Monday, 15 December 2014


Roger Scruton was talking about “kitsch” today - you know that kind of self-regarding sentimentality that happens every Christmas. Oscar Wilde clearly got (and despised) kitsch when he said:
A man must have a heart of stone not to laugh at the death of little Nell.

Yet in the past week I experienced what could have been kitsch but really wasn’t.

David Abbott’s Memorial Service first. David was co-founder of Abbott Mead Vickers, Britain’s largest advertising agency. In his eulogies people said things like “we shall not see his like again.” And in truth we probably shan’t. One of his co-founders, Peter Mead, has written a book called “When in Doubt Be Nice”. And they were nice. They created a business with real values. The AMV brand, more than others, really understood branding and here’s how in a speech David himself made:

"You care about two things.  You care about quality – in everything you do. From the chairs in Reception, to the way you answer a phone, to a piece of Typography, to the ideas you have, to the research you put your name to, to the meetings you hold, to the way you hang a picture, to the way you crop a photograph or write a line.

Quality is always possible and always under threat, but if you don’t seek and defend it you won’t be satisfied and you won’t be happy. The second thing you must care about?  That’s easy.  It’s each other. Take care of each other and nearly everything else will take care of itself.  It’s pat, but it’s true."

And the second bit of kitsch (only it wasn’t either) was the Aldrington Primary School Carol Service - that’s where our grandsons go. I recall a guy whose credo was the need to tell the truth regardless of the consequences. He visited a Primary School, went into a room where all the recent art was pinned up and said “but this is, well this is just rubbish - all of it. Kitsch rubbish.” Well the concert by any standards wasn’t kitsch. It was great, lusty, joyful with a few astonishing “I can’t believe they’re only nine” moments.

Whilst all this was going on I was working on some stuff about winning, you know zero-sum-game, alpha male stuff, “let’s do it to them before they do it to us.” And I’ve been wondering if being nice and trying to be a good, kind person isn’t a better strategy. In the end the world in which we live is about people it’s not about stuff. It’s how we empathise with each other that matters.

I recall Rodney King - the guy who was brutally beaten up by the LA Police in 1991 with the event caught on incriminating camera. King was no saint but he said something quite saintly.
Please can we all get along…I mean we’re stuck here for a while…we can sort it out

This is a kitsch picture though! Sorry.

No comments: