Peter York on Ads: Oh to be in Essex, now that Lord Weidenfeld's there

Ronseal No Rust
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The Independent Online

We all feel we have to keep an eye on Essex now. Just in case something a bit demotic passes us by. As part of my comprehensive service, I often take small groups of concerned people round Dagenham and Romford in an unmarked white van. We sometimes end up taking in Loughton and Buckhurst Hill; I make a day of it for them. Last week it was Lord Weidenfeld, Joan Bakewell, Matthew Parris, and Anna Wintour. I like to keep it small.

We all feel we have to keep an eye on Essex now. Just in case something a bit demotic passes us by. As part of my comprehensive service, I often take small groups of concerned people round Dagenham and Romford in an unmarked white van. We sometimes end up taking in Loughton and Buckhurst Hill; I make a day of it for them. Last week it was Lord Weidenfeld, Joan Bakewell, Matthew Parris, and Anna Wintour. I like to keep it small.

They've all been everywhere, of course, but d'you know they were very stimulated by Essex. In their different ways. Afterwards we had a mini-group discussion in the Primrose Hill Community Centre about the issues it raised for us. The geo-political ones. The exciting architectural developments, the Advanced Dental Studios. Next week I'm taking Mary Warnock, Sienna Miller, Charlotte Church, and Clare Short. I know they're going to get on.

Ronseal comes from Essex too, but the advertising's gone global. You get politicians and archbishops declaring they do exactly what it says on the tin. I'm sure Mr Blair said something of the kind about his last government.

Sadly, Armando Iannucci's new BBC Four programme The Thick of It suggests that New Labour has a sort of Demotic Enforcer who updates all their front-line people on, say, Crazy Frog or Celebrity Love Island. Are they saying Mr Blair doesn't really know all that stuff? I don't believe it.

The latest Ronseal commercial is set in Essex, of course, with a beautifully cast Essex actor and a marvellous new product; Ronseal No Rust. Paint it on a rusty railing and you'll have no rust for up to six years. If you'd been on one of my little safaris you'd know this house. It's commendably respectable, a "town house" with a door with a built-in fan light, a nice long front garden and arrow-headed iron railings to keep out any EU commissioners and immigrants (at least that was how Lord Weidenfeld saw it).

The Ronseal presenter's painting his railings with the black no-rust paint in a very expert way and telling us about the Ronseal promise when he says something disarmingly simple yet a bit deep, with just a little smile. "No rust - good name - just a few words but all the right ones."

He's got a grey jersey with a single horizontal black stripe, which is a classical Modernist trope - the kind of thing Blur picked up on in the Nineties, if you follow me. And while he's Essex - late thirties plumber or cab-driver - he's not too Essexy, because that would distract the viewer from the essential simplicity of the message. I think there's something we can all learn from this.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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