rear of the Year website received only a trickle of votes as celebrities stayed at home during the lockdown summer instead of showing-off their rear assets at all the usual red-carpet dos and photo-ops, so there’s been no voting inspiration for their fans.

It’s been a long time since Barbara Windsor received the very first award but, since then, others have included Michelle Keegan, Idris Elba, Rachel Riley, Olly Murs, Charlotte Church, Denise van Outen, Suzi Quatro, Graham Norton, Fiona Bruce, John Barrowman and Carol Vorderman, to name but a few.

More winners – Fiona Bruce (2010) and John Barrowman (2012)

Last year’s winners were Amanda Holden and Sir Andy Murray, both of them demonstrating a fashionably firm and trim rear following time spent in the gym.

Home Working Cuts Corporate Crime

Company fraud “costing firms £1.5bn a year”. Daily Telegraph

The nationwide call to office staff to abandon their desks and work from home during lockdown brought with it a whole new spectrum of problems for companies large and small. But, trawling through my filing cabinets this week, I was reminded that it will also have brought major savings for companies as a result of reduced corporate crime.

“Company fraud costing firms £1.5bn a year”, screamed the headline in the Daily Telegraph which reported on a survey carried out a few years back on behalf of a PR client of mine in the corporate security business. It listed some of the more inventive ways cash had been siphoned-off from the corporate coffers.

But hidden away in the statistics was the revelation that, when questioned, many members of staff thought it was perfectly OK to pocket company note pads, pens, blocks of Post-It notes and paper clips. They also found nothing wrong with making personal calls on the company phone, and “enhancing” their petty cash claims for travel and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Okay,  they’re not in the same league as some of the alleged “goings on” at Enron or Lehman Brothers, but when you multiply their cumulative effect across a staff of, perhaps, 400 people, it can produce an annual petty theft total to torpedo any company’s bottom line.

Sometimes the petty cash claims were laughably blatant, like the cheeky chappie who filed his petty cash claim with a list of cab journeys “from ground-floor reception to third-floor offices” and a series of lunches with “the cast of ‘Gone With the Wind’ and ‘How the West Was Won’.” He’s probably the CEO by now.

And No ‘Buzz Words’

Abandoning the office desk for a make-shift work station at the kitchen table also cuts out the office banter and the viral spread of pointless “Buzz Words” and phrases. I did a bit of armchair research this week on the worst examples of trendy “Executive Speak” which should be avoided at all cost if you hope to retain your business credibility.

The worst ten, in no particular order, are:

Let’s get our ducks in a row.

I see where you’re coming from.

We’ve been thinking outside the box.

Let’s do lunch sometime.

Top of mind awareness.

Please don’t let’s go there.

The bottom line is….

All singing from the same hymn sheet.

Run that by me again.

Getting on the front foot.

But, at the end of the day, going forward in the “new normal”, I’ve decided to blue sky what’s on my radar, reach out, touch base and drill down to reach the low hanging fruit for some creative up-wording… all things being equal.

CMA Investigates House Builders

Taylor Wimpey, the house builder planning to build new homes at “Three Farms Meadows”, the former Wisley airfield, is one of four companies which could face court action over the sale of rip-off leasehold homes, according to regulators. The Competition & Markets Authority [CMA] said it had found “troubling evidence of potentially unfair terms” and warned that buyers may have been “unfairly treated and mislead”.

Antonis Pazourou, TW’s project manager, tells me it’s “too early to comment” but that the board takes this very seriously and will continue to cooperate with the CMA investigation. Watch this space.

Covid Column Inches

You will probably be surprised to know that the death of Princess Diana achieved more column inches in Britain’s national press than the whole of World War 2.

Sounds a bit far-fetched, I know, bearing in mind the war lasted for six long years from September 1939 to September 1945. But the explanation is simple: the enforced austerity of the war meant that there was a shortage of newsprint so reporters were required to “get it in the first word” when filing copy; meaning news items were brief and to the point with most of the key facts crammed into the first paragraph.

Over half a century later, things were very different. Diana’s death and funeral in 1997 received weeks of front pages, masses of follow-up inside pages, and features galore for well over six months.

The column inches calculations came from the archives of a leading press cuttings monitoring agency whose PR I used to handle and I mention them because Covid coverage in the media from March to September has probably exceeded the World War 2 tally as well. It may even be nudging Princess Diana’s unprecedented coverage by now and looks set to establish new records as it inevitably hogs the headlines well into next year.

But it’ll probably be punctuated by a new series of Brexit front pages as we near December 31st and the end of the transition period. In the interim, it looks like we can expect self-appointed “experts”, like arch-remainers John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Milliband, to continue giving us the benefit of their biased bleatings. Even Theresa May and David Cameron have joined the chorus.

‘Moonshot’ Matt’s Mixed Messages

First Matt Hancock told us we all need to get tested for Covid 19 as a matter of urgency. Then he wagged an accusing finger and told us off for wasting valuable testing resources by doing what he told us to do in the first place. It was a bit like a game “Simon Says” but with no prospect of winning.

Now Moonshot Matt’s “Rule of Six” makes it illegal to meet-up with more than five people you don’t live with – unless you meet as a household or support bubble. But it’s OK if everyone lives together or the get-together is about employment, education, training, child care, and voluntary or charitable work. Then again, you can meet up to 30 people at a time if it’s a wedding or a funeral and, better still, you can mix with as many people as you like if you’re planning indoor or outdoor sports, gatherings of youth groups, protests and political marches – or if you’re attending court.

I’m thinking of hiring the Old Bailey for a pre-Christmas shindig for family and friends. It seems to be free most weekends and, if Matt’s law changes overnight again, I’d be conveniently in the right place for the subsequent prosecution.

Stranger than Fiction

There was a virus which started killing people all over the world and nobody knew how to stop it. It was invisible and frightened everyone so they had to wear masks and couldn’t kiss each other but they washed their hands and bought lots of toilet rolls. Old people had to keep away from everyone else or get told off and nobody was allowed to have parties or go to football matches.

The reality of Covid 19 is beginning to sound a bit like a story made-up by a seven-year-old for a school essay.

Sarcasm & Heart Attacks

What do Ricky Gervais, Alan Sugar, Piers Morgan, Andrew Neil, Jo Brand and Donald Trump have in common? The answer is that they could each be a prime suspect for heart problems if curious research by the University of Tennessee is anything to go by. While it might feel good to deliver a withering put-down, it can, apparently, also raise your chances of a heart attack, according to the Tennessee Uni report this week. Ah yes… Tennessee… the home of intellectual giants like Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Davy Crockett (he quipped, clutching his chest).

Thought for the Day

If it’s true that Covid-19 can live on plastic for up to two weeks, it might be wise to steer clear of the Kardashians.

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Responses to Life in Solitary: The Rear End of… What’s Her Name?

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    September 18, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    Priceless as usual from Tony. In my management consulting days colleagues and I used to play buzzword bingo, competing for who could get the most inane comments into presentations to our investment banking clients. Maximum points were earned for, “I’m just going to run this idea up the flagpole, to see if anyone salutes.”

  2. John Perkins Reply

    September 20, 2020 at 9:31 am

    Wonderful stuff!

    In the 1970s I used a computer program, BuzzGen, which created a phrase from three random and otherwise neglected words. That was in the days when our government believed in supporting failure, unlike er…

    However, I take issue with Tony calling Matt ‘Moonshot’ – that title, I believe, belongs to Boris. Matt’s correct appellation is surely ‘Milk Monitor’ (yes I’m that old).

  3. Valerie Thompson Reply

    September 20, 2020 at 9:51 am

    Wonderful! Gave us a laugh this morning, but on reflection much of what Tony says is sadly all too real and thought provoking.

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