Tag Archives: creativity

The gift that keeps on giving


This one is from a notebook going back to 1998.

It needed considerably more tinkering with than some of my previous ones.

If anyone else is suffering from writer’s block, I would definitely recommend revisiting some of your old notebooks or files to help ease you back in. It’s part editing, part writing.

 

DEPARTURES

By David Milligan-Croft

 

After a tearful embrace at passport control,

I walk through the departure lounge at Charles de Gaulle.

 

I head to duty free to pick up a carton of cigarettes,

And a giant Toblerone. I don’t know who the Toblerone is for,

But it’s getting close to Christmas, and a giant Toblerone

Always comes in handy at Christmas.

 

I pick out some Chanel sunglasses

To give to you on my next trip over. I know you’ll love them,

Because I saw you trying them on once at Heathrow,

On our way to America. Then,

 

Out of nowhere, I am engulfed by your essence.

A surge of adrenalin makes my heart pound and my legs almost buckle.

I spin, dizzily, to see if you are there. I scan the crowd,

Trying to spot your beautiful face amongst the throng of passengers.

 

Then I am consumed by sorrow, when I realise

I am standing beside the Yves Saint Laurent perfume counter.

 

For more of my poetry, click on the image below.

LETMEFAIL-COV-A

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More from the vault


Whilst rummaging through a musty old cardboard box, I came across some more notebooks.

I found a couple more poems whose jib I liked the cut of so I reworked them. This is one from around 2003.

 

Driven to Distraction

By David Milligan-Croft

I am trying to avoid your gaze,

When you look up from your desk.

I am trying to ignore you,

When you stand by the water cooler.

I am trying not to notice the way your auburn hair cascades

When you lean over my desk.

I am trying not to inhale your Poison

As you glide by the photocopier.

I am trying not to notice your smile

From across the boardroom table.

I am trying to avert my eyes,

When your slender ankles clip-clip down the corridor.

I am trying to be ambivalent,

About the new dress you bought in Paris.

I am trying to dismiss your emerald eyes,

Framed in dark-rimmed spectacles.

I am trying to be oblivious to the way you laugh,

The way you think – even the way you blink!

And, try as I may to ignore these things,

I carry them with me, every moment,

Of every day.

Although the above poem isn’t in my collection, if you liked the style of it you can find more of them by simply clicking on the cover image below.

LETMEFAIL-COV-A

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Get your FREE copy of Peripheral Vision.


 

TOS26

Only kidding, you cheapskates. It’s £1.99.

April Fools’.

Now then, look down the back of the sofa for a bit of loose change and get yourself over to Amazon, as it’ll be £10.99 tomorrow.

 

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Filed under Art, Books, Children, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, Writing

Building a nation of automatons


Nothing to see here, move along – Dad rant about education.
I read this letter to our Prime Minister, David Cameron, from a worried mum and it struck a chord with me.
 My gripe is not with my daughters’ school, nor their teachers, but with the with the government curriculum.
 I have the utmost respect for my daughters’ school, their teachers and the way they try to teach them.
I went to my kids’ bookshare this week. My eldest had four maths exercise books packed full. And half of one art book. Half. For almost a whole academic year.
I am not advocating that they spend all their time painting pretty pictures rather than doing maths. I am advocating that they learn creative thinking. How to solve problems laterally and creatively. To come up with solutions that they might not hitherto have dared to express, rather than regurgitate the obvious answers to facts such as 2+2=
There’s creativity in maths. Just look at fractals or architecture. Perspective/angles, shapes, fractions (composition).
Instead of asking kids what the speed of light is, (after the fact has been taught them), ask them how do they think they could travel as fast as the speed of light. I bet you’d get some fantastic answers. (Incorrect though, obviously.)
I want my children to question. And to offer up ideas as to the solution. This is how we will create the next generation of thinkers and leaders.
But perhaps we won’t. Because they probably won’t pass their sats.
Both of my children are creative. Both take singing lessons. One takes clarinet lessons and writes stories and makes her own books at home. They love reading and don’t have to be asked to do so. They both have a passion for animals and conservation. They both love to express themselves through art and sculpture. They love nature and history. And they both just got a distinction in their Musical Theatre grade 2 exam.
And they both love exploring what our wonderful world has to offer.
What they hate is: maths and English (yes, even though they love writing).
You know what I tell my daughter when she’s writing a story at home? Forget spelling, grammar and punctuation. Just get your thoughts and ideas down. We’ll get some gubbins [me] to put the apostrophes in later.
The first thing the government axes when times are tough are the arts. They are narrow-minded idiots. In my view, the arts are more important than maths. For those who haven’t seen it before, this is my mantra:
Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy.
Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society. To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.
Perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where is the creativity that will solve the world’s problems going to come from? Including economic and scientific ones?
The government pontificates about building a nation of leaders through education. But, in reality, all they are creating are automatons who only know how to regurgitate answers to known facts. What they aren’t doing is educating children not just to answer questions, but to ask them.
This is the original letter from Beth Beynon courtesy of Andy White.
Dear Prime Minister,
Today my daughter got her Year 6 SATS results. Level 4 across the board which, my years of teaching experience tell me, is absolutely spot on for Year 6.
So can you tell me why she has spent today in tears? Why she’s lying on her bed sobbing, because she knows she’s not good enough?
There’s a part of me that barely has the energy to write this. To ask you why you insist on putting 10 and 11 year olds through a system that takes nothing of child development or good pedagogy in to account, or why you put relentless pressure on schools to up their expectations, so what was once seen as good progress is suddenly a failure. But why bother? Why bore you with analogies of weighing pigs that nobody fed? You won’t listen to highly qualified education experts, or even people who, you know, actually teach. So I’m under no illusion that you will listen to me.
I do however want to tell you what is happening in my house tonight.
My funny, intelligent, artistic daughter has received a message today.
She’s average.
The government has told her so.
And that’s not good enough.
The fact that she has rhythm in her soul, a stunning singing voice and takes people’s breath away when she dances, the fact that she thinks about the meaning of life and loves to ponder the great questions like why are we here and what our purpose could be, or the way she cared for her dying Grandmother – painting her toe nails and singing to her, the way she puts her younger sister into her own bed because she woke with a bad dream. These things that make the whole person that my daughter is. It’s all irrelevant.
She’s just average. And that’s not good enough. You’ve told her so.
Another one bites the dust.
Thing is Mr. Cameron, my daughter is wise to you. At eleven she has learned that SATS are just a game.
“I’ve not learnt anything this year Mummy,” she told me during the harrowing and stressful weeks leading up to the SATS “Just how to pass some stupid test for the stupid government”.
From the mouths of babes, Mr. Cameron, from the mouths of babes.
And so here we are. Your SATS results are in. You can number crunch to your heart’s content. You can order schools from best to worst, rank them, categorise them and make them work for you. Numbers are clever , aren’t they? Look what they did for bringing all those children out of poverty! Clever old you.
And meanwhile my daughter will go to sleep tonight despising a government that has squandered a year of her education so they can tell her she’s no more than average. And that it’s not good enough.
Oh, one more thing. She brought home her Grade Three ballet certificate today. She got a distinction.
But I don’t suppose you’re the slightest bit interested in that.

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Are you anti-advertising?


It really hacks me off when people spout on about despising advertising. To be anti-advertising is to be anti-choice.

More than that, it is to be anti the industrial revolution. Anti mass production, anti working class and anti democracy.

It is to deny people the right to possess things that were hitherto just the privilege of the middle and upper classes.

Someone close to me used to hate advertising. It didn’t stop her wearing the interlocking diamante ‘c’s on the side of her sunglasses.

Perhaps my hackles being raised is something to do with having spent the past 30 years plying my trade in the aforementioned ad industry.

Have I ever lied for a client? Not that I can recall.

Have I ever embellished a client’s product or service? Of course I have. That’s my job. But no more than the average person does on a dating website. After all, isn’t it natural to present one’s best side?

Of course, some advertising is misleading. But the clients, and their ad agencies, are invariably hauled over the coals for it. Not to mention alienating the very people they are trying to sell to.

But some advertising is just irritating?

You’re not wrong. I reckon about 95%+ of advertising is rubbish. Then again, 95% of most things are rubbish.

But that shouldn’t stop people trying to earn their corn promoting the toils of their clients’ endeavour.

What we need to do is come up with strategies to cut down on waste. Whether that be packaging, over-consumption or new energies to produce things.

I know one thing for sure; with the advent of the emerging Chinese and Indian economies, consumerism isn’t about to disappear anytime soon. Or would you rather the people of those countries be deprived of the luxuries you and I take for granted?

So, the next time a Chorlton treehugger feels like bleating about their moral high-ground, just remember, you’re only reading your copy of The Guardian because you have the choice to do so.

Oh, and here are some brilliant ads selling us stuff we don’t need. (Like I don’t need beer. Tsk.):

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The Art of the 48 sheet poster


Addendum bit:

The original post is below, but here is the proof I’ve been searching for. The offending VW ad. This is a DPS version rather than the 48 sheet I was banging on about. The only difference between the two is the addition of some body copy.

Cross of Iron? Most definitely not.
Creative Court Martial? Get the blindfolds out.

What were they thinking? Obviously not a lot.

Original post:

I’ve been searching Google for a pic I wanted to show you of an ad I abhor. But I haven’t come up trumps.

Then I thought, it doesn’t really matter if I don’t have a copy of it as it is so mind-numbingly dull, I could describe it to you.

The only problem I’ve been wrestling with is that it was done by one of the greatest ad agencies in the world for one of the greatest brands in the world.

Agency: DDB
Client: Volkswagen
Brand: New Golf Cabriolet

Now let’s start by saying: I love DDB.
I also love Volkswagen.

And I count myself extremely fortunate to have worked on the latter while I was at the former.

The reason this execution has got me so vexed is that I think both brands deserve better.

VW = Great advertising.
DDB = The pioneers of modern day advertising.

In fact, DDB pioneered the industry on brands like Volkswagen in the 60s.

So, what is this blot on the landscape that has offended me so?

Imagine an oblong. (Or rectangle, if you’re so inclined.)
Imagine said oblong in a landscape format.
Imagine this oblong is outside.
Beside a road.
It is made up of 48 sheets of paper. (Actually, it isn’t, it’s 12 what with better printing technology and all that, but the name has just stuck.)
On these 48 (12) pieces of paper is a photograph of a red Golf Cabriolet in front of a nondescript piece of modern architecture.
It’s the sort of picture you might find in a brochure for a new Golf Cabriolet.
It has some words written on it.
We call them: a headline.

Headline: The New Golf Cabriolet.

And that’s it.

Someone had better call in MI6 as I think Al Qaeda are holding the entire planning and creative dept of DDB hostage.

Who, at the agency and client, thought: Yes! You’ve cracked it. That’s just what we’ve been looking for – A picture of the car with the headline: The new Golf Cabriolet.

This execution beggars belief.

Where’s the dialogue?
Where’s the insight?
Where’s the smile in the mind?
Where’s the unique VW TOV?
Where’s the originality we come to expect from VW?

This ad is banal in the extreme and I would love to know how, and why, it ever made it up onto a 48 sheet poster.

Volkswagen deserve better.
And I know DDB can do better.

Here’s one I did a few years back while I was at Chemistry in Dublin. Same brief, different client.

To me, the poster is the Holy Grail of advertising. There is nowhere to hide.

Your thought has to be pure and simple. And above all, it has to be engaging.

Here are a few more examples I’ve done over the years.

There is one other thing that bothers me though. And that is this post is just completely negative.

And I don’t like that.

It’s bad for my karma.

So, in the interest of ending on a more positive note, I thought I’d show you some examples of a master in the art of making posters.

And I’m not talking about Messrs Hegarty, Abbott or Dye.

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How Art can Save the World


Okay, let’s go back in time a while.

No, even before Sky +. I’m talking about waaaay back, before we paltry humans ever even had like proper words to talk with.

Before language, before literacy, before art, before music, before KFC, before farming, before religion, before the bronze age, before the stone age, before politics, before war, before society.

Now that’s a long time ago. That’s nearly as long ago as Leeds United last won a trophy.

I’m talking about when a bloke in a cave was trying to tell his mate that there was this big mother-fucker-mammoth down by the base of the volcano that would feed the tribe for a year – if they had a refrigerator. It’s like a scene from an early episode of Give us a clue. Except he can’t. Because language hasn’t been invented yet.

So, in frustration, the caveman, let’s call him Herb, picks up a charcoal ember from the fire and starts trying to draw what he’s seen on the cave wall. His mate, let’s call him Frank, has a bemused look on his face as if to say: You can’t draw for shit. Except he doesn’t because he can’t talk.

Eventually, after a bit of practice, Herb’s pictograms start taking shape. Suddenly, the penny drops, (except currency hasn’t been invented yet), and Frank mimics what he perceives to be a mammoth down by the volcano. Herb excitedly points one index finger at him whilst simultaneously placing his other index finger on the tip of his nose.

And thus, Art was created. (And Game Shows.)

And lo, the tribe was fed.

And while sitting around the camp fire gnawing on a mammoth hoof, Frank gesticulates that Herb’s mammoth looked more like his missus than a mammoth.

And there begineth the bar-room brawl.

Now, what better way to finish off a good feed than a bit of a knees-up. So Herb picks up a couple of sticks and starts tapping out a beat on a hollowed out log. Frank and his missus, let’s call her Marjorie, start tapping their feet and before you know it they’re cutting a jig around the fire almost setting light to Marge’s sabre-tooth tiger print frock.

And lo, music was created.

And the tribe was happy.

So, maybe it was a wet day in caveman land and all the paints were a bit soggy. Or maybe there weren’t any cave walls to paint on. Or maybe there was just too much to say for one picture. But at some stage, somebody somewhere decided that ‘ug’ meant mammoth. And ‘og’ meant dinner. Then Marge said something along the lines of: ug, og, ag, pig, bag, nog, bok, jim-jams, flim-flam, muktub, jimmy choo, pak choi, bic, ram, mo jo.

Thus, language was born. And men became hen-pecked.

And we could communicate with each other. Then came writing so we could pass on information to people we couldn’t speak to – either people faraway or people in the future.

This meandering post is about creativity. And humankind’s ability to ingeniously invent and create things to make our lives better.

Now, to my point:

The first thing western governments cut in a recession is the arts. But it is the arts, in their broadest form: language, music, literature, poetry, art etc, that have shaped all the world’s civilizations.

Without the arts, we don’t have culture. And without culture, we don’t have society. Without society we don’t have civilization and without civilisation we have anarchy.

The UK government is slashing budgets left right and centre, with anything remotely to do with the arts top of the list. With all these austerity measures citizen’s wills are bending to breaking point. And it is only going to get worse. We’ve already seen students rioting. It doesn’t take a genius to work out where this is all heading.

Maybe investing in areas that nurture our more creative and innovative sides might get us all through this economic depression into an era that shows just how ingenious and resourceful we are.

Okay, so money-where-my-mouth-is time.

Here are a couple of suggestions for ideas that could change the way we live and learn.

First up:

Vote in the wall.

This is an idea I had a while ago about how to encourage a bigger turn out in elections. Basically to hi-jack cash machines on polling day.

It would result in more people voting, which would, if had been around at the last election, have resulted in a different government. Which, let’s be fair, would be better for everyone who’s not involved with banking.

Second:

Zero Debt.

Reset all the world’s bank balances to zero and start again.
What about all the people who are actually owed money! I hear you cry.
Well, maybe the banks should suffer a little bit too. If they can make billions in profits so soon after the recession, I’m sure it wouldn’t take them too long to make their money back.

Third.

Book Depositories.

Now that the ConDems are closing all our libraries (apologies to anyone outside the UK who this doesn’t apply to), how about we turn libraries into Book Depositories?

Where rich, poor, middle class can drop off their ‘used’ books so that others might benefit.

You could even have a tie-in with books shops. ‘Drop-off’ bins instore where books can be collected then redistributed to libraries/depsoitories. What’s in it for the book shop? Well, you’ve got a customer in your shop who’s already predisposed to buying books.

I was fortunate enough to live, literally across-the-road from a small library. I used to take my kids to it all the time. It wasn’t anything to do with not being able to afford books. It was a great experience for them.

There were computers for people who didn’t have the internet. There were bridge clubs, scrabble clubs, god, they even had books!

Now it’s closing down.

This wasn’t just a library. It was a community centre.

So… Council owned, and run, Book Depositories where the council doesn’t have to pay a penny for the stock on its shelves.

There you are now,

Ideas change the world. People have ideas.

Let’s put our noodles together and creatively figure a way out of this mess.

We owe it to Herb, Frank and Marjorie. Oh, and Miriam, who’s Herb’s partner, but is a bit shy.

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