Henry learns that Fake Turins are NOT Hard-Fi beats with William Burroughs inspired lyrics.
This was my first visit to 26 Leake Street.
It’s an open-plan, neon-lit bar, hidden under covered railway arches near Waterloo station. I’d describe it as ‘organise your next post-work binge here and it’ll probably impress your colleagues’ cool.
Yeah, swathes of graffiti, skateboards clattering and kids screaming, ‘fuck off’ at each other. The bar’s also hosting an official Nelson Mandela exhibition, so there’s culture too (great excuse to miss that mandatory weekend gallery excursion).
It inspired me to ask myself, “is 26 Leake Street a bar for revolutionaries?”
Then I remembered that I knew the answer to that already:
Yes, of course it was!
Are you Nation of Ulysses? Oh well, chin up…
I was there to see Fake Turins.
The facebook event page described them as, “Nomadic Disco-Punk that blends the poetic irreverence of Burroughs with the modern cynicism of David Foster Wallace.”
How Henry inspired Fake Turins
The description quoted above has been revised.
Ahead of the gig, it claimed that the band were, “Hard-Fi beats overlayed with poetry inspired by William Burroughs carrying the modern cynicism and irony of David Foster Wallace.” Or something like that.
It’s funny, they must have changed it because they overheard me saying how ridiculous it was. Look Fake Turins, I know I’m a pretty big deal, but please stop being so insecure.
I’m sure I’d heard boasts like that before!
Who did it remind me of? Oh yeah, Nation of Ulysses, everyone’s favourite Washington DC punk band to quote when you’re having an argument about how Refused aren’t that original. You know, that band that claimed to be revolutionaries working hard to overthrow the capitalist system.
Fake Turins seemed to be describing themselves in a very similar way. But maybe they were just joking.
I mean, I don’t mind a bit of intentional over exaggeration (I’m not a monster, am I?).
Then they did sound check.
Between ‘1-2 1-2’ Fake Turins’ front-man recited poetry.
It confirmed my suspicions: Fake Turins were really pretentious (and insecure).
So, having established that this review is completely objective, let’s get to it:
The actual review
Japan Review kicked it off with some dreary dreampop; a lot to distortion and aural landscaping (the legacy of U2 lives on). Singer sounded like Thom Yorke, but the songs weren’t very interesting (no fake plastic watering cans).
I hadn’t showered or changed my boxers that day. Guess who was drearier, my boxers or Japan Review? Nailed it.
No, I had the pleasure of seeing three acts (ILKA, sorry but you didn’t make the cut) delight in exposing themselves to an audience of friends. It was like a burlesque show, expect less 12A.
Alone at the back, I felt like I’d crashed a party.
Not the usual party (sitting around someone’s kitchen table playing with the salt shaker and sugar dispenser). No, it was a celebration of friendship, courage, dignity and a night of rolling around in magnetic tape (crooning over pre-recorded tracks).
When it was over, I couldn’t help but imagine what my life would have been like if I’d actually been invited.
Then I took it too far.
Now it’s a story that I’m going to tell everyone this weekend.
How I partied with your Aunt Lucy, Vanity Fairy and Crying High:
Henry: “So, I went to this party on Tuesday.”
Acquaintance: “A PARTY? OH MY GOD HENRY, YOU’RE SO COOL. TELL ME EVERYTHING.”
It all started with a rap at the door, immediately followed by disappointment.
It was a disaster. That couple ILKA (not-as-synthy-or-strange-as-the-rest) were the first to arrive – no one actually thought they’d show up.
The conversation wasn’t very inclusive, they insisted on telling everyone what they’d achieved since graduation (yes, theyplayed the most instruments: there was a dedicated drummer, some standing keys, a lil’ bit o’ guitar and a pad-thing that you bash with a stick).
I think they thought the boasts were impressive, but really it was just a bit embarrassing (they couldn’t play all the instruments at once).
Also, I should have said to the guy, but if you’re with a new partner, it’s not a great idea to talk incessantly about another girl who you’re trying to get to come over, even if you say she’s like a cactus (sang about how the girl he fancies is a prickly minx).
After one non-alcoholic beer, they left.
Funny how departure can have such a profoundly positive effect on the mood.
Then (you really wouldn’t have guessed it) surprise! your Aunt Lucy showed up.
She’s looking great for her age. Leaving Mike’s given her so much confidence.
To everyone’s delight, she’d done herself up like that guy from Kasabian – decked in a shiny lycra playsuit with shades and stubble.
Don’t look hurt. It wasn’t actually your Aunt Lucy. It was a skinny guy that everyone but me seemed to know.
He spent the whole time requesting songs from Liars’Mess, then proceeded to thrust manically to them.
We had a brief conversation.
He slurred about the previous afternoon (just one more biscuit) and his upcoming weekend plans (a countryside excursion with the fam).
So forgive me for thinking it was your Aunt Lu?
Everyone was happy. The party had started.
Then the conversation turned to feminism.
It got a bit intense, then this pretty girl, Vanity Fairy made a statement by plundering the dressing up box upstairs. She came back down dressed as Little Bo Peep.
She carried the persona well, announcing her emancipation from sheep and stereotypes, while delivering a fabulous new introduction, “Vanity, baby.”
We all celebrated with a bit of a boogie to some ‘nostalgic’ disco numbers.
And then something funny happened. I might have just imagined it, but as the lights turned green, I thought I saw her point out to me and sing in her throaty drawl, “hit me with a move tonight,” but I was nervous, so didn’t.
And just as the mood was beginning to subdue, Crying High found a guitar in the front room.
Internally, we all groaned.
He then proceeded to play and, turns out he can actually sing.
We all groaned a bit more.
Thank god he was only joking!
After one song with the guitar he flung it out of the window and got funky, entering his own sing-on-top-of-the-pre-recorded-track routine.
It injected so much new life back into the gathering.
My friend even found the time to make some paper masks with Crying High’s face on, which we all wore on the back of our heads, while the man himself as he stood on a coffee table.
And he sang and sang. And with two microphones (someone told me that’s how you train mics for live performances – start them off in pairs).
I didn’t want the night to end. But it did.
At least there were party bags (a free merch table) filled with post cards, polaroids and paper masks – just so we could remember the great time we had.
A lot more heart than you normally see at the Victoria on a Tuesday.
And as I made sure that the memory was spread evenly across the carpet of my mind, I remembered that everyone had sung in a field of roses, roses without thorns and it was absolute bliss.
Why you should always think a little harder than you actually do
As the memory hit its climax, I remembered Patti Smith calling out to the audience:
“Rise up, oh rise up my young flowers, if we all sing together we’ll break the machine and be free to love each other forever. It’s the sixties all over again. Yeah, we changed the world and it’s great now because of us.“
Wait, the world isn’t great now, is it?
I then learned that everyone else had won tickets on Dice too.
Then my girlfriend said she didn’t want to come on Sunday.
Then I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to rub anyone’s face in the fact that I’d finally won something.
And then I started to remember that no, last year’s All Points East hadn’t been that good, had it?
I looked on the internet to confirm my suspicions. Reading this review on Resident Adviser just confirmed that people who write for RA take too much ecstasy (it really damages your brain).
Yep, it was confirmed. Last year had definitely been awful.
But I tried to not get myself down. I mean, it was going to be sunny. Maybe I could still drink too much and have a fun time?
Turns out I was wrong. Just like I had been wrong last year.
Having definitely experienced this before and now having absolutely no desire to experience it again, I decided to write down exactly why All Points East was an awful experience (AGAIN) and why I never want to go back, EVER AGAIN.
Henry’s list of things that you should definitely read before accepting tickets to go to All Points East
1. The people often suck
Why do a lot of the people at day festivals suck?
Because they’re the types who think the best place to see Foo Fighters is from the seated bit at the back of Greenwich O2.
It’s not. The best way to see Foo Fighters is sticking your head down a u-bend screaming Monkey Wrench.
I don’t need to labour this further. No, someone provided me with the perfect example while I was queuing on Saturday.
Ahead, there were swathes of white people and despite the overpowering scent of sun block, the back of everyone’s necks and ears were piglet pink.
And get ready, because behind there stood the most disingenuous couple I have ever had the pleasure of eavesdropping on, EVER.
The mysterious couple’s All Points East queue conversation
The girl, “Oh, you know that babe that I’m totally obsessed with on Instagram? Yeah? Well she’s in Majorca and it looks so LUSH. She just looks so LUSH. She’s SO beefed right now. It’s really inspiring me. You know what? I’m gonna go beefer.”
The guy, “Ah, babe this is why I love you so much. It would be my absolute pleasure to go beefer with you.”
The girl then responded, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH [BEEF] BABE.”
Lucky for them, everyone’s cattle prods were confiscated at the entrance.
2. The bands don’t have a very good incentive to play well
If someone wrote you a check for £50,000 and then said all you had to do was jump around the stage at the petting zoo, would you put on your best performance?
This year, it’s already been reported that the Strokes sounded like underwater karaoke. Look, it’s in the Independent.
For some reason though, the Independent didn’t get in touch with me for a quote.
It’s a shame because I actually spent most of the Strokes’ performance standing to the right of the main stage – exactly where it sounded bad. I’m afraid that I need to testify that while the Strokes were hard to hear (and there was one hell of a lot of booing), it did not sound like underwater karaoke.
But I can tell you that it’s a shame it wasn’t underwater karaoke. If it had been, all the people who were singing, “nah-na-nahh-na-nah-nahhhh-nahhhhh,” to that guitar bit that everyone knows in 12:41 would have probably swallowed a little too much water.
All Points East’s website describes the companies that sell all of these great things as partners not sponsors.
You know that’s the corporate way of saying ‘I’m with the band’.
And I hate to labour the point, but the adverts are so hard to ignore.
Here were my favourites:
The Logic Vape tent (how is it ok to advertise vapes but it’s not ok to advertise cigarettes? All those vape adverts just remind everyone that they used to smoke real cigarettes. I mean, if I was working in Marlboro’s advertising department right now I’d just invent a vape that looks like a pack of Marlboro Reds and plaster that everywhere)
The Huawei spying platform (yes, Huawei had a platform directly opposite the main stage, where else would it be?), and
Can you imagine a tent full of people who only have two things in common: an Amex card and a desire to only hang out with other people who have Amex cards?
I bet the Amex tent’s great.
Who doesn’t love spending time at concerts comparing their Experian credit rating (by the way, it’s 300 (that means good 😉 ). How about you send me some money in the post?).
4. No one seems to be angry that it’s blatant commercialism
Let me tell you a story:
Once upon a time, at All Points East there was a Tinder Van.
Everyone walked past the Tinder Van and said, “Oh, sweet, it’s really useful that there’s a Tinder Van at All Points East. You know, somewhere you’re able to change partners when you fall out of love for forty minutes and both no longer want to see the same band. It’s just great that you’ll still have someone else’s back pocket to keep your hand warm in.”
Then, when Interpol started playing Henry’s girlfriend went up to the Tinder Van and said, “Oh please Tinder Van, can I exchange this Henry for someone who doesn’t want to see Interpol?”
And then the Tinder Van lady said “Oh no Henry’s girlfriend, I’m afraid not, this van is just for beer, but if you pull your top down a bit I’ll set you up with a new profile.”
And in the end poor little Henry got abandoned at the carousel that looked like it was dancing to the end of the world.
Have you worked out what’s strange about that story yet? You guessed it, no one’s angry that I was abandoned.
Want to hear something else people weren’t angry about?
There was this All Points East app that was meant to tell you when and where your favourite acts were playing. But it’s like they made sure it was completely web-based on purpose.
Of course it wasn’t going to work.
When have you ever had mobile data at a festival?!
The organisers clearly knew it wasn’t going to work. That’s why they hired a bunch of people to stand around with physical guides on really cool lanyards that cost £5 each.
My point here is that no one seemed to care that they were being ripped off. Or angry about anything. It was just kind of like everyone there wanted vanilla icecream and everyone got vanilla icecream.
5. The hypocrisy
I really wanted to see Parquet Courts on Saturday and I did. It was great. I think Parquet Courts are ace.
But, despite a solid performance of Tenderness, no one seemed to take the lyrics to heart.
And like that magnificent band from New York City, this weekend, I too was left without a fix of a little tenderness.
Excerpt from Parquet Courts’ Tenderness
Nothing reminds the mind of power
Like the cheap odor of plastic
Leaking fumes we crave, consume, the rush it feels fantastic
But like power turns to mold, like a junkie going cold
I need the fix of a little tenderness
But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any good bits.
A crucial step in my seven point plan to become the greatest copywriter EVER involved making sure that everyone in London knew I was the coolest kid in Hackney.
Out of 32 London boroughs, Hackney was definitely the coolest (how isn’t being 98% over the European legal limit for nitrogen dioxide emissions a middle finger straight up at the man?) and if I managed to become the coolest kid in Hackney, I’d probably be the coolest kid in London.
Actually, it wasn’t.
I didn’t appreciate the challenge I’d set myself until I took a long look in the mirror.
Standing in my mirror staring spot I said, “mirror mirror, oh what do I see?”
Knowing the answer, I gave it, “a 28 year old with great hair.”
Suddenly an evil voice emanated from the frame, “look closer. What do you see?”
A little confused, I replied, “unwavering determination?”
The same voice hissed, “look closer and up a bit.”
Then I saw it. I must have missed it because it wasn’t there – a hairline about to sink from mild recession into a deep and tragic depression. And this time the economy definitely wasn’t going to pick up – I didn’t have a job.
Rolling Stone would probably give me a job and I’d be like that kid in the movie about the band who were in that aeroplane that falls out of the sky then the drummer tells everyone he’s gay (you guessed it, Almost Famous).
So I found three free gigs on Dice and went to them.
Milkjug sing about elves. They’re a psychedelic dreampop quartet who sing about elves. They announced their love of elves to the audience – as if the long hair wasn’t a give away. Didn’t manage to recreate the tranquillity of the forest, as bumpy dynamic changes uprooted the mood.
Smarming rhymes with Mister Charming Alarming Professor Alfred The Hitchclock. Who? A three-piece, bluesy and ‘conventionally strange’ rock band. And what does smarming have to do it? Dramatically extraordinary tempo changes, blistering nitroglycerine fueled vocal duels and a surprising turn-of-the-century mid-western vibe. Soft / Hard / Repeat (think Pixies). Quite talented, maybe it’s time to drop the weird act.
What can you say about Longheads? The band were, um, competent. A set of bass driven songs covered in fuzz. For once, it was sweet to see shared vocal responsibilities that didn’t descend into a competition. But throughout the performance, it felt like something was missing. That’s sometimes the point, and could have been what Longheads were going for, having incorporated some elements of shoegaze into their sound. But unlike DIIV or Ride (or even Drop Nineteens) I wasn’t drowned in waves of drone and then lifted into the outer atmosphere. No, listening to Longheads was like paddling in the sea. Nice when you’re doing it, but boring as hell (unless you’re five) and the leading cause of sandy socks.
Longheads were the best band but also the biggest bore. Hopefully Milkjug and Mister Charming Alarming Professor Alfred The Hitchclock stick at it.
Sparse beats and ethereal rhymes under throbbing crimson.
Nike Neblem, female duo draped in black delivered an experimental piece questioning something (?) about a world where truth is an option. Announced their arrival with a distorted amp / guitar duet but despite threats to entangle the audience in their agenda with a ball of twine they didn’t manage to add much originality to subject matter.
Synth and drum combo Hyeanah generated oppressive aural landscapes, underscored with clattering percussion and topped with schizophrenic free-verse. It sort of worked, but difficulty discerning between each song robbed them of a final applause.
Main act, Icelandic Sólveig Matthildur (Kælan Mikla‘s bassist) drew a crowd of her own to mark the launch her new LP, Constantly in Love. Sparse beats and ethereal vocals proved captivating throughout. Despite no live backing, her vocals added much welcomed depth to each song. During the gaps inbetween Sólveig’s interactions with the crowd were endearing and provided a platform for her to dispel various (apparent) online rumours that she just sings about boys. Highlights including Twin-Peak-theme-twinged Dystopian boy and pulsating disco of Tómas.
First two acts lacked direction, Sólveig Matthildur made up for it.
Audience participation required. Shame there wasn’t a crowd.
Three rock bands – one distinctly more glam than the others.
Crimson Cobra kicked it off with a solid set. Sounded like Royal Blood. Guitar occasionally soared into an aerial assault and a well-timed drummer come singer.
Second Røyaltee announced that this wasn’t a normal show, told everyone how hard his life’s been then cajoled the crowd into overhead clapping. Already cringe inducing the frontman topped it with a directed sing-a-long: ‘when I sing ‘scream, shout’ you shout ‘scream motherfucker.’’ Hit the pinnacle of cool with their miserable Pop the Drugs – Mr Brownstone without the class.
Unashamedly glam, the DandyLions gave the best performance of the night. Decked in pink and yellow lycra with at least one wrestling mask, they clearly did not give a shit. Unfortunate that only about ten people were still there. Launching haribo from the stage they ran through a set of songs as camp as Queen, potentially inspired by sex (or lack of it), including Hairspray, Drink me Like Water and Legendary Fire. Veered a little more PC with faux-feminist power-pop number Women in Charge.
Pleasantly unexpected end to an otherwise unmemorable and occasionally bad show.
Remembering the nation’s best-loved aardvark was a reassurance and useful for my future career (aardvark is a good copywriting word because it starts with two a’s). Surely the library wouldn’t be a bore at all!
Then I remembered that I didn’t have a library card.
Did that mean I couldn’t have any fun and more importantly couldn’t do any work?
But I was almost halfway there. I couldn’t turn back. Valiantly, I strode on.
2. Enter the library
The foyer smelled like bleach and primary school lunches. It was only 10:00am but already uniformed children were stalking the corridors (probably hiding from bullies).
This all brought back painful childhood memories so I hastily passed through the metal detectors and entered the book room.
I was almost knocked out by the heat. It was tropical.
Now between the bookcases I pulled out my imaginary binoculars and took a moment to admire the wildlife:
A suit perched on a low padded chair. No book just a phone. He was definitely pretending to be there for a business meeting.
A hippy reading a vegan cookbook. He must be trying to figure out how to make his tinned spaghetti & sausages more palatable.
Three evenly spaced shadows hunched over keyboards all scrolling through Facebook. It must be that time of the week when people need to update their universal credit claimant commitments with job search activity.
I carefully placed my imaginary binoculars back. As the world spins it’s heartening to know that some things will never change.
I made my way to Librarian Island.
“I’ve lost my library card. I need a new one.”
The only librarian sitting in front of a computer gave me a disgusted look, “I don’t know how to use the new system.” She turned to her coworker, “Darnell, can you help him?”
And for once Darnell’s shaking head was a resounding yes! Of course he could!
Darnell sat me down and went through the secure library card recovery procedure, “What’s your first and last name?” – Yeah, that was it. He didn’t even ask for my address.
Library card fraud is an opportunity
Hell, if the whole copywriting thing didn’t work library card fraud might.
THE PLAN: Get someone’s first and last name, take out smutty books (Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight), scrawl dreams of kidnapping onto the blank pages at the back, date them and proceed to blackmail whichever irresponsible person didn’t shred their junk mail.
Darnell found my account and promptly demanded £12. Apparently I’d never returned a book on the Rolling Stones. That didn’t sound like me. I way prefer the Stooges.
It was a difficult decision. I didn’t want to give Homerton Library £12. I was unemployed. But eventually I complied. I needed access to free books.
He then handed me my magnificent new key to knowledge. It had pictures of cyclists in London Fields. GREAT!
But where to start? I knew the Dewey Decimal System by heart, but where do copywriting and technology fit into its ten categories? Was it general works, philosophy and psychology, religion, social sciences, language or history, biography, and geography?
Where would writing to trick people and make money fit into that list? Probably religion.
Luckily I didn’t have to ponder for too long, there were signs for those less gifted than I.
3. Who buys books for libraries?
I was directed to the technology section.
Pursuing the books was a disaster. They were dreadful.
Quick Steps Microsoft Word 2003, Step by Step Microsoft Word 2016, My Facebook for Seniors, DK’s Effective Marketing and Successful Marketing Plans in a Week. HG Wells’ War of the Worlds was there too.
Once again Arthur had wasted my time. There definitely weren’t any decent books at the library and I wasn’t having any fun at all.
Maybe I was looking in the wrong section.
I accessed the online catalogue. I knew the title of one book that I wanted to borrow, Ogilvy on Advertising.
Apparently there were only two copies in London and they’d been missing in action since 2011 and March 2019 respectively.
4. Settle with what’s there
I knew then that going to the library was just like dating.
I was going to have to follow my parents example and settle with ripping trodden chewing gum from the pavement and making the best of it.
So here’s to making the best of it!
Persuasive Copywriting, Andy Maslen
Writing Great Copy, Sallyann Sheridan
The Golden Rules of Blogging, Robin Houghton
Creative Advertising: An Introduction, Miriam Sorrentino (this one looked good, it had pictures)
How to Write a Marketing Plan, John Westwood
SEO for Dummies, Peter Kent
All six looked shit but they were going to have to do.
Who knew? They’d probably be the backbone of a later extremely well received post on my blog entitled Top Six Books Copywriters should Totally NOT Bother Reading. I was at an advantage. Unlike the other lists of top books copywriters should read (here, here and here) at least I’d actually read the books in mine.
Homerton Library had given me until 11th June to make this list. I was going to need to move faster than that though. I set a timer and said to myself softly, “Henry, you’ve got until Sunday. Go.“
5. What I learned about the library
I had the books, but while at the library I think I may have uncovered something much more sinister.
Face it. Here’s what sinister looks like spelled out in black and white:
£12 library fines.
A selection of books that actually reduce your chances of finding work.
An extortionate staffing and heating budget.
You’ve already figured it out, haven’t you?
Yes, Homerton Library was in cahoots with all the self help publishers. It was delivering an effective plan to make sure people stayed unemployed and kept getting fined (I wasn’t sure how, but they must have been). It was like the Department for Work and Pensions but more creative.
It was my civic duty to expose them and uncover this conspiracy.
It was settled. I was going to become the greatest copywriter EVER.
How it started
Easy. I needed to lay some sturdy foundations and figure out exactly what copywriting was.
To the foundations!
And where do you learn about laying foundations? Wikipedia!
I looked up the definition of copywriting:
Copywriting is the act of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.
Copywriters help create billboards, brochures, catalogs, jingle lyrics, magazine and newspaper advertisements, sales letters and other direct mail, scripts for television or radio commercials, taglines, white papers, social media posts, and other marketing communications.
That was definitely manageable.
With an in depth understanding of copywriting I started looking for a new job.
Looking for that first copywriting job
I went straight onto LinkedIn (actually my girlfriend sent me some links. Impressed aren’t you? I’m getting pretty good at twisting the truth, aka advertising).
One position came out with a swift kick to the teeth: Junior Copywriter at Dr Martens.
Before I’d even read the ad I knew getting the job must be a piece of cake. Why?
People call those boots Doc Martens not Doctor Martens, hence it’s safe to assume that their head of advertising department can’t read and is highly incompetent.
They are probably desperate for a cool new, left-leaning junior with a lot of hair (yours truly) to help them shake off the image of skinheads and neo-nazis.
As my first potential position I knew I’d be more than happy to put in some extra work and help Dr Martens completely reinvent their brand for 2019.
Feeling confident, I looked at the job spec.
It was the first time I realised that copywriters are a pretentious as hell.
Getting my first ‘gig’ might prove difficult than I’d initially thought.
Take a look for yourself:
Doc Martens, Junior Copywriter
To be our Junior Copywriter, you will also possess the following:
Experience in a full-time copywriting role. Preferably in the retail, fashion or music industry
A love of music, DM’s, fashion and footwear
A track record of managing tight deadlines and multiple projects simultaneously
A passion for language and a flair for writing original, unexpected copy
Strong commercial awareness and knowledge of key copy KPIs
Enthusiasm and an inexhaustible supply of ideas
The confidence to tackle all forms of copywriting: from click-worthy captions to scroll-enticing articles
A degree-level qualification in a relevant subject such as English or Creative Writing
Damn the requirements were high and this was only for a junior role!
It presented a real problem.
I had no experience in a full-time copywriting role, I thought DMs (dungeon masters) were totally uncool, I was bemused by how words could have key performance indicators (‘boot’ needs to get at least 4,000 views today) and definitely did not have a degree in creative writing. Who does have a degree in creative writing anyway?
How the hell was I going to get a job like that?
I needed to tear down my soft, non-copywriting self and to begin rebuilding immediately. It was daunting but exciting – I was about to become the slickest creative machine in Hackney and I knew it would probably involve stickers.
So I decided to systematically strip myself down. The best way to do this: a foolproof seven point plan (to do list):
Henry’s seven point plan to become the greatest copywriter EVER
1. Do way more research
I needed to become fluent in the language of copy. Yes, I had to develop an understanding of advertising, marketing and all of the associated acronyms (CPM, CTA, IAB, SOV, SEO and more). I also needed to know something about psychology. Why? How else was I going to trick someone into giving me a job?
2. Get good at writing
I wasn’t immediately convinced that this was necessary but I knew that I needed to sell myself as more qualified to write than anyone else. To do that, I had to at least trick myself into believing that I’d got super good at writing. The first step was probably to write and read more. Decent outcome.
3. Develop a kickass portfolio
For a profession that spends all day playing with words it’s surprising that it can’t just take me on mine, but life’s confusing. I needed to develop a killer portfolio with a shed load of original and creative copy. It had to have the best adverts selling bubble mixture, jingles explaining the dangers of not eating enough carrots, all potentially topped off with a radio advert for the mayor on today’s most biting issue: public urination.
4. Get some experience (and references)
Just a portfolio wouldn’t cut it. I had to get some real experience so I had references. References would mean that other people would suddenly become accountable for my eventual employment. The easiest way to do that would probably be to do some writing for free. I needed to do some copywriting volunteering.
5. Find a special subject and stick to it
All the advice that I’ve read online says that generalist copywriters fail and copywriters with a special subject succeed. The problem was I didn’t know or really care about anything. The options were limited too. What subject can you specialise in as a copywriter? Trains, video games, legal regulations and hatred of men? I didn’t want to write about any of that. Then it struck me. I could write about technology or digital or ‘the internet‘. It seemed like a safe bet, as it could cover anything from sex dolls to how to talk to your toaster! Perfect.
6. Build a professional network
To secure work employers need to think you’re the real deal. Humans are social creatures so association with other humans is important. I was going to have to meet other copywriters and make friends with them. Maybe I could meet them at Westfield Shopping Centre? There are lots of things that need copy there.
7. Rebrand myself as the coolest kid in Hackney
The Doc Marten advert said it all: creatives need to be cool. I was already super cool, but deep down I knew that not everyone knew this. I was going to sacrifice some of my current cool to make sure that everyone found out (unfortunately self-promotion is not cool). I’d begin by developing a social media presence (here’s my instagram), take pictures of myself doing cool things and buy more thrash metal t-shirts.
It’s Sunday and the clock’s ticking. Tomorrow and it’ll have been a week since I quit my job and no, I still don’t have anything to show for it.
So today, out of necessity, I decided to figure out exactly what I’m going to do with my life.
I’m glad to report that I figured it out (and it only took the afternoon).
Hello world, can you hear me? I am going to become the greatest copywriter EVER.
I don’t know how or why or what a copywriter even is, but I really need some direction so my mind’s made up. I mean, I can always figure out the details next week. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, I’ll figure it out on Monday.
Honestly, does anyone actually know what they want to do with their life? Probably not.
It hit me that I could help people figure it out!
That’s why I’ve taken the time to write down how I came to my own magnificent conclusion today.
If you’re as confused as I was this morning then I strongly recommend you read on.
1. How it started
Earlier today I didn’t know what I should do with my life, so I asked google.
“Google, oh great oracle, what should I do with my life?”
The article recommends seven actions you can take to figure out what to do with your life.
I don’t recommend reading it because it’s crap.
But I do recommend that you read my responses to the seven recommended actions. It’s a much better way to gauge whether you’re doing everything you can to figure out what to do with your life.
2. Seven ways I’m already working towards finding the answer of what to do with my life
While reading The Muse’s article it struck me that I was definitely already doing everything that I possibly could to find direction in my life.
Take a look for yourself:
Talk to people – yesterday I spoke to some weird Australian outside Dalston’s Loading Bar about how ridiculous it is that teachers are expected to be social workers. I agreed with him because it is. Then I spoke to someone else.
Get started – I woke up this morning, didn’t I?
Gather inspiration from others – I’ve read John McAfee’s wikipedia page twice and feel inspired to become a door-to-door seller of snake oil.
Prepare for a long journey – I washed my clothes on Friday. They’re now strewn across my bedroom floor. Very easy to pack quickly ahead of setting out on a long journey.
Be ok with failing – I am. I’m the best at failing.
Enjoy not knowing – I stopped using visual stimuli for arousal and now just use my imagination. Yep, no more Tate Modern for Henry.
Realising that I was already doing everything that the internet could suggest I had an epiphany.
Yes, I was going to have to figure this out myself.
3. Understanding why my life needs direction
To find some direction, I first had to understand exactly why my life needs direction.
I got out my very shiny bic biro and listed every reason I could think of:
To pay for stuff (rent, organic wine, scratch cards, to give to charity to look like I have a heart, etc.)
I tried to think of other things that direction would enable me to achieve but came up with nothing. So it was settled, the only reason my life needed direction was so I could have money to pay for stuff.
But I knew there must be a better way of articulating it.
After some intense thinking (thank you Jeremy Bentham) I figured it out:
I need a long term means of securing more money than I can realistically spend in the manner that is least painful to me.
It was settled.
I had to find the least painful way to get the most money.
4. Turns out direction is a job
How do you get money? I wasn’t sure, but I knew that I really didn’t want to get a new job.
To try and avoid getting a new one, I assessed some of the most realistic alternatives:
Marry an old rich person – I didn’t want to admit it straight away but I’m too old to marry an old rich person.
Inherit some money – I called my mother and then my grandfather. Both hung up as soon as I started asking for money (it’s a good thing that greed isn’t genetic).
Win some money – I bought scratch cards. I always buy scratch cards. I didn’t win anything.
I knew then that I was going to have to get another job. Damn.
5. Which job do you do?
How do you figure out which job is right for you?
I was going to ask Google but I’d got this far on my own so I kept using my own initiative.
I made a list of all the jobs that a man of my vast talent could do and then noted down the positives and negatives of each one. (You can already tell that I’m a master of analysis can’t you?)
Here are the five jobs I could probably do (be bothered to do):
An astronaut employed by the Russian Federal Space Agency. The train driver of the universe.
It’s probably an easy gig to get (apparently 25% of Russian men die before they’re 55 or is that just propaganda?)
There’s no rent to pay on the international space station.
Home-working, word-spinning, confidence [man, woman, other] with a reputation for being a creative even though they don’t paint or play an instrument.
Freelancing potential (possibility to work in boxers).
Could get paid to twist the truth or even lie (that’s totally in now, isn’t it?).
Peers more likely to think it’s cool compared to public service.
Work might include writing product descriptions on Amazon (yes, the top earning UK copywriter on upwork appears to focus on writing Amazon product descriptions – the glamour).
Networking requirements (bore).
Limited desire to be promoted to ‘Spin Doctor’.
I tallied up the scores and it was immediately clear:
I should become a copywriter!
And explaining my decision to myself and others would be easy.
6. Why I concluded that it’s a good idea for me to try and be a copywriter
If I was a copywriter I’d get paid (unlike Your shirt), I wouldn’t make my parents too proud, I probably wouldn’t have to go to jail (maybe I could be a Bank robber if this didn’t work out) and even though I’d probably end up metaphorically grave robbing someone, it wouldn’t amount to actual grave robbing.
So it was settled. From Monday, I, Henry, would start working towards becoming the greatest copywriter EVER.
But where should I start?
I don’t immediately know. But I do know that this has surely been enough work for today.