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Some years ago, when GIFs were still wandering the wilderness looking for a purpose in life and emoji emotions insufficient for satisfying my needs, I compiled a set of images to use as responses to those social media threads that pushed my buttons. One was for sycophantic posts; another was for fake news.

Kiss ass

Another way of saying putting lips to someone’s bottom.

Obviously, comments on provocative posts were increasingly a no-no (see Josh Lyman/Donnatella Moss and in The West Wing episode, The U.S. Poet Laureate) whereas the occasional posting of an image as a pointed response might prove therapeutic. In the end, I only used them a couple of times because there was still the possibility of the Lyman effect (see previous cultural reference).


For posts that reek of…

At the time, I was writing travel copy as well as travel articles. It was essential in bringing in some dosh, and it’s good to have a wide range of experience in the multitudinous aspects of the travel writing business. But it could be occasionally brain-numbing. The years I wrote copy taught me the greatest respect for good copyrighters because, to me, it’s one of the most challenging forms of travel writing. Compiling articles from first-hand experiences is far easier. I really didn’t enjoy it and had to grind away to produce anything remotely decent. Personality was often stripped out; objectivity (the diplomatic term for honesty) was squashed; and cultural references were usually frowned upon (something Toby Zeigler might approve of – The West Wing cultural reference No2. See episode, Arctic Radar).

Steve McQueen

Cultural references have a shelf life, unless they’re classic, or ultra cool.

In one case, comparing the Corralejo Dunes on Fuerteventura with the Sahara Desert was out because of the perceived negative connotations of the word ‘desert’ in relation to a holiday destination. In another, a reference to Before Sunrise in a piece about Vienna was dumped because older readers might not relate. Older readers! The movie was already twenty-years old at the time. They are minor gripes, but there’s a cumulative effect when editorial slices of the copywriting knife cuts away at the heart and soul of a piece, transforming it into a mundane beast with no distinguishing features. But the person who pays the piper calls the tune and all that.

Jack middle of the track

Nope, doesn’t quite convey the meaning I want.

Visual aids

Still, there’s a part of me that always wants/needs to rebel, to show my displeasure when something with splashes of colour is painted over with magnolia strokes. Another image was required, one which would subliminally (in reality, in an obvious way) register my frustration at producing toothless writing with the personality of ChatGPT bot without upsetting the paymasters. My solution was posting a shot of me walking/standing/sitting in the middle of a road. Trouble was, I kept forgetting to have Andy take one of me in such a position. On the few occasions I did remember, it was usually somewhere the roads were busy enough for me to risk getting run down trying. Once, on Corsica, I remembered. However, instead of a road, we were beside rail tracks. The result was more Jack Kerouac (in my dreams) than a statement about having to produce middle of the road travel writing.

A couple of weeks ago, I remembered my socials photos tick list while walking on Exmoor just as we crossed a road with barely any traffic – one quiet enough for me to avoid joining the roadkill ranks of an army of flattened hedgehogs/pheasants/foxes/badgers.

Jack middle of the road travel writing

Damn, shouldn’t be smiling. But apart from that…

Finally, I’ve got my middle of the road travel writing photo. Hopefully, it won’t be appearing on any social media platforms anytime soon.

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Jack Montgomery

Jack is an author, travel writer, photographer, and a Slow Travel consultant who has been writing professionally for twenty years. Follow Jack on Facebook for information about his writing, travel tips, photographs, and tales of life in a tiny rural village in Somerset.

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Welcome to my Canvas

Some of the items on this site won’t be to everyone’s liking, I get that. Basically this is my place, my wee studio to mess around in – experimenting with words and thoughts. I’ll be chuffed if you enjoy it, but if you don’t, c’est la vie. As a friend used to tell me “it would be a boring life if we all thought the same.”

Jack Montgomery
A wine press,
On a farm at the end of the dirt track,
The Setúbal Peninsula,