Andy has over 18 years' agency experience, mostly in project management and co-leads one of the design teams at The Partners. Or rather, he did, because in a few days he'll be saying a tearful goodbye to everyone, including his wife and family, and taking all 6ft 5inches on a journey of discovery that even Jack Kerouac would be proud.
Hello Andy. So before you head off into the great unknown, Creativepool are giving you the opportunity to say a final farewell to all your old mates. Anything you'd like to say?
I'll miss you. You'll miss me... hopefully. Working at The Partners has been such a wonderful creative apprenticeship for me, even though I was in a client handling/design management role. I was always encouraged to get involved in the early ideas generation stage of creative development and loved working on naming jobs. I'll also miss peeping into the ground floor bar of Smiths of Smithfield when I'm working late, the sound of beery good cheer mingling with the scent of fine steak from the third floor restaurant, and celebrity spotting at lunchtime as I pass Hix clutching my M&S £3 Meal Deal as Nigella Lawson nibbles delicately on cheesy Asparagus tips...Finally, a message to Hannah; can you please pay me back that fiver you owe me. I'm going to need it.
OK let's try and paint a picture of the challenge that you are attempting.
Mmm. I'm thinking is it really a challenge, or am I just doing it for a laugh?Everyone when they plan a big UK trip, either for charity or selfish reasons, seems to go from Land's End to John O'Groats. Why? Because one is at the South Western extremity and one is its North Eastern equivalent. It makes sense, I know, but IT'S BORING! It's been done before. Why bother?I like appropriating normal stuff and subverting it. Avoid the obvious. Go against the grain. BE CURIOUS and FEARLESS. If not, don't bother. Get a job in banking. Or, on second thoughts, maybe not. Become a civil servant. OK, OK - work for J Sainsbury - everyone needs food, right?So, I'm going from the far South East to the far North West. First challenge. Where is the far South East exactly? Dover? Deal? Not sure, so I chose Dungeness. Why, firstly because there's a huge hulking Nuclear Power station there, and my original thought was to write about a trip from Dungeness to Sellafield - like a nuclear search and destroy mission from Kent to Cumbria. My Dad's from the North West so that made sense from a personal perspective.I also liked the fact that Derek Jarman used to live there and that got me thinking that it would be nice to do a trip that was driven by undertaking creative homage around the UK. But there's a really interesting project already by 26, the writer's group I joined last year after a typically inspiring talk by John Simmons. See www.26.org.uk/commonground
John has actually suggested combining the two and writing about writers in the places I visit which is a lovely thought.I settled on Dungeness after an earnest discussion with my brother in law on what constituted the far South East equivalent of Lands End. I liked the fact that it sticks out a bit, like England's big toe, testing the freezing grimy water of the Channel, not quite daring to go in up to the knees and certainly not committed to go in at bollock reducing depth. A neat metaphor for the British psyche perhaps?So starting point challenge sorted, there were no such problems on where to end up. If you look at a map of Scotland and run your index finger along the flat-top from JOG to the other side you come to, wait for it, Cape Wrath!A gift from God, surely! What a name! How dramatic! Biblical even! It filled my heart with joy, and a certain amount of trepidation. What would I find there? Dragons? Monstrous creatures from the depths with three eyes and ten rows of razor-sharp teeth? Discarded bottles of Johnny Walker Black Label and crunched cans of Tennants Super (you know, the ones with semi naked girls on - ah the 70s, how I miss you so...)?
In the conversation we had you were saying that you're wife wasn't overly impressed with the idea. She expects you back fairly promptly doesn't she?
Mrs H, my poor lady wife, is rather sceptical of my organisational abilities. I don't blame her. We've been together for 12 years now and every single trip/holiday we've taken together has been initiated, planned and organised by Her Good Self. So, I accept her cynical stance and the bet that the agreed budget (a paltry £275 from the housekeeping kitty) will only last 3 days. I'm half-minded to spent one night out, have a fantastic slap-up meal at a top London restaurant then smoke fine Cuban cigars and drink the best Cognac with the tramps under the arches at Waterloo before catching the 12.45 back to Kingston and presenting myself all tipsy and dishevelled at the front door demanding cuddles and love action but crashing on the sofa, my last words before losing consciousness being... 'so you win again, you win again, here I am again, the loser'.
The Jack Kerouac connection is coming through loud and clear is he a hero perhaps?
My literary hero. I was absolutely obsessed by him in my late teens and early twenties. 'On the Road' should be read by every 18 year old before they make any career decisions. Having said that, I read it but still kicked off my career at Albany Life Assurance in Potters Bar, followed by a stint as Management Trainee at the Nationwide Building Society in Rickmansworth. When they moved me to Harlesden and suggested I join the local round table, I panicked and left for Israel, living on a Kibbutz in the Negev Desert, picking melons, which is where I embarked on my first truly passionate affair - with smutty innuendo. Melons, I love 'em. Still do. Always will...Also, on a literary travel front, I was also completely enchanted by Laurie Lee's 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning' and Graham Green's 'Travels with my Aunt'. Both the latter two discovered nestling seductively in my parent's bookshelves.If you can indulge me in a soupcon of pretension for one moment: Often the answers you seek are buried in the past. Sometimes, right at your own front door. Don't sneer at the mundane, the people or objects you collide with on a daily basis. At least, I think that was what the Alchemist was banging on about?
Back to the Kerouac thing - I'm in the middle of a Mid-Life Crisis at present and I'm hitting 46 square in the jaw in early September - the 3rd actually, the 71st anniversary of Chamberlain's declaration of war against Nazi Germany. So, I thought it would be nice to pay homage to Kerouac, get out on the road, meet some interesting people, preferably, 'the mad ones, mad to learn, mad to live, desirous of everything at the same time, who never yawn or say a common place thing, but burn, burn, burn, like magnificent roman candles that explode across the might sky and everybody says Awww!'. That's why I thought it would be a good idea to start in Kent. I'm told they're fucking bonkers there.
What kind of kit will you be taking - a map?
I'll be taking two clean pairs of Y-Fronts, carbolic soap and a Jumbo sized pack of Johnnies (only kidding Mrs H). Also, a friend kindly gave me a super-whizzy Nokia Android touch-phone. Hopefully I'll learn how to use it before I head off.
Well I know that you'll be writing a blog for people to follow. Have you got the details?
I'll be blogging at www.andyinfinity.wordpress.com from next week so you can track me like a wounded animal, limping across moor and fen seeking shelter from The Man, hoping against all-hope not to end up like Bambi's mummy. That still brings a tear to my eye.
If I can also plug my site www.dadclub.co.uk - it's like an online pub for Dads who don't get out to the pub any more.It's a Partners' identity and one of my proudest moments there involved winning a New York Festival Silver for my baby, followed by a Benchmarks Best Not For Profit Identity, then, finally, and best of all, a Chip Shop award for Best Identity. I wrote a lot of it, but it would nothing without the sprinkling of magic fairy dust from Greg Quinton (Creative Partner), Alex John (Illustrator), Mike Reed (The Front Line column and Wordsmithing) and David Hughes who put it all together with glitter and sticky glue. Amazingly, it hasn't fallen apart yet, but it's still only a toddler, prone to furious tantrums and stumbling over shopping trolleys and gashing its knees
John Fountain is senior writer at Avvio