Some years ago as I lay in steaming water, recovering after a frustrating day at work, I noticed a plastic bottle on the corner of the bath. I could read the slogan without moving a muscle. It was italicised in red letters and said:
‘Miraculous Results without the Effort’.
Well yes, we could all use some of that. And an advertising agency creative had channeled a siren’s voice to promote the claims of this abrasive fluid, probably as unremarkable as a dozen others. But I was in apocalyptic mood, and began silently raging. ‘It’s what’s wrong with the modern world. Everything amenable to a quick fix. The four hour makeover or weekend upgrade. Sure, the world needs a miracle, but hardly in the form of a bathroom cleaner’. And then I felt the absurdity of my inner fury, and laughed. My understanding did a somersault. The slogan was clever and punchy, but alas would hardly be noticed. If it succeeded in boosting sales at all, that too would go undetected. I felt sorry for the under-appreciated advertiser. Doubtless she would graduate to the account of a more interesting product, and sometimes be able to sneak off early and work on her novel. In the meantime the world would be largely unmoved by a neat phrase attached to an enamel cleaner utterly unworthy of her ingenuity or our attention. An imperceptible result for a moderate degree of effort. Yes, we all get plenty of that.
When I read this short prose poem to the group, DP commented that it might read better if the siren’s voice was a female rather than male ‘creative’. As is often the case for me, it took a little while for the suggestion to sink in, after which I made the appropriate changes.