With Anne Ville still en vacances, I am more vulnerable at GBH than
a baby bunny rabbit ’neath a hawk-filled sky.
Anything that can go wrong continues to do so. Take my research
I decided to commission some exploratory research into young adults’
attitudes to drink, drugs and lifestyle. If I moved fast I could fit in
half a dozen groups and a debrief to form the basis of an intelligent
opinion for my meeting with Anne when she gets back.
The problem was that with psychopops being a new sector aimed at
leading-edge young adults, conventional research wouldn’t get within a
tab’s throw of the elusive zeitgeist, let alone capture it and deliver
it to GBH for interrogation.
Then I remembered a mailer I received in my first week, a brochure from
a research company called Youff Insight Right, claiming to provide real
understanding of younger consumers. I was struck at the time by the
illiteracy of the copy ’Like, youth are different these days, right, etc
The proposal was surprisingly slick and the partners, Zak and Biff, said
they could set up groups of young adult drinkers in London and
I agreed to watch the Manchester groups, which would be held in a
viewing facility in the city centre. ’Just one thing,’ they said,
’recruitment can be a problem, so we prefer to do it ourselves.’ Fair
enough. I arranged a pounds 1500 float to cover expenses.
Two days later I was behind a screen waiting for the first respondents
to arrive. As soon as they trouped in it was clear something had gone
wrong. Focus group? These people were so smashed they could hardly
What’s more, they knew each other.
Within moments they were sprawled on easy chairs, chain smoking and
abusing Zak, the moderator - with the exception of one boy who appeared
to have fainted and was breathing bubbles of snot and saliva into the
Things went downhill. Zak hadn’t got half way through his warm-up when
the first ’Southern twat’ drifted viciously across the room. Soon Zak
was looking seriously rattled.
Enough was enough. I left my hidey-hole to phone the police. When I
returned, Zak was on the floor receiving Dr Marten’s all-over body
treatment. The sick boy had rallied and was waving Zak’s pounds 1500
advance, while the others were bundling the TV, video and tape recorder
into a box. At the first peep of a siren they fled with their booty.