Some rooms are best not entered – this one in particular. Don’t enter it unless you are under 18* – or you may understand what is being said. The two women, well witches, occupying the room are talking about us.
It would be a real mistake to listen – but we’ve all made lots of mistakes. Let’s stick to what we’re good at and go in anyway.
The old witch is a severely traditionalist crone, crooked back, one tooth, black pointy hat, gnarled knuckles: the lot.
The other is young with fluorescent green highlights in her shoulder length hair. She wears leggings, knee length boots, a satin top and shot satin cloak. Even her ipad case is satin. The wand she has tucked up a sleeve is a screen stylus and not the traditional pointy stick that doubles as a vampire cooperation inducer.
The room is, well… No cauldrons here but strange odours leak from the microwave.
The older witch sits on a wobbly wooden stool, the young witch sprawls
on an Ikea chaise longue.
The crone we hear first. It’s not a nice voice – the sort you’d expect from someone who peels live puppies for a pastime. “Young Jessica, to pass this module, you must understand the power of persuasion.”
Jessica rolls her eyes. “What-evs.”
“The model I have chosen is advertising copy.”
“Do you actually know anything about it?” Jessica yawns and fails to hide it or cover her mouth.
“We’re going to create an advert for my latest unguent.”
“I take that as a ‘no’ then. You’re just using this exercise to bypass your own incompetence. How about telling people how crap your unguent is?”
“We avoid telling the truth. We use the most powerful advertising tool: fear!”
“The most powerful advertising tool is the promise of sex. After that comes selling food to starving people, dry land to a drowning person and water to someone dying of thirst.”
The crone nods. “Well done but that’s only half of it. Fear! To the person dying of thirst you don’t tell them how good your water is – you point out what will happen if they don’t buy it.”
Jessica’s eyebrows rise. “That’s actually quite cool. Did you come up with that all by yourself?”
“Think of those TV ads with pictures of, supposedly, bacteria that, for obvious reasons, do not resemble any real bacteria but look like a caterpillar, hedgehog and blob cloning disaster. After you see them you get footage of little children touching all sorts of things in a bathroom and toilet suite. Then you see the spray product or whatever, and hear ‘Our product kills 99·9% of all bacteria…’.”
Jessica snorts. “That leaves 0·1% – a mere billion trillion.”
“You don’t mention that.”
“And all the spored bacteria and all the viruses.”
“Quiet!” The crone draws her wand and waves it around.
Jessica rolls behind the chaise longue and peers over the edge. The crone’s magical incompetence is legendary and has been since she was merely 113 years old and fatally buried a student in hippos. The crone goes on, “We need clever phrases like ‘specially formulated’.”
“NO WE DON’T! Everyone uses that on everything – nearly. Soon we’ll see ‘shoes specially formulated for feet’. It’s only a matter of time. Look, it’s seduction through emptiness and meaningless words – nothing but glamour.”
The crone taps her wand against the tooth: brown against yellow. “Scientifically proved?”
“No. No. No… No scientist, who knew about the shit you make, would want to stay on this planet, let alone test your rubbish. Anyway, it’s ‘proven’ not ‘proved’ unless you want everyone to think people forgot to send you to school … if there were schools back then.”
“How about ‘tested and … proven … by scientific witches?’.” She watches Jessica for some moments. “Get up off the floor, girl. Stop rolling around screeching.”
“Aaaah! It’s called laughing. Read up on it. Give me a couple of days and time off to convalesce. My face and stomach muscles ache.”
“I’ve got something you can rub on them.”
“Only if it’s a tasty man.”
“Back to the subject…”
“Spare me,” gasps Jessica.
“I’ve put a lot of study into this subject.”
“I can tell,” she splutters, “Stop making me laugh!”
The crone hisses. “Enough! The whole of advertising can be summed up in the sentence ‘For your whole life you’ll regret not buying this right now’. You can add some words after ‘your’ like ‘Puppy’s’ and after ‘this’ use ‘for your children’. Things like that. Now, type something up and stick it on the net.”
“You type it and stick it up your arse.”
“I can’t read or write.”
“I don’t believe you.”
The crone cackles. “You want to pass this module?”
“Not especially but if I do maybe I can request never to come to you again.”
“That’s my girl.”
Do not buy this unguent made by Mad Granny Morag
If fact: never buy anything from her
You’d be risking limbs, life or, at the very least, any
chance of a sex life with anything other than a jellyfish
This unguent crap has not been tested by scientists or even brainless maniacal
witches with more wart than nose and eyes that look independently
in different directions
The crone reads over Jessica’s shoulder. “You’ve just described me!”
“Of course. Not even you would be stupid enough test your products. Anything you want me to change?”
The crone rubs her hands. The knuckles sound like a tree having a bad storm. “No, it’s perfect: you’ve passed.”
“Wha … what?”
“The unguent will get a cult following. It’ll be worn as a social statement and the resulting scars will be a fashion item. Everyone will want it and they’ll all die out through toxicity. The world will be left with only intelligent and clear-thinking people!”
Jessica groans. “There won’t be anyone left here. They all buy ‘specially formulated’ and don’t scream when they see it. When clear-thinking intelligent people really look at society they run away and live in caves.”
“I’ll gear up for mass production: you take the good news to the caves.”
©Gary Bonn, 2016