Friday 17 January 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 17/1/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Robert Bound

How to language

There’s a new UK advertising campaign for the First Direct bank, the tagline of which reads, “There’s no right way to money.” Of course there are millennia of data to suggest – unless borrowing to buy a house or defend a nation in time of war – that there is very definitely a right way “to money”. But this column’s real niggle about the ad is its promotion of a very wrong way “to English”. What are the scenarios in which we might employ First Direct’s use of the noun “money” as a verb? Maybe as the bill arrives in a restaurant: “How should we money this? 50-50?” Nauseating. When talking to an employee during their review: “We think we’re moneying you fairly for your performance this year.” I wish I were dead. How about ringing First Direct itself for overdraft advice? “Well, I’m moneying inadequately at the moment but have a new contract starting next month.” Imagine their faces in the call centre. And imagine if Tom Cruise’s famous “Show me the money!” line in Jerry Maguire became, “Please display your incoming and outgoing financial transactions!”

This dispiriting trend has been going on for a while – and not just in advertising. Despite “shopping” being a verb, people now believe that they can “shop” sofas rather than go shopping for a sofa. And there is an especially spiky rung of hell’s ladder reserved for those who want to “gift” things to each other instead of giving them.

First Direct is a branch-less phone-and-online “challenger bank” (in fact, originally a part of large Midland Bank, which later became the very big HSBC) whose branding and attitude was created by late great ad man Wally Olins. He was a formidable communicator who would, I think, have been jumping up and down on his signature outsized spectacles in frustration at such naff copywriting. If “money” really is a verb that can mean anything then, fine: First Direct’s new campaign can be the first to money right off.

Image: Shutterstock

Geopolitics / Libya

Silencing the guns

Libya’s warring factions will gather in Berlin this weekend in an attempt to bring an end to bitter fighting in the North African nation. The UN estimates that 1,000 people have been killed since last April, when the renegade Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar (pictured, on left, with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov) launched an assault against the UN-backed government in the capital, Tripoli. Recent talks in Russia ended without the implementation of a ceasefire – but will the Germans have better luck? “The negotiators need to get Haftar to give up his weapons,” Anas El Gomati, founder and director of Libya’s Sadeq Institute think-tank, tells The Monocle Minute. “The UAE is also supplying the warlord with weapons and, unless that stops, the bloodshed will continue.” Indeed, there might be plenty of good intentions at Sunday’s meeting in Berlin but it will take far more than words to end Libya’s bitter civil war.

Image: Shutterstock

Politics / Italy

Left in the lurch

Italian politics has had its fair share of crises in the past few years. And now the government is facing a crisis of conscience. Left-wing supporters of the Democratic party (PD), which is in a coalition with the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), expect changes to the infamously draconian security laws introduced by Matteo Salvini (pictured), which, among other things, reduced humanitarian protections for migrants and imposed sanctions on NGO boats rescuing people at sea.

This week, Graziano Delrio, PD’s leader in the chamber of deputies, renewed his call for reforms, perhaps mindful of regional elections coming up at the end of this month. So what’s the hold-up? The M5S was in government with Salvini’s Lega party when the security laws were approved last year. Though it has now switched coalition partners, it is reluctant to go back on its own policies. The PD had better keep pushing: the party’s identity and credibility in government is at stake.

Image: Shutterstock

Fashion / Paris

The shows must go on

Putting on, and getting to, a fashion show in Paris has been tricky recently. Strikes in the French capital are affecting every aspect of life in the city – including fashion, one of France’s most lucrative industries (it accounts for one million jobs and about €150bn a year in sales). This time last year, menswear shows were moved to avoid the gilet jaunes protests. And 2020’s Paris Fashion Week Men’s, which runs until Sunday, is taking place amid public-transport boycotts and gridlocked traffic. The French Fashion Federation has doubled the number of buses it usually provides to ferry editors, buyers and models between events, and some attendees are taking to electric scooters. Even so, designer Christophe Josse canned his show due to transport issues and overall attendance at smaller brands’ events will undoubtedly be down. Despite the chaos, Paris continues to lead the “big four” fashion weeks. This is largely due to the number of LVMH-owned brands that hold shows here: look out for Dior tonight and Loewe tomorrow.

Culture / Hong Kong

Back in print

The Hong Kong Art Book Fair returns for its second edition today at the Tai Kwun cultural centre and, as a result of recent protests in the city, interest in the event has grown. The number of exhibitors has risen by 30 per cent compared to last year’s event, partly because firms in Hong Kong have responded to a call for contributors. More than 80 artists and book publishers from as far afield as New York and Seoul are gathering for a weekend of exhibits, performances and talks. Aside from browsing the fair’s diverse selection of art books, visitors can attend talks and workshops on zine-making and bookbinding. It’s a special opportunity for Hong Kongers to immerse themselves in the art of publishing. “The younger generation of Hong Kongers are especially curious about zines and alternative ways of publishing,” says Tobias Berger, Tai Kwun’s head of art. “The protests have sparked a greater demand for it because of how important creative expression has become.”

M24 / The Urbanist

Small cities

They’re not for everyone but the best small cities can have life-enhancing advantages. Living in them isn’t only about space, comfort and affordability – but a more community-minded feel too.

Monocle Films / London

All around the table: deli dipping in London

Hanna Geller and Jeremy Coleman of Building Feasts take us on a tour around their favourite London food shops and pick up supplies on the way to put their effortless hosting skills into practice.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00