Thursday, December 17, 2009

In MX today - Jingle Hell

Despite the tinsel and sparkly lights and fat bearded men in bright red suits, I find Christmas a sneaky season. One again, December has rolled round and I haven’t even bought my Mum a pressie yet.

Every year, all the magazines advise shopping early and taking advantage of the January sales. I read them, think “what a good idea, I’ll do that” and then forget.

So, instead of basking smugly with a glass of wine, I’m gearing up to battle maddened parents and frazzled assistants who have been tasked with finding an intimate present for their bosses partner - or partners.

But you start optimistic and energized - ready to shop and roll, baby. You start thinking big. Wouldn’t it be great if you got everything in one shop? You’d be finished! The Queen of Christmas shopping. Then you can ditch the bags and the mad shoppers and go straight to the pub!

This all seems like a really good idea, but leads to situations like you trying to persuade yourself that your sister would like a socket wrench, or that your Dad would like a sparkly hair band, or that everyone you know would like Liquorland vouchers. Including your eight year old cousin. Maybe not.

You need to look in a few more shops. Initially, all you can find are inappropriate gifts. Yes, they’d love it, but you can’t buy it due to cost, size or piddling little legal issues.

You find yourself looking at designer bags, plasma TVs and licensed weaponry. You have to remind yourself that no one will thank you if you decide to get your ten year old cousin a longbow and real arrows, not even them after they end up hospitalised. The shops are noisy and crowded and full of despairing souls, like hell with Jingle Bells playing in the background. You’ve already wasted a few hours…

Demoralised, you decide to get a few old faithfuls like clothes. You find affordable items that would be perfect if you knew size they take. Is she a twelve or one of those girls who gets insulted when you get past a size ten? The only thing worse than watching your mate trying to squeeze into something two sizes too small is your mate realising that you think she’s a size bigger than what she like to wear.

The next thing you know, you have a size eight in your arms, and you’re looking for the six. You’re having difficulty finding something for your friend, but you have found some adorable things for you. It’s Christmas, after all, and you deserve something nice!

You leave the shop on a high, having spent fifty bucks on another cute black top. Then you realise you still don’t have any presents. Your feet hurt. It’s crowded. They’ve got the flaming Mariah Carey Christmas CD on in every shop in town. All she wants for Christmas is you, but all you want is a nice cool drink.

Determined to speed things up, you start really looking. You find the completely appropriate gifts, if you never want anyone to speak to you again. T-shirts that say “I’m with Stupid”. Packs of bath salts and deodorant. A Gutbuster machine. Books called “He’s Just Not That Into You”. Undoubtedly useful and accurate, but you’d like to still be speaking to people on the 26th.

Running out of ideas and time, you end up looking at the huge shiny gift boxes containing such delights as potpourri, candles that smell like a three month old fruit bowl, and fake perfume. If they don’t like the smell, it’s nearly pure alcohol so they can just drink it.

Mmm. Alcohol. You could do with a drink. So could everyone. Might as well just get them a Liquorland voucher, they’ll probably appreciate it.

And if they don’t, you can always drink it for them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Guarding your regards

Some of you might find this familiar, my feelings on why you stick your Kind Regards where the sun doesn’t shine has been amended for publication in today’s SMH, under the Heckler column.

KR, it says. Right there, at the end of the introductory and unrequested email about his PR firm. Just before his name. KR. I have no idea what it means.
Keith Richards? Keep Right?
And then it dawns on me. ''KR" is short for Kind Regards. This man, this PR man who is looking to make a good first impression, not only uses the most vague and insincere closing since "Yours most humbly affectionate" thankfully fell out of use but he can't even be bothered to write it all.
Kind regards is foul enough, Victorian and vague, yet capable of starting an arms race of affection. Someone signs "Kind regards", and then someone trumps that with "Kindest regards" and things get totally out of control with "My most kind regards" and "Yours with the kindest of regards" and "Prostrating my most humble self to offer the very kindest of my kind regards".
Or the person who plays the strong silent type and writes merely "Regards" with no indication of how kind they are.
And exactly how kind are these regards? Do they have a redeemable monetary element or are they affection-based only? Would you pour a cup of tea on me if I were on fire, or say "Get well soon" as I was carted screaming in agony into the ambulance?
Kind regards. Can you vague that up for me? For added Victorian style you can for no apparent reason capitalise everything. "Kind Regards." It's especially good if you wrongly put a capital R on regards but forget one on your name. Or just dispense with the piddling words altogether and go with "KR".
How informal! Readers love your relaxed attitude and have nothing better to do than decipher your cryptic missives. Nothing says "cool but can't be arsed" like not bothering to finish your words.
Or not. Look, I have had it with clever buggers telling the world that correct grammar and capitalisation are "dated", that we should be mixing it up with txtspk outside of texts. The first purpose of writing is not to be funky and modern, but to be readable. You are writing so that other people can understand you. Have the courage to master basic communication.
Capitalise correctly. Use punctuation. Go crazy; care about your customers' reading experience. Or prepare to have people look at your garbage and conclude you are morons who can't be trusted with a keyboard, let alone a PR budget.
My response? PFO.