THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 10 Signs the recession is over

1. 'Cos Sozza says so

Sir Martin Sorrell has been a brilliantly original and incisive commentator on this recession. So when he stands up and says "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning," you know those green shoots aren't so very far away.

2. New-business director on the Atkins Diet

For three long, dark years did those of the benighted land of Ad shiver and tremble and tighten their belts lest their Armanis fall down.Then in the east came a light and it was called the Olympics. And so too in the west was a light and it was called the American presidential elections. And verily did the new-business director come to resemble a fat bastard who ate all the pies.

3. The "Lace" becomes headhunter's basic unit of negotiation

Grey's Garry Lace has an obscenely large wedge. Now all wage negotiations are conducted in fractions and variations on the Lace theme. Black Lace = most of your vast salary will be paid into a foreign bank account of your choice. Frilly Lace = a good basic wage with a complex package of additional untaxable benefits. Pearl Neck Lace = the special private gift you would like to give your receptionist this Yule.

4. You evict the pornographers subletting the fifth floor

During the recession staff had to be downsized (it was either them or the Porsche). You defragmented the building by subletting unused space. Unfortunately, the only people who could afford it were a group of adult film makers who liked to pay in cash and kind.

5. Board meetings in the warm again

Throughout the so-called recession, board meetings were held in the Basingstoke Travel Lodge. But no matter how high you turn up the heat, it's not quite the same as balmy nights in the Med/Polynesia/the head of LatAm's estancia in Medellin.

6. The twitching corpses of allergy sufferers in reception

Everybody knows the more flowers in reception, the better the agency. For a while there, it was so tight all most agencies could afford was a handful of daffs nicked from Soho Square. Now they are back. By the skip load. Allergic? Tough. You're dead, pal.

7. The agency closes over Christmas

In bad years, the agency closes over Christmas to save on the leccy. This year the agency is closed so management can spend Noel in their French villas (see Status Symbols) and in a display of wanton profligacy, leave the agency Christmas tree lights on until 2004.

8. Your entrepreneurial juices start flowing

The bunch of plodding cretins you work for have paid you several Laces to do FA during the slow down. What better time to break away and discover that it wasn't you the clients were buying but the plodding cretins?

9. Campaign gets too big for your scales

Fact: during recession Campaign weighs precisely one gram. How very handy. During a boom, however, a single issue can weigh as much as one kilogram - which is only relevant if you are doing wholesale and you're indifferent to the prospect of a 25-year stretch.

10. You get to meet something called "a client"

Swingeing spending cuts mean that recently most clients haven't been able to afford the 18 hours it takes to hitch from their offices to the agency. Now they are back, with their pinched faces, swollen stomachs and scurvy. Just don't leave them too long in reception - they'll only start eating the flowers.


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