A brand new category and one I’d like to develop further. I have loved writing songs, lyrics, stories and letters ever since I can remember. My song writing skills are almost restricted to the music and a half decent tune. But every now and again, I get away with a decent piece of copy or a pleasant and effective rhyme.
The first book that you can see is called The Invoice Book, details of which can be found at www.invoicebook.com.
I decided to call in the assistance of Iain Dunn in the writing and compilation of these letters. Iain and I first worked together in Advertising; Iain as a copywriter and producer and me as a musical director. We built up an impressive list of clients, both working with Hobo Radio Productions, and individually. Our work together introduced us to many who were untalented, ignorant or just plain stupid, but more often than not, the highlight of any production was the time when the Invoice was to be prepared and delivered.
There was always a threat that one day, we would issue an invoice so impressive and so large, that it would be accompanied by a parade of Elephants, Nubile Dancers, naked Drummers and Fire-eaters, with the “Great Invoice” poised on a fruit platter surrounded by Tusks and palm leaves! The picture of this mythical parade, majestically dancing along Brewer Street and turning into Wardour Street, kept us all amused during many a boring and meaningless brief (See back page of actual book once you’ve bought it!-Ed).
Ripple dissolve to a meeting at The Reef, Waterloo Station We had just met with a prospective client to discuss a variety of financial and creative ideas, which as often happened, ended up being empty promises. The Client had finally gone, and the “vacant look” had set in.
“What do we do now? Where do we go with this? More coffee or…….. should we send an Invoice?!”
And there it was: The Invoice Book was born!
We decided that there were many people, organisations, clients, corporations who deserved to receive an Invoice for something. It could be meaningless, amusing, totally unjustified, and more often than not completely silly!
We started to compile a list of “target” clients to whom we could send an Invoice for our services, inventions, or irrelevant charges.
This book is the result of our pointless and questionable brief.
Initially the idea was to target genuine claims such as petty parking tickets, and other anal charges. Under the umbrella of “It’s not just the principal, it’s the money”, many letters were sent for the smallest reimbursement in our own names.
But then we decided to use our middle names; Howard for Dave Cooke and Johnson for Iain Dunn and then use the Generic “Bob” as in “Bob’s yer Invoice” for our first names (Don’t ask!).
So the two characters were created, Bob Howard and Bob Johnstone (as well as Mrs. Roberta Howard and Mrs. Roberta Johnston for reasons that will become clear when you read the book).
The letters and invoices received a mixed reaction; Some people definitely got the gag, and others didn’t. Some responded angrily, and others simply tried to ignore it hoping that we’d “Go away quietly”. But we persisted, sending out reminders, and reminders about the reminders until we received something back, and attempted to beat through the corporate safety net so many companies attempt to hide behind.
At times when there was nothing much to smile about and the “real” work had been a chore and extremely tedious, this kept both of us amused, and often in tears of laughter, and we now hope that you will find something amusing in these letters and the replies which are all completely genuine and untouched.
You can also order direct from me - firstname.lastname@example.org - but check out the special web site, www.invoicebook.com, where you will find an Internet Edition of the book containing stuff that isn’t in the hard copy, plus Pictures, Reviews, and a special Buy online facility.
Here’s the list of people we included in the Book:
1. Archbishop of Canterbury
5. Cozens Moxon & Harts
6. The Reef
7. Battersea Dogs Home
8. Shell Oil
10. Madame Tussauds
11. Dulux ICI
12. Southern Trains
14. Ken Livingstone
15. Doubleday Publishing
16. Hodder & Stoughton
18. Penfolds wine
19. Miracle Spring Water
20. British Organ Donor
22. Reader’s Digest
23. British Menopause Society
24. British Airways
25. Oxford English Dictionary
26. Ofcom & GMTV
The Cliff Richard Diary Tour
Twenty years ago, I was asked to be part of Cliff Richard’s band and travel to South Africa to be Musical Director for a three week tour. Subsequently, I traveled with Cliff for the next 5 years and performed as keyboard player and sometimes MD at concerts around UK, Europe, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and the Far East. I was also involved as producer to some of his songs in the studio and together we wrote several songs that appeared as singles and album tracks. Leaving the band, I pursued a career as a music composer and producer, writing commissioned music for TV, film, radio, advertising, animation and song writing and that has continued to the present day.
Having still remained good friends, Cliff and I have performed together on many unplugged concerts; him as the Guitarist-Legendary-Singer-Star and me on keyboards. These have included benefits, charity shows and a several corporate events.
On hearing about the tour and the extensive travel involved, I personally asked him if I could be allowed back into the band to play and travel with him. Nothing happened for many months, but I received a call midway through 2003 to ask if I was available and whether I would like to go out on tour again. I accepted. Apart from the chance to play with him and some fine musicians, it was a great opportunity to travel once more and visit many of the places I had seen years ago, and never thought I would be able to revisit.
There was the opportunity to take my wife away with me especially to Australia and meet up with old friends out there. It was a chance to share in the rather unique experience of touring with a legend, great performer and friend on what appeared to be his last, long and detailed world tour. I also wanted to see if it was as much fun touring now as it was then! I was encouraged to keep a diary of the tour as I had done on previous smaller trips with Cliff and, from the first day of rehearsals at Bray and Pinewood to the final shows in Tokyo and Bangkok, I recorded my thoughts and pictures on most days.
The tour started in September 2002 with a four week rehearsal schedule; three weeks at Bray Studios and one week at Pinewood Studios. We then took the first part of the tour around UK for a total of 5 weeks, starting in Ireland, Wales, through England to Scotland and finishing on the South Coast.
Then a further three weeks in Europe, starting in Norway and further extensive travelling through Germany, Belgium, Holland and Scandinavia. A couple of weeks break for Christmas (with a personal trip to Florida) and then we took the tour to Australia, starting in Perth and then travelled throughout the rest of Australia playing also in selective Vineyards at Hunter Valley and the Barrossa Valley. New Zealand next and two concerts in Christchurch and one in Napier at another vineyard. The final part was in the Far East and starting in Singapore, we played on through Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Seoul, South Korea, Tokyo, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand, flying home mid-March 2003.
Throughout the tour, the film crew shot fly-on-the-wall footage of sound checks, backstage activities, interviews and stuff on Cliff to accompany a DVD (which was released late 2003).
The diary details the places, concerts, the ups and downs, the funny things, the not-so-funny things, stuff about Cliff and generally loads of backstage nonsense not normally written about. It is a dairy from my perspective in the band, rather than from Cliff's but I wanted to make it a fun read. I think will appeal to those who are full-blown fans of Cliff as well as those who are mildly interested and who may have seen one of the shows. It’s a dip-in-and-out book and not one that would require a great time spent reading through as in a novel. It details the travel and great places we visited - the highs and not-so-highs. There were times when Cliff’s presence wasn't around so much, so I went walk-about through the places, hotels, restaurants and other places of interest. It includes special guests such as Hank Marvin who appeared with us in Perth, Western Australia, and other celebrity guests who happened to pop in here and there.
The diary is accompanied by some fantastic photographs, taken backstage, around dressing rooms and some actually on stage during the shows (risky but well worth it)! Photographs starting from the rehearsals through the shows in UK and Europe and many one-off events not normally seen by fans or friends of the tour.
I have been tempted to start a dairy Blog of this Book. When I returned from the tour I gave it to a Publisher for his reactions and options and within a month he and the publishers had offered me a deal. The courting continued for seven months, when, out of blue, they decided that they didn’t want to publish it after all. No reasons were given and I was left having wasted the entire year unable then to secure another publisher. Ironically, on the same day I received a call from The management with whom I’d signed the Contract for the Tour, and politely yet firmly threatened. I know that contractually I am safe with this book as it shows Cliff in the best and most favourable light. And it might do something to revive what has become a rather lack luster period in his career.
Keep checking for the Blog.
Rock, Woody and Boris the Frog
A series of stories for children penned by myself and illustrated by Ian Heath. Here I have included an early draft for download.