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Linda Smith has died

Linda SmithComedian Linda Smith has died from ovarian cancer, aged 48.

Linda was somebody I, along with many others, liked a lot. She was one of that rare breed of comedian that can always make you smile, regardless of what mood you’re in, or however much you don’t want to. I loved listening to her on The News Quiz, Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, Just a Minute, and watching her appearances on the excellent QI, as well has her not infrequent appearances on Question Time, where she always had interesting points to make – as always, deadly serious but delivered in a comic way.

In his tribute, Jeremy Hardy tells how Linda chose not to tell many people about her cancer, not wanting to be seen as ‘that comedian with cancer’, but rather just ‘that great comedian’. And she truly was great.

There are formal obituaries on the BBC website, and also at MediaGuardian.

She will be sadly missed.

This 832nd post was filed under: Media, News and Comment.

Jeeves retires

Jeeves in retirementAfter ten years of loyal service, Jeeves has retired from the search engine Ask Jeeves, as bizarre as the concept might seem. Ask Jeeves has now rebranded as the utterly forgettable Ask.

But then, as bizarre as the idea of the eponymous character being dissociated from his own search engine appears, it’s certainly no more bizarre than the initial decision to associate a seventy-nine year-old Wodehouse character with a site claiming to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology. Having said that, the strategy was remarkably successful, with the site gaining far more popularity than the (woeful) quality of its search results ever deserved.

As for the new-look Ask.com: It has a very clean interface, which appears to be largely based on Google’s (as almost every search engine is nowadays – the only innovations appear to be in sites like a9.com). Frankly, it’s so samey as to beg the question: Why bother?

This 831st post was filed under: Technology.

‘Our customers sound like wankers’

Not the latest inspired marketing campaign for Kleenex (sadly), but rather the new one for Norwich Union Direct – at least according to this week’s Guide:

In a regrettable attempt to ingratiate themselves with the nation’s youth, the shadowy dream-weavers at NUD’s marketing department have centred their latest ad on a joke about masturbation. The onanistic wheeze unfurls thus: a large-chinned twentysomething is engaged in an animated telephone conversation with NUD. Cut to a shot of his grandmother, who, by standing outside his closed bedroom door with a cup of tea, is an unwitting party to the climax of said transaction. “YES! YES! I LOVE YOU!” he bellows, as an unheard customer-service operative delivers the explosive news that his car insurance might cost him slightly less than he thought.

Of course, in normal circumstances, any grandmother encountering this apparently masturbatory outburst would be expected to either: a) stagger backwards in horror, clawing wordlessly at the banister before slumping, unconscious, to the carpet; or b) tiptoe downstairs and immediately set about cutting the pervert out of her will. But these are not normal circumstances. These are ad circumstances, which mean they bear no relation to real life and are, instead, wholly stupid and entirely nonsensical. Thus nan responds to the outburst by smiling enigmatically and caressing her ancient breastbone in the manner of a saucy Edwardian chambermaid fingering a colonel’s monocle. “Just like his granddad,” she says to a baffled Craig Cash before wandering off, possibly to the bathroom, whereupon she will spend the next 40 minutes tickling her support hose while thinking about her dead husband’s cravat.

What are we to take from her reaction? That her grandson’s decision to spend afternoons using his genitals as a mortar and pestle is grounds for familial pride? That her husband was as aggressive a masturbator as her grandson? That she gets off on the idea of a close relative roaring himself to orgasm? Who knows? And so another gag goes off in the trousers of advertising incompetence. Still, kudos to NUD for having the chutzpah to imply, however inadvertently, that their customers sound like wankers. Now that’s funny.

It’s definitely an original idea, if nothing else.

This 830th post was filed under: Media.

EasyCruise

We’ve all heard of Stelios’s EasyCruise, but this is just ridiculous…

EasyJet in deep water

This 829th post was filed under: Miscellaneous.


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