Thursday 29 November 2007

Virgin Ata - lantic ; We salute you

I like the randomness of different travel modes and rarely do much thinking about what form of travel will be best. I like variety. I've taken fourth class trains to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, heaving with noisy chickens and snoring rice farmers in intense heat, or more memorably one dangerous 26 hour coach journey from Rangoon to Ngapali beach on the Bay of Bengal in Burma (easily the most beautiful and tranquil beach in the world I've come across). The driver on that particular trip used vocal instructions to a "co-driver" pulling a piece of string which led out the window and underneath the bus to control the breaks. I was OK with that (I had no choice actually) but late into the darkest of nights towards the end of the journey I was compelled to use some ferociously strong language as the driver started nodding off and careering across the road until he was jolted awake by some innate ability to save his and our lives.

I was the only one witness to notice we were facing impending death as my co-passengers were asleep, so despite having only a few words of Burmese I made it clear I would personally throttle him if he fell asleep again by roaring at him in language that would have made mid 80's Millwall fans proud, and gesturing wildly like I was wringing a chicken's neck. This worked a treat and he woke up permanently at this although the snoring passengers were none the wiser.

So it was with some surprise that I received a text from Virgin Atlantic the night before my flight asking for my passport number. We were all having a few cleansing departure ales the night before and eating my red rose that darling Sasha gave me, so I couldn't oblige at the time.

I called first thing the next morning and to my surprise was confirmed as having a chauffeur to Heathrow which kind of made me feel a bit spesh. But once you've flown Bangladeshi/Ethiopian Airlines or Air India its all Bisto after that as Ricky B would say. I was however highly impressed with the whole experience because once inside, the very pleasant driver checked me in with his mobile phone, and within no time at all I was driven into the new Virgin Atlantic 'Upper Class' entrance and passed through the whole shebang within minutes. Without even time to conclude that I wasn't going to have my socks X rayed by a surly Heathrow security attendant, I sashayed into the Upper Class lounge. Virgin have got it going on and I wont even go into the massage treatment on board the plane or the bar that allows travelers to socialise and mingle a little.

Here's a brief 'squirt' as they say in the TV trade, of the lounge. I was most impressed with the food selection which included brilliant breads, roll mop herrings, fresh anchovies and lots of yummy salty things that only the Scandinavians know how to do best. All in all, Virgin Atlantic have got it going on. We salute you.

testing if pics can be attached too email blog posts :)

Charles Frith
+44 792 3448067
'America is not at war, The Marine Corps is at war, America is at the mall'

Tuesday 27 November 2007

Planning Scoff

This is Mr Humphrey or 'Word of Mouth Will' as he is known in some circles. He is easily the best networker in the Plannersphere and a bit of a bugger too I might add, but as he was cheeky enough to launch this blog without my consent (classic punk planning I might add and something I blogged about over here) I guess I'd better give a tip of the ol' hat to this little scamp. Will was kind enough to bid me farewell a couple of nights ago, so I'll post this photo in the manner I would most wish to remember him by. Tucking into the excellent scram of Maoz Falafel in Soho, and comparatively quiet ;)

Monday 26 November 2007

Photoblogging 2.0

I have a bunch of snaps from the Nokia N95 which in general has quite a cool camera facility even thought it blows chunks when it comes to speed. First off is the window to BBC Radio, Broadcasting House on Portland Place which stopped me in its tracks because it had a BBC Acorn computer in the window.

This is like tech porn for people like me who saw the P.C. revolution take off with computers like this and the incredible ZX81 and Spectrum which are easily responsible for a whole generation of top notch computer scientists. So thanks Sir Clive Sinclair who also invented that remarkably prescient but rejected Sinclair C5 that my friend Matt Catt turned up to a party in and instanly blew up the whole of London's oh so trendy collective by being both hip and more crucially, sustainable.

Later on I saw this protestor outside the Chinese Embassy further up the road on Portland Place.

I nipped into Soho later and thought how well the sex shops just get to the point when it comes to typography and layout

I can't help thinking about Lederhosen Lloyd at this juncture before having a bit of a dirty laugh with Angus at this point for asking me THAT question while being filmed. Which while we're on the topic. This movie seems timely doesn't it missy?

I thought Fiona's shoes were looking fab the other night. Top tip gentlemen, always notice a womans shoes or you aren't noticing anything.

But I didn't hang around for that party as I was up the next day nice 'n early doing my magic light trick in my NAKED hands.

But not before tucking into the finest breakfast I've been enjoying outside of the Breakfast Club in Soho. Ladies & Gentlemen, The Mayflower Cafe on London Road's Sausage, Egg, Black Pudding, Grilled Tomatoes, Tea & Sliced Crusty. Awesome eh? I swear that bacon looks like maps of England and Croatia draped over the unusually lengthy sausage.

This is why I've put on at least a stone while in the UK and why I'm hitting the gym in the not very distant future. Feeling awesome and powerful after this quintessential British breakfast I felt in the mood to tackle this guy with some metaphysics. I think he liked me because he let me take his picture.

He looks like he is levitating ever so slightly in this shot. And right behind him you can see the Elizabethan Whitgift Alms Houses in Croydon, right next to Alders I think which kind of sums up the area for insenstive town planning. I believe they are going to exhume the River Wandle that was filled in the 60's to make way for roads. More on that later.

Further on down I met an ill mannered chap who represented some anti European lobby/party. Well they have got a point haven't they but seriously, Its not the end that is wrong. It's the means. I hope that people appreciate we aren't going to solve global warming on our own. We need big chunky respected institutions and the E.U. has greater gravitas than the Whitehouse and the Beijing Politburo combined. The E.U. isn't also obsessed with the growth growth growth growing unsustainable growth word. Growing growing gone I say.

So look, I'm sorry to get onto my socks but if Coleman can talk about his so can I because I've been packing over the weekend and I have a simple question. How the hell do I have seven odd socks. I'm sorry to burden you with this. But a reasonable explanation would be of succour. I'm also short on socks.

And while we're at it those Design Conspiracy boys are a bit fly by night with some questionable screen printing. Look how the original silk screen print of the longest city name in the world has gone to pot from when it was fresh over here in June.

Yesterday I also saw the Innocent ethos in action thing for the first time at Harrods supermarket. Raising money for the elderly. Funny how doing good is so much more respected than preaching good right? Most marketing people still dont quite get it yet though.

Which has nothing to do with my favourite Turkish restaurant that serves up this awesome spread for a fiver on a Sunday night after a long day at the orifice.

On a brighter note thought I absolutely love this birthday card that Audrey received for her birthday and thought I'd snap it before it was lost to posterity.

another test post

This looks interesting too. thanks russell.
Charles Frith
+44 792 3448067
'America is not at war, The Marine Corps is at war, America is at the mall'

Sunday 25 November 2007


Sorry about the quality of picture but I was so angry I was probably shaking the camera with when I took it on the (ahem) subway. Anyway it says "Try our authentic sweet chilli chicken subs"

I've always thought that Subway make a sub standard sandwich, like its done the sub way or something, but they've particularly pissed me off with this kind of advertising which is every reason why our profession is viewed as on a par with politicians and snake oil salesmen. The sheer subterfuge of selling a sandwich that has fuck all to do with Thailand apart from a couple of cents worth of substitute generic sweet chilli sauce really pisses me off.

Bread and all the fillings inside this Turd de Blanc have nothing to do with the Thai diet and if you are under the impression that you've gone all ethnic by eating this nonsense then I can assure you that the only thing authentic about this torpedo are the plastic sachets of sweet chilli sauce most often found in Western fast food outlets in Thailand.

If you want to see a real agency talk about Subway I suggest you take two minutes to check out this incredible video.

Update: I managed to take some better snaps last night. Discover Thailand my ass.

Update: Subway are to remove Yoga Mat chemicals from their bread.

Saturday 24 November 2007


Scamp from BBH has cracked out one of the best print executions I've seen in a long time. This is why I love the print genre so very much. If there is anybody here from around the world who doesn't understand it, I'd love to hear from you because its well worth explaining. I particularly like print because I can linger on them without pressing pause or go back and read it if I like something without using up more electricity.

Digital Backflips

Well most of you know that I'm heading to the Wild East again and before I go I want to thank y'all. I've truly never met a more interesting and friendly bunch of people than in London this time round. It's been my fourth stay in our shining example of a multi-ethnic and cohesive metropolis that I love so much. I'll also miss the insanely rich architecture, chunky history, spectacular food, argy bargy pubs and most of all, you lot.

Sadly for me, but brilliant for you (hurrah), there will be internet restrictions for me in the future and this will probably mean less activty in doing what I love more than posting here, which is leaving comments on your blogs. It will also mean that this gaff will have less frequent posting and probably slow as hell comment moderation so I ask that you all kindly bear with me on being slow to respond or reciprocate in any digital way please? I'd really appreciate that and while Cocomment isn't as good as it used to be it's still the best at keeping an eye on incoming or outgoing comment activity.

But this is important to me because a blog is for life and not just for Christmas..... (chuckles)

OK I'm laying it on a bit but I'm quite fond of a little melodrama and it doesn't really work in Asia so cut me some slack this once. I'll be travelling quite lot, and able to post freely in the countries that aren't afraid of Blogger, Typepad and Wikipedia to name a few.

I also wouldn't be too harsh on countries that are still growing into the 21st century. You know, if we think about say the Balkans conflict, and multiply that by thousands, you get the big picture why a country cannot always give its people the full freedoms that we are so lucky to enjoy here in the West without it turning into a freaking mess. If indeed that liberty applies to the United States anymore, where as far as I can see even my educated and progressive American friends daren't say anything in the digital domain against the current regime in power. You know, stuff like invading another country for oil, lying about the motives for it, and all executed after one of the most questionable election victories in U.S. political history which we all forgot about because of that convenient terror terror terror terror terror (are you bored yet?) terrorist act. I say convenient because its not like the agenda was kept a secret or anything, by the well known names who signed the bottom of this declaration in 1997.

Anyway, many of you know that I have a deep affection for the United States. I grew up under its benevelont, generous and protectful arm during the Wirtschaftwunder of post war Germany. So its not through bitterness but sadness that I'm stirred up a bit like this. Particularly when the finger pointing begins about who fights hardest to secure the freedom which only ever really resides in our minds. Or as Ben Franklin put it best 'Anyone that is willing to sacrifice freedom for safety, deserves neither".

But getting back on track, the reason for this post is that its my first test post via email (and thus mobile phone...Kaching!). If you can can all bear with me while I go through lots of experimentation and make plenty of mistakes I expect to see Punk Planning looking a bit shabbier regarding formating or even just making much sense, while I play with the settings so that I can continue to break censorship rules. Because y'all know I'm fond of breaking rules right?

(sent via email with my standard signature below)

"The east shall shake the west awake
And ye shall have night for morn"

- James Joyce / "Finnegan's Wake"

America is not at war, the Marine Corp is at war. America is at the Mall

Friday 23 November 2007

The true origins of hip hop

I wrote about hip hop over here with an excellent Google video on the origins of hip hop but it seems I got a few facts wrong.

Food 2.0

One of my favourite twitterers is noodlepie who blogs over here. I really like it when he decides to cook something in the evening and nips out to the market to buy the fresh produce. I find it inspiring and I'm a wee bit jealous till I get my kitchen sorted out.

In the meantime all I can do is take the occasional picture of the food I'm eating and blog it. This has made me think I need to get stuck into Jaiku again now that Google have bought the company and temporarily put a hold on new members.

It does feel like the future is heading into a Jaiku/Facebook and location based contextual information mashup. I can't wait for that day. The day when I'm waiting for a plane or train and I can hook up with likeminded individuals who have time to kill and who can also teach me more in 20 minutes conversation than any book could. Now I like books, I'm currently rereading The Master and Margarita but I don't think there is any other better face to face time than chewing the fat with someone I know a little bit about as a result of blogs or whatever other social media is available. Even a few pictures can tell me a lot. So here is my Haggis moment at Heathrow.

Then my favourite Turkish joint in Croydon which does all this for a fiver

I had lunch with Rory the other day. It was a much grander affair and well worth the trek over to Docklands for the best conversationalist in town. No time to snap the food but I can vouch for First Edition's yummy Lamb. Here's the layout I caught while waiting for the great man to arrive.

Then there was that awesome Scone on Picadilly that stopped me outside the window and lured me inside with thick cream and heaps of fresh berries too.

Then there was that Champagne and Chips moment last night. I went for the Rock at the Rock & Sole in Covent Garden with dirty hand cut chips. It was lovely

And no food post would be complete without a pic of Lloyd Davies of Perfect Path tucking into a Breakfast Club Breakfast of Champions

At this rate I'm going to be resembling the Pied Piper pork-pie-star himself Rob Campbell which I guess means I should get on the Diet Tangos ASAP

Update: Quite by coincidence Graham Holliday of Noodle Pie has blogged about a response I made to his twitter over here on his Guardian Blog for food.

Wednesday 21 November 2007

The Hub

I went to The Hub not so long ago and was bowled over by the energy in the place which is ironic because they are all social entrepreneurs and very adept at saving energy for themselves and their clients. I want to show you a short film clip of their most creative hot spot. Right at the end I've revealed where it was filmed. Neat huh?

Tell the truth. Its more creative than most advertising agency departments isn't it?. Why? Because we need to tear down the department walls. Like yesterday.

Move Over Darling

That's China for ya babies. They gonna rock this century. Then its India.

Tuesday 20 November 2007


I went to the Tate the other day with Lloyd Davis from Perfect Path. Mainly because I wanted to clear my head and I've been a wee bit obsessed with that painting by Millais of Ophelia. On the one hand it looks slightly fantastic and contrived but in real life it does have some of that Shakespearean drama licence of I'm drowning but I wont choke while I do it. Its beautiful anway and the attention to detail is such that all the tiny flowers are individually identifiable.

It also reminds me strongly of the video by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue. Take a look around a minute and a half if ADD is getting to you. Neat huh!

Millais was kind of like the Damien Hirst of his day too. Totally up for squeezing every buck he could from portrait sittings, he was in much demand and there are a shed load of these which bored us a bit because he did so many. But then there are the Fancies including the Pears Soap Bubble painting that caused such a stir for selling out at the time and maybe he was, but tucked in this collection are some real gems not least of which is Ophelia which I still can't quite shake out of my head. Millais came from Southampton too, which is my home town so maybe there was a bit of that sitting in my head and willing me on to make the visit. I also lived on Millais road not far from The Kaiser although we didn't know each other at that time as youngsters. Also we had a gallery called Millais at Solent University where I studied for my degree even though that was pretty much a cover for not wanting to work for a few years after my girlfriend of that time tried to take her life. Much like Ophelia I guess.

Update: I received an email asking me to post ADD information. Warning: I checked their credentials and there's content of an adult nature there too. If you click on the image you can make your own mind up.

Living with yourself

Wherever you are in the world you may have scratched your head once or twice and tried to figure out what infinity means. Then when you'd given up on this you may even have reflected that we live in a world of finite resources. Fossil fuels are a great example. They are the reverse of infinite. That's finite to you and me. Once our selfish and greedy generation have used them up (like the fossil crack whores we are) there will none left for our kids. (Cue handing over responsibility to the scientists who make iPods we can put into blenders to show how clever we are, and will ultimately invent some mythical power that the kids can then forgive our first-come, first-served mentality)

We tend to fight wars over them, set geopolitical policy around them, have a century of the cheapest energy ever, and believe it or not make all things plastic out of oil before we throw them away in the contented illusion that what is OUT OF SIGHT IS OUT OF MIND. Other than that we like to fill up our gas guzzling SUV's from pipes at petrol stations and get scared if someone does it with a cigarette in their hand, because that would mess up our Christmas plans. Ah yes Christmas, where we go on another consumer spending bender topped off with orgies of indulgence before nipping into the vomitorium to make way for some more mince pies, Chrimbo pudding, presents and more cake while studiously avoiding any mention of the birth of Jesus Christ who I can assure you took frugality very seriously. Its time to make frugal a word to worship again. It may just save our skins.

So how can we do this while encouraging people to spend, spend, spend while achieving those growth growth growth (ugh) targets that make the world so tickety boo? Easy if you really think about it but it will take a rewiring of our economies, some sort of managed population decline and building businesses around recycling, sustainability, community and wait for this making money out of value not money out of stuff as Russell pointed out over here.

Anyway, just in case this is popping your amygdala out of its neocortex because your marketing and advertising acumen pays the mortage and the thought of saving the world really gives you a migraine then relax, because one of the worlds best thinkers on the subject John Grant has just published his book The Green Marketing Manifesto. You should stop sodding about and buy it immediately. As John puts it so eloquently in his book. If environmental issues are a moral question, then not doing the right thing is immoral. I say this is more important than reading the newspaper and casting judgement on others. Change the world. Change yourself.

Sunday 18 November 2007

Cheap is at somebody else's expense

Its been cropping up a fair bit recently but the idea that cheap is good is particularly obscene while we sit out this peak oil consumption frenzy. Cheap is only good if you can't afford anything else, otherwise it's just somebody else on the other side of the world scraping a living out of our frequent impulse-buys that end up as the pile of junk that heats the world while our collective urges are sated. I'm quite confident that oil at 200 dollars a barrell is the only answer for those oil junkies who are in complete denial about where we are. I will be having a little party around then but in the mean time here is the culture of our times on plastic bags. We worship cheap when in actual fact, we can't really afford it.

Saturday 17 November 2007

Advertising on the London Underground

I'm not very fond of the Underground because it's overly congested, can get hot and is a little claustrophobic. There is one upside that doesn't often get mentioned and that is the advertising. The poster advertising including the cross tracks are often unseen above ground and don't seem to get mentioned all that much. I love the simplicity of this execution advertising the V&A's Ice Station Antarctica Exhibition.

I also really like this campaign for a new type of Barclay Card that is a credit, debit and Oyster Card which is a cashless card first inspired in places like Hong Kong and Singapore.

The £800 million launch of the St. Pancras Station refit with its new Eurostar trains cutting the time from London to Brussells down to 1 hour and 50 minutes is also being advertised above ground.

What exactly is a Dosa?

After talking about the wonderful Dosas in Croydon over here, I've finally managed to take a picture of the heavenly ones they make at the Chennai Dosa and here it is. Inside that pancake like fold is a potato and lentil filling, while behind it are three little wells for putting the Dhal like soup, the white coconut chutney and a range of sauces including a chilli, tomato and a mango. All for dipping in. I'm also very fond of the basic metal beakers used for drinking London's finest tap water.

Its not very glamorous but its usually quite busy with all sorts of ethnic Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis not to mention the growing Afro Carribean community I've noticed going.

Thursday 15 November 2007

Mark Piper/Captain Pipes - RIP

I just found out yesterday that Mark Piper of HHCL & Partners passed away on Sunday. He was responsible for giving me my break in planning and mentored me in my first year. He was to my mind one of the most superior planners that the agency ever had.

Pipes however was notoriously prickly, and kept himself to himself in the main when working furiously on lots of new business at HHCL that he won including Egg and Go (The Low Cost Airline). I was on the receiving end of his sharp tongue on occasions and it was very sobering. He was at the same time a rock and roll star both in the meeting and off the pitch I will remember him at his most happy on his speedboat L'Etranger which I later learned was swapped for a more peaceful and to my mind more enjoyable, sailing lifestyle. I never saw that period of his life while I was in Asia.

Mark was also incredibly generous to his friends and liked breaking rules.

Pipes' big send off is next Tuesday at St Marys Church, Draycott Terrace, Chelsea on Tuesday 20th November at 11.50. Drinks after at The Coopers Arms in Flood Street from 1.30 onwards.

Thanks for the ride Mark.

Update: You can read more about Mark over here from his very delightful wife Kate.

Working Class Hero

by John Lennon

As soon as you're born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you're so clever and class less and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There's room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be
If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

Monday 12 November 2007

Cha Ching Rebel & Moxie

Her name is Moxie and she is amazing. You may need to turn the audio up. Filmed at Armani on Knightsbridge until the security guard came in at the end :)

Sunday 11 November 2007

Yikes!! - Looks like I'm puffing

Edwards-Macy store Lakeland

Edwards-Macy store Lakeland, originally uploaded by JSDesign.

Across the universe

everyone is not someone
someone is not a group
the group is not the crowd
the crowd is not you
you are the universe

Richard Buchanan - Tuesday 6th November 2007

Saturday 10 November 2007

Aunty Viv

I had the good fortune to stay for a few days in Milan this week judging global creative and more importantly getting a chance to meet people that I may one day need to call upon for help. I stayed at the nhow hotel which is as pretentious as it's name (I heard a few Milanese pronouncing it with the 'h' which just cracked me up). The hotel was tres chic but as I pointed out to the production people on the flight back to London, the pillows weren't up to standard, which is more important than any smoked glass shower action like the Park Hotel in New Delhi I talked about here.

In the post industrial reception I noticed the art they were displaying reminded me heavily of Russell's jump posts so I thought I'd share them with you here. They look more like they could be sinking than floating...and on smack too for that matter.

Or is she floating in water?

To me it almost looks like the point on a parabolic curve when motion is static, or the point during a trampoline jump when up turns to down.

We didn't get much of a chance to look around Milan but I did sneak out and stock up on some quality Salami & Cheese at the supermarket but not on any cake action.

Mmm they're waiting for me in the fridge at home.

The cake shop was closed at night but the view from the window looked fab. There is something very civilised about shops with cakes in the windows. Like a scene from The Unconsoled, in one of those hard to determine middle European cities that Kazuo Ishiguro depicts so well.

We were however spoiled with a little trip to a brilliant traditional Milanese trattoria that even now I can remember all the courses because the food was so simple and fab. It's called Bagutta and is a favourite haunt for the artistic community in Milan. Not the tossers in fashion or advertising but proper creatives. The ones who paint and write for love not money. They produce a book each year which as we left the restaurant I noticed one year was titled 'Basso Profondo" which is something that Tom Doctoroff talks about in his rather excellent book "Billions - Marketing to the new Chinese Consumer". More on that later.

And the next day we were even treated to my first game of football since I watched Frankfurt Eintracht play in 1992. As you might know from this post, I'm a footy expert every four years but nothing could prepare me for the feel of the San Siro stadium with Inter Milan playing CSKA Moscow. I thought I'd take a quick video at ground level only to hear someone berating me to get out of the way in Italian.

The Moscow fans who chanted louder than the home team were on the right of this shot and the hard core Milan fans were in the far corner on the left. They let off a couple of flares after they went down 2 goals in the first 15 minutes as it was starting to look like Moscow were going to win but in the end the score was a very exciting 4-2 to Milan. The lady on my left poking her tongue out at the Camera is Roberta who organised all the events and was very friendly and charming while showing us the best Milan has to offer. (Outside of a Prada shop of course)

So Milan? Lovely people, lots of cheek kisses and genuine warmth with great conversation (Thanks Pietro) and a top quality slice of one of the great civilisations to emerge and conquer the British Isles although quite why anyone would want to swap temperate Italy with chilly Blighty is quite beyond me, and just before I end you might want to check out a great blog from one of my former University lecturers who has started blogging bits and pieces worth checking out. Don't concern yourselves with his spelling, as Robert De Niet who I talked about over here, is heavily dyslexic. But his style and taste are invariably impeccable. As indeed were the Vivienne Westwood sofas gracing the nhow hotel reception in honour of Aunty Viv's retrospective that is on in Milan right now.