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Posts Tagged ‘Woody Allen in Robert de Niro’s Body Creative Director’

This was Woody Allen in Robert de Niro’s Body Creative Director’s Body question to me as we sat together on a flight to Milan, pondering the identity of a colleague’s adopted children.

Said colleague is gay, and he and his partner have adopted two Guatemalan children, both boys. The youngest of these two boys (who is about five) is shaping up to be an enthusiastic transvestite AND shoe fetishist. Now, I am not in the least advocating anything that might read like a “healthy, natural inclinations” manifesto – but I suppose that we were both in our conversation wondering at what point do you actively encourage your son to become the next RuPaul?

If a four year-old boy is requesting a Barbie Doll, red sequined slippers, and wants to watch “Cabaret” again, do you say “OK” – or do you try and say maybe (not an Action Man) but a jigsaw puzzle, or a viewing of “Fantasia” might be better? I mean, clearly, you don’t equip him with a toy gun, a John Huston box-set and a pit-bull – but is furnishing him with The Best of Cher, a Bob Mackie gown and “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” any more right?

We couldn’t work it out. Maybe someone out there can…

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I am at the start of what I think is going to be a very long process of writing a book on the above idea. I’m looking at collaborations between partners in diverse fields, hoping to identify a series of common principles or even practices that can be imported into any situation where creativity is necessary, and born of a collaborative, rather than solitary, process.

And so… and so it is more than a little dispiriting to keep coming up against evidence of how old-fashioned advertising agencies (so keen to profess that they are “in the business of creativity”) are in their approach to trying to encourage EITHER collaboration OR creativity.

I am off to Singapore for a week with some of our “best” creative talent from round the world – and yet, trying to get even twenty minutes with Woody Allen in Robert de Niro’s Body Creative Director (who is meant to be partnering with me on this experiment) is proving rather more elusive than Lord Lucan riding Shergar. I am increasingly concerned that the session (which should be a really interesting examination of some classic storytelling structures and narrative archetypes) is going to fall flat on its face, as a result of a simple lack of preparation – on both our parts.

This makes me incredibly nervous – I know from various enterprises (from directing in the theatre, to Planning in advertising) that preparation is essential in getting the trust, and enthusiasm, of the people one is trying to lead. At this rate, they will be nervous and wary – and (what is worse) right to be so.

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Wife has come to the opinion that the defining location in humans’ lives is the school playground: there is simply too much “adult” behaviour that confirms her in this belief for her to consider otherwise (she has recently been subjected to the oddest bout of “I want you to be my friend, not hers” and “I get very jealous of other people being friends with you”). I hope that this isn’t going to end up with the introduction of a strawberry-embroidered handkerchief and some fatal stabbing, obviously, but it does seem that some juvenile jealousy is making her life as a friend to one and all (or rather, to those whom she hasn’t dismissed as “absolute cunts”) a little tougher.

I, meanwhile, am facing playground antics of my own: probably the best of these is the fact that after our latest spat (recorded in uneven fury below, somewhere), Woody Allen in Robert de Niro’s Body Creative Director “defriended” me on Facebook. I am yet to experience him actually nicking my lunch money, or getting the big boys to flush my head down the loo, but I daresay I can look forward to it. Can you believe it? It’s the forty year-olds’ version of “I’m not going to be friends with you any more”: a silent, stealthy – but mighty – click of a mouse, and it’s all over.

Well, it probably is now: because the latest exhibition of self-indulgent, 1980s-style wank from his department finally got the better of me and I sent out an e-mail detailing exactly how and why I was so aggrieved. In retrospect, it was probably not the wisest thing that I could have done – but I don’t think that wisdom is really in my DNA: I meant it, and at the time it felt entirely justified. It was, however, a brutal piece of communication – not shrinking from detailing what I saw as faults, failures and indulgences in CAPITAL LETTERS, and with a FUCKLOAD OF SWEARING.

Quite where we go from here, I don’t know. It’s not like he can block me on Twitter (as I am yet to see the appeal of: “Stuck on a bus. Tcch!”), so maybe we’ll go aggressively old skool and have a duel with pistols.

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My return to work is imminent.

I have already had lachrymose e-mails from both Old Friend At Work and Woody Allen in Robert de Niro’s Body Creative Director on this subject – and the consensus is that we are not filled with joys at the impending return, nor are we simply going to go ahead and return to work as the Planners and Creative that people THOUGHT they knew.

WAiRdNBCD has advised me that he is going to transform himself from being “the most negative person that you know” (for so I dubbed him last year) and will embrace positivity. Naturally I am horrified at this eventuality – not just because I associate it with the sort of wheatgrass-drinking, self-help book-reading imbecile whom I loathe (normally because they are NEVER funny); but also because I am, in this, with Rilke (as on so many things) whose profession “If my devils leave me, then I fear my angels will leave me too” I endorse whole-heartedly.

OFAW is more sanguine about the need for change – and I am cheered by the fact that she reinvents herself about once every ten days, often around a new shade of lipstick. However, it is a fact that most of her reinventions occur when she has been away from the office for any length of time: so after holidays, she is always at her best, creating idyllic (and unsustainable) lifestyle tableaux in her head that she and her long-suffering husband then comprehensively fail to live up to:-

  1. “I’m cooking every meal from scratch.”
  2. “I’m giving up drinking.”
  3. “I’m always going to be perfectly groomed and have perfect nail polish and lipstick AT ALL TIMES.”
  4. “I’m going to talk like that girl out of All Saints.”
  5. “I’m going to have a capsule wardrobe.”
  6. “I’m going to be mysterious and enigmatic.”
  7. “I’m going to be the sort of person that people think might be Italian.”
  8. “I’m going to be really feminine.”
  9. “I’m going to be Kristin Scott Thomas meets Cameron Diaz.”
  10. “I’m just going to get my handbags REALLY ORGANISED.”

These are all genuine examples of past reinventions, not to mention all the ones that have been founded on the basis of a new handbag/skirt/fringe/way of doing her eyebrows – and I love her for it. I am VERY keen to know which combination of these will be put into play for this year.

My own efforts (rather than New Year’s Resolutions) are going to be rather simpler, and I put them up here in the promise that I will revisit them publicly one month after today, and assess my progress:-

  1. Try not to be DELIBERATELY antagonistic to Travesty Of All Things Gay.
  2. Rein in my fury at the people who work with me.
  3. Go to the meetings that I need to go to – not all the meetings that I get asked to go to…
  4. …and once there, be gracious about them.
  5. Don’t procrastinate.

We’ll see…

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