The chuckle brothers have landed


Right, division-of-labour time: I gloat; you admire. Why’s that – apart from the usual day-to-day admirability that I manifest? Because I have completed my tax return! Not filed it or paid any money, mark you, but completed it. And the feeling is exactly as the ads promised: one of lightness, smugness and glee. Whoever came up with that marketing scheme is a genius because not only is it true, unlike many marketing ideas (how does one recognise a feeling of being sooo Money Supermarket, for example?), it also takes something life-draining and turns it wholeheartedly upbeat.

This is a leaf from a book that could have been usefully thumbed by the young men who turned up at the house on Sunday. Irritatingly, their knock coincided with the imminent climax of Obesity: A Year to Save My Life USA, which I was using as a backdrop to soothing the morning aches of cold virus slash mild hangover. It was a double episode, nearly two hours of a fat bloke called Mikey being shouted at by a buff bloke called Gerry and I couldn’t believe I was about to miss the grand unveiling of half the man Mikey used to be.

The opening front door revealed a chilly-looking pair of skinny evangelicals. No idea what church they came from but the leaflet one of them held out was as stripped of joy as the reps were of flesh. The cover featured a line drawing of a woman with her face in her hands beneath the legend ‘When Will The Suffering End?’. Sorry, give me a second to regroup here. You’ve knocked on the door of a smiling stranger to ask them ‘When will the suffering end?’ Really? Why not have a wee into my kettle while you’re here? I read somewhere that those Nigerian spam mails are meant to be ludicrously obviously fake so that only really thick, suggestible people respond – the ones most likely to wire their savings to a crook in Nairobi. By that process, this church only wanted the most depressed, frightened, browbeaten types, which isn’t really for me. Balloons, kittens, a cartoon penguin wearing a sombrero, then yeah, sign me up. But face in hands, crushed by life, yearning for death? Hmm, not so much.

So, lads, next time you have a branch meeting, why not suggest revising your outreach material? Because when the tax office sounds more fun than your church, it’s time to ask some searching questions. Or at least get better branding.


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