There’s a whole other world out there

A woman I know, called Helen, is a hippy and loves going to
India. She likes to get up early in the morning and watch the dawn
on the banks of The Ganges.

She told me about the funeral pyres. She was watching a man whose job it was to make sure the
bodies burn properly. You see the bodies on the pyres burn from the centre. So the extremities overhang the fire and may not burn
properly.

This man had a long metal pole. He used the pole to fold the feet and head in to make sure
they burn, too.

She was watching him doing this when another man emerged
from the Ganges. He’d been bathing and the bottom part of his clothes was
wet. So he took them off and wrapped a towel around his waist.

Then he gave the clothes to the man with the pole. He put the clothes on the long metal pole. Then they both chatted while he dried the wet clothes over
the funeral pyre.

When they were dry he gave them back. The other man put them back on, said goodbye and left. No one thought it was anything about it. Except Helen.

The western side of her was uncomfortable at the disrespectful
way they treated a dead body. The other side of her was impressed with such a
matter-of-fact approach to life and death.

Hindus believe in reincarnation. So the body was just something that the soul had finished
with.

It had no more use. In our world a soul is hypothetical. The body is the only proof that anyone ever actually
existed. So we treat it with the respect we’d show that person.

Other cultures look strange to us. We can’t help feeling that our culture is right and theirs
is the odd one. The world either shrinks to where our mind is. Or we expand our mind to encompass the world.

Usually though, we can’t help taking our way as the norm and
everyone else’s as a variant. For instance, all over England during the Napoleonic wars
everyone feared an invasion. In Hartlepool, on the north east coast, a ship was wrecked
during a storm. The only living creature to be washed ashore was the ship’s
pet monkey. A small creature in a frilly waistcoat.

In those days most people didn’t travel more than ten miles
from where they were born, during their whole lifetime. So the people of Hartlepool had no knowledge of the world
outside their immediate vicinity.

This creature was similar to most Englishmen: it had ten
fingers and ten toes. And it wore a waistcoat. But it was smaller, and hairier, and jabbered away in a
language they couldn’t understand.

They’d never heard about monkeys, or apes, or chimpanzees. There was only one conclusion. They thought it must be a Frenchman. So the people of Hartlepool hanged it as a spy.

We forget that the world we know isn’t all that exists. We interpret the world based purely on what’s going on in
our minds. You can find it even in the everyday world of advertising.

Years ago, at GGT, we did an advertising campaign for a
credit card called Access. We wanted to make it as accepted as Barclaycard. So we used a Louis Jordan track, “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My baby?”

And we changed the words to, “Does you does or does you don’t take Access?” We had an animated lobster on a plate in a restaurant. He was singing the song to a diner wondering how to pay.

While the voice over told us seven million outlets worldwide
took Access. And we ended on a picture of the earth. Supered over it was the title “The world does.”

Gordon said to me, “Should the W in World be in upper case
or lower case?” I said, “Good question. If it’s ‘the world’ as in everyone
on the planet, then I guess it’s lower case. But if it’s ‘The World’ as in the
name of the planet, the I guess it’s upper case.”

We didn’t want to get it wrong, so we got the account man to
check. He called up Cambridge University and spoke to the professor
of English.

He repeated the entire script and asked him if it was more correct
for the W to be in upper case or lower case. The English Professor spluttered, “You can’t possibly say ‘Does you does or does you don’t?”

Fair point. We’d forgotten that the whole entire ad was grammatically
off-piste. We’re all so much in our own heads we forget there’s another
world out there.

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    I buy a bottle of beer for the contents. Once the bottle is empty it’s just an empty bottle. It can then get recycled ready for another drop of the the amber nectar.
    Most things, like your ad, are always greater than the sum of it’s parts. Some people can’t see the wood for the trees. The works of the Impressionists comes to mind, you can either just see daubs of paint or you can see the big picture.

  • Dave, A friend of mine wrote for Disney. The animation process is so long, the animators start animating before the script is fully signed off. On their first Dinosaurs movie they had about 45 minutes of footage in the can when a script meeting was called. A studio Executive challenged the writers on a particular scene saying that he had problems accepting that a dinosaur would do ‘a little dance of glee’ as written in the script. The writers asked him if he had a problem with Eddie Murphy voicing the Daddy Dinosaur and his Missus lipsyncing to a Jennifer Warnes’ song? Fair point, he said. Meeting over. Disney …now there’s another world for you.

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    Hi Bob,
    Here’s an interesting photo.
    The guy in this picture is having his picture taken for an article in the business pages, so he thinks he’d better wear a suit so people take him seriously.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2009/sep/08/internet-manifesto-future-journalism

  • Help me here Dave, why does Burger King’s Subservient Chicken come to mind?

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    Dass ein unansehnlichen Huhns.

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    Kevin,
    What an unsightly chicken?
    Huh?