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McAdo About Nothing

The PR team at purveyors of fast food McDonald’s must be giving themselves a slap on the back today, and not just to dislodge a piece of gristle from their oesphagus.

Their stunt of organising a petition “to change the Oxford English Dictionary definition of “McJob“, claiming that the term – established in the English language – is insulting to the thousands of staff working in the service sector” is reaping many column inches and airwave minutes.

The petition is doomed, of course. I suspect that David Fairhurst, chief people officer at McDonald’s1, struggled to keep a straight face when he said:

It’s time the dictionary definition of ‘McJob’ changed to reflect a job that is stimulating, rewarding and offers genuine opportunities for career progression and skills that last a lifetime.

I’ve got relatives who have done extremely well out of working for McDonald’s, and I’ve no doubt that they would agree with the idea that they have had satisfying careers there. However, I think even they would find the idea of redefining a term at the whim of a corporate behemoth somewhat Orwellian.

On the Today programme this morning, the man from the OED quite reasonably pointed out that the OED doesn’t invent words, it reflects English as it is used2, and it’s quite clear that ‘McJob’ is a pejorative term. To say it should be removed from the dictionary is like saying that racist terms should be removed because they are insulting to the people they describe.

McIdiots.

Fast food chain wants rewrite of ‘insulting’ McJob entry in OED | | Guardian Unlimited Business

  1. I’m in two minds whether ‘people’ is better or worse than ‘personnel’ (or the horrible modern term ‘human resources’). It’s admirable in its use of Plain English but one suspects the term came about less from a will to keep things simple than a desire to pretend the company cares about anything other than profit. []
  2. Although you could argue that this means the OED should legitimise through inclusion common howlers like the misuse of the possessive apostrophe in ‘its’, or the horrific lack of comprehension that leads to ‘your’ being used instead of ‘you’re’. []

Sick Transit!

This is the message you get when you go to Supply2.gov.uk and go through the ‘forgotten password’ process.

Password in Transit!

What’s good:

  1. The ‘forgotten password’ process is simple.
  2. The title of the confirmation page is consistent with the link that precedes it.

What’s not so good:

  1. Why the exclamation mark after ‘Password in Transit’? Is the system so surprised it managed to send the username and password that it has to express delight?
  2. ‘Password in Transit’ smacks of Systems Engineer English. Techies are clever people, don’t get me wrong. Some just seem to lack the ability to write. Something simple like ‘Details sent’ would have sufficed. What’s wrong with Plain English?
  3. Is there actually any need for this heading at all? The next line of ‘Your username and password have been sent to’ says it all.
  4. While I’m being picky, I’d have stuck a colon after ‘sent to’, since the email address is presented separately on the next line. Either that or just stick the email address directly into the sentence.

The Last Post

The penultimate beat of the drum,
As the second to last chord is strummed.
When all other words have already been heard,
I’ll sing the last song for you…

The Last Song from The Great Unwanted by Lucky Soul

Today I published my last written1 post2 on Londonist, and I thought it would be apposite to start off this new blog by looking back at my blogging past.

Not what I did for Londonist but what Londonist did for me:

  • Introduced me to a fantastic bunch of people.
  • Helped me discover some great new bands, some of whom remain undeservedly undiscovered by the mainstream.
  • Got me cooking for Gordon Ramsay.
  • Turned my casual photography into a more serious affair, which in turn got me (and gets me) paid photography jobs.
  • Led to me helping to write a book, The London Collection, allowing me to tick the box next to ‘become a published author’.
  • Plugged me into the freelancing scene and the web industry.
  • Got me a contract with Webjam, my first taste of working for a company that is truly part of the new economy.
  • Taught me how to write and edit for the web.

Writing for Londonist opened so many doors for me. I cannot imagine how else I could have managed the journey from management consultant to project manager to programme office consultant to my current employment as a writer and editor for eBay UK, where I do a job I love (and do bloody well, I might add), at a company I admire, for a management team I respect, with people with whom I have a stupid amount in common, and for a decent salary.

My job with eBay is why I have to give up writing for Londonist, in a final straw kind of way. My output had all but slowed to a trickle anyway, but with a demanding day job where I’m actually kept busy3, and a demanding life as a new father, I no longer have the time to research and write up stories maintaining the quality levels I’d have liked.

There’s still a little part of me that can’t help wanting to set down my thoughts for public consumption (whether or not the public will consume them is another matter), so this is my attempt at a blog that will be of interest to a wider audience than the family and friends that make up the readership of my family blog.

More about this blog and its subject matter will follow at a later date. For now, however, allow me the self-indulgence of looking back and saying goodbye to a hugely-important part of my life.

  • Mercury Rev-eal Tour Dates: my first ever post on Londonist, posted by Rob without crediting me, the swine.
  • Some News Items Are More Factual Than Others: my second post on Londonist, credited as my first post, confusingly enough.
  • Popscene: the first entry on Londonist posted under my own name. My Blur fanaticism shining through in my choice of title for the regular gig round-up.
  • No addict: a riot: my favourite headline of the ones I crafted4, especially as Kaiser Chiefs weren’t massively well-known at the time, meaning I scored myself extra points of obscurity. It was a story about Pete Doherty not showing up for a Babyshambles gig, causing a riot amongst fans.
  • Londonist Staff: my entry on the Londonist staff page.
  • Londonist: Ken’s posts: a list of my posts on Londonist (excluding the ones posted up by Rob or Euan in the early days)
  1. I’m still hoping to contribute with the odd bit of photographic coverage []
  2. Appropriately enough, given how I started off this entry, the post was the announcement of the winner of a competition to win a pair of tickets to see Lucky Soul. []
  3. Those who know me well will know how underemployed I’ve been in certain previous jobs []
  4. A close-run thing with Camden Tells Onion Sellers: “That’s Your Shallot” []