Cheerful bleeder that I am, I set myself the task of writing slogans to popularise pastimes with a poor reputation, along the lines of ‘Incest – it’s a family thing’, for example. I told one of the mercenary youth this, and they exclaimed that I must have a lot of time on my hands, and of course I have, and not only time; but we’d best not go into that, since it’s such a nuisance to get off again, and it smells quite extraordinary……but where was I?
Here, I suppose, I’m usually here, God help me.
I should say here that ‘slogan’ is one of those blessed words in English that derives from an Irish root, it was what the Irish used to call a battle cry, the ‘cry of the host’, (or, I have heard it said, the ‘cry of the dead’) “sluagh-ghairm” – also transliterated into Scots English as the unattractive and now disused word ‘slughorn’.
I have wardrobes full of imaginary t-shirts with these unpopular slogans on, available for a nominal fee. Clothes with writing all over them are virtually compulsory after all, in the modern era. What strikes me as most peculiar about this modern dress-code is that individual consumers are expected to advertise the products they wear, walking around like living billboards, plastered with the logos, names and advertising slogans of multi-national designer brands, so that scarcely an inch of them remains bare of a product endorsement. If I made real clothes I would forbid people as ugly and stupid as these to buy or wear, let alone emblazon and declare their allegiance to my product-range in this way: spotty, glue-infested youths with atrocious haircuts hardly seem to me to promote Tommy Hilfiger (who he?) in the way he would have chosen. But there we are. Marketing is a mystery to me. FOR EXAMPLE: Why is it that those brands which are best known and sell most are nevertheless those most relentlessly advertised? Ford mo. co., Coca Coma, MacDonalds, and soforth. But then perhaps if they didn’t advertise so widely people would cease to find them necessary, and I suppose it must be admitted that at least they can afford it.
I have never owned a Ford motor car, and only once have I bought Coca Coma, which I used to unblock the toilet. It’s quite good at that, it seems to dissolve toilet paper, and probably other ingredients of toilet blockage as well, and it certainly fizzes like a bastard when you pour it down the pan. I was advised that this is what they do in the favelas of Brazil, so there is some use for the vile muck, apart from adding whisky to it and giving it to underage sex partners. I did once think of a slogan for Coca-Coma, which was a variation on a longstanding advertisement of their own: “Coca-Coma – you can’t feel the beating.” But for some reason this has not found favour in the world outside my skull. Speaking of possible uses for the apparently universally available filth, in China I am told they boil it down and use it as a cough medicine, which I suppose returns me to the subject of unpopular pastimes, none currently less fashionable than paedophilia, a notion formerly highly recommended by the Ancient Greeks, who called it ‘education’, inaugurating a tradition continued to this day in the English Public School and the great Religious Institutions of old grandmother Ireland. (One should note here that in England the ‘Public’ school is, in fact, a private, fee-paying establishment, a fact which probably explains a good deal about the English, but from this distance I am not sure what.) Anyway, the reputation of the paedophile has declined since Plato’s time to such an extent that one would think it could do with a bit of improvement. Nevertheless, it’s quite beyond me, my talents do not extend that far. I’ve been thinking about it for almost ten minutes already, and ‘Molest small boys, it’s fun.’ doesn’t seem a great place to start from.
It used to be commonplace for girls to marry at fourteen (and die in childbirth). Jerry Lee Lewis married (I seem to recall) his fourteen-year-old cousin, indicating that such things were fairly acceptable among rednecks and piano-botherers as late as the 1960’s. I doubt whether the Gary Glitter or Jonathon King back-catalogues have sold in hugely increased numbers recently, (certainly, my own attempts to market Gary Glitter’s Greatest Hits under the title of ‘DOING IT FOR THE KIDS’ have met with little in the way of favourable response,) but Jerry Lee Lewis is still quite highly regarded. It’s a matter of timing, I suppose. What was once acceptable becomes, in due course, outrageous, and vice-versa. Upper-class Victorians covered their table legs in fear of indecency, yet prostitution and child-labour flourished. Quite what they imagined their semi-naked tables might get up to, I don’t know, but it was certainly indecency of some sort.
Anyway, I’m afraid paedophilia is beyond me, but I offer some suggestions of slogans that might be employed to improve the public profile of other declining or unpopular activities:
Madness: you know it makes sense.
Smokers: a dying breed.
Murder: the only sure way.