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Monday, 2 June 2014

Poetic Justice

We interrupt the serialisation of the latest block buster with a blog.

I've had it up to here with the middle classes' sense of entitlement.

This sense of outrage started as a fairly small scale unhappiness.

To begin at the beginning....

In Walthamstow we have this annual "E17 Art Trail". It gets hundreds of people, artists, poets, in fact anyone with a  misguided ounce of creativity in their little toe nail, together to show off over a 2 week period the creative juices of Walthamstow.

 We live in an area with streets named after poets and we've formed a loose grouping of six  roads called Poets Corner. One of the residents was keen that we should enter the 2014 Art Trail and using the Poets Corner tag have a poetry themed Art Trail in our area.

The Art Trail was to run from 31st May to 15th June. In addition there was the National Big Lunch event on 1st June where streets and neighourhoods etc had street parties. We've had a street party for the last two years and foolishly it was decided we'd run one in conjunction with the Art Trail.

Our poetry themed Art Trail would include Poetry readings from "established" poets and "open mic" where local poets could display their wares. All this and a street party, with a disco, folk music, face painting, fire engines and masses and masses of food prepared by the local residents.

One of the new ideas was mine. A genius idea if I say so myself. As part of the Art Trail we would have Estate Agent "For Sale" signs transformed into poems.

To begin with I really had no detailed plans:  just poems on "For Sale" signs. Then someone suggested getting our own signs specially printed up with poems instead of "For Sale", "Sold, STC" or "For Rent". I hadn't thought about costing but it soon became apparent that to do it properly you were talking quite a significant outlay.  

A neighbour of ours runs his own graphics business and I asked him to do a mock up of an Estate Agent's board with a poem in place. Also, a mock up of a street with these boards in place. I then went round to a few estate agents with the mock up and asked for sponsorship with their name and logo on the board.

One estate agent offered £500 sponsorship for 50 boards.

I e-mailed the local residents' associations detailing my idea and asking whether residents would be happy hosting a poetry board in their front gardens for the two weeks of the Art Trail. They would choose the poems. There was considerable interest.

At the same time I was finding how much my brilliant idea was going to cost and how difficult it was to find a trust worthy printer. My initial approach found me facing a cost of over £900 plus VAT for 50 boards. As they'd be double sided that would be 100 corrugated sheets, but even so it was far too rich.

The estate agent who agreed to sponsor me gave methe name of their printers/ board makers, but they were shit. Impossible to get hold of, impossible to tie down and I just couldn't trust them. I managed to find a great company in Southend on Sea. Staightforward pricing, quick turn around time and most importantly they'd been used by a neighbour and they'd provided a first class product.

I wanted double sided corrugated signs. The same poem on each side. I could not afford 50 signs - 100 corrugated boards. The sponsor came up trumps. I reckoned I could afford 30 signs - £540. They said they'd pay £500 for the 30.

Unfortunately, I'd oversold the idea to the residents and we'd received well over 30 offers to host a poem. So a number of people would be disappointed.

I asked people to choose a poem and send it to me. I just hadn't thought this through.  I thought they could sent it as a word document, something copied from a web page, a picture etc, etc. Somehow, how I hadn't figured, I'd get these into a format I could send off to the printers.

At this point, a chance meeting with our design company owner neighbour came to the rescue. He'd set up a template into which I could slot all the poems and art work.

Luckily for me, he knew I was crap at that so he said he'd do all the technical stuff, all I had to do was to get the poems to him along with any art work.

I had these 30 poems with assorted art work. Microsoft clip art, scanned images of pics from books etc etc.

I sent my graphics angel of mercy one street's poems and art work. The news was bad. None of the pics were of sufficient definition to be usuable.

There followed some anguished e-mails from me.

The technical stuff. To print out in good quality on large estate agent sized boards the images - text and pics - have to be 300dpi at least -in a pdf format. However any pic has to be at least 4Megapixals (MP) big otherwise it doesn't have the density or detail to be reproduced. All the pics people had sent me were woefully below 4 Megapixals.

Frantically I e-mailed out; erroneously confusing 300 dpi with Megabits, with one or two residents scanning their artwork for hours creating files 50 Megabits large but nowhere near the 4 Megapixel definition required.

Further e-mails clarified the position and suggested people used Google images and used the custom search facility to search for all  images over 4 MP. Even so only three of the poems with images were good enough.

I received all the 30 poems and images and confidently messed around with them in Word - using my creative skills to improve the lamentable  efforts of my neighbours. I ordered all the entries by roads and confidently sent off the documents to my design company owning neighbour.

What I received back was a revelation. There were 30 print ready pdf files. He'd smartened up the text, used a single style and typeface to give the whole project a unity it hadn't had. Opening up the files brought a smile to my face. All I had to do was to e-mail the files to the printers.

In a matter of days I received the fabulously printed corrugated signs.

However, all the printer did was print out 60 corrugated baords with 30 poems. I needed posts to stick the boards on. There are companies who provide such posts to estate agents, but they're expensive. So I found some 8 foot posts at B &Q and ordered 30.

We needed to stick the poems together and then pin them to the posts. In a morning the missus had assembled 30 signs and attached them to the posts. The next two days saw me installing them in the front gardens of our neighbourhood.

The poems will stay up for the duration of the Art Trail -two weeks. The estate agent gets fab publicity and I'm thinking all this hard work and learning can't go to waste. Next year 500 poems....

Why the outrage at the middle classes sense of entitlement?

I installed the last poem this evening. The house owner didn't think they could do it themselves. Fine. Except after I'd installed it they said "Thank you so much for all your hard work". I thought why are you thanking me. It's my project, I thought of it, executed it. You saying that implies that you own it and I'm the trademan's who just executes the work. Fuck!

To round it off they asked what was to happen with the signs after the two weeks.

Fuck knows, I've only just put the fucking things up!

The middle classes; great at thinking up questions without bothering to suggest answers.


Steve said...

I write poems, you know. You could have had some of mine for free.

Anonymous said...

As estate agent gave you money!? You must have a silver tongue.

Jack the Hat said...

My fence has fallen down. You couldn't bung a few spare poles my way could you?