What kind of idiot do you think I am?

Shortly before I planned to skip down the road to get some wine from the Co-Op, I received a telephone call from a man called Dayan Smith who claimed he worked for Microsoft.

During the call he advised me that he knew that the Thoroughly Good domain name was up for renewal tomorrow. I panicked, momentarily.

I checked on tinterweb and discovered that no, it wasn’t up for renewal tomorrow and that contrary to what I was thinking downstairs in the lounge when I took the call there was no need for panic.

Suddenly I saw an opportunity.

“So, why are you calling me on a Sunday evening?” I asked

“I’m doing you a favour,” the American voice responded.

“And you work for Microsoft? Is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“What’s your email address there?”

“I don’t have one.”

“If you work for Microsoft you’ll have an Microsoft email address.”

“I can’t give it to you.”

“Then you’re story’s changing. Either you’ve not got one or you’ve got one but you’re not allowed to give it out.”

“Look,” he was beginning to get a bit worked up, “I was ringing to tell you that your domain name is going to expire tomorrow. I was doing you a favour.”

“But I’m looking at my domain name records and can see that it doesn’t expire tomorrow. In fact, it doesn’t expire for some time. What’s your telephone number?”

The “helpful” man in the States did give me his telephone number although I’ll confess I haven’t rung it. I can’t help thinking that I’ve probably been “had” and when I think of that I can’t help thinking of this little clip.

Film: Helvetica

There are some film titles which guarantee to make my eyes pop out on stalks the moment I hear about them.

Helvetica an 80 minute documentary featuring the a typeface used the world over for the past 50 years may not immediately appeal. But seeing as it appeals to my inner graphic-design-trainspotter tendencies, I figure there must be quite a few others out there for whom the opportunity to watch such a lengthy piece about something which appears so fundamentally dull is an exciting prospect.

We went go and see the film at The Institute of Contemporary Art’s where the £8 ticket price failed to meet expectations. The box office staff were full of attitude, the bar staff less than accommodating, the seating intimate in an uncomfortable kind of way and the man sitting to my right reeked of body-odour.

If that wasn’t enough, it frequently felt as though I was watching the documentary with a collective of graphic designers for whom every other line in the documentary offered an opportunity to snort with tiresome self-importance. There really is nothing worse than people laughing at things which really aren’t that funny. I can tell immediately when its going on and then it starts to wind me up considerably.

Fortunately, I did take action, something I urge everyone else to do if you find yourself in a situation where the entertainment you’ve paid for is in danger of being a let down. The tall man with curly hair who sat directly in front of me and the screen seemed happy to grant the request I whispered in his ear to move slightly further down in his chair. The man beside also seemed to think twice about laughing quite so much after I whispered under my breath (although it probably wasn’t a whisper) that “it wasn’t that funny”. Sadly, there was very little I could do about his appalling body odour and to point it out at the end of the film seemed redundant, if a little insensitive.

I did enjoy the film, however. Helvetica is a remarkable piece of documentary filmmaking. It’s stylishly directly, and effortlessly edited resulting in a visual experience which will result in you leaving the cinema feeling as though you’ve been a graphic designer for the whole of your life even if the job you actually do is something completely different. Amid street scenes and real life examples of the font itself, expect to hear passionate and amusing anecdotes from the film’s many contributors along with an account of the typeface’s development.

I know. It may not immediately sound like a must-see film. It’s a surprise genre and an even more surprising subject. Still, if you’re up for something a little different from the norm then be sure to give it a go.

I heartily recommend you watch it at home when it’s available on DVD, however.

Whenever possible use the bus

I travel to and from work every single day on the tube. Yesterday, however, during some kind of failure on the eastbound Central Line, one person (who really should know better) asked me if I always took the bus from Charing Cross to White City.

If I took the bus I don’t think I’d ever arrive at work, to be honest. I might as well work from home if I had to take the bus to and from work. It is quite a long way.

Mind you, yesterday afternoon (yes, I know it’s old news) I did experience two things which surprised me.

The first is something I can’t talk about. One key piece of evidence is currently in the process of being corroborated. It wouldn’t be particularly good to reveal that at this point in time.

The second thing took a good 24 hours to sink in.

As the 94 bus stood at one of many stops on Oxford Street I observed one tall man dressed in a white billowy shirt and some kind of canvassy-type trousers walk down the street. Something about him made him look unusual. Was it his alabaster skin ? Or maybe the strangely dark stubble across his face? Or was it the unmistakable sight of a bra strap underneath his unbuttoned shirt?

I’ll confess there was a moment when I thought, “I don’t believe I’m seeing this. Is that man for real?”

I watched him stop outside the window of a shop selling ladies underwear. Then I saw him fiddle with a pinky, shimmery garment poking out from under that strange looking shirt as he looked at the window display.

I felt a mixture of emotions, I’ll confess. There was a moment of total disbelief when I clapped eyes on him. There was a moment when I probably could have said out loud “you’re joking”. And yet the overriding feeling I have is something which would almost certainly would have propelled me to get up from my seat, leave the bus, leap across the pavement and give him a hug.

I don’t believe for a moment that trying out those feelings can be easy. Confronting them considerably more difficult and telling others about them an absolute nightmare.

Guarding the crown jewels

Paws on the news

Cromarty is charged with a special duty this evening.

It’s one which he appears to have taken to without any kind of briefing.

Cromarty, you see, is laying over something really very important. If anyone thinks for a moment that they’re going to get their hands on it, they’re very much mistaken.

Even I can’t get my hands on it.

NB: The photograph included in this posting is what’s referred to as a “library picture”.

Christmas comes early

We're thinking about Christmas

After what turned out to be a long journey home on a bus as a result of a failing Central Line * I was surprised then annoyed then warm and fluffy when I scoured the mail on the doormat this evening.

I was hoping for an A4 document with an official looking document in it but instead I discovered the Cats Protection League were vying for the title of “Being the first to get the public thinking about Christmas” title.

Bless them. If I had the available funds I’d buy all my Christmas presents from the Cats Protection League.

* It did turn out to be quite eventful in the end, which I might (possibly) write about tomorrow.