Blog.

Essays at the intersection of marketing and life.

Ovid’s Nineteen on Covid-19
20th March 2020

Ovid’s Nineteen on Covid-19

The great poet’s name rhymes with the viral pall that hangs above us. What can Ovid (43BC – 17AD) have to say on Covid?  Besides being one of the most eloquent observers of human behaviour, he was  also Roman, and today (March 20th) happens to be his birthday. That’s too much rhyming not to take notice. So … Continue reading “Ovid’s Nineteen on Covid-19”

Corona: Collapse Between Fact and Fiction
18th March 2020

Corona: Collapse Between Fact and Fiction

Eski knows there’s something up. Why the hell is my Master here all the time? Why does he seem to have more patience for my everyday needs? I’d like to come inside, then outside; oh, and now can I come in again? No, let me wag-and-pivot. I mean outside. Let me outside, please?   This … Continue reading “Corona: Collapse Between Fact and Fiction”

The Corona Chronicles
12th March 2020

The Corona Chronicles

Each of us is a citizen, bound in a unique moment of jeopardy. The earthquake has happened but, for most of us, the tsunami has yet to come ashore. The Coronavirus is an existential threat to the safety of our collective peoples, most notably our most wise (the elderly) and our most medically vulnerable (for the most … Continue reading “The Corona Chronicles”

Clara In Valencia
8th March 2020

Clara In Valencia

As we walked down the sunny side of the street she described her student life, unfolding before her twenty-year-old eyes. ‘It’s a magical wonderland of death’, she said, excitedly.  I was excited too. Here we were, niece and uncle, both adults now, each still enjoying the other’s company. It marked a new way of seeing my … Continue reading “Clara In Valencia”

Bridge Over Troubled Innovation
5th March 2020

Bridge Over Troubled Innovation

It is fifty years since Paul Simon released his songwriting masterpiece, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, masterfully interpreted by Art Garfunkel. Artie (as Simon calls him) made the song his own. It took two weeks to record, and fully one week to lay down the vocals. It was not the sustained high notes at the end of … Continue reading “Bridge Over Troubled Innovation”

Why I’m Sacking TripAdvisor
24th February 2020

Why I’m Sacking TripAdvisor

In brand-building, it can be fun and instructive to have enemies. We understand better what we’re for through the act of standing against. Adversaries are the incubators of innovation, and their darkness illuminates the path to light. Take a look at some of the interesting brands and cool people that surround you. Lurking behind their … Continue reading “Why I’m Sacking TripAdvisor”

Shoah: under the watchtowers of Auschwitz 
9th February 2020

Shoah: under the watchtowers of Auschwitz 

The German words encountered in the world’s most notorious concentration camp are predominantly those of command or threat. Halt. Vorsicht. Arbeit Macht Frei.  Visitor captions throughout the camp, explaining detail of what happened, are in Polish, Hebrew and English. Only at the memorial area, built after the war, is a flagstone of remembrance in German to … Continue reading “Shoah: under the watchtowers of Auschwitz “

On The Road To Auschwitz
6th February 2020

On The Road To Auschwitz

Because it cost them everything, it will cost me nothing. 1.1 million people were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1940-1945, the vast majority European Jews. Some were exterminated on arrival, others  tortured as slave labourers, before being selected for death. Approximately 200,000 are known to have left the camp alive, although how many survived the war … Continue reading “On The Road To Auschwitz”

Dear Kobe
28th January 2020

Dear Kobe

He had lived in Italy for some years from the age of six, describing it as the happiest period of his childhood. His later choices seemed to confirm it. He maintained fluent Italian as an adult. And when his second daughter arrived in 2006, they called her Gianna. Or Gigi. It was with Gigi that … Continue reading “Dear Kobe”

Look Sharp. See 1917.
17th January 2020

Look Sharp. See 1917.

Urgency. There is no time to spare. If an order is not delivered there will be a massacre. If a mission is not completed a brother will die. If we, the viewers, are not fully steeped in the stench of war, we may not get the point of peace. Quick. Drop your weekend plans. Go see … Continue reading “Look Sharp. See 1917.”

Megxit, Pursued By A Bear
15th January 2020

Megxit, Pursued By A Bear

We are living a singular regal moment. The British sovereign, aged 93, has successfully put three heirs in place. There she is, Queen Elizabeth II, feet firmly on the Heathrow tarmac, with Charles, William and George all circling, ready to land over the next hundred years. Their flightpath takes them over Windsor, as it happens.  The prospect … Continue reading “Megxit, Pursued By A Bear”

My Dream Of Marian
5th January 2020

My Dream Of Marian

It was my mother who got the news to me. Ear eternally to the radio, she is a 21st Century watchman-of-the-Martello-Tower, keen eye to sea in search of Napoleon’s rumoured advance. Instead of lighting a fire, she penned a text with her thumbs. It was a finely drawn message, as she could not know if the … Continue reading “My Dream Of Marian”

Volcano
11th December 2019

Volcano

At its most fundamental, a volcano is a crack in the ground. Depending on the circumstance, magma, gases and steam may escape from that crack. Sometimes this unleashing of molten matter from the earth’s mantle is a highly predicatable delight. Sometimes it is otherwise. In the shadow of White Island, where many tourists have lost their lives … Continue reading “Volcano”

Dissecting Mister Fawlty
1st December 2019

Dissecting Mister Fawlty

Works of genius do not happen by accident. Genius must work hard in the creation of its miracle. And before the masterful doing, there must come artful thinking. These thoughts come to my mind as I have spent the last days in the aural company of John Cleese – comedian, actor and co-writer of Fawlty … Continue reading “Dissecting Mister Fawlty”

Marathon Man 
14th October 2019

Marathon Man 

The story of the first marathon is one of myth, weaving historical fact and human passion in a rich and varied yarn. The account that comes most clearly to us is that of a messenger hero, Pheidippides, who ran from Marathon to Athens in 490BC to bring news of victory over Persian forces. Having accomplished … Continue reading “Marathon Man “

Jessye In Paris
1st October 2019

Jessye In Paris

I am sitting at an Illy Café in the centre of Paris, some metres off the Place de la Concorde. The smell of ground coffee and pain-aux-raisins permeates the airy space as my trainee Italian barista struggles with her machines. Being at my leisure, I contemplate the day she is having in her own head, and … Continue reading “Jessye In Paris”

Beyond Cancer, To Dancing
27th August 2019

Beyond Cancer, To Dancing

My DNA malfunction has been addressed. Through the intervention of medical experts, six robotic incisions, and three hours of surgery, my prostate has been removed and with it a 2.2 centimetres tumour. Pathology, some seven days after the operation, determined that the cancer did not breach the prostate capsule. Being thus contained, there is no … Continue reading “Beyond Cancer, To Dancing”

Today I Am Reborn
12th July 2019

Today I Am Reborn

I am a child of summer, born on the 12th of July. My mother tells me I came into the world on a beautiful day. This little detail – inconsequential on the face of it – has become important to me. It invites me to dance in the sunlight, part of the origin-story I tell myself. I … Continue reading “Today I Am Reborn”

London, In The Heart Of June
22nd June 2019

London, In The Heart Of June

I am sitting in a cafe that sits in a Garden Square. It is run by an Italian famiglia ‘since 1981’. That is their claim, though I have cause to doubt it. It is a cafe suffused with chaotic incompetence, which strikes me as vaguely charming. If you want utilitarian coffee in London you go … Continue reading “London, In The Heart Of June”

Meaning Of Mystery: The Lost Girls Of Panama
2nd May 2019

Meaning Of Mystery: The Lost Girls Of Panama

Chapter 1: Changing Habits I have drifted in my leisure-time media consumption, both in form and in content. It used to be that every narcissistic turn of Trump would drag me to a screen, anxious to decide if I was witnessing Barnum’s Circus or the End Of Days. But no more. I’ve given up on lies. … Continue reading “Meaning Of Mystery: The Lost Girls Of Panama”

Malta’s Fault-lines Of Love  
30th April 2019

Malta’s Fault-lines Of Love  

It is 10am, and I am sitting on the balcony of Crust in St Julian’s – a bakery made for visitors, offering Full English Breakfast including Lincolnshire sausage, as well as three types of fresh croissant. There is much to lament here, in the epicentre of Malta’s industrial tourism complex. The oppressive clacking of carry-on … Continue reading “Malta’s Fault-lines Of Love  “

Decoding The Candidates’ Logos
26th April 2019

Decoding The Candidates’ Logos

The logo. That simple, eloquent and essential visual statement of who you are. What you stand for. How you’re different, and relevant.  As Democratic clambering gathers heat in the USA with today’s entry of Joe Biden, it’s interesting to see how the leading candidates have chosen to present themselves. For fun, I’ll look at their … Continue reading “Decoding The Candidates’ Logos”

Scotland’s Dissent
2nd April 2019

Scotland’s Dissent

Have you ever sat in the back seat of a car, certain of the route to be taken only to witness your driver make a disastrously wrong turn? That’s Scotland.  One of my signal memories of that June morning after Brexit came from north of Hadrian’s wall. The troublesome tribes, which the Romans decided were unconquerable, had a … Continue reading “Scotland’s Dissent”

Her’s & Ours
30th March 2019

Her’s & Ours

I am possessive about grammar, like a dog with a bone. And like most dogs on the street, I know that ‘hers’ takes no apostrophe. But Her’s does.  I’m aware of this because over the last years I have thought a lot about the meaning of music in the lives of young adults. I’m not the only … Continue reading “Her’s & Ours”

The Role Of Camp In Culture
24th January 2019

The Role Of Camp In Culture

When I was otherwise engaged gestating, Susan Sontag published an essay entitled ‘Notes On Camp’.  That was the autumn of 1964, a period of tremendous social upheaval. Parisian teenagers, then in their mid-teens, would go on to university and end up rioting in the streets  in ’68. Four twenty-somethings Beatles who had already written ‘Can’t … Continue reading “The Role Of Camp In Culture”

Life Is Simply Magnificent
13th January 2019

Life Is Simply Magnificent

We are each of us in search of transcendent experiences. This desire is at the heart of spirituality, the soul of music and the essence of love. The search is part of our human inheritance. Chocolate companies may pretend to get us there; endorphinoligists may promise a 10km run that brings you to your knees will bring you there. … Continue reading “Life Is Simply Magnificent”

India’s Secret
6th January 2019

India’s Secret

Stalin has brought me coffee. My kind of coffee. Because Stalin is my kind of man. He noticed, over the first four mornings, that I was abstaining from India’s bitter beans. ‘I have some Nescafé at home, sir’, he said. And that was that. The next day my caffeine IV route was reestablished. No more … Continue reading “India’s Secret”

Three Dimensions Of Elon
17th November 2018

Three Dimensions Of Elon

It seems I am surrounded with lessons about dimensions. And it seems I am a slow learner. Kahneman’s heuristics are pressing down on me: a smattering of availability bias here, a dollop of recency bias there, a big swathe of selection bias everywhere. Every pathway leads to a personal teaching moment on dimensions. I love a simple observation which helps … Continue reading “Three Dimensions Of Elon”

My Own Private Armistice
11th November 2018

My Own Private Armistice

Lying in bed on the beautiful morning of the 11th of November 2018, I began reading a seven-page contract.  As business documents go, it was succinct, action-oriented and clear. I have seen lengthier papers describing the launch of a new variety of chocolate spread. But this document sought to do something more fundamental. Its words described … Continue reading “My Own Private Armistice”

Flaws, Jaws And Genius
29th October 2018

Flaws, Jaws And Genius

During the course of 124 minutes, with the help of iTunes, I have returned to the scene of the crime. This was, you must remember, no ordinary criminal. He was distilled from nature – a perfect killing machine that stalked the waters of Amity island through the arc of an American summer. In the course of that one … Continue reading “Flaws, Jaws And Genius”

Innovation Is Murmuration
15th October 2018

Innovation Is Murmuration

I am interested in how groups of people can, in the right context and with the right invitation, come to act as one in pursuit of progress.  Such a thing – scattered people coming together to act with unity – is so rudimentary as to be almost invisible in our day-to-day lives. Observe, for example, how a … Continue reading “Innovation Is Murmuration”

RMS Leinster: down in dazzle
10th October 2018

RMS Leinster: down in dazzle

A client of mine is not working today. He is departing on a boat from Dún Laoghaire to proceed a few nautical miles out to sea, past Kish. From there, he will join many other families in laying wreaths, in memory of the 527 souls who perished and some 256 who survived, when the mailboat RMS … Continue reading “RMS Leinster: down in dazzle”

My Memories Of Montserrat
6th October 2018

My Memories Of Montserrat

Her name was as big and meaty as her voice and presence. I happened to be awake early this Saturday morning as the news came in. Montserrat Caballé is dead. ‘Muere Montserrat’ the headline said. And she died in the only place she could – in Barcelona.  When you live in Europe, it is easy … Continue reading “My Memories Of Montserrat”

Walking Above Clouds
2nd October 2018

Walking Above Clouds

I have walked above clouds. The first time you do it, it leaves its mark.  That summer, I’d been walking on an ancient pilgrim route from Le Puy in France towards the Pyrenees. To get there, you have to traverse the Massif Central – a highland region peppered with mountains and plateaus. I have a … Continue reading “Walking Above Clouds”

Jane Austen: dead or alive
30th September 2018

Jane Austen: dead or alive

I sat for an hour beside the grave of Jane Austen. The problem with people from the 19th century is that they are, to a man and woman, dead. Yesterday I encountered her sister Cassy and her mother Cassandra. They too were unalive, although for less time than Jane, having had the good sense to … Continue reading “Jane Austen: dead or alive”

Jane Austen Has Invited Me To Tea
29th September 2018

Jane Austen Has Invited Me To Tea

If you want a sense of how large the Muslim world is, and how committed its believers are to holy ritual, you might begin your research in Jeddah airport. Saudi Arabia’s second city sits on the azure waters of the Red Sea, approximately 60kms from Mecca. The signposts call it Makkah. Every year, the airport … Continue reading “Jane Austen Has Invited Me To Tea”

Why I Write
20th September 2018

Why I Write

The established counsel for prospective authors, dispensed at the drop of a microphone, is twofold: Read. Write. It is counsel which, in its own way, is as much censure as it is inspiration. Read you lazy fuck. Then write. Don’t imagine you can string words together before you qualify to so do. Do your grunt … Continue reading “Why I Write”

The Prodigal Fanboy 
24th August 2018

The Prodigal Fanboy 

It is so easy to be drawn into it – the tumult of adoration during which we suspend our critical faculties. Take the founders of Google, for example. I hardly know anything about them other than they’re Stanford wizards, one is called Sergey and both were bent on changing the world. Their origin story was one of … Continue reading “The Prodigal Fanboy “

The Legend of Poor Rich
13th August 2018

The Legend of Poor Rich

A few days ago, a transit worker at Seattle Airport entered the cockpit of an otherwise empty Alaska Air Bombardier plane and made an ‘unauthorised takeoff’. He flew around the environs of Seattle for over an hour before bringing his escapade, his aircraft and his life to an end on Ketron Island.  As I read social … Continue reading “The Legend of Poor Rich”

How Psychology Can Help Change Behaviour
10th July 2018

How Psychology Can Help Change Behaviour

Almost ten years ago I began a post-grad in psychology – spending two years learning full time. In celebration of this rich experience, I’m sharing some of the essays I wrote at the time which have resonance today. This one – regarding how social psychology can explain, predict, stop, start, modify and prevent behaviour in the real world – … Continue reading “How Psychology Can Help Change Behaviour”

Ryanair and the culture of ‘non-priority’
4th July 2018

Ryanair and the culture of ‘non-priority’

If you ever doubted the ability of one person’s influence to permeate a culture and make drones of living, breathing adults, look no further than Ryanair. This is an enormous, profitable, innovative airline that is pancreatically sick. Sickness breeds apathy, insensitivity and ultimately the erosion of humanity. No matter how lofty its share price nor … Continue reading “Ryanair and the culture of ‘non-priority’”

ASMR: one tingle and you’re tangled
18th June 2018

ASMR: one tingle and you’re tangled

My truncated opera career lasted four seasons. Being a late bloomer, I got cast in character roles because most every story features an old man in its plot. My fellow-singers were 15 years my junior, most at the beginning of their professional singing careers. At the age of 40, I had come along for the ride. I … Continue reading “ASMR: one tingle and you’re tangled”

Where Are The Experts? Why Aren’t They Here?
13th June 2018

Where Are The Experts? Why Aren’t They Here?

Almost ten years ago, I returned to full-time education for two years, completing a post-grad in psychology. In celebration of this enriching experience, I am sharing some of my favourite essays on themes of psychology relevant to today’s culture. The essay below (original title: How do experts use their knowledge differently from novices?) is a favourite because it … Continue reading “Where Are The Experts? Why Aren’t They Here?”

Finding Illyria
12th June 2018

Finding Illyria

I met a taxi driver yesterday by the name of Qemal. I asked him if he was Iranian, or maybe Turkish? He was neither.  Getting a sense of him was perplexing.  He had picked me up in the forgotten little car park between Terminals 1 & 2 at Dublin Airport, the only place where app-ordered … Continue reading “Finding Illyria”

All We Are Saying Is Give Asexuals A Chance
9th June 2018

All We Are Saying Is Give Asexuals A Chance

Almost ten years ago I began a post-grad in psychology – spending two years learning full time. In celebration of this rich experience, I’m publishing some of the essays I wrote at the time which seem to have resonance today. This one – regarding how seriously we should take the phenomenon of asexuality – feels relevant … Continue reading “All We Are Saying Is Give Asexuals A Chance”

The Way You Think Can Save Your Life
6th June 2018

The Way You Think Can Save Your Life

Almost ten years ago, I returned to full-time education for two years, completing a post-grad in psychology. In celebration of this enriching experience, I am sharing some of my favourite essays on themes of psychology relevant to today’s culture. Each represents over 40 hours of reading, thinking and writing (At least, that’s what my gut tells me). … Continue reading “The Way You Think Can Save Your Life”

West Cork To The World
10th February 2018

West Cork To The World

It is a long, meandering tale of tragedy. Across 6.5 hours and 13 episodes, the podcast entitled West Cork rakes the detail of how Sophie Tuscan du Plantier got caught in briars outside her holiday home and was grotesquely murdered. It details how the Frenchwoman’s body was left out on the ditch so long without … Continue reading “West Cork To The World”

Frasier’s Dad is Dead
6th February 2018

Frasier’s Dad is Dead

John Mahoney’s true love was the stage. After his role in ‘A Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ in Galway, he remarked to his friend, playwright Tom Murphy, on how silent and intent his Irish audiences were. ‘That’, said Murphy, pointing to the stage, ‘is because what goes on up there is sacred to us’. Although … Continue reading “Frasier’s Dad is Dead”

Dolores
23rd January 2018

Dolores

I had been travelling a long time before I recognised that no matter how good my hotel room was, it would never be as good as sleeping in my own home. Judging a hotel is, for me, not the examination of luxury but rather the approximation to familiarity. It is for this reason that hotels … Continue reading “Dolores”

Reinventing The Banana
14th January 2018

Reinventing The Banana

My mother was a toddler when Germany invaded Poland in 1939, and still under ten years old when Hitler took to his bunker and failed to re-emerge, in 1945. Childhood memories of WWII are relatively dewy in Ireland, lacking the chaos, drama and trauma experienced by many other young Europeans. ‘The Emergency’ for Irish children … Continue reading “Reinventing The Banana”