Gasps of dismay greeted the arrival in book shops last week of Basket
Case - 500 pages of appalling drivel about London’s media scene
described by its author as ‘a book about people shagging each other’.
The book - loosely based on Douglas Chirnside’s experiences at Allen
Brady Marsh, Foote Cone Belding, Colman RSCG, Still Price Lintas and
BMP4 - begins in 1979 on the eve of Margaret Thatcher’s first election
Karen Myhill, the Most Difficult Woman in Television, is surprised in
flagrante by her male secretary. Taking advantage of the fact that he is
ogling her partner’s genitalia, she throws a wastepaper basket over her
lover’s head, thus concealing his identity and earning him a catchy
nickname. It’s probably mere coincidence that just such an incident
happened at LWT back in 1981.
Similar coincidences occur throughout the book, which was celebrated by
a flyposting blitz at top ten agencies last week. There’s the bit where
two girls stay in the agency late at night, write pornographic
statements about their bosses on giant boards, photograph the boards and
then leave the pics ever so carelessly around the place.
Then there’s the bit where a female account manager takes revenge on a
multiple-timing creative who keeps his Armani suits locked in a cupboard
at the agency ready to jump into after cycling to work.
Blasted on stolen agency wine, the account manager pinches the keys to
his cupboard and proceeds to cut tiny pieces out of his over- priced
whistles - a delicate snip at the crotch here, a tip off a costly lapel
there, etc. Again, mere coincidence that just such a thing once happened
Chirnside promises he has not written the book to settle old scores. No
way. It must also be a coincidence that his last job was to run the
Channel 4 account at BMP4 and that Basket Case deals mercilesly with two
old-school joint agency managing directors - Nigel Gainsborough and
Serena Sark, nicknamed Godzilla and Dracula - who spend their time
fending off youthful talent and harking back to the 70s.