On Saturday I went out getting some attention to fight a pub that wants to be open all hours opposite my flat. Easy enough to do, went round and knocked on a few doors and persuaded some neighbours to write in.
Nobody agreed that an open all hours pub was a good idea. But nobody had planned to do anything about it. Why?
Islington Council sent out a letter, which I thought read ok. It said up front what the letter was about and had all the information I needed about what I could do, by when, and how to find out more. So why didn’t my neighbours know this already?
Coincidentally, I also overheard a bunch of (probably) Guardian hacks, mocking the phrase ‘visual appearance’. Context-free but I’d lay odds they were referring to some official communication, like the one I received from the council.
I think one reason council letter didn’t work* because it had too many words in it. The information we needed was buried like bad news in stuff – like the name of the relevant law – that was only important to the writer. Words are a bit like pebbles. Put a few together and each stands out. Add more, and you’ve got pebbledash.
*Let’s be generous and assume the letter was intended to alert residents as to what was being planned. And that the person on the phone, who told me that he’d hand delivered the copy I never received, wasn’t lying.