Anton Coaker: Ask for an oak beam and that's what you will get
Having pooh-pooed technology back-along, my interest has been re-engaged. See, there's this ad on telly for some website. It says it'll find my nearest fast food outfit of any given type, and however exotic my desired dish, they'll deliver to my door.
That's what the ad says, though I can't quite see it happening. In fact, I suspect my search for a Mongolian pony-burger joint, that'll deliver me a 'neddy flavour quarter pounder', will have to go unfulfilled. And despite my hunger for walrus stew with caribou antler croutons, I bet the nearest Inuit eatery won't deliver. To be frank, I'd be surprised to find a kid on a moped game to struggle out here through the winter evenings with a pizza – he'd certainly deserve quite a tip if he did. I think this advert is a little over-ambitious.
We know things aren't always the way they seem in the ads, though I'm not sure why this is. I flog various stuff and occasionally advertise my wares – but I evidently don't do it right.
See, the ads on telly imply their products will turn you into a handsome Olympiad, with the perfect family and a sunny future, while I operate to a simpler maxim. An ad for our beef doesn't suggest it'll transport you to some sun-kissed coral island, or make your children beautiful. No, we claim it'll be cut off some hairy Galloway bullock I rodeoed off the hill a fortnight ago, and eating it will … well, temporarily cure your hunger. As it happens, rough grazed Galloway beef is extraordinarily high in some omega whatsits, which are good for you in all sorts of ways. But since neither of us knows exactly what these omega things are, I can only imply it might taste nice.
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Send for an oak beam, then that's pretty much exactly what I'd send back. It should, if you've ordered the right size, and we do our stuff, hold your roof up. But it absolutely won't turn your Mrs into a supermodel, or your rusty old Ford Mondeo into a Ferrari.
Admittedly, I lay it on a bit thick trying to flog you a hide rug, but then, they're pretty special and not especially cheap. But even then, a shaggy Galloway hide rug is pretty much exactly 'what it says on the tin'. Wrapping yourself in one on the sofa of an evening is pretty cosy, but I couldn't honestly say it'll leave you fighting hordes of nubile birds off with a stick, or get you instant promotion at work. Sorry! I'm never going to make it in advertising am I?
Moving on. Since it's miserable out tonight, I'll tell you a little tale to warm your cockles, and demonstrate what an utter chump I am.
Long ago, when the world and I were younger, I found myself hitching down an empty highway in Oregon. The high country was verging on desert, cutting through mountains, and very nice it was too. I was trudging along in the morning sun, walking off a monstrous tequila hangover – we won't dwell on the previous evening, which involved cactus juice and some time spent in the local nick. Despite my fuddled state, I was still pretty happy with my lot in life. The dazzling light and clear mountain air was a pretty good cure, and an unknown highway stretched before me. The soundtrack in my head played some suitable tune. Soon enough a big old pickup rumbled onto the side of the road beside me, and a tanned outdoorsy sort of lass, with long chestnut hair and a nice smile, beckoned me aboard. Off we went, chatting as we trundled the miles away. She asked me how far I'd travelled, and was suitably impressed to find I'd hitched 3,500 miles. In turn, I discovered that she'd been out riding her horse. Indeed, slung in the back was a western saddle. Her job was surveying trees, but today was Saturday, and she was going into town. She was thinking of hooking up with some friends in a bar down the road. Perhaps I'd like to join them? Now I must make this clear. She was an open and intelligent western gal, looking very much like, in my memory, Sheryl Crow. She was asking if I wanted to join her for a drink – with some possibly imaginary friends. Yet, and I can scarcely believe I'm admitting this, I explained that I'd planned to get out toward the coast that night so as to head back to Vancouver, and took my leave. What on earth was I thinking? My only excuse is that the after effects of the previous night's bender must've addled my little head. Still, thinking of that sunshine warmed us both up.