T Time: Game of Crones
Once upon a time, in the Land of the Largely Honest, only good things ever got sold. “Buy my cart,??? a farmer would say, “it can carry four pigs to market with only minor axle curvature.??? And, of course, this more-than-adequate hog conveyaddnce would change hands for a reasonable price and to the satisfaction of all concerned. And even the soon-to-be-slaughtered swine. Why it was a very pleasure to be bacon-bound in such fairly traded transport.
It was a golden time for the Folk of the Land of the Largely Honest. “You can buy my house, it’s generally fine, like, but mind them foundations need a good looking at and them slates have seen better days, quite frankly,??? one might counsel. And the deal would be done, albeit with a good-natured discount to boot.
Came there a time, though, as times they come, when The Last Genuinely Good Cart was bought. Probably by a foreigner. All the ideal family residences – those genuinely convenient for the shops and schools – were swept from the market and only those In Need of Some Attention remained.
And, thus, did the time of the Great Economic Constipation come upon the straightforward Folk of the Land of the Largely Honest.
“You can buy my cart, if you like,??? a farmer would venture, “but it smells of pig shit and can’t carry owt but a helium-filled heifer further than the old meadow, where it always gets stuck. I rans an orphan over in it once too.??? And the would-be purchaser would shake his head and demur, thinking fondly of the far superior carts of yesteryear, with their wheels all free of waifling cranial fluid.
And so the Folk of the Land of the Largely Honest were Sore Afflicted. For is it not written that “Nothing Happens Until Somebody Sells Something???? If only in the self-regarding scrawl of a junior sales manager who somehow knows, deep down, his life has been completely squandered? Indeed it is. Frequently and with sundry crossings-out and only that most rudimentary of punctuation.
“If only we could say the things that were not so,??? opined Guff the Profanic, an unwitting Swiftian and head of the townsfolk, “then the Folk of the Land of the Largely Honest would thrive again – or at least that’s what we could tell the neighbours.???
Deep in a nearby forest lay the home of a Band of Wandering Liars, at least so they said. Tales of the Plight of the Folk of the Land of The Largely Honest at long last reached the ears of these forest-bound fabricators and they vowed, as one, to make their way to this blighted oasis of Frankquility. Though, of course, no-one believed them.
After much long and hardly journeying (or so they said), the untruthful troupe came upon the Land of the Largely Honest and there were greeted by a sight most piteous. Stood there four hundred and twenty carts unsold, with “For Sale??? signs most grievous to their commercial prospects. “Only one careless owner: Feckless Jack, Winner of Most Grossly Overloaded Bovine Perambulator Four Years Barely Running,??? said one. “Not all that much orphan blood on the wheel trim considering.???
“Deary, deary,??? said the Band of Wandering Liars in suspiciously collective unison, “this will never do.??? Such were their tuts and feigned lamentations, that none could doubt their marked disapprobation. To make sure, they tutted each tut twice times over. And then again for measure good.
“Tut you not, you foliage-strewn fibbers of Great Renown,??? said the head townsman bold.
“Who reverts to us impetuously so???? asked one of the faux femmes, for lovely lying ladies were they all.
“It is I, Guff, Profanic of the Town, like his father before him, and his father before him, and…???
“Picture wise, we get you,??? lash-fluttered one of the Ladies Who Lie. (The Band of Wandering Liars had no leader, though each claimed so to be. And many, indeed, had a card with that on. Often in italics and sometimes embossed).
And the Ladies who Lie went into a great huddle, with much affected nodding and a bit of impromptu PowerPoint.
“Guff, Profanic of this Town, my insincere sisters and I believe, we can put right your cart blight with immediate effect and restore the fortunes of your town,??? said they.
“Hurrah???, said the townspeople, for they were simple folk, with barely a Foursquare Mayor among them. And so the wily wenches took on the Blighted Cart account, later claiming to have won it in a four-way pitch against a team of London Liars yet unnamed.
They were as good as their word, though their word was not good.
“Come and buy this lovely cart,??? said one. “Go faster cranial stripes are in this year…???
“The Feck Mobile. For those men with bigger loads to deposit,??? sauced another.
Enticed by their wanton words and comely knees, Q2 cart transactions in the Land of the Largely Honest exceeded all KPIs, provoking much merriment among the newly de-wagoned townsfolk. Sadly, such jauntiness abounded not among those peasant purchasers of their hand-me-down horse-drawn haulage equipment.
“Alas,??? said one, “this is not a modish go-faster carting stripe, but a tincture of parent-free scalp hemorrhage.???
“And this,??? quoth another, “has more Axle strain than a Guns’n’Roses classic line-up comeback gig. Whatever that may be…???
Spoke then up a third and most gravely. “Formerly good sires,??? said he, “thou have blackened the name of the Land of the Largely Honest in return for a short-term up-turn in cart commerce (and related industries) via linguistic chicanery and ankles most shapely showcasery. Henceforth, do we strip thee of that name. From now on, let this blighted land be forever MendaCityUK…???
Silence then fell upon the Land Formerly Known as the Land of the Largely Honest, until spoke there forth one of the Damsels Deceptive: “I like it,??? she said. “Kinda catchy…???
“We could do a hearts and minds campaign,??? said another.
“We could ask Hemisphere to do the logo,??? said a third. “With a strapline…???
“’MendaCityUK: Helping Bad Things Sell Good’???, said a third.
“Genius,??? said they all.
“And now, Profanic Guff, must you reward us for all our reputation womanagment,??? said a fourth. “You must tell us who, indeed, is the Best Liar here.???
“Hurrah,??? said the fork-tongued throng, “tell us true who is the Very Biggest Liar in this land, the Land Formerly Known as the Land of the Largely Honest…???
“Is it I???? asked one. “For have I not won every lying competition in the land, some of them twice and two of them that I didn’t even enter????
“Or is it I???? asked another. “For once, during a pitch, I lied so hard my head fell off and turned into a Gucci totebag. We still won the business mind.???
“Surely, it is I,??? said a third, “I employ thirty thousand little liars with local knowledge to mislead on a multi-site basis…???
And then did pandemonium and hububbery descend as accusations flew.
“You’re not really a liar,??? wailed one, “you merely trade in innuendo and slight exaggeration.???
“It should really be based on your number of fib-earners,??? another asserted self-servingly.
“Oh, misleading mistressi, pray calm,??? beseeched Profanic Guff. “How can I elect a Liar Surpreme when you are masters of fabrication all? Is your every word not steeped in decievery, obfuscatery and rank befuddlement? Is not every statistic self-serving, shrouded and unverifiably multi-noughted????
“All sounds a bit loaded,??? said one of the bystanding townsfolk.
“Shush,??? said another, “I think this is the moral.???
Profanic Guff shook his weary head. “Deftly deceptive divas, when your arts darkery is so overtly applied to your own doings, how then can a sound judgment be made? You are liars all. Exaggeration is your elevenses and masterful mis-direction your slap-up tea for two. I could no more discern the biggest liar among you than a man with no arms could catch an invisible pig in a very dark cellar.???
“If it was dark, it wouldn’t make much difference if the pig was invisible or no,??? shouted a particularly pedantic townsman, inspiriting a ripple of discussion and much nodding of yokel heads.
“Heckle my imagery not,??? said Guff, “for I have a decision to make. A Liar Unassailable choose I must.???
And so Profanic Guff retired for a Right Good Cogitate. Until at last, he sent forth an errand boy to announce his due decision.
“Token townsfolk and Dames Most Duplicitous,??? read the errand boy nervously, “hear ye this. Profanic Guff confesses that, as mistresses of misinformation all, he cannot hope to distinguish the most dissembling of you all. So, randomly, he has plumped for the one with the pointiest hat.???
A single shot rang out from amid the jaw-floored fibbers and the errand boy fell, promptly deaded, to the ground.
“They’ve shot the messenger,??? shouted an exposition-minded onlooker helpfully.
“Ooh, how terribly literal,??? said another.
The petulant, petard-hoisted princesses of prefabrication were having it not however.
“If you will not say that each one of us, alone,??? said one “is the solus purveyor of premium porkies in this town then you, Profanic Guff, must indeed be the Biggest Liar of Them All And No Mistake.???
And, for once, the Unfair Maidens acquiesced, and no-one believed Profanic Guff ever, ever again (unless it suited them, of course).
“Hurrah,??? said the townsfolk all.
And they all lived happily ever after. Or so they claimed. (To the North West PR community with much affection and a little mild amusement on the occasion of the first Prolific North PR rankings)
Next week: Social Media specialists get a long overdue fairytale kicking in… “Turn Again Digital Whittington: FourSquare Mayor of Fuck All???
Tony Murray is Hong Kong’s least civil servant and the former editor of The Drum, Adline and The Marketeer. He ran the NW PR Awards for two years back in the 90s, but then who didn’t? You can email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.