Food for the Right Brain

I’m halfway through Clive James‘  latest book of memoirs, brilliantly titled “The Blaze of Obscurity”. Clive is one of the few writers who is able to get me to laugh out loud at the written word in public places.  I wish it were not so: I always rather envy those that can chuckle their way through their daily commute, but alas it’s a rare event for me.

I must share two images that he paints absolutely superbly, purely in the interest of spreading a little happiness and hoping that more of us might take a leaf out of his book, as it were.  Here goes.  I hope these two images get you the same way they got me: always dangerous to make one’s personal tastes too public, I guess, but I’m prepared to take the risk.

He’s describing Barbara Cartland, “The true Queen of Romance” according to Vogue Magazine, with 723 novels (and sales of over 1 billion) of love, romance, divorce and passion to her name.  She was the essence of pinkness, as her website will testify.  Here’s how he describes her:

“I wasn’t calling Barbara Cartland ugly when I said that the makeup so lavishly applied to the area of her eyes made them look like the corpses of two small crows that had flown into a chalk cliff.”

That, Clive, is one of the Right Brain images of the year as far as I’m concerned.

On the very same page he then goes on to talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom he describes thus:

“….when stripped for action he looked like a brown condom full of walnuts.

This type of description is so vivid, it wakes the brain up and creates an image which it is hard to dispel.  We should all use it more – it’s true brain fodder.  We can do it at work, where we are required to process Left Brain “stuff” at ever increasing speeds, none of which sticks, inspires, motivates or influences in the way Right Brain images can.

A quick example:  £1 trillion.  A big number?  But how big?  (Our banks currently have liabilities of £7 trillion, by the way.)  Here’s how big:  I’m told it would take 10 million tonnes of £1 coins, ie the weight of 32 supertankers.  Or it’s 2000 Securicor vans stuffed to the roof with £20 notes.

Wouldn’t life be a little easier, maybe more interesting, fun even, if we got more imagery into the way we communicate?  Oh, and whilst we’re at it, let’s do away with some of the insidious meaningless corporate-speak which is worming its way into our communication.  James Robertson from Atlantic Systems Guild prompted this comment with a recent moan on Facebook to the same end: he wants to see people locked up for “Going Forward” and “Delivering Customer Value”.  I would vote for “Leveraging the diversity” and “Value Proposition”, and would prefer to see miscreants condemned to a week of communicating only through pictures, dance, song or mime.  That should sort out their customer productivity interface and stick it where their diversity indices won’t be the only thing that will need leveraging.

Please vote here for your Business Speak criminals, and also spread some happiness with your favourite right  brain images.  The comments box is down below and also at the top of the Blog, next to the subscription options user interface.  Feel free to leverage your options.  Going forward, please do subscribe if this is your first customer intervention with my Blog.

About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at
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3 Responses to Food for the Right Brain

  1. Kate Evans says:

    Going forward – a pet hate of mine. Whatever happened to “in the future”?

    Also the use of “yourself” when people mean “you” and “myself” when they mean “me”. Can I have a chat with yourself?

    The best one we had at, erm, a well-known children’s TV channel, was “Kid Connectivity”. It’s not a word. My boss used to attend management meetings and shout “FULL HOUSE, well done guys” when he had crossed off all the stupid phrases he had written on his score card before he went into the meeting.


  2. I believe that anyone who writes (almost anything) should read Clive James. His prose is so wonderfully sparse. Many years ago he wrote a book called “Vroom, Vroom” and it contains zero superfluous words. This book is almost as good as a style manual.

    As to mental images, I hear wonderful ones and tend to forget them. The only ones that come to mind are frog in a blender, and a pig with lipstick.

    If the unreliable memory coughs up anything else I will post it.



    • James, here’s another one for you, from the same book:
      “I should never have compared Montserrat Caballe to the battleship “Missouri”……When I said Andrea Jaeger had a smile like a car crash I was referring to the braces on her teeth.”



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