Spooner on…the harrowing demise of direct marketing

spooner 414“Bangtails! BANGTAILS!
The Johnson Box! THE JOHNSON BOX!!!
Self-mailers!
Call-to-action! CTA! CTA!
Coupon! Coupon! Coupon! It’s the ******* cash-register!
Make the phone number bigger if the back-end’s sorted!
More sub-heads! Call-outs! Put a line on the inside of the flap! WHERE’S THE LIFT LETTER?! You only have one PS! ONLY ONE PS! Arrggghhhhhhhhh!”
I have been called to the Master Bedroom in the depths of a stormy night in the rolling hills above Shoreham by Sea. Whispering attendants are gathered like figures from one of Goya’s Black Paintings around the doorway in the flickering light from the dozens of beeswax candles that illuminate the magnificent sweeping stairway. Peeping anxiously into the Rococo bed-chamber, they mutter and weep as a mighty figure thrashes and howls, entangled in the Egyptian cotton sheets with the umber velvet drapes of the four-poster twisted awkwardly around its mighty limbs – caught in stark relief every few seconds by gigantic spasms of pure white from the lightning that dances across the Downs.
“We don’t know whether it’s another stroke or a return of the fever he caught at Cannes WITH YOU,” whispers Potiphar, the haughty head chambermaid, her exquisite hazel eyes boring accusingly into my own, “you had better go in”.
What Grand Guignol is this?!?
Hunched and weeping, reeking of brandy and Brompton’s Mixture, Dr Frobisher staggers out as I enter the terrible room, my legs like those of a new-born colt barely carrying me forward, my face a rictus of fear.
And then I notice it, the letter on the counterpane.
Some damn fool has written to Lord McKelvey Of That Ilk, Marquis of the Lancing Reaches, Keeper of the Bypass, Grand High Druid of Chanctonbury Ring and First Warden of The Rampion Wind Farm telling him the terrible news.
Professor Holder, the Master’s favourite sea-otter, bares his teeth at me and hisses as I twitch the fateful epistle from the rich brocade of the counterpane.
It is as I feared, news of the doom, of the epoch-making blunder has reached him. I edge forward chanting slowly in the gathering gloom…
“Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. How are the mighty fallen and the weapons of war perished!”
The thrashing begins to subside.
Cautiously I approach and help the Master to sit, gesturing frantically for the maids of the bedchamber to prop the magnificent wounded aristocrat up on the many pillows trimmed with Venetian lace and stuffed with only the breast-feathers of the McKelvey Eider Ducks.
I hold a beaker of neat rum to those manly lips, he drains it and looks me in the eye.
“You have heard, then, Spooner,” he croaks.
“Yes Master, news had reached me.”
Fearing another titanic convulsion, I take him by his smooth yet manly hand and hold up the apocalyptic missive.
I had not dreamed it then?” he pants, “the Direct Marketing Association is now the Data & Marketing Association and that alma mater, the IDM, no more than the Institute of Data & Marketing.”
“It is even so, Master,” I say.
“Turn the portraits to the wall, faithful servant!” he groans and subsides once more into the glorious feathery cloud.
As I descend the palatial staircase, I lift and turn the lavish imperial portraits of Lester Wunderman, Judith Donovan, Terry Hunt, Stan Rapp, Derek Holder, John Watson, Chris Albert, George Smith and Drayton Bird so that only the plush William Morris wallpaper will know their shame.

Jonathan Spooner is consulting creative director at Spoon Creative Ltd

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