Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Putting the e into abc

This autumnal drizzle is playing havoc with my attempts to be something even vaguely resembling a Yummy Mummy.  As soon as I leave the house, I can feel the frizz slowly rising, made only worse by the inevitable horror of walking straight into a dewy spiderweb, and the ensuing flapping about and squealing.  Climbing into the car, flustered, frizzing and fielding questions about Spiderman / God / words that rhyme, I sometimes think of my mid-20 something self with a little sigh.

Don't get me wrong, the frizz was always an issue.  But there was a time when starting the day involved matching bags to shoes, having an iPod ready to go, and learning all I needed to know about the world that day from Metro.  I used to work in the colourful world that is Adland.  A place where grown ups might meet in rooms for Blue Sky Thinking (complete with painted blue skies on the ceiling); where grown ups might have their morning toast and tea made for them because they are Creative, and therefore presumably incapable of operating such complicated culinary equipment; where people might indeed spend £500K of their clients' money and then declare "Hmmm, yes, that was a learning experience, and we've all learned that our idea didn't work.  Another biscuit, Barbara?"

It was a place I loved.  Sure, it had its downsides, but there was so much colour, so much drama, so much energy.  When I joined my first agency, I was fresh from University, and new to life in London.  That first year was essentially one enormous frat party.  Somehow ads got made in and around a fairly demanding schedule of fresh bacon rolls at your desk for breakfast, lunch at the local Italian (always rounded off with fiery limoncello), followed by drinks and dancing somewhere till the early hours.  It was one of those golden moments in time where everyone is briefly at the same life stage.  The yes-it's-Tuesday-but-that-table-needs-to-be-danced-on-dammit stage.  When the moment passed, it was as if someone had turned off the music.  Gradually, each of us seemed to get the memo that it was time to move on and push onto the next rung on the career ladder, and that core group of people dispersed within the space of a summer, myself included.  We had to move on, or risk becoming the end-of-series Fonz. And no-one wants to be that guy. 

For me, 'getting the memo', led me down a path where I learned more about the kind of person I was and the kind of agencies I could therefore thrive in,  and ultimately to a point at which I decided that I would like to be an at-home Mum.  The cheesy club dance music might have been switched off, but there is music in my life, for sure.

I clocked up so many experiences in advertising, met so many wonderful and awful people, that it seemed to be only natural that my blog should include that life, which is where the title came from.  You may be glad (or possibly disappointed) to know that the 'e' refers not to class A substances, but to the book of the same title, by Matt Beaumont.  Set in an ad agency rumoured to be my first place of employment, and written entirely as emails between all the characters, it is a great picture of the chaos and arrogance and sheer fun of life in advertising.  I agree "From e to abc: My journey from junkie to mummy" sounds awesome, but I'm afraid it is not to be.  I do promise to give you my best Blue Sky Thinking, though.  And if I leave the kids alone with some crayons, I might even have my own Blue Sky Room to do it in...

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