Stuck in the middle?

A whittled spoon (not one of Barn's)

It took an artisan spoon to make me realise that there is a limit to just how middle-class a person can be. Full disclosure, it is fair to say I fall into the category of middle-class. Last week, for example, I was sitting with a macchiato in the garden with a friend, surrounded by the remains of a carefully-filleted Saturday Guardian, when I began bemoaning the cost of shopping. I lamented spending more than £100 at Waitrose on a basic shop but then had to confess that the ‘basics’ included... Read The Rest →

The net closes in

Bedfordshire on Sunday reports how a 26-year-old Muslim dubbed an extremist planned to flee the UK to join ISIS but was foiled at the last minute by police. He was caught with what the paper calls a ‘stockpile of equipment’ in preparation for the hazardous journey “including factor 50 sun cream and a mosquito net”.

Service to bank on

Metro Bank

“Do you want a pancake?” David asks my son across a wooden desk. This is unexpected. We are, after all, in a bank. Then again, this particular bank specialises in being different. For a start it is a Sunday afternoon and it’s open and welcoming. There are red lollipops available for sweet-toothed customers and dog biscuits for those accompanied by their four-legged friends. My 15-year-old son is in Metro Bank in Milton Keynes to open his first bank account but the offer of a pancake also extends to my nine-year-old... Read The Rest →

Live and Let Dye

Hair Colour Chart

It is perhaps a symptom of age when, as a man, you reach the point where at least once a month, someone close to you dyes. For today it seems that restoring your hair’s youthful hue or simply changing its colour is no longer a subject for whispered conjecture but has become a socially acceptable part of one’s male grooming regime. Last week I met a friend for a reunion lunch. As I walked into the restaurant I was immediately struck by his transformation. The man known to many of... Read The Rest →

The Hollywood Captain

Screen Break: Elvis and Mary Tyler Moore share a joke with director William A Graham on the set of Change of Habit

  The captain of the Alerion is not happy. I have, he says, grossly distorted his arrival into port. “I was not towed into the harbour,” he says sternly, addressing me in a soft American accent from on deck. “We had engine trouble and I was escorted in as a precaution.” Such nuances are important on an island where boats are part of the fabric of day-to-day life. The fact that my information came directly from the Lerwick harbour master, and that it was contained in a single-paragraph buried deep... Read The Rest →

Tell me about yourself

Cabacos, Portugal, July 2014

As part of a pitch for a piece of business, I was asked to ‘tell me about yourself’: Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Ben Young, grew up in the Shetland Isles where his first job was a cub reporter on The Shetland Times. Moving steadily south (to Aberdeen, Glasgow and then to London), he continued a career as a reporter, a sub editor and a designer on national newspapers before moving into advertising, creating commercial content. In 2009 he was asked to swap his role as creative director for that of... Read The Rest →

Here We Go

Fade In: Exterior. Day. Misty early morning. Static camera fixed on a winding road in the English countryside. In the distance a dark blue Volvo Estate appears driving towards the camera. It reaches the camera and we see two figures in the front seats. Music fades in: Here We Go by Drew Holcomb. @drewholcomb Cut to: Interior. Car. Day. Music playing. (Here We Go by Drew Holcomb ) DAD is driving. His DAUGHTER (9) sits in the passenger seat. Both staring out of the windscreen, listening to the music. Cut... Read The Rest →

The Magic of Flying

A Vintage TWA twin-prop

The Magic of Flying is a much-lauded, much-awarded and brilliant piece of advertising that mixes technology and imagination in a perfect combination. Not only, of course, is the magic in the execution but also, perhaps more importantly, in the insight; flight captivates people. We often literally dream of flying and it is the superpower most children wish for. And despite the rise of budget airlines, there is still something perceptively glamorous and exciting about flying. It’s romantic, exotic and filled with potential. It’s enduring too. I was captivated when a... Read The Rest →

Christmas Presence


It’s the day after Boxing Day and for some inexplicable reason I find myself at a very crowded LA house party with 28-year old Kesha Sebert, who makes it very clear she intends to party until they kick us out or, more likely, the police (po-po she calls them) shut us down. Even though last night Kesha slept in a bath, she has just removed the dollar symbol from her name to be taken more seriously so I trust her judgment here. Unlike me she is totally at home at... Read The Rest →

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