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Danny Wallace is a Man

Let me tell you the main problem with the display board industry.

Because I have two noisy children, it has become necessary to move Wallace Global International to an office down the road. And because of that, for the past few weeks I have thrilled you with tales of buying a new printer and an office chair with wheels, but believe me when I tell you I have saved the best for last.

“I think I need one of those office display screens that you get in offices,” I decide, and I jump online. I see a display screen with optional wheels, and you know how much I like wheels, so I shell out the extra and when it arrives it is exactly as you might imagine a moveable office display screen looks.

As far as I am concerned, that is the end of my business with Panel Warehouse, but then an email arrives. It says: “Good afternoon. I hope you are well and don’t mind me contacting you.”

I don’t! Who are you?

I am the marketing assistant here at Panel Warehouse, and it is my job to find out what our screens are being used for.

Someone really should have told this woman what they’re used for by now. “I was just wondering if you could take some time out of your busy schedule to tell me a bit about what you are using your screen for?

I am not sure this will be the best conversation either of us ever has.

In addition to this we would love to see some photographs of your screen in use to share on our website and social networking sites.” They want photographs of my screen? I click the URL and see that there is indeed an Office Screen Blog. “Cost-effective Display Boards Help Newly Established Business,” reads one post. “Linda from Mon Amour Stationery said she chose Panel Warehouse as, ‘I had looked at other cheaper display boards on the market but yours were far superior in quality and have the option of using Velcro one side or Blu-Tack on the other.’

There are loads of them: “Office Screens Double Up As Display Boards for College Open Evening”; “Panel Warehouse Helps Youth Club Open on Time.” Some of them have photos of people just milling around in front of display boards.

I realise I have absolutely nothing to say about my office display board. But a couple of days later, I get another email from Panel Warehouse. “Was just wondering if you got my last email at all?”

These guys are desperate for pictures of my office display board. They should really have taken some before they sent it. I start to feel like I owe them an explanation. They send questions. “What is the main use for the Office Screen?” they ask, adding: “You would be surprised at what different people use them for.”

“I bet I would!” I reply, but I bet I wouldn’t. “I use my Panel Warehouse screen for both work and play.” What am I talking about? I immediately run out of inspiration. Wait! What would Linda from Mon Amour Stationery say?

“The reversible nature of the board means in one swift movement I can go from pie charts and graphs to my own unique set of hobbies and interests.” I have never done this. I don’t need graphs. And what unique hobbies?

“The optional wheels on casters I shelled out for definitely make turning the board around a lot easier.” That’s true. Then I add: “Sometimes I also use it to block out sunshine, or to avoid the gaze of the two painters in the building opposite who seem to have been touching up those window frames for what seems an age now! Seriously, they’re incredibly slow.”

I don’t want to tell Cathy how to do her job, but I feel this touch of local colour might provide her with a good blog headline.

But then Cathy asks for photos again. “We would love to illustrate this on our website with a photograph of your screen in use.” I guess these days every industry needs to feel it’s keeping up; that it has a presence; that it’s getting feedback. So fine: I take a picture of the display board wheels. But that’s boring, and I don’t want to let down Cathy. So I quickly print out some graphs and pie-charts I find on the internet to make my display board look more professional. One is about recommended fruit consumption. One is simply marked ‘Number of Shoes’. Another says ‘Sales in Millions’.

display boards

But I should really show the reversible nature of the board, as that is what first attracted me to it. So I turn the board around. It looks so empty. What are my unique hobbies and interests? What will help the blog?

So I print out six large pictures of Prince Edward and pin them up underneath a large sign that reads ‘I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE’. In this photo, I am pointing at the optional display board wheels, as again – that was a key sales point for me.

display boards

“I attach a few photos of my office screen in use,” I reply.

It’s been a week now, and so far my feedback remains unpublished.

And that is the main problem with the display board industry.

Limping across the finish line

Danny 1

“I think we should call our shoes boutique ‘Olympia’, to denote athleticism!”

“Great. How do you spell that?”

“Well, definitely not in a way that would imply our shoes inhibit your ability to walk.”

Walk through this door… into the distant future


Nick South was in the Canadian city of Vancouver recently, which is like stepping into the future.The shops even have fully automatic doors there.

All you have to do to operate them is grab them and manually pull them open.