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When manners obscure meaning

September 03rd 2016

I came across this piece of dialogue in Scott Fitzgerald’s great novel, Tender is the Night. Dick Diver, one of the central characters, says: “Good manners are an admission that everybody is so tender that they have to be handled with gloves. Now, human respect – you don’t call a man a coward or a […]


My bid to be Prime Minister of Yorkshire

June 28th 2016

I know this is not the end of the referendum debate by a country mile but it is time we just stopped expressing our anger, horror, surprise, joy or whatever emotion June 23 stirred in us and thought about the future. Looking back is pointless, it is time to look ahead and seize what opportunities […]


Beware Content Blindness

May 10th 2016

The communications industry is obsessed with ‘content’. In layman’s language this means copy and visual material for websites, blogs, social media sites and internal briefing documents. There is an overload of ‘content’ and therefore a greater need for brevity and conciseness. Engaging audiences among the tsunami of non-stop communications has become harder to achieve and […]


What’s in a name?

March 19th 2016

From the early stages of writing my first novel I had decided on the name, ‘The Windelton Absurdities.’ I felt it accurately characterised the absurd, outlandish and hilarious roll call of inhabitants and place that is the imaginary, small Yorkshire town of Windelton. So why did it end being called ‘Hidden Lives’ you might ask? […]


Understanding audiences

March 11th 2016

It is stating the obvious that different subjects will require different pace and tone; writing about an insurance policy needs a more serious treatment than say, a pair of Levi’s (although some may disagree), but understanding the motivations of your audience remain paramount. It is all too easy to forget when messaging, whether it be […]


I can see clearly now

March 04th 2016

Clarity is an essential ingredient to successful copy. Whether either writing a website, an ad, brochure, blog, email, direct mail or a press release don’t use unnecessary words or ones ‘a foot and a half long’.* Avoid jargon, metaphors, business-speak and other figures of speech. Write as if you are having a one-to-one conversation. If […]


More copywriting mantras

February 22nd 2016

Less is more In these attention-sparse days, short-form copy has become the norm for many media channels from Twitter to Facebook, the web to broadcast news. Messages must be distilled to their absolute essence. I draw the analogy of boiling a stock pot: the final reduction delivers a rich concentration. Get to the heart of […]


Summit or nothing?

February 16th 2016

This wonderful piece was spotted by the hawk-eyed Brian Minards on the web today and he’s adapted the famous Sound of Music lyrics to mark the occasion. Many thanks B. Another example of how the English language has gone down the ‘pan’ or should, as my parents taught me to say, use the word, ‘lavatory.’ […]


The Passage of Time Part 2

February 11th 2016

The story so far: My annual sailing trip was following a familiar pattern: poor food, lousy weather and the prospect of a bumpy channel crossing to Cherbourg before heading for the peaceful delights of Normandy. The thought of wonderful seafood restaurants and maybe even some sunshine are the only things keeping the boat’s anxious crew […]