We're not friends, adverts and me. Considering that I grew up during what many consider the heyday of advertising jingles (“A Double Diamond works wonders”, “Nuts, whole hazelnuts”, “Naughty but nice”, “Go to work on an egg”, “T'were 'ard work getting to t'top o' hill” etc.) my experience has been a painful one.
I blame Fruity Pops. Hopefully none of you remember these disgusting sweets, but whenever I hear hysterical mummies babbling about the dangers of E numbers I think of Fruity Pops and feel far more sympathetic. The Fruity Pops ad was so much better than the product it advertised because I can still remember, all these years later, one of its central images. A bespectacled girl with lank plaits (horribly old-fashioned even in the 1960s) opens a bag of Fruity Pops and drops one in her mouth. Presumably on contact with her saliva the Fruity Pop makes a noise that sounds like a farting Clanger and her plaits fly up, almost meeting over her head. This was completely enchanting to me in a way that is comprehensible only to children.
One day my cousin arrived home from school with a small bag of Fruity Pops, presumably having stopped off to buy them at our Auntie Mary's sweet shop on the way. In the manner of Pete Doherty concealing a baggy of heroin he slipped me a sweet under the table. I surreptitiously pushed it into my mouth and waited for the Clanger-breaking-wind noise and...nothing happened! Admittedly my hair was more Prisoners of Cell Block H than long and plaited, but I was hoping for something. Oh, and they tasted vile as well. That was the end of the brief love affair between myself and the world of advertising.
Yet even the Fruity Pops ad wasn't quite as unbelievable as the BT ad. You know, the one where the happy couple break the news of their mended realtionship/forthcoming marriage to their parents and friends. Such unconfined joy! Such happy optimism! Have you EVER known a situation like that in your life? Isn't it usually more a case of the parents putting down the phone, looking at each other with grim faces and saying, “Well, he's got to live with her, I suppose”? And the friends retiring to the pub to pick over the relationship and decide that he's way too selfish to have a dog, never mind a woman with twelve kids, or however many the bint in the advert has? Isn't it just the most unbelievable thing you've ever seen?
Compared to that scenario, Fruity Pops are indeed gorgeous, Maltesers are a chocolate-covered health food and the Abbey National really does employ a flying Ninja squirrel.