Monday, October 23, 2006
In praise of Australian copywriting
... because I used to be a copywriter and I know how difficult it is. And the copywriting on Australian public signs is nothing short of brilliant.
What makes it distinctive to a person used to the circumlocution and indirect language of English signs - which are aiming to be polite - is that there's an energetic directness of phrasing combined with a kind of 'don't blame me, mate, it was your mistake' shrug. Signs threaten you from all directions, usually with fines - but they don't tell you you're liable to a fine, they tell you that you'll get fined. Rather than giving you the neutral information that you might want to think about, they say flat out that if you do something stupid, then it's your own lookout. Really, the icon for 'public service announcement' in Sydney ought to be a down-to-earth little stickman pointing and laughing. Two particularly good examples:
1. On ferries, trains and other places worried about terrorism:
If you see something, say something.
It goes on to say report suspicious packages or persons, but in terms of being both general and common-sensical, it's terrific.
2. My absolute favourite, posted on the walkway above the crocodile enclosure in the Sydney aquarium (best place in the world, go there, go go go), and pretty self explanatory:
Do not enter.
If the fall does not kill you, the crocodile will.
Anyone else have favourite signs or slogans?
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Early inner life
Right, I'm off on holiday. I'm going to Japan, Sydney and New York, and I'm going to be gone for a month. It'll be a month where I shall seek out computers to keep posting, but there may be some times when I'm trapped on a tour bus or marooned in the outback, lamenting my inability to communicate with you . . .
So, in the meantime, do talk amongst yourselves. To which end, I have a question for everyone, and I'd love to hear from as many people as possible:
In childhood, what was your inner landscape like?
Talking to people, it seems that some, at least, had very specific locations for their fantasy lives -not necessarily as elaborate as Angria or Gondal, but a general trend towards place types.
When I was a child, my inner landscape was an English woodland, though I wouldn't have put such a precise name to it back then. I wasn't one of those girls who imagined being a princess or a pop star: I wanted to be a fox, an otter, a deer. If I reach back in my mind, I find that place still there: brown oak leaves covering the ground, with dark earth peeping through; towering trees with ivy on them; shallow green streams with clicking pebbles and cool, swift currents; bars of gold sunlight slanting through the canopy. Of course, it wasn't the only daydream I had, but something about it captures the texture of my childhood fantasies, and looking back, I remember it in the same way I remember my old bedroom, my primary school classroom: as an environment that has a definite place in my memories.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, says that, probably due to his fondness for Saturday morning cartoons, his inner landscape was a ruined city, an urban wasteland with monsters hiding in the rubble. Not, I should add, a nightmare city, just a fairly stark one with a lot of interesting creatures and grotesques. Another friend tells me that her landscapes, while varied, tended to revolve around the notion of a hidden door, a secret entrance or exit that would take you from one world to another. Both of them are creative people, and you can see clear signs of their initial dreamworlds in their work nowadays. The same thing happened with me, I think: proofreading my first novel, I was surprised to note how obsessed with trees I was. The story kept returning to parks, and descriptions recurred of bark, of grass underfoot, of leaves, of specific breeds of tree.
So what's yours? Did your dreamworlds vary, or was there a particular kind of place you kept coming back to? And what was it like?
July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 March 2007 May 2007 July 2007 October 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 August 2010 September 2010 November 2010 January 2011 May 2011 June 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 March 2014 October 2021 June 2022