Cuadrilla Vs Swampy… WTF

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from Cuadrilla that fire breathing mythical creature of the 1960/70’s B movie fame but like everything else from our past he seems to have been revived. I was never exactly sure whether he was a force for good or was a baddie. But this time around he appears to have been resurrected on behalf of the poor consumer struggling to pay the gas bill… excellent.

cuadrilla energy exploration

For the past few years we’ve had to rely on organisations like OFGEM – a toothless litter critter created by the government – to champion our cause for lower energy bills, but not anymore, we now have our very own fire breathing 100ft energy creating monster from the B movies… Cuadrilla. In the 70’s I seem to remember Cuadrilla obtained his power from biting on electricity power lines… oh, that could be a showstopper…  might add to our problems. But we needn’t worry, just like other 70’s revivals he’s been improved and no longer feeds on the power grid… his new superfood is a fast growing share price and government subsidies. So I guess that makes him green too. And like all superhero fire breathing monsters he has a special weapon the Frack… WTF.

It appears however that the Frack or Fracking is a little controversial… but hey, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get a subtle answer to our energy crisis from a creature with a name like Cuadrilla.

So as Cuadrilla trawls across our green and pleasant land should we care that the ground shakes a little and there’s the occasional accidental blaze caused by his fire breathing shrill. Personally I’m a little weary but maybe it might be worth it for the low cost gas that he promises.

But like all superheroes Cuadrilla has a nemesis… Swampy… this little fella claims to be one of us and fights for the good of mankind. But can we trust him? After all it turns out that Swampy is the bastard child of Dr Middleclass and Miss Nimby. His image is not helped by a group of grubby looking disciples that have the same hippie based outlook probably born out of a background of wealth and privilege. I doubt that any of them have ever had to worry about the cost of gas and keeping warm during a cold winter.

Swampy gets his power by praying on our fears and conscious whilst reassuring us that he knows best… his special weapon is the promise of Armageddon if he doesn’t get his way. Sounds like a cult religion to me.

So where should my loyalty and support sit. Personally I’m not a Swampy fan, I like my heroes to be strong, reassuring and something to aspire to… for me Swampy is a weaselly character who has a poisonous message of negativity and doom. The world today has been shaped by exploration and pushing boundaries. What would the world look like if our decisions were based on the fear of the unknown and doing nothing because we’re too scared?  I like that Swampy prods my conscious and raises questions – but is that really his motive. To me it seems that he and his disciples crave the power to decide what’s best for others without a clue of what others have to do to get by… including paying the gas bill.

So that leaves me with Cuadrilla the people’s fire breathing cheap energy giving dinosaur. I’m not totally comfortable with a hero that seems to rely on brute force and fire. Maybe he just needs a makeover …a softer image and a new name, how about Barney the Fracking Dinosaur. Ahh…WTF

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So you like it thick and slow…

Thick and slow is never a good a thing when I’m in traffic on the M25. And thick and slow is rarely something to be applauded. But thinner and faster is not always better as pointed out by Frijj who recently reminded me, on a trip around the M25, that not everything can be improved by an increase in speed and a reduction in size.

and available in many flavours

and available in many flavours

This got me thinking… as a guy I’m occasionally reminded by the fairer sex that some things indeed are better thick and delivered slowly… but I’d never quite made the connection to milkshake. So now that I have been enlightened I have a questions for you girls… do we apply the Frijj milkshake topically as part of a sensual massage or is it best served in a glass as a post climatic refreshment?

Masculinity… the optional extra for BMW drivers

Increasingly in life what used to come as standard is now an optional extra… I’m not against this as I don’t like to pay for things that I don’t need or use. But some things are essential. As a man, for example, I want to feel masculine and just like any other guy I want that feeling as standard and not as an option. But my masculinity was recently challenged and maybe eroded slightly… forever.

Before I share, I need to give you a bit of background. We all know that car makers are well known for the optional extra and BMW, the maker of my particular chariot and the source of this story, has a history of making you pay extra for just about everything. I’ve never owned a BMW before and up until recently I was very happy with it – I think a car says something about its owner, a BM; sporty, well engineered, stylish… yeah… that’s me… arrogant… no.

Anyway me and my ego have enjoyed the car… but I recently had a puncture. No big deal I thought. I opened the boot, lifted up the carpet and looked down into the ample space that housed the spare wheel. But where was it; had they forgot to put it in… no, not the Germans… there sitting in its place was a little white box and a mini compressor – the emergency tyre repair kit. I can hear all you BM drivers shouting at me now telling me I don’t need a spare wheel, the emergency repair kit is all I need. Well, we may have swallowed the sales spiel in the showroom… I remember the salesman massaging my ego, spewing the features and benefits and telling me how well engineered the car was and what an inspired choice I was making… but when you’re standing there having been stroked for an hour, with a semi-erection, no man is equipped to make a decision about anything… at that point it’s all about the grunt and performance. So even when he’s telling me about the emergency repair kit we believe him, we believe there is no room or point for the added weight of a spare… after all why would you want to compromise on performance.

Well I’ll tell you why the spare is an essential and not and optional extra.

My puncture… It was dark, cold and wet. I was returning to my car in a Morrisions car park. And it was when I open the boot that I noticed my tyre was flat. Other than the inconvenience of a puncture, a wheel change is a standard piece of maintenance which is performed by the machismo side of my person… a challenge that reminds me of what it feels like to be a man. In control; I know what to do. Strong; lift out the spare. Technical; expertly jack up the car, remove the bolts and replace the wheel… job done. Oh yes, this is a blue job, one of the few opportunities that a man can and is expected to exercise his masculinity. But on this occasion I had been robbed of doing my duty and being a man… with the emergency repair kit things don’t quite run the same way.

It’s dark… I take the little repair kit out the boot and attempt to read the instructions… mmm, without the aid of my “middle-aged” reading glasses and in the dark this was a bit tricky. Then the first of the Morrison shoppers walks by, not marvelling at my manliness but wondering if I needed a hand reading the little label… I’m now feeling like an old woman. After managing to read some of the instructions I hook up the compressor to the cigarette lighter and the special gunk container to the deflated wheel. I was hoping not to draw the attention of anymore shoppers but then I turned on the compressor. Oh dear… the noise… it was like a beacon, I got the attention of everyone and was now beginning to draw a small crowd… the women in the crowd looked on with an ahhhh face “I wonder if he’s alright” and the men looked on with a “you tosser what’s the matter with you… can’t you change a wheel”. The little compressor didn’t have much puff and took a while to re-inflate the wheel. As the wheel inflated my ego was deflated. I felt a total “man failure” yes the repair kit worked but BMW had failed.

BMW promised that the car would say everything that anyone would need to know about me – well engineered, sporty, sexy, and technically brilliant. But when they took away the spare wheel they robbed me of my birth right… the opportunity to be a man… yes I was a still reflection of the car… but not the man I thought I was… I was now Gary, the middle-aged effeminate hairdresser who was fighting a losing battle with old age and refusing to except that he needed to wear glasses.

51 shades of Grey

“Just do it”, “Think different”, “Never knowingly undersold”, “ahh Bisto” these are great taglines and have been backed over the years with millions of pounds. But not all taglines are born equally and most are not sired by an aristocratic brand leader or have the marketing budgets to get into our psyche. Some are dull or just a description of what a company or product does and others are lazy or just misleading. The M25 is full of such marketing masterpieces “the good”, “the bad” and “the pig ugly”. Having conceived and given birth to a few ugly buggers of my own, I’m always on the look out for amusing examples. A couple in particular caught my eye at the beginning of this week.

Seymour Transport a big red truck that I was parked behind on the M25…  the tagline… “Logistics Magicians”. Inspired… yes that’s exactly what I want from my distribution company a service that gives me a “Now you see it”, “Now you don’t”… and look “Now you see it at a location nowhere near where you were expecting it”… applause. Not quite tagline gold, though I am familiar with that particular type of delivery service. Luggage at the airport is a good example. Now you see it at Gatwick… then you don’t see it in Majorca… but just when you think it’s gone… hey presto it’s on the carousel in Chicago… more applause.  The empty luggage carousel is one of life’s most depressing situations, it’s a bit like looking for that £20 note you thought you still had after a night out and then comes the realization that you bought the last round of drinks including a few extra for some random Doris types hanging around the bar… a wretched thought… what was I thinking.

The other tagline that caught my eye this week was on the side of a truck. “Delivering the Gold” … how exciting… what was it promoting you might be wondering… well probably not what you might think… “Delivering the Gold” pertains to the new Gold Combi-Bolier from Potterton. Yes a boiler… the Potterton marketing team must have worked long and hard on the conception of that one. I say conception but I think that line was more likely the outcome of a finger fumble in the stationery cupboard.  “Delivering the Gold” sounds like an over promise to me… do they honestly believe people see a boiler as some kind of lifestyle or luxury purchase… picture the scene your girlfriend is just coming through the front door and you excitedly beckon her “Hi baby come into the kitchen I’ve got a surprise for you” just as she comes through the door you turn on the hot water tap… the Potterton Gold fires up and your honey is greeted by hot water filling the sink… a steamy scene straight from 50 shades of grey you’d think… but no… she hasn’t quite made the connection between a combi boiler and gold trinkets… panic; the Potterton marketing flunkies have really let you down and the only finger fumbling you’ll be doing tonight is when you make that call to Seymour, the Logistics Magicians, to request a Houdini like transportation of  your sorry backside out of there.

Potterton boiler

Couldn’t quite fit it all in and getting out of the car wasn’t really an option

David Sadler-Smith

Living the dream… but whose dream is it

I’ve recently returned from a holiday on a beach resort near Venice. I’ll not bore you with my holiday snaps or adventures but whilst I was there I did become curious about some of the beach traders and one in particular… Hasan. He walked up and down the beach tirelessly selling, of all things, beach towels… not an easy sell as everyone already had one. A tough job made much worse by the fact he seemed to be carrying his entire stock over his shoulder. And the temperature at the beach ranged from 32-38C.

Yes… the feet do belong to me!

Whilst he was delivering one of his hourly sales pitches which was largely a priced based affair – sounds familiar – I couldn’t help wondering… how did Hasan get this gig – there must have been a bit of marketing spin on that job ad. It got me curious about what the job ad must have looked like.

Yes pure marketing vomit… Hasan didn’t have a chance. And we’re all vulnerable to it, especially our own spin. Most of our decisions are made following a short commercial in our head justifying the actions we are about to take .  I don’t believe there are any worthwhile shortcuts in life… you might get to your destination quicker but it’s the journey that counts. Just ask Hasan about his boat trip.

David Sadler-Smith