Waking the dead

Jon Steel

Last year, I visited Nottingham University to make a presentation on WPP's Marketing Fellowship programme. As a graduate of Nottingham myself, I planned to open with a comment about providing living proof that graduates of that university are, contrary to popular belief, employable. But as I watched the students file into the room, I was struck by the realisation that I received my degree at least two years before any of the people before me were born.

Yes, I'm getting old. In meetings, my younger colleagues often refer to 'older people', by which they apparently mean those over 40. And recently, quite independently, several keen youngsters have asked me to tell them how things were 'in the old days'.

Well, they were different in many ways. In those ancient times, before fax machines, mobile phones, personal computers and the internet, there was no instant response or gratification. People left messages for each other, and those messages would be returned when the recipient had time. We all used to spend a lot of time at lunch. We drank too much. We came in to work at 10am. But, of course, that was okay because we had it easy: we only had to produce advertising for TV, radio, outdoor and print, and often our clients gave us months to do it.