Labels, Covers.

And all the old stories are told
I know you’re gonna tell me that you hear every word I say
But the future gets written today
Yeah the future gets written today

  • ‘Flick Of A Finger’ – Beady Eye

This week is my birthday week.

Week ?

Yes,, its’s a thing. At least it is now. I think our Elliott came up with the concept, and I , for one, fully embrace it.

One of the presents I received was the vinyl of  Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, an album I’ve always loved. A few years ago I saw a documentary on the making of the album and one of the most memorable parts, apart from the band interviews, was the story of the album artwork. They entrusted the task to  Storm Thorgerson, who’d designed their iconic Dark Side Of The Moon. He, like them, didn’t want to do anything similar to the last album, couldn’t draw anything ‘artsy fartsy’, so he commissioned photographer Po Powell to come up with some of the most expensive photo shoots ever. One featured a man doing a handstand in a lake, you could only see his legs above the water line. He had an air tank, and they only took shots in between the air bubble.  When asked how long it took to get the shot, Po replied, “A fucking long time !”. The album cover featured two men in suits shaking hands , one of them on fire. Again this was 1975, so there was no CGI, or special effects, they actually set the guy on fire. A booklet of the photographs was included with the album.

And then they decided to cover the whole album in black plastic. There was a legal battle between the band and their record company to even allow a sticker with the album name on it. Millions spent of music production , brilliant compositions and perhaps the most expensive album artwork ever created, sold in a sealed black plastic bag.

None of it ultimately detracted from the stunning songs.

David Grey , on the other hand, had never had an iconic album , or artwork before he released ‘White Ladder’, his multi-million classic. He’d already been dropped by two record labels, and it was only his popularity in Ireland that kept him going. He was again on the verge of being dropped, his wife even suggested that he become an estate agent, not because she thought he’d be any good at it, she just couldn’t think of anything else he could do.

He had next to no budget, so the album cover featured a photograph of the sky taken through a bin on the street outside the studio, on which they superimposed another picture of a fluorescent lightbulb. The cd inlay was 4 pages , which was the minimum you needed in order to do a colour print run. It was an immediate success in Ireland, but took constant touring and a lucky break at Glastonbury, when they were asked to fill in for Burt Bacharach on the main stage Sunday afternoon at the last minute, to achieve success at home in the UK and then worldwide.

The terrible album cover didn’t detract from his classic songs.

Labelling has been on my mind all week…as you might have gathered.

We had yet another assignment for my college course this week. As it was the penultimate week of the course , our Maleficentesque course leader/marshal/galley master  thought it would be fun, for her, to get us all to do a live elevator pitch online to two , actual, proper business people and the rest of the class.
I spent last weekend, Monday ,Tuesday , and Wednesday, perfecting my pitch. I had a story, which almost made me cry, and an actual viable business to point to, with an actual live website. I had designed and printed posters for the business and a giant map of the universe with a large white arrow pointing to Monaghan in the middle. I had carefully placed Star Wars memorabilia, a half mannequin called Aesop, dressed in a Drumlin Giants football top AND a branded facemask,  and Monaghan made beer, jam, tea and soap labelled with my company name all arranged on shelves around my carefully positioned camera. The memorabilia , posters and products all fed into the story, and the props simply begged to asked about, and I’d prepared witty anecdotes and actual costings for everything framed in the shot. I’d practiced the story so often that I was reciting it in my sleep.

I was ready.

Wednesday arrived. I had the laptop riveted to a music stand, which in turn was riveted to the floor. My spot in front of the camera was marked with a red ‘x’ on the floor. The posters were blu-tacked like nothing was ever blu-tacked to anything ever. Even the memorabilia and Monaghan products were individually blu-tacked in place on the shelves.

Looking at the camera I could point to anything behind me without turning around as I mentioned them in my story.

My plan was to go home at lunchtime, eat, snooze, shower, dress, return to the office, run through the whole thing again. Go for a walk and be ready.

That was my plan. It was a good plan, in fact I wrote it all down on a yellow notepad and labelled it ‘Paul’s Good Plan’.

The ironically named Electricity Supply Board’s plan was to drive a forklift into their own sub-station on the Cootehill road and knock out the power to 6,000 homes and businesses in north county Monaghan. For good measure they took out the Vodafone mast as well, there’s no point having half a plan. Another part of their plan was to hide any information about what was happening at the bottom of a seven step automated call process which finally said that , yes, there was a fault, but, no, they had no idea when it would be repaired.

I then tried their ‘Powercheck’ app. Again they’d hidden any pertinent information about Monaghan under the ‘Cavan’ tab, sure why not ? This bit did at least give me hope, they estimated that everything would be rosy by 4pm. Cool, I’ll go for my walk now so. At 3.30pm they changed the estimated repair time to 6pm.


I drove home. We still had power there, but no WiFi.


I drove to Our Kid’s . He had power and WiFi and a box room I could use. I raced back to the office , threw everything into boxes, wrenched my laptop from it’s perfectly positioned stand, tore posters off the walls and got back to Our Kid’s and he and the kids helped take Aesop and all the stuff up the stairs as I tried to set up the laptop with camera angles catching some of my stuff. At 5.45pm I had everything stuck somewhere , but could no longer point to any of it , and was stumbling over my pitch and kept referring to the Star Wars memorabilia as Star Trek stuff…a mortal, mortal sin.

I waited for my turn to go live at 6.20pm, silently cursing the ESB, whom I’d relabeled as the Eclectic Supply Bastards. I thought it was silently until Our Kid asked me to be quiet, as I was scaring the kids.
My turn came, I pitched, don’t remember a thing. The poor bewildered judge asked me a question, I’ve no idea what it was , or what my answer was. All I do know was it did not relate to any of the bastarding products or posters I’d spent all week making.

I labelled myself ‘Frustrated’.

I ate half the strawberry jam and drank the beers. I now labelled myself ‘Fat & Frustrated’.

 And then last night I sat through a 3 hour webinar on coaching by The Organisation as a favour to a great friend of mine. It was awful, but every 20 minutes or so you went to a breakout room with the friend that had  inveigled you into it in the first place, these bits were great fun. At one point, towards the end, a lady from The Organisation, appeared out of nowhere into our chat, like the shopkeeper in Mr.Benn asking if we were OK and needed any help. We both answered ‘No thanks’, but she persisted in asking questions along the lines of what would you want from a coaching weekend, what would change your life, or something. As this was a Zoom thing, I appeared on my own screen as a tiny little square and the interrupting lady was in the large square filling the screen. I’d forgotten that on her screen I was a huge, confused and annoyed face.
She asked again, what was missing, what would make me happier. All I could think of were :

  1. Losing a stone.
  2. More beer
  3. Her leaving us alone

I think I mumbled something about being happy , thanks.

She left. I believe that she would label me as a sanctimonious prick…she’s not alone.

I label myself content.

Perhaps we’re both right.

I was going to finish by saying that you shouldn’t judge by labels, covers, but simply :

Don’t judge.


P.S. I’m often surprised by Liam Gallagher, this time in a good way. This is Flick Of The Finger 

Author: paul

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