Monthly Archives: November 2010

A few words about bank holidays


Currently most of the British media ‘live’ with the entertainment news: finally, Prince William will be getting married in April 2011. The Prime Minister David Cameron backed the idea of a bank holiday for the royal wedding and said that it should be a day of “national celebration”. Obviously, I’m not against the next bank holiday as I love holidays, although I spend most of them in my work.

As we all know, a bank holiday is a special day when people celebrate religious or national events. The part of the UK I live in gets 10 days’ bank holidays. I may be cheeky when I say that many people do not know what they actually celebrate except for…St Patrick’s Day in mid-March even though this day is not designed for public holidays in England and Scotland.

During a quick search on the net I found an American website called ‘Holiday Jokes’. First on the list were ‘Christmas Jokes’, so I rushed to read them. Let’s see what I found: ‘What do you have in December that you don’t have in any other month? The letter ‘D’’, ‘Who delivers an elephant’s Christmas presents? Elephanta Claus.’ Next, I researched ‘Easter jokes’. There were some foolish Easter adverts; a few embarrassing quotes from sermons and plenty of jokes about…old age. I don’t have an idea how someone managed to link Easter holiday with senility: ‘The nice thing about being senile is you can hide your own Easter eggs’, ‘When you are young, you want to be the master of your fate and the captain of your soul. When you are older, you will settle for being the master of your weight and the captain of your bowling team’.

Well, my little research gave me some hope. Maybe I went too far with my judgement? Anyway, some of William’s huge fans probably won’t stop crying until the April holidays.


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Filed under Society

Why listening to jazz might be challenging.


I wrote this piece  for Journalism class and to be honest it was provoked by the opinions of two different people: one of them claimed that she would never listen to boring jazz, while another claimed that jazz is for people who were born with special abilities to understand it. So I thought: ‘Hang on, I grew up on rock and thrash metal music! And hang on…jazz is so beautiful’.

Some people think that listening to jazz is quite challenging, as they think only chosen people were born with the natural ability to understand this music. Others swear that they would never ever listen to such dull and gloomy music. Is it then challenging to listen to jazz? Well, it might be a tough nut to crack, but why?

Real jazz is not commercially popular music, and it means that you won’t hear it in the UK top 40. You won’t see jazz performers at T in the Park or on The X Factor. The reason for this is that jazz is not a creature of pop culture, which arose in the late 20th century.  Jazz’s roots are much older, and go back to the beginning of the 20th century. For some people those times might be too old to be worth remembering, and similarly listening to old music can be tiring for them.

Nowadays some people seem to forget about the written word and its value. That’s why it would be easy for many of them to swallow Mike Posner’s song ‘Cooler Than Me’, which is now no.14  in the official UK top 40 singles chart: ‘You never say hey/or remember my name./ It’s probably coz/ you think you’re cooler than me. /You got your hot crowd/ shoes on your feet/and you wear them around/like they ain’t shit’.

If we compare it to ‘I Thought About You’, composed in 1939 by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer we can see, that it’s not easy to listen to old, not so cool and not so trendy, songs: ‘I took a trip on a train and I thought about you. /I passed a shadowy lane and I thought about you. /Two or three cars parked under the stars a winding stream. /Moon shining down on some little town and with each beam the same old dream’.

Why else might jazz be challenging to listen to? Many people would probably say that it is so boring, and they might be right: jazz is not plain music. It does not usually follow a sheet of notes but is a kind of improvisational dialogue between particular musicians or between a musician and an orchestra. Let us repeat fabulous Emperor Joseph II’s fabulous comment on Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro: ‘There are simply too many notes. There are in fact only so many notes the ear can hear in the course of an evening’.

No wonder that this music is not recognized as interesting by many people of different ages. It is not just a series of dinosaur tunes; it doesn’t match the contemporary vision of a melody where a couple of sounds from a keyboard are called the music.


Filed under Music

The insanity of Christmas shopping…and slogans

Normally the Christmas shopping season begins in November, or at least sometime after Halloween. However, some more far-sighted people start buying their Christmas gifts in September. Believe me, it happens and it is not just trumped up. No wonder they do that, insanity in shops and standing in line can grind down the most patient person. But that is not what I wanted to talk about. Namely, I found this year’s Christmas catch-phrases in shop-windows very interesting.

I spent yesterday morning looking at slogans, the aim of which was to promote shops. Some of them were very smart, others were less brilliant. As I realised, Christmas slogans were encouraging people not only to buy a present but also to give something as a gift to people we care about:’ Give the joy of a good read’ or ‘Give’.  ‘Show you care, give the perfect gift ‘- I found this quite annoying because how does someone designing the slogan jump to the conclusion that gifts have to be perfect? I mean, what is a definition of a perfect gift? Is it an expensive one? Is it bright and very comfy? Is it cheap but interesting? No, no. First of all gifts need to give us joy and raise a smile on the faces of people we give them to.

Another thing I’ve noticed was that all these windows’ epithets were somehow smart, as they were using implied meanings which were invisible to Joe Soap. Generally they were aimed at a particular audience. So, ‘Sales. New lines added’, was supposed to attract ladies hugely interested in fashion, ‘20% off coconut gifts’  was designed for admirers of cosmetics and beauty products, ’The nation’s favourite roll for only 59 p’ was aimed at gourmands and ‘ Party with Lipsy this Christmas’ was addressed to ladies crazy about parties.

Other promotional phrases were quite typical: ’Everyone’s a winner’, ‘Have a free Christmas’, ‘Great value’. ‘Too good to miss’ was quite persuasive but I did not take advantage of the offer.’ Duty free prices’ sounded a bit awkward as what should I care about any duty as I wasn’t at an airport waiting for a flight. Anyway, all these slogans and decorations a la’ Star of Bethlehem’ in bold, bright colours did not charm me enough as there was something missing. When I was looking at the shelf with ‘Christmas essentials’ I realised that outside was snowing and I asked myself: ‘Is this essential for Christmas too?’ Of course, it was. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!


Filed under Christmas, Life: Public Relations