Assiduous readers of this blog will recall that I once had occasion to take to task the hotel-toiletries firm Gilchrist & Soames for its reckless and cavalier approach to labelling its bottles in what it endearingly imagined to be French.
You, dear reader, have no doubt moved on since then, caught up in the ebb and flow of daily life and its attendant demands. Rest assured, though, that I have remained steadfast and alert to the linguistical shortcomings of the companies that furnish our nation's hotels with tiny plastic bottles of goo.
It's a lonely and desolate beat, untroubled by sensational revelations, media scrums or mass outbreaks of public outrage, but I like to think that I'm performing a vital service in shining the uncompromising spotlight of scrutiny into a dark and neglected corner of consumer affairs.
Today that spotlight falls upon Elsyl, a range of hotel toiletries whose bottles, according to this hotel-toiletries website, have an aluminium lid that gives this unique range a little extra.
Look carefully, however, and you'll notice that the aluminium lid is not the only notable feature of the Elsyl range:
[Click picture for bigness]
It's hardly surprising that the makers of Elsyl are trying to distract you with their shiny lids, for their labels represent an attempt at international jet-set chic that can best be described as 'woeful'.
I wonder if I can imagine the process by which they were created.
...Wibbly lines descend across the screen...
BRANDING EXECUTIVE 1: What we need is a label that lends the product an air of continental elegance. An atmosphere of cosmopolitan élan. An aura of European finesse.
BRANDING EXECUTIVE 2: So what you're saying is that the label has to be in English and French.
EXECUTIVE 1: Yes, yes, good. But not just French, that's so parochial. That's the kind of narrow-sighted caper you'd expect from Gilchrist & Soames. No, we need to project an image of truly international refinement.
EXECUTIVE 2: So, English, French...and Italian?
EXECUTIVE 1: Yes. And - what's the other one? - German.
There is a brief pause for reflection.
EXECUTIVE 2: Can you speak any of these languages?
EXECUTIVE 1: Not really. Except English. I can speak English. Can you?
EXECUTIVE 2: I can speak English too.
EXECUTIVE 1: No, I mean any of the others.
EXECUTIVE 2: Oh. No.
EXECUTIVE 1: We could look the words up in a dictionary.
EXECUTIVE 2: (sucking teeth) I don't know...that's what Gilchrist & Soames did, and they got stick for it on Patroclus's blog.
EXECUTIVE 1: You're right. We don't want to get stick on Patroclus's blog. That's the very essence of what we don't want.
EXECUTIVE 2: It would be a PR disaster.
EXECUTIVE 1: Yes, you don't want to get on the wrong side of the blogs. I've heard that Patroclus has literally tens of readers.
EXECUTIVE 2: I have a marvellous idea!
EXECUTIVE 1: Hurrah!
EXECUTIVE 2: You said we only need to provide an air of continental elegance. An atmosphere of cosmopolitan élan. An aura of European...what was it again?
EXECUTIVE 1: Finesse.
EXECUTIVE 2: Finesse. Well, how about we just translate one word into each language?
EXECUTIVE 1: Brilliant! Which one shall we translate?
EXECUTIVE 2: How about 'with'? It's the easiest one.
EXECUTIVE 1: Fantastic! Quick - to Babelfish!
Some moments later...
EXECUTIVE 2: There, look. Perfect.
EXECUTIVE 1: 'Bath cream avec ginseng'. Oh yeah, baby. That's cosmopolitanism, right there.
EXECUTIVE 2: We're surely the best branding executives in the whole world.
EXECUTIVE 1: We surely are.
NEXT WEEK: Patroclus fearlessly exposes the unnecessary comma on the reverse of the Aussie 'Miracle Moist' shampoo bottle.