The ripples from our last Dark Angels course continue to spread. Two weeks after leaving Inverness-shire, the glue that binds the group together seems to be setting firmer rather than weakening, as is more often the case. Our inboxes bulge daily with new banter, ruminations and aperçus.
This wonderful exchange came in today from Neil Baker, the one full-time professional business writer on the course, also an accomplished writer of short stories (click here to read his latest). ‘Thought I’d report this small act of successful Dark Angels rebellion,’ Neil said.
Client (in a galaxy far, far way – aka New York): “Neil, there’s good news and not so good news. I love some of this enormously big thing you’ve written for me, but it’s not working. The case studies are excellent, but the body copy just has too much information.”
Me (exasperated): “That is what you asked for. You wanted all that data.”
Client: “I know. I was wrong.”
Me (at least he’s admitted it): “Let me point something out: in the case studies, which you like, I’m telling a story. In the rest, which you don’t like, I’m reporting data. People like stories, they don’t like data.”
Client (after a long, worrying pause, the sound of a penny dropping): “Yes, you’re right.”
Me: “So why don’t I write the whole thing like that? A bit of data where we need it, but let me tell stories. People will like it. They’ll want to read it.”
Client: “Sure. That’s great. That’s what I want!”
Me (pushing my luck): “While I’m at it, can I cut out all the business jargon?”
Client: “Can you do that?! You’d make me so happy.”
Quod erat, Tenebris Angelis, demonstrandum.
In another part of the forest … I visited my acupuncturist friend Wenbo Xu for a treatment earlier on this week. I’ve written about him in previous posts. One of these found its way into Room 121, whose title, as well as being a pun on one-to-one, is a nod to 1984, where society is controlled by the language of Big Brother and opponents of the regime are tortured by being confronted with their worst fears in the dreaded Room 101.
I was touched to find that Wenbo had bought a copy of Room 121, which he asked me to sign. As he opened the book a small piece of paper fluttered out. It was the head and shoulders of a man, painstakingly cut out in silhouette from an article Wenbo had read and which he was now using as a bookmark.
The man was George Orwell. My Chinese friend had no idea of the connection. Such are life’s delights.