'Just what's that all about?' he grumped, stabbing his finger on a quarter page ad. 'Can you understand it?'
I looked and well, no, I couldn't.
'I can understand the words but what the **** is the picture all about?' he continued. I could foresee one of those whingey conversations ensuing in which he proposed that in its glory days advertising was creative and made sense but now it was just gratuitous clap-trap etc etc etc and I would disagree and talk about different mores for different generations. Blah, blah.We would go round in circles until some other snippet caught his eye and we set off on a minor rant yet again.
The offending ad is for a mobile phone provider - as it is not in front of me now their name escapes me. That's how good it was. Not.
Yes, the words are perfectly understandable but the picture is a little bizarre; a bucolic landscape with an ugly hooved and horned man dressed in a cricket sweater, and obviously in thrall to a sweet little hovering fairy. Are we missing an allusion here?
'Is is meant to be Pan?' the GA asked. 'Why? Why's he wearing a cricket sweater?'
I nod sympathetically. I dunno. I get asked a lot of questions like this and experience has proved that it's wisest not to get too embroiled. It's generally not worth wasting energy on. Perhaps I had switched off anyway - at the mention of the word 'Pan' my brain's hyper-efficient search engine was churning away and seconds later a few lines from a song last heard in the early 70's popped into my head. This was without even trying.
'how will I say where I end
or where you begin
how will I say, what shall I play
shall it be you or the wild wind
as Pan with the unsane eyes
or with the wild horns
or when I am crowned with the paper crown
or with the crown of thorns '
This is a snippet from the Incredible String Band's 'Queen of Love' - I won't bore you with it all. There is much in the same vein as it lasts a whole 8.06 minutes. I suspect I was quite a fan of theirs though the vinyl is long gone. Seen written out and after a gap of nearly 40 years it does seem like vapid unfathomable tosh, but back in those heady days however, how profound and mystic.
I am of course immediately transported back to then, to summer days in north Oxfordshire when the sun was always shining and if it rained, what the heck - we got wet and danced in it.
Enough of this - a more scholarly person might have come up with references to classical Greece rather than a season of peace and love. None of which answers any of the questions posed by the Glam Ass or satisfies my passing curiosity about the relationship between Pan and a fairy.
Am I missing a trick somewhere? Enlightenment welcome.
Out of curiosity I've just gone and looked at the ad again. The provider is O2. I've googled O2. Our goat-legged friend and his fairy are there as well. More mysteriously the goat-legged one, still in his cricket sweater, also offers fantastic tariffs and deals from a speedboat...to a squirrel.
Worse still, I now feel an 'ear-worm' coming on.