This goes back a year or so ago, but it’s still relevant.


Marketingspeak is one of the Indo-European family of languages. It has some common roots with Estateagentspeak, which I have considered earlier on this blog back in January.

Both are also closely related to English, but whereas English is generally employed to explain, clarify, and expand upon concepts and ideas, Marketingspeak developed specifically to obfuscate, mislead, and make more complex.

I have to be careful here, because I spent a long time in marketing and advertising. Most of it was good fun, I worked with people I liked and admired, and I got paid pretty handsomely. But we did get the occasional Buzzword Lightyear. I lost count of the number of ducks there should be in a row, how many cabs were on the rank ahead of us, how many cats we smeared and saw if they licked it off. I used to just zone out, as long as the language was for internal consumption only. But I would get on my high horse if the drivellings attempted to break free and end up in advertising copy. I wasn’t having it, and I had an enviable if dangerous reputation for standing up to some of my more fatuous clients and telling them to stop talking bollocks.

I was reminded of this about ten days ago when I was doing some painting at Talliston House and gardens. I’m not sure how I got dragged into that, but it was a very pleasant day working with Marcus and putting the world to rights. Now we were working with paint from the manufacturer Farrow & Ball. F & B make some very good paint indeed. It isn’t cheap, but it’s very good to work with, dries quickly without your brush sticking to the surface, and doesn’t drag if you inadvertently recoat an area that isn’t quite dry yet. Add to that that their gloss is water based, so I don’t end up sick as a dog within half an hour of exposure to oil-based paints, and I was a relatively happy punter. Until Marcus drew my attention to a bit of promotional fluff on the tin.

There was the usual stuff, stir well, make sure the surfaces are clean, dry, and free of dust, yada yada yada. But right at the end was this load of bollocks. I may paraphrase, but this was the gist of it.

We recommend the use of Farrow & Ball paintbrushes. These have been designed to work in harmony with our paints to ensure smooth….’ The phrase ‘work in harmony with’ really does appear.

What? What is that supposed to mean? Work in harmony with paint? Who are they kidding? This is undoubtedly a phrase dreamed up by some bloke with a ponytail and red Skechers. Good grief.

Here’s what I want from a paintbrush. If I’m putting varnish on garden furniture, I want the paintbrush not to shed bristles. I want the bristle gauge, and the packing density of the bristles, to be such that I can load a decent amount of varnish on without it then dripping off all over the patio or the garage floor, or running down the handle to my wrist. If I’m undercoating, I want pretty much the same, because at this stage I really am not worried about a glass like finish. Ideal brushes here are those own brand ones from the DIY chains, but at a pinch Poundstretcher ‘six for a quid’ brushes will do fine.

Even for the topcoat of gloss, I do not want a bloody brush to work in harmony with the paint! I want a brush that doesn’t need me to overwork the paint to get a smooth finish, that critically doesn’t shed bristles, and just as importantly does not develop any sprongs, those renegade bristles that suddenly stick out at 45 degrees and gouge a trench in the area I just finished painting.

That’s what I want from a brush. If you wear braces and D&G spectacle frames, please take note. One of the most catchy advertising slogans of all time was for Cuprinol Wood Preserver. ‘It does what it says on the tin.’ That’s what I want from a bloody paintbrush, that it does what it says on the packaging, unless it says ‘works in harmony with the paint’ at which point I may well leave the store, returning only late at night to firebomb the place.