“You’re getting off at Ravenscourt Park for Bite Communications” – Jonny Blair (2007).
Whether the high flying life of London city and the world of PR was for me or not is history’s garbage tin. It was 15 years ago this month, I softly slipped away from the world of office work and the bright lights of the city. June 2007 is when I left London behind. I really lived and worked in London. I really did PR for Apple, Sonos, Iomega, Yahoo, CPP and Zopa. That’s all gone. It was all fun and for sure was a pivotal point in my life’s cannon.
“He got the action, he got the motion. Hand me down my walking shoes” – Mark Knopfler.
PR standigates for Public Relations, hey here in London Town, it’s not Proportional Representation…there was no time to be once again that dissident Ulster Unionist in a 1997ly wacaday world. I worked for the trendy PR firm Bite Communications.
“In the blink of a young girl’s eye, glory days” – Bruce.
It was always a dream to live in London. I loved the thrill of it all. Tube station travel is an experience in itself especially for a quiet city boy from Bangor on the Northern Irish seaside. It was 15 years ago this month, June 2007 that I told the managers at Bite Communications that I would be leaving the job to backpack the world and finally complete my degree. I managed to do both, eventually.
Before that adventure, so 15 years ago today –
– I had NEVER been further east than Warszawa in Poland.
– I had NEVER been further south than The Mediterranean Sea.
– I had NEVER been further north than Glasgow in Scotland.
– I had NEVER been further west than Orlando in USA.
“Go west, life is peaceful there / 1-0 in yer cup final” – Pet Shop Boys.
Then my best mate Millwall Neil (“the famous”) decided to go and work in the USA and he had a leaving party. The theme of that leaving party was Stateside – USA vibe. The same week, I booked a cheap flight to Toronto for £99 at the time – Canadian Affair had a special offer. My plan was to backpack Canada, USA and then…well I wasn’t sure!
At that point in my life, I was a novice traveller that had been to a grand total of 19 countries, at the time the most recent of those was actually Liechtenstein (I visited in March 2007 to watch Northern Ireland). It’s staggering to think that since that day, 15 years later, I have now been to over 200 countries that I recognise, over 150 of them have FIFA football teams. Wee Beef Island/British Virgin Islands smiled its way into number 200.
“When there’s no coverage due, you’ve got to find more. They’re looking at you. All the journalists you’ve called, trying to secure front page of The Times. Front Page of The Times” – Jonny Blair via Robbie Williams
My last day in Bite was memorable as every Bite leaver is given dares/tasks to do on their last day for fun. I completed all 8 dares assigned to me by the bosses – becoming the first person in company history to do that. And I did it with aplomb too. I showed my ass to the whole company from the boardroom, I took a shower and walked back to my desk with only a towel on and a can of beer in my hand during work. I was hoping one of the girls (like Rhi, Sally Plant or Andrea Christopherson) would pull the towel off, but they were too shy. I also had to make an announcement over the tannoy system, email the whole company to say I was in the bogside doing a shite and a few other dares…
In the last hour of working there, the entire office crowded unexpectedly around my desk and got into a speech to talk to me and wish me a fond farewell. It was one of the most emotional moments of my entire life. They had liked me there and I was shocked. But I was off out to see the world and to this day, I haven’t been back to an “office job” since. In that time, I worked as a teacher, tutor, app designer, author, writer, blogger, editor, copywriter, farmer, barman, PR rep, welcome host, ferry steward, waiter amongst other jobs. Here are some photo memories from my time at Bite Communications.
When I worked at Bite, we were listed in the UK’s top 100 companies. Some prestige. I also got to attend some special events such as Apple launches and the Shiny Shiny parties.
Working at Bite was meant to be – it was a signal and another of my life’s “fool circles”. Basically exactly 10 years earlier, I had been studying Journalism and Radio Techniqies at Belvoir Tech in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Belvoir is pronounced “Beavor” and guess what – Bite was located on “Beavor Lane”!
My football club in Belfast, Glentoran also had a supporters club called Raven GSC and my Dad Joe, grew up on Glentoran Street off the Ravenhill Road.
The below photo was actually taken in 2015, 8 years after I left Bite and 8 days before I landed in Tunisia – my 100th country! It was a coincidence as I met up with Charlottle Hurst by accident in Ravenscourt Park. Charlotte had worked with me in Steenson’s Meat Counter in my home city, Bangor. Later I also met up with Zara Steele who once worked opposite that shop and on this night, it was 17th March 2015 and Saint Patrick’s night. Zara and I met in Hammersmith – the stop down from Ravi C P – Ravenscourt Park!
From my desk on the final day, I played two songs to the company – I had doctored the lyrics to these classic to reflect life at Bite –
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication (became Red Hot Media Sellers – Bite Communications)
Robbie Williams – A Love Supreme (became Jonny Blair – Front Page of The Times)
You might only get this, or find it funny if you have been a PR agent in London –
There was love on many corners too, but a weekend away with Liza was only that…
“Jonny, you put a lot in to life. Don’t ever lose that passion for life, it is truly inspired” – Katy Cook.