spacer
Pravda spacer Issue 8
Pravda - In the Pipeline
by Stephen Hull
spacer
For the naturally inquisitive the first question must be 'what', exactly, is in the pipeline? In a somewhat circular argument, the people at Phoenix Natural Gas would seem to believe that the future itself is 'in the pipeline'. I say circular because the expression in question is commonly used to suggest something imminent or emergent which sounds suspiciously like another way of referring to the future. For marketing purposes the arrival of the future is something which is always made expedient by a superior product. The phrase in question however contains no mention of any such arrival, referring merely to something being 'in' the pipeline and thus necessarily at a remove from any sense of either an entrance or an exit. This is a troubling image, redolent of something locked in an aimless subterranean existence.
spacer
The lead item on the front cover of this publication is a piece by Alastair Pollock - Retail Operations Director at Phoenix Natural Gas, in which he outlines the enormous growth potential which exists within the natural gas industry at present. A kind of after-word to this piece is then provided by Jim Tait - the editor in charge of the publication. Far from exercising any editorial hegemony Jim's role seems to be primarily to affirm that which Alastair has said. Alastair's confident assertion of the facts and figures contrasts sharply with Jim's simpering reiteration and his desire to nurture young talent: "I would urge installers to help spread this good news message and help steer young people in this worthwhile career direction". There is arguably a trace of some crude gender motif discernible in the photographs provided of these two individuals. Alastair manages to inject a degree of muscularity into his rectangular head and shoulders shot while Jim's maternal face beams from a little round frame as though he were peering through a ship's porthole. The bottom of the front page brings news that the Gas Proficiency Scheme has been extended to February of 2005 and is accompanied by a small photograph of a man in a boiler suit - a plumber presumably - leaning against what looks like an enormous credit card. It could be that the man is in fact very, very small. We just don't know.
spacer
The second page is given over to some plumber's tales, showcasing the careers of Gerry McManus and Andy Eastham. As corporate propaganda goes this section has been executed with a relatively light hand, proffering the maxim that modesty plus industriousness equals happiness.
spacer
spacer
Most surprising of all is page three which contains technical tips from Niven Bradford - a quality assurance officer with Phoenix Natural Gas. In this issue Niven deals with fitting a close-coupled open vent, while David Taylor provides advice on the installation of extended flues. Any opportunity to further the dissemination of technical expertise is not to be sneezed at but I couldn't help feeling that these tutorials were all dressed up with nowhere to go. Given the average life-span of this kind of promotional material, one can only imagine that most of the copies of In the Pipeline Issue 1 will have been despatched to the waste bin long before the expertise contained therein will have had a chance to be called upon.
spacer
Saving the ace card till last, the closing page introduces that most bourgeois of entities - the family business. The business in question is O. Miskelly & Son Plumbing & Heating Engineers. The piece is rather sketchy but suffice to say that families and the natural gas industry go hand in hand, so rest easy.
spacer
The ceaseless hankering after community which characterise publications such as this is suggestive of the corporation's desire to ultimately supplant conventional familial relationships as the dominant organisational matrix. Much like Jim Tait's use of metaphor as he solicits material for issue two, this desire has yet to produce anything other than surreal and ill-formed results: "One of life's greatest guardian angels, a Phoenix umbrella can be yours if you send us testimonials you have received from customers. Here are just some satisfied words addressed to installers..."
spacer
Pravda - In the Pipeline
spacer
spacer
home | information | issues | artists & writers | columns | reviews
spacer