Apart from writing the odd lyric, and trying to suggest to Jem what would work here or there in a song (largely ignored!) I have done a bit of scribbling and here is the first one that got into print.
The Invoice Book!
Most people in the course of their daily lives come across frustrations born of other people’s ignorance, stupidity or sheer obduracy.
A way of dealing with this first occurred to us when we worked together in a previous life – advertising. Together we produced many funny and original commercials, but along the way we sometimes encountered clients who were difficult, rude and, on one occasion, dangerously deranged.
In these cases, the highlight of the job was the final invoice, the moment that made it all literally worth our while. Indeed, invoicing became the most satisfying way of punishing the bad, the ugly and the downright offensive for their atrocities. ‘Bob’s your invoice!’ we’d cackle as we wielded the mighty billingpen with glee. We’d dream of a day when we would issue an invoice so large, that a great cavalcade would bear it down Wardour Street on a gold platter and deliver it to the door of the offending client.
Ripple dissolve to twenty years later when we found ourselves sitting in a railway café that resembled the gentlemen’s conveniences on platform fifteen, drinking tea looking like it might belong in the urinal rather than in our mugs.
Morosely we were comparing notes on the particularly dispiriting client meetings we’d both had. Then, somewhat inevitably, our train was cancelled. Who first suggested invoicing the train company for our wasted time is lost in the mists of time.
But at that moment The Invoice Book! was born.
We realised that there are many people, organisations, clients and corporations who deserve to receive an invoice for something. There are also many who would benefit from this simple and harmless way of venting their frustration. So, in recognition of the inspirational days of ‘Bob’s your invoice!’, we decided to create the ‘everyman’ characters of Bob Howard, Bob Johnstone and related friends. Working on the principle that if you can’t beat ‘em, bill ‘em, the two Bobs sent dozens of invoices to anyone and everyone they felt deserved to get one. Invoices were also raised against a whole range of unsolicited suggestions for services, products and inventions.
Some replies we received were curt; a few were angry. But from a surprising number we received courteous, well-argued and even jolly letters back, many of which are reprinted here. Others simply tried to ignore us, hoping we’d go away. But we persisted, sending out reminders, and then reminders about the reminders, until we got a reply, thereby removing the corporate mask that so many companies hide behind.
‘It’s an opportunity for growth’ a friend of ours is fond of saying. Stuff and nonsense. It’s an opportunity for invoicing! Our advice to you and all the other Bobs out there is as simple as it’s sweet: don’t get mad – get invoicing!
As a special treat, we’ve attached the entire book so you can see how we got on. Click onto the next page.