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September 2009

Animal queries

Still working on ways to get Songs for Animals out into the world.* In the meantime, here's a poem that raises more questions than it answers.

Animal queries

Can a cow be bullish?
Can a snail be sluggish?
Can a bird be batty?
Can a dog be catty?

Can a sheep be hammy?
Can a crab be clammy?
Can you rat on a mouse?
Can you pigeonhole grouse?

Can you scapegoat a moose?
Can you duck a goose?
Can you badger a goat?
Can you frogmarch a stoat?

Can you ape a baboon?
Can you hog a raccoon?
Can a trout chicken out?
Can a crow lark about?

Can you toady to a frog?
Can you outfox a dog?
Can a bull be cowed?
Is any of this allowed?

*Let me know if you're currently sleeping with the children's editor of Faber.

26 x 2


Two interesting events coming up at 26, the writers' organisation of which I'm a director.

The first is the 26 Annual Lecture with Oona King, former Labour MP (famously ousted by Respect's George Galloway) and now Head of Diversity at Channel 4. It takes place at the British Library on 8 October 2009 and tickets are available here. Well worth coming along, not only for the speech itself, but also because it's a good 26 social event and everyone tends to be there. (We blogged about last year's lecture here.)

The second is an exhibition called 26 Exchanges, in association with International PEN. It takes place from 21-25 September at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London and combines the writing talents of various 26 and PEN members with the design skills of Harry Pearce at Pentagram and Sanky at All Of Us. Pretty good line-up then. And it's open to all.

More on both events

More about 26

PS: Thanks to 26 snapper and director Jim Davies for the pic

See pages 123 – 127


Owing to some kind of administrative error, I’ve recently appeared in this new book about brilliant copywriting. It’s written by Roger Horberry and makes for one of the best practical guides to copywriting I’ve yet come across – exactly the kind of book I wish had been around when I started out.

The final section contains interviews with ten copywriters about how they got started and the various tricks of the trade. It was good to be one of them, but also a learning experience – the main lesson being that I should try to talk in more coherent sentences.

Hopefully Roger won’t mind me including an excerpt below. For the rest, you’ll have to buy the book.

Q. How did you get started?
I did an English degree and finished that without a clue what to do. The only sort of copywriting I knew about was the advertising type, which I imagined being a very brash, ego-driven world – and that didn’t appeal. So I drifted for a year, then got a job at EMAP working for a fascinating magazine called Local Government Chronicle, selling ad space. As a side project, my manager asked me to create a little ad promoting the magazine, and I fondly remember my first effort. It was a map of the UK split into the local authority regions. Underneath it said '447 Authorities', then next to it was a picture of the magazine with the line 'One Authority'. I know, I know. Anyway, soon after I saw an ad in The Guardian for a graduate trainee copywriter at a recruitment advertising agency, a very unglamorous end of copywriting. I got the job and spent six months writing recruitment ads. I remember rushing out to buy the paper to see my work. I think my mum and dad pretended to be more impressed than they were.