Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Ve Middul Eeste Pee Aar Awordes

Beavis and Butt-HeadBeavis and Butt-Head via

There's something slightly worrying about a room filled with over 500 PRs. It's a happy zone, tides of positivity washing against the walls.

The 'practitioners' are all chatting away happily, a tumultuous babble, but I'm sitting at a table of journalists, the usual criminals of the Middle East's marketing media waiting for someone to fall so they can eviscerate them, their jaws slavering at the very thought and evil grins stretched across their drink-sodden faces.

The MC is shouty, trying to get people to stop talking. You'd have thought that 500 people talking together and sharing experience, best practice and all that was what MEPRA was all about, but apparently not. She's screaming STOP TALKING YA YA YA at us and slowly people get the message.

We're good at crafting and communicating messages, but getting them is not quite our forté, apparently. Ya ya ya.

American people shouting at me reminded me, for some reason, of watching the news on CNN...

The MC and various types gathered on the stage to pass over awards to a bunch of PRs. Some bloke from HSBC made some lacklustre (well, he'd hardly sparkle, would he?) jokes about the collective noun for PR people - a flock of flaks, apparently.

Any contributions in the comments about the collective noun for HSBC employees would be appreciated. I though perhaps a dribble of d... well, never mind. Yayaya.

By now, the press are restive. The jerks of drumroll tape that occasionally peppered events was starting to get its reward, bursts of malign laughter from the hock of hacks around me. I've heard that type of laughter before, at a performance of Othello at The National - Felicity ("Felicity, Felicity, you fill me with electricity", according to Ade Edmonson at his loquacious finest) Kendal as Desdemona bursting satisfactorily out of a Nell Gwynne dress while Paul Scofield hammed it up so badly that Othello's soliloqy to his dead lover drew gales of the stuff from the audience.

This was nasty laughter, the laughter of the cut-purse about to make his move as he stalks the dark, wet streets of Elizabethan London.

The worst of them is Allison, his faux-genteel Edinburgh accent masking his guttersnipe urges, egged on by AdNation's vile Elliot ('the Bear') Beer, the two of them cackling like Beavis and Butthead as they scan the audience of hapless wannabe winners for victims. And then Allison's off, leaving his voice recorder on the table behind him so that it can pick up any snippets of gossip about him while he's absent. He's ducking and diving in the crowd, picking up quotes and snippets of snark, digging for dirt like a pig rooting out Perigord truffles, while the MC says 'ya ya ya' for the umpteenth time. I think she believes it makes her sound Arab, but it comes across as somehow more Maureen Lipman.

It's all too much. I clap maniacally for Peyman Parham as he picks up the final gong, 'Communicator of the Year', with a genuine feeling of enormous relief - Sarah would have spent the next 365 days referring to me as 'Gob of the Year' and thanks to Peyman I have bilked that dire fate. Now we could go drinking, but instead we spend hours wandering around the labrynthine Habtoor Grand Hotel in search of a bar that would accept men dressed in kandouras. What a joke - teetotal hosts that aren't allowed to join their friends in a bar. Eventually, exhausted by wandering aimlessley down the charmless marble corridors, we find a smoky joint that's a ten second walk from the place we were thrown out of. It turns out that the toilets are actually over in the forbidden bar.

Which is, I'm sure a metaphor for something.

As we celebrate Peyman's win, I'm filled with a strange sense of unease. And then I realise it's because the press aren't with us. That's a bad thing - it means they're holed up in some dark, foreboding garret 'writing up' the evening.

I fear the worst...
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Anonymous said...

wot a waster u r!

alexander... said...

You certainly have me bang to rights there...

Phillipa said...

funny piece

the real nick said...

Unfortunately the insignificant news of Dubai's impending debt default managed to somewhat overshadow the important PR awards.
All that 'communicating' wasted! Life ain't fair.

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