Friday, 9 December 2011

Baby Fight Club

The first rule of Baby Fight Club is: you do not talk about Baby Fight Club.

The second rule is: you never laugh at Baby Fight Club.

The third rule is: keep it clean: no hair pulling, no dummy spitting, no pooping.

I attended my first Baby Fight Club yesterday.  It was held at an unassuming Church Hall nearby. I had got to know about it through word of mouth.

The lady on the door (who I only knew as 'Mrs Wendy') didn't say much, just gave me a nod and asked if I wanted to buy a raffle ticket. £1 a strip, I thought, why not? 

Nervous, as I had never been part of a gathering like this before, I went inside and waited with the others. 

In front of me were babies of all different sizes, some wearing tabards, some wearing tea cloths, others, particularly the smaller ones, wore wings.

Next, there was shouty singing, followed by awkward dancing. But no one could quite prepare me for what would happen next.

While two babies tended a smaller baby at the front, one of the smaller winged babies at the back - apparently frustrated with the lack of action - lunged at the small winged baby next to it. 

Startled, the smaller baby flailed a bit before standing up and trying to move away.

Unperturbed, the aggressor continued, this time making a clumsy grab for the smaller baby's halo in an attempt to bring her to the ground.  

Knowing things were getting dirty, 'Mrs Wendy' stepped in telling the one who started the fight to 'keep her hands to herself'. 

After the ugliness, they tried to continue as before with more shouty singing and flappy dancing. But the soiled elephant in the room was still there.          

Once it was over, I knew what I had just witnessed would change me. How could it not? 

On the drive home, there was one question that kept coming back again and again in my mind: 

"How do I tell my husband, the father of my child, that our only sweet first born daughter, tried to punch out another baby at her first nativity?"   

Look at me again, Mary, and I'll cut you

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Blamey's Twelve Days of Christmas

Here's my special Christmas Countdown for fellow bah humbuggers out there who couldn't give a figgy pudding about Christmas yet either:

1. The number of annoying, smug-fest adverts excreted by John Lewis (whose wet warbley soundtrack is bound to be the Christmas number one) which features a boy counting the minutes to give his present to his mum and dad.  

As Charlie Brooker put it, what you're actually watching is the awakening of psychopath-in-training and that the box actually contains the head of the family dog. 

2. The number of times your children will alert you to the fact that they have located, played with and got bored of, their presents.

3. The number of times you will go to M&S to try to buy a Christmas pudding, only to find they've been snaffled by pigeon faced pensioners and men wearing mustard cords.  

4. The number of glasses of pinot noir you will need to inhale before you stumble over to your neighbour's 'turkey and tinsel' evening.

5. The number of heavy sighs you will make before reminding your other half again when the kiddleywinks nativity is.

6. The number of pairs of scissors you did have but can't find, leaving you to cut selotape with your teeth or gardening secateurs.

7. The number of times you will utter "I knew we should have had Christmas to ourselves this year" whilst fidgeting at your in-laws because Elf is on and everyone else wants to watch Downton Abbey.

8. The number of times you will need to replenish the bottles of Cava you have stashed in the garage for Christmas Day, before Christmas Day.

9. The number of extra pounds you will acquire from hoovering up  Cadbury's Roses like a chocolate scoffing magpie. Step away from the tin Cakey Price.

10. The number of times you will regret insisting on a real tree ('because it smells Christmassy'), when you find a special present from the cat in its pot and are still tweezering pine needles from your feet at Easter.  

11. The number of times you wake up in the night doubting whether you actually turned the Christmas tree light off.  Wait, I'm that burning I can smell...?

12. The number of laughs you will have by asking anyone under the age of five to slap their cheeks and pull the face of Macualey Culkin in the Home Alone poster.

So, did I miss any?  Please feel free to add your christmas crackers below.


Friday, 18 November 2011

Take two dates, some boggly eyes, half a bottle of pinot grigio and what do you get?

Only the best stop motion 'Save the Date' wedding film that's ever been made!

Living with a filmmaker can take you to some strange and wonderful places but none more strange than this week, when I helped create a unique 'Save the Date' wedding film.

The new shiznit in the world of weddings - and definitely trumping those flimsy fridge magnets - is for couples to create their own 'Save the Date' wedding film to send to family and friends.  

Already huge in America - only they do it in a much more cheesey mcpeasy way -  these little emailable beauties are catching on in the UK. 

To show visitors to Matt and Pete's wedding film website what a Save the Date film looks like, we created a homesspun version using, amongst other things, our pug, some birds (twitter variety) and two woolly dinosaurs.  

You can sneak a peek here...

Alex and Sarah's 'Save The Date' Film from Blind Crow Pictures on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Sick, Sicker or Sickest - The How Poorly Are You Test

I always go by the 'Tenner Test' to tell the difference between a cold and the flu. 

It goes like this: If you see a 10-pound note on the pavement outside and there is no way you would go and get it, you have flu. 

If you have a cold, well then, the milky bars are on you.

Quite frankly, for the past ten days, if John Cusack - my celebrity crush du jour - had been wearing a suit of crumpled fifties outside my house, I'd have not given a hairy goose.

I am not sure what category of flu I have but it's bronchial, it's tickly and I honk like Will Self from the moment I wake up to when I go to bed.  

If it was a hurricane it would probably be called 'Hurricane La La Princess Pea' beacuse the cuter the name the more vicious it is.

Anyway enough about me, how are you? Are you feeling poorly? Here are ten ways to tell how sick you are.

You're a 'little bit' sick if:

1. You can't do anything useful, i.e., take out the rubbish, but can eat Maltesers while watching back to back Grey's Anatomy and Ghostbusters, very well.

2. You are able to muster enough strength to make a small journey to the little Tesco to stock up on essentials, such as, Nurofen, crumpets, Twinings tea bags and a flake.    

3. You are valiantly carrying on as usual, shopping for a lovely new pair of boots for Winter, doing an oil change, craniofacial surgery etc.

You are 'moderately' sick if:

4. You have called work and actually feel a bit sick.

5. You can't face a Sunday dinner (including yorkshires), or a cooked breakfast of any kind.

6. You think it's a good idea to have the sick bowl (i.e. your largest cake mixing bowl) pivoted on the arm of the sofa, 'just in case'

You are 'seriously' sick if:

7. You are lying face down on the bed, fully clothed (including outerwear and shoes) with one side of your face lying on an ever increasing circle of pillow spit

8. You're staring at the bottom of one of those grotty toilet brush holders, a little lost sponge stuck to the waste pipe at the back of your loo and someone else's feet

9. Normal standards of cleanliness have been abandoned in favour of: 'I know it's the spoon reserved for the cat food but I really need to take this medicine now'.

10. You look down to see that your two-year old is rolling a ball of used chewing gum between their fingers and just shrug.
There you have it, Dr Blamey's surgery is now closed due to 'serious' illness.  Please feel free to leave your comments below. 

Monday, 17 October 2011

Five Mistakes Grandparents Make

Whoa, this one is packing a bit of extra timber isn't she?
The battle of ‘who knows best for baby’ is something every new parent goes through with their parents and, bless their M&S cottons, if they are still around, their grandparents.  
However, among the many inter-generational spats to be had, there are five howlers that all grandparents seem to make.

Calling your baby fat

Grandparents are hard-wired to call your baby fat. They can't help it. Sometimes they might use 'weasel words' like ‘sturdy’ or 'blooming' but make no mistake, they are calling your baby fat.

The last jibe I witnessed of this nature went something like this:

Grandparent picks up nine month old of normal size and stature for inspection. 

‘Aw the weight of it. Nigel, I said, have you felt the weight of it?’

She’s a baby.  She doesn’t eat iced buns all day, except when she is with you and then it's acceptable to scoff Jammie Dodgers for breakfast, apparently.

Feeding them nonsense

We all know that it is a grandparent's job to spoil their grandchild, but really, forgoing all fruit and veg for doughnuts for a weekend? Is that spoiling them or setting them up for a coronary bypass, you decide.

Telling you how it's done

As my lovely grandpa put it when he was first introduced to his two day old great-granddaughter: 

'What you’ve go to do is swing them from side to side and then slap them really hard on the back so that they breathe, oh that sheep? Oh well, our four seemed to do ok...’.

When you can’t tell the difference between a human birth and  lambing, it maybe time to stop dishing out the child rearing advice.

Dressing them like morons

Once you utter the fateful invitation of: ‘I know, shall we let granny to dress you today?’ know that a fashion train crash is heading your way.

Grandparents have a habit of dressing children like a cross between a sensory toy for the visually impaired and Katie Price: Hand knit cardigan - check,  combat pants (they’ve outgrown)- check , belly exposing  t-shirt - check and Minnie Mouse ears - check. Perfect for a day at Junglemania. 

Staying up late

Like the best, most green behind the ears supply teacher your child could ever wish to encounter, grandparents happily let little ones stay up way past their bed time, in fact, way past your bedtime.

Hey grandparents,  two year olds are no good at pulling all nighters, no matter how many lines of sherbet dip you allow them to snort.

But when you consider the technological, medical and psychological advances that have been made in child rearing in the past twenty five/fifty years since they became parents,  is it any wonder their approach is slightly skew?

I mean, for a start, we don’t let them sleep in the bottom drawer anymore.  We are pretty sure that eating crisps with brown spots on them while pregnant won't lead to birth deformities and as for weaning them on hay...or wait, is that sheep?  

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Hello, is that Ms Blamey? It's the office at the bottom of your garden here. We think you should get dressed now.

There are many advantages to working for yourself: your hours, your home, your garden, your dressing gown, your biscuit tin, your dog (there can be drawbacks to this), your child (see caveat for dog), your partner (see caveat for dog and child). 

But I am not sure why working for yourself is held up as the bastion of 'having it all’?    

I mean, don't get me wrong there are some definite advantages.
From not having to ping-pong around the office politics of 'who's hot and who's not' this month, to not having to request time off to do 'basic human functiony' things like the dentist/doctor('Oh, really, what's wrong...?' *Office quietens to a hush as you decide whether to actually say 'anal polyps'*), not to mention being able to scoff custard creams like a spotty piglet without saying 'I know I shouldn't...' to colleagues every time you put your hand in the tin.


However, working from home is hardly Club Tropicana - sitting on an inflatable, laptop in one hand, Pina Colada in the other.

Yes, there are good days, and, yes, my freelance tan is coming on quite nicely thank you, but some days it can be hard to get motivated, especially when there is so much other stuff going on around you.  

For example, the door bell.  I had no idea how much action this little button, the tease, was getting until I was at home during the day.      

As well as becoming the cul-de-sac post office collection point ('Oh good you're in, would you mind taking in parcels for numbers six and ten?), I have made new friends in the form of the-man-who-sells-fish-that-no-one-wanted-at-the-market-that-day (mmm, yes please) and, the rag and bone man, who I thought was a fictional character made up to scare the bejeebers out of small children. Turns out he is alive and well and after your tut.


My neighbours also provide a never ending source of fun and distractions for someone, like me, seeking distraction.

Firstly, there are my immediate neighbours. 

Like a mature version of Tom and Barbara from The Good Life but with Jerry's wine cabinet, they have the wonderful - and very welcome - habit of calling out 'fancy a jar?' over the hedge. 
Three holiday measure G&Ts later and I am fishing newts out of their pond to 'watch them wriggle'. 


Also, I have noticed that our cul-de-sac is one of those very British enclaves where people hang on to their homes until old age makes them a) as crazy as mud bug on a griddle or b) spontaneously combust in front of Question Time.

This means that every day life is a bit like an episode of Last of the Summer Wine - there is always something 'going off'.

In the last four weeks:

Someone bought a classic motorbike

Someone fell off a ladder

Someone ‘allegedly’ made moonshine in their shed

Someone's grandchild pepper sprayed them in the face by accident

Someone cut their hedge into a topiary Thomas the Tank Engine.   


There has also been:

A garage sale (with bunting)

A street barbecue (with bunting)

An autumn ramble (with bunting around the sign announcing there was an autumn ramble).

I know all of this because I have the pleasure of working from home.  And, quite honestly, now I am on this side of the Thomas Tank topiary, I wouldn't swap my cul-de-sac colleagues for the world.

Home Brew or Home Stew, what's your working from home experience?

Lots of love, the Fat Controller x

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

From Grub to Caterpillar

Human Grub to Hungry Caterpillar

As the last precious days of the summer holiday swirl down the plug hole that is ‘shopping-for-things your-toddler-needs-for-pre-school’, I am going to dedicate my next two blogs to activities that you can and can’t do with a two-year old. 

I never appreciated just how easy life was during those first stages of your baby’s life – they are essentially a portable, compliant and extremely sleepy ‘human grub’.  

Just this morning I caught myself staring wistfully at a new mum, her baby cocooned snugly to her chest, deftly managing the self-scan checkout, whilst my mini Godzilla cleaved the heads off gerberas in the fresh flower section.

The brilliant thing about the human grub is that for about nine months you can strap them to you, or to someone or something else, and they will stay there.  Not only will they stay there, they will probably fall into a sound-proof sleep, meaning that everyday tasks, such as shopping, walking and eating (just remember to swat the crumbs from their heads now and again) are relatively easy to accomplish.

Once your grub grows legs, however, it is all about the walking, the poking and the squeezing.

So, in honour of all those at the walking, poking and squeezing stage, here are five things you can do with a two-year old.   

Canary Wharf – yes the heart of the UK’s financial and media district might sound like an unusual place to make a toddler happy but there is something about the heady mix of open spaces to dance, enclosed spaces to make raspberry noises, ratty pigeons to chase and sqooshy fountains to put your hands in that makes Canary Wharf toddler-nip.

Retirement homes – an elderly gentlemen approached Poppy in the supermarket the other day and said, ‘we have lots in common, you and I’. Putting this theory to the test I took Poppy to visit my granny at nursing home.   Expecting Poppy to start poking snoozy post-lunch elderly folk with copy of the Lady I was surprised to find the gentleman’s comment was true – something about the lack of speech, the unsteadiness on the legs and the comfortableness with bodily emissions, make toddlers and the elderly very happy companions indeed.

Gardening – it can be surprisingly easy to entertain your toddler in the garden.  Give them a bucket and spade.  Dig up a worm as an example and then say you need five more.  Brilliant.  Snails are even better, but sadly their shells make them a little more breakable.  I have a theory that if it starts to foam, it is time to rescue it. 

Ducks – providing the ducks are playing ball (our nearest duck shop is Marlow where they are quite frankly spoilt) feeding the ducks can be an endless source of toddler fun.  Gratifying and cheap - we like them.      

Ikea – we struggled with the idea of taking Poppy to Ikea but we were pleasantly surprised by the cheap scandowegian furniture experience.  Like an indoor Canary Wharf, but with cheap ice-cream and hot dogs, there are beds to roll on (with your shoes on), furniture mountains to climb and small pencils to chew.

Which unusual places have you found for toddler fun?   

Next time...funerals and four other places you can’t take your toddler.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Someone to colour-in required, good rate of pay, don't care if you go over the lines a bit

That'll be £16 please
The other night I dreamt my job was 'colouring-in'.  I received £16 per picture, which wasn't bad, considering my manager (a lady wearing a blue hair net who had served me in Greggs earlier that day) wasn't at all fussed if I went over the lines.

Pleased with my career move, I was just about to start on a picture of three Disney Princesses, when I was drop-kicked out of my dream job  into my reality - a child's heavy nappy needed changing:  'Mama leak! Mama leak!'  

Slightly disappointed that colouring-in wasn't a viable, or indeed real, job prospect, I was comforted by the fact that freelance writing is (despite the tra la la global recession).

In addition, if you know where to look, it can pay pretty well too.


The world wide web is like a great cyber mall version of John Menzies,  toting acres of empty shelves that need to be filled with the written word.   From Ezines, such as Red Neck World, seeking tips on critter crushing, through to high street businesses, like Croydon's Abra-Kebab-Ra looking for words to sell their meaty treats -  everyone these days is looking for enticing content. 

But as every freelance writer knows it can be time intensive pitching your work to online publications and potential clients.
However,  I recently stumbled upon on a website which takes the effort out of actively selling in content.  Constant Content operate an online market place that allows you to upload and sell your articles at a price that you set.  

Flotsam and jetsam

What appears to separate Constant Content from a lot of the flotsam and jetsam out there,  is that they pride themselves on setting high editorial standards.

This means, that as well as taking a short test before you join, every article you submit is subjected to a rigorous review and can be rejected if it does not meet their stringent editorial requirements.   

As a part of this, they also run a strict 'three strikes and you're out' rule (yes, they really are colour-within-the-lines- only type of people). 

But while this may seem harsh, this discipline helps to keep the standard of writing high on the web and is one in the eye for those naughty content farms who are happy to publish any old cobblers in the hope that it may attract visitors to their advertisers.

Furthermore, once you have had five articles accepted by Constant Content you can then access writing jobs posted by private clients.

So far, my time with Constant Content has been a positive experience - okay, it may not be as simple as colouring-in, but it does take some of the grinding sales work out of your role as a freelance writer, whilst also providing another mineable seam of job opportunities.  Which, let's face it, when some of your reality is spent dealing with 'Mama leak', is no bad thing.

Just remember to stay within the lines.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Broken goats, a flock of ‘dirds’ and more morons than you can shake a stick at – welcome to Woburn Safari Park

The entrance to Woburn Safari Park appeared so promising – all big squirly iron gates, sweeping driveways and wooden-clad bins.

But unfortunately our little family, well Matt and I – Poppy’s happy in a bin box - found the whole experience sadly lacking.

Perhaps it was because we visited on one of the hottest weekends of the year when a Peppa Pig frenzy was in full swing, or perhaps it was because Woburn Safari Park was simply having an ‘off day’ and wanted to put its feet up and eat a Calippo along with the rest of us, I'm not sure.


The most disappointing aspect of our trip was finding out that, after they had frisked us for a whopping twenty 'London Pounds' each, that there really isn’t a lot of animal for your money.

We spotted one sulky lion in the lion enclosure, one sleepy bear in the bear enclosure, a rabbit in the giraffe enclosure and something blue and gelatinous floating in the penguin enclosure.

However, we continued to drive around the park, enthusiastically pointing out what animals we could see to our wide-eyed Poppy.

She would then shout back the word ‘dird!’ (toddler translator: bird) from the back seat whilst pointing at a scratty crow about four feet from the car.

The 'walky round bit'

After a full hour of 'dird' spotting we were pleased to reach 'the walky round bit' of Woburn Safari Park. By now our toddler’s need to touch something furry had reached fever pitch, so we quickly headed towards the goat and sheep area.

This took some time as, not only were there no signs (we refused to fork out an extra five London Pounds for a map), but we had to manoeuvre ourselves through a coach party of morons.

The thing about being a parent is that everyone hates you (apart from other parents) because you have a buggy and a wee thing that squeals random sayings like ‘smurf cheese’ at inappropriate moments. So you’re kind of on to a losing streak with crowds - they just want you dead.

Anyway, we managed to squish, squeeze and apologise our way down to the farm area where we were greeted by two frazzled goats who should have had ‘broken’ signs around their necks.

As the poor souls were already being petted aggressively by twenty sets of sweaty hot-dog fingers, we went in search of something else to bother.

'Pig Idol'

Ten minutes later we found ourselves watching 'George Pig' -the younger and less popular brother of cartoon deity ‘Peppa Pig’- trying to extricate his fat self from a port-a-loo.

Surrounded by impenetrable 'pig PR', we were then forced to wait thirty minutes (in a sun-trap) for Poppy to meet her Pig Idol.

Finally the rope went back and George went down on one knee to usher our pipsqueak forward. At which point Poppy let out a muffled whimper of panic and looked around for an escape route. Terrified she was going to bolt, we pushed her forward into George’s plump piggy arms.

From that moment Poppy was in pig heaven.

The crowd melted away, leaving her and George holding hands, nose-to-snout, while hearts and fireworks illuminated their pink Crayola sky.

After a few minutes, George, like Katie Price at a book signing, started to become visibly uncomfortable with the amount of time Poppy had pressed her face to his and we were forced to prize her from him.

Scooping up our infatuated infant we decided to head home.

And although our memories of Woburn Safari Park maybe blighted by ill-thought out signage and broken goats, every time we mention the name ‘George’, our little girl disappears back into that beautiful memory and pulls the same face as when she does her first morning wee, the one that says: ‘Mummy, I am warm.’

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

You can't garden in skinny jeans and three other things I learnt this week...

It's been a thong hot summer

It has been a week of revelations, most inconsequential, but nonetheless it is good to know that this world still has a lot to teach me.

The first is...

You can't garden in skinny jeans

Perhaps I should be more specific. You cannot garden your front garden in skinny jeans.

This is because the world, his wife, and any passing person delivering 'McPizza' leaflets through your door, is likely to receive a non exclusive glimpse, of how should I say this, your 'whale tail' when you bend over.

'Whale tail' is the term taken from Roger's Profanisaurus which refers to the unsightly effect produced when a lady in ill-fitting jeans's thong rides way up for all to see.  

Anyway, don't do it.  I did it, and although there were fringe benefits - a slightly 'stranger danger' neighbour offered me his unused hedge cutter and a bottle of two euro red wine for free -  I became the cul-de-sac side-show, wriggling, hoisting and adjusting between every dig.

You can't argue with a man on the Atkins diet

The diet which supports rapid, unsustainable weight loss in order to achieve a slightly less wobbly beach body is in full swing at our household.  

Matt, who prior to Monday, drank fizzy pop like water and intravenously injected Twirl bars at 3pm every day, is in caffeine cold turkey.

This usually placid, centred soul has morphed into the testy version of Rod Hull's Emu - all black beady eyes and angry crinkled up beak ready to lunge if I do anything wrong.

So far, anything wrong has included shutting a kitchen cupboard and making a cup of tea 'too loudly'.

Dr. Atkins, you evil curtailer of carbs, you have a lot to answer for.

Some people are a bit too ok with death

I have had two slightly unsavoury encounters with death this week.

The first was during Sky news's gratuitous coverage of Amy Winehouse's demise in which they showed the poor love being transferred in a red body bag to an awaiting private ambulance.

I am sorry, did I miss the fashion memo which says your Summer '11 body bag should be clingy?

You could quite clearly see the outline of the recently departed Miss W, from her ballet pumps to her beehive.

Get that girl a box.  Ast-ounded.
The second happened at my dear filmmaker friend's beautiful barn conversion.  Plonked on a sun swathed deckchair, I drank in my surroundings: pink hydrangeas in full bloom, lavender bushes fizzing with plump bees and...holy shit...what is that?

Within flip flop distance of my pedicure was the rotting corpse of an animal.  I could see fur, backbone and tail.

I delicately drew the attention of my host to the critter carcass, only to receive the response: "Oh yeah, we think it's a baby squirrel.  We're waiting for the fur to fall off completely so we can have a proper look."

Good for you.  Why don't you make a time lapse film while you're at it?

And finally...

'You can afford shiny things by writing online' shocker

I have discovered, a lovely website where you can upload articles galore and get moolah in return.

I will tell you all about my adventures at cc in my next post. 


Friday, 15 July 2011

Say moo to content farms

Hi, I'm a freelance writer, milk me.

If there is one thing I have learned as a freelance writer, it is that working for content farms is a definite no no.

Content farms is the term used to describe companies that employ herds of freelance writers to generate large amounts of content (heavily peppered with lots of popular search terms) so that their articles appear higher on search engines. 

Their main goal is to create moo-lah by atracting readers to an article and, 'oh, look at that lovely pop-up advert for spandex shorts, I just must see more'...Kerching! for the content farmer, but sadly not for you.  

The return for writers is very low, with companies offering new writers on average 3 euros per article.  The more you write, the more euros you are likely to accumulate. But if you want to pay your bills and have enough left over for pop tarts, you will have to write a lot.      

Some writers claim they make a living through the content farm system but, honestly, there are better paid freelance writing gigs out there. You just have to know where to look. 

So take that daisy out of your mouth, dip your udders in a nice warm bath and say moo to content farms. 

Friday, 1 July 2011

Show me the funny

Funny is good, funny is memorable, funny sticks, funny makes money.

In the same way you’re not going to tell someone about that coach journey where you remembered your ticket, found your seat, sat facing forward for a bit before arriving at your correct destination,  you'll dine-out for weeks on that National Express journey, where a man (smelling suspiciously of Zoflora) projectile vomited over the teenager reading the NME before nonchalantly pulling out a cigarette and asking the coach driver if he 'had a light?'. 

The same is for copywriting. 

Of course you can deliver the reader safely from A to B, serving up salient key points and tit bits of information along the way, before directing them to C – a shuttle bus to the appropriate website. 

Or, you can take them Dukes of Hazzard style.

Blazing a trail through your content, narrowly avoiding haystacks, before throwing them, hungry for more, at the dusty boots of Daisy Duke. 

Of course it depends on who you’re writing for. The above technique doesn’t necessarily apply to Saga Magazine.

'Punny' Funny

As copywriters we're happy to litter our work with puns, the gentlest form of comedy, which allows your audience to ‘muh-huh’ inwardly.  But to go all out funny requires the talent and courage to stick to your wit.

But if you can do it, do it. 

Why funny is good

Funny is memorable
Funny ads and virals stick in everyone's mind. 

However, you want people to remember what you are marketing, whether it is you, a product, service or idea.   

For example, how often have you had this conversation?

“Have you seen that advert? You know, the one where the man is dressed up like a big moth, and he goes to a buy a tent, and his hair’s all funny and...Oh, you remember, he’s a big fat moth...”

“No. What’s it for?”

“I can’t remember. A car I think.”

When recalling your copy, will your audience remember what is being promoted?   

Big brands, like Cadbury for example, can afford to go ‘off-road funny’, as proved with their series of adverts featuring drumming gorillas and dancing dry cleaning. However, as a copywriter don’t upstage who or what you are promoting.

Ideally the funny should be the ketchup on the banger, not the banger itself.   

Funny sells

Funny is a powerful weapon when it comes to raising interest and increasing sales.  

In the same way children are drawn to anything with a smiley face, humour breaks down barriers and makes a warm, fuzzy connection with your users. 

Funny spreads

The only thing that garners a response quicker than a Facebook update saying ‘OMG! I just found out my DNA test results!’ is a funny status update.

We all know that social media is the font at which pretty much all forward thinking companies and individuals worship, and nothing will put you on the social media map quicker than consistently witty updates. 

So, if you want to be taken seriously, put your money in funny.   

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Writey tighty then...

So this is how we are going to roll. 

You're funny. I'm funny.

We can both write. 

You, like me, have thrown off, or are giving serious thought to throwing off the shackles of the corporate machine, to pursue a freelance writing career.

Well done you - give yourself a big Al Pacino ‘Hoo-hah!'   


Having worked as a copywriter for several years I recently leapt into the freelance pond.

It was murky at first but with the help of some friendly freelancers, open minded editors and the endless advice and counsel provided by other freelance writer's blogs, the water and pond skaters have begun to clear. 

Now realising I'm not going to drown, in fact I have acquired some rather fancy freelance waders, I am in the fortunate position of being able to help others who fancy dipping their toes.


As well as highlighting essential online resources for freelance writers, you can expect top tips on:

1)How to write funny for money - where the real writing jobs are (i.e.not the ones offering $3 for 500 words on animal husbandry)

2)How to pitch your own material to magazines - including mastering the elusive query letter/email 

3)Surefire ways to drive traffic to your blog - without the need to go totally Charlie Sheen  

And this, this is the really good part.

4)Ways to make your writing 25% funnier - that's 50% funnier if you're quite dry

Yes funny, because nothing quite hits the spot like funny.


And because it can't all be work, work, work I will also be offering light relief in the form of posts about my world.

Whether it is a list of things my two-year old left in my shoe or random utterances my partner has said in the bit between sleep and dream (‘mmm government-made chocolate’), it's all relevant.

(By relevant I mean irrelevant).

Ta ta for now

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Nan-over

Every six weeks or so I wake up with a 'Nan-over'.

A curious condition consisting of sticky eyes, dry mouth, discombobulated thinking and an overriding feeling of being an inadequate parent.

The result of over exposure to the nipper's Grandparents (also known as the 'Poppyrazzi'), my parental responsibilities have been relinquished from the hours of Friday night through to this afternoon. 

In that time I have had: two lie-ins, ten hot cups of tea, an early night and, something quite alien, time to myself.

Meanwhile the nipper has taken delivery of a pink tricycle, a scooter, several rides on those kiddie-bait car rides outside supermarkets, as well as dining on pain au chocolat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The remedy for a Nan-over is the following:
  • Stay alert, try not to be tricked into catching up on hours of lost sleep, you will probably feel worse for it.  Plus, this gives them time to put washing on - yes, that means rifling through your dirty undercrackers.

  • Try not to be defensive - so what if your nipper runs to them for comfort for a day? It's their job to spoil their grandchildren and if it gives you time to absorb celebrity gossip, who is to complain? 

  • When your child looks at you as though Jeremy Paxman has suddenly joined their tea party, know that you will soon be back to your tried and tested parenting routine.  That includes letting your toddler play with the contents of the recycling bin/tool box/car cleaning kit if it buys you five mummy minutes to shove a creme egg in your mouth without sharing.