When I was a kid it was the 70s. Things were different then. The newly introduced half pee coin was going strong. The Multicoloured Swapshop was battling Tiswas every Saturday morning. And my granddad used to drive to the pub, down a skinful and drive back.
One day, I don’t remember why because it was only one day it ever happened, he took me and my brother with him. We are about seven or eight years old. Another difference about that decade is kids were not welcome in pubs, so we sat in his car – a Ford Capri – with a bottle of pop and a bag of crisps each. We sat in the front (have you seen the tiny seats in the back of a Ford Capri?) with me in the driver’s seat. Bored, I flicked the windscreen wiper switch and they swished across the screen. Then I flicked the lights on and off. Then the heater and the cigarette lighter. My brother joined in. It was a symphony of electrical activity. Then I grasped the handbrake with my left hand and pressed the button and let it clack down a few steps. A little bit frightened I pulled it up with a click-click-click. My brother laughed, then he did the same. Clack. Click-click-click. I laughed and did it again as well. Then my brother then me. It was a brilliant game.
Now a Ford Capri isn’t really a sports car, but the seats are low and the windows high. And two seven or eight year olds sitting in the front could do so without being particularly aware of what’s going on around them apart from looking at the inside of the car. So, 20 minutes later when our granddad came out of the pub his beautiful red Ford Capri was sitting in the middle of the road. Every time we’d let off the handbrake, it had moved a few inches down the slope, but we had never realised. We had no idea it was moving. We didn’t realise the steering wheel had been turned to the right; something I’d done as part of my dicking about in the run up to the handbrake game.
You know the rest. We got in trouble. Greatly disappointed parents and grandparents ticked us off and I think we had to go to bed without any tea.
But I’m not asking you to feel sorry for us, I’m asking you to think about ‘slip’.
All too often a good creative idea starts out sounding brilliant. Then someone at the client’s organisation makes a comment and the handbrake is let off a bit. The idea slips imperceptibly a few inches. Then another and another. Each comment or change seemingly microscopic, but a couple of pints later the idea has taken itself away from where everyone thought it was best to somewhere no-one ever wanted it to be. And no-one noticed.
And that’s how great ideas end up middle of the road.