Archive for the Life Category

Who Can You Trust?

Posted in Life on June 30, 2011 by timlafferty

I’ve heard it said that one of the great things about the internet is that you don’t have to believe the marketing and advertising “BS” of companies – you can get the truth from people you trust, people like you. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that, unless you know someone personally, it’s very difficult to know who to trust on the web. Book reviews on Amazon? Apparently reviewers are enticed by free products and so it’s in their interest to write positively. Endorsements for the healing properties of acai berries or the wonders of various diet pills? Mostly written by marketers on sites that pretend to be independent.

And it’s not just the written word that’s difficult to authenticate. There have been a few videos that went viral which are hard to tell if they’re for real or not. Here are a couple: take a look and see what you think?

I was taken in by the “I love cats” one at first, although when Debbie said she likes to see them on rainbows a little alarm bell rang. Dating site eHarmony said it’s not a video on their website and “Debbie” also has another obviously spoof video on youtube about her as a Siamese cat, so I think this one’s a spoof too by a good actress. Oddly, it’s quite a good plug for eHarmony which wouldn’t have been nearly as effective if it had transpired that this was a fake video produced by them.

As for the Russian talent show arrow, I’m still not sure. I’ve read a theory that it’s a viral video promoting the can of drink on the man’s head, in which case it’s a clever piece of video editing. I hope that’s the case. If it’s for real, I apologise for showing something rather gruesome and I hope the poor chap is OK.

Photographs can also be misleading. Take the famous picture snapped in Vancouver recently. It’s a fabulous photograph but was this couple really kissing in the middle of a riot or was it a good use of Photoshop?

Well apparently the man, Australian Scott Jones was out with his Canadian girlfriend for a drink that evening. When they came out of the pub they were inadvertently caught up in the riots. She was knocked to the ground by police riot shields and was understandably distressed. To calm her down, Jones spoke to her gently and gave her a kiss. He was simply an Aussie looking after his sheila – good on yer mate. So it’s a genuine picture but perhaps the emotions in the kiss were not what we first imagined.

Of course there are some pictures that are very obviously just Photoshop fails – if you google “Photoshop fails” you’ll find a lot of images of people with three arms etc. My favourite is one that came to light this week in China – supposedly officials inspecting a new road.

The photo has prompted a deluge of ridicule of the government in China, which just a few years ago would have been unthinkable.

There’s a lesson in all this for organisations; honest marketing is best. Doctored pictures or made up reviews will probably be found out eventually, which is embarrassing and will damage the brand. Trust me.


Skate Bush

Posted in Life on May 21, 2011 by timlafferty

There was a good piece on BBC Radio 4 yesterday about the increasing popularity in Britain of women’s Roller Derby, where women on roller skates whizz round a track trying to block and shove each other aggressively. What entertained me the most was the names that the girls had chosen for themselves, which included:

Sylvia Wrath

Polly Rocket

Tequilla Mocking Bird

Cilla Block

Vital Sadistic

Roar Heidi

The girls who compete around the world are asked to register their names. There are thousands so I’ve found a few more that appeal – it seems that some of these girls are not only tough and fast but witty:

Demanda Riot

Zoomer Thurman

Youth Inasia

Yolanda Punch

Womb Raider

Wild Bill Hipblock

Wicked Bitch of the West

Warren Peace

Vy O’Later

Vivi Section

Trudy Struction

Torri D’Affair

Systa Wrecktomy

Sybil Unrest

Swiss Army Wife

Suzi 9mm

Surly Valentine

Sulphuric Astrid

Sue Nami

Splatty Hearst

Smother Theresa

Slicer Minnelli

Slaying Grace

Slammah Montana

Skaty Perry

Sinead O’Coroner

Scratcher in the Eye

And the rather saucy:

Slabyia Majora

Amanda Jamitinya

Vulva Las Vegas


Urethra Franklin

As you might have spotted I started at Z and got as far down the list as S (I found Amanda Jamitinya on the Wikipedia entry for Roller Derby). Feel free to see if you can find some other good ones in the rest of the alphabet and post them in the comments.  Or better still, come up with a suitable name for yourself – but you’d better get your skates on because most possibilities seem to have been thought of already.

And finally, on the subject of funny names, a couple of years ago I was managing a telesales team calling senior business people as part of a campaign. It took one poor telemarketer several attempts, amid howls of laughter from the rest of the team, to say into the phone “Could I speak to Mr Sackashit please.”

Confucius Say…

Posted in Life on April 21, 2011 by timlafferty
Man who wants pretty nurse, must be patient.
Passionate kiss, like spider web, leads to undoing of fly.
Lady who goes camping must beware of evil intents.
Man who leaps off cliff jumps to conclusion.
Man who runs in front of car gets tired, man who runs behind car gets exhausted.
Man who eats many prunes get good run for money.
Man who fight with wife all day get no piece at night.
It takes many nails to build a crib, but one screw to fill it.
Man who drives like hell is bound to get there.
Man who stands on toilet is high on pot.
Man who live in glass house should change clothes in basement.
Man who fish in other man’s well often catch crabs.
Squirrel who runs up woman’s’ leg will not find nuts.
Finally, CONFUCIUS not say. . . 
Lion will not cheat on wife, but Tiger Wood!
Thanks to Sylvia Luckman for those.

It’s All In a Name

Posted in Life on April 6, 2011 by timlafferty

I went to a comprehensive school which had the full spectrum of society as pupils. One or two later went on to Oxbridge and several went on to ….prison. One of those, let’s call him David Burns, was bigger than the rest of us and, unbeknown to me, a bully. My first encounter with him was at the lunch break of my first day at my new primary school when I was 10. I was fielding at cricket when he hit the ball in my direction, so naturally I caught it. There were some half-hearted cries of “out” but he refused to go. His next shot went in exactly the same place, so I caught it again, with similar results – a tirade of swearing and refusing to budge. I decided to stand somewhere else on the pitch, somewhere completely different where he wouldn’t hit the ball. But he did and for some reason I couldn’t stop myself catching it. He smashed up the stumps with the bat and then came after me.

Laurent Gbagbo, the leader of the Ivory Coast sounds much the same sort of person, refusing to go when he’s obviously lost the election. But every time I hear the news reports I can’t help thinking his name, pronounced with the first G silent, makes him sound like a hobbit. He’s holding on to power and his palace and I can almost hear him hissing “my precious”. Or does Gbagbo sound more like Bagpuss – I can’t decide. It seems such a silly name for a dictator but perhaps that’s what made him what he is – maybe he was teased about it at school.

Come to think of it, that might explain a lot about some other dictators. Who wouldn’t turn into a madman when the other kids call you Gaddafi Duck or Pol Pot Belly? Picture a gang of thugs round poor little Napoleon “we’re going to stick a firework up your bum and then you’ll be Napoleon Blownapart.”  And over in Austria a little boy with a moustache being taunted relentlessly with that well known carol “Adolf the red nosed reindeer.”

They called me Lavatory at school. I’m planning to invade the Isle of Wight soon.

Talking of Herr Hitler, a house has become an internet sensation because it looks like the Fuhrer.

The house in Port Tenant, Swansea, that looks like Hitler

The house in Port Tenant, Swansea, that looks like Hitler Photo: ATHENA


Posted in Life on February 8, 2011 by timlafferty

The most entertaining after dinner speaker I’ve ever heard was, to my surprise, the late comedian Bob Monkhouse. While I shared the widely-held view that he seemed a bit smug on television, he was a great comic writer, performer and even a serious actor, across many media. In a TV show on Saturday night, a tribute to his life and work, we were told that he once described himself as “a difficult man to ignore, but well worth the effort.”

I rather like that sort of self-deprecating humour, the kind often favoured by the upper classes. The singer James Blunt, a former Army officer and pupil of Harrow School, was once asked how it felt to have been voted the third most annoying person in Britain. He replied “I’m gutted that I didn’t win.” He was also asked if it was true that during the war in Kosovo he’d kept his guitar strapped to the outside of his armoured personnel carrier. “Yes. I wanted to keep it on the inside,” he said “but my superior officers told me I had to keep the men inside.” See here for a funny spoof of one of his videos; he strikes me as someone who would enjoy the joke.

A previous boss of mine, Angus MacDonald, is also an ex-Army officer, what I would call ‘landed Scottish’ and a master of the self-deprecating joke. When he was CEO and owner of Financial News, once a quarter he’d have a talk with all the new employees to introduce himself as the “chap who makes the coffee.” But beneath his modesty was a sharp business brain – he sold the company for about £80m.

What I like about self-effacing humor is that it implies a modicum of humility, confidence and the ability not to take oneself too seriously – it’s the opposite of bragging even if it is false modesty.

It’s easy to underestimate modest people, and I love it when an underestimated person wins the day. Four years ago in Costa Rica, a tour group of elderly American tourists from a cruise ship was held up by three armed muggers. The thieves thought these old people were easy prey until one of the old men got hold of a mugger in a headlock and broke his neck, killing him, prompting the other two bandits to run away. The old man was a former marine. (I wrote a film script based on that story which got some interest from Eon Productions, the makers of the James Bond films, but that’s another story).

I like to be underestimated (rather than ‘misunderestimated’ as Dubya called it), and in work I prefer to under-promise and over-deliver rather than the opposite. As a freelancer, the problem with under-promising is that sometimes you don’t win the work in the first place because it often goes to the best salesman rather than the most honest.

Wealthy people can be modest more easily than the rest of us: you don’t need to blow your own trumpet when you own an orchestra.


My last blog about 11:11 and guardian angels attracted about four times the traffic I usually get. Before that, ‘Nemo sex change shock’ was the most popular and still regularly gets hits from Google searches – goodness knows what they are hoping to find. 11:11 also prompted a lively debate on my Facebook page, started by my step-mother Rosemary who pointed out that if you add the year of your birth to the age you will be on your birthday in 2011, it always adds up to 111. Example:

If you were born in 1970 and will be 41 this year: 70 + 41 = 111.

Someone even sent me the mathematical equation to prove it.