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Bewildered ramblings from a daft designer floundering at the deep end of the creative pool.

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You Had Me At Hello

/ Thoughts & Opinion

A few years ago now, I met Chris “can you turn the music down please” Liversidge in a marginally above average hipster-infused bar on the fringe of The New Town in Edinburgh. I had received a call from QueryClick the day before asking “are you a developer?” to which I answered “Well, no… Not really.” Regardless, we were set to meet.

Perched on a couple of hideously uncomfortable stools in the window of this bar like a couple of budgies for sale in a crap pet shop, we had a natter about business, while sipping on some mortgage-threateningly over-priced Swedish cider. Opportunities, failings, experience and whatnot. That, it turned out was my interview. QueryClick did not know what it was in for.

Four weeks later I turned up at 50 Albany Street and plonked myself down at a desk in a new office. The walls were a charming shade of smoker’s yellow, and there were just 8 of us. My first big job was to completely re-brand the company from the ground up. Doing that and defining the process that would become a blue-print for the work I could do for our existing and new clients made for exciting times.

That was the 18th October 2010. The 291st day of the year. Alaska Day (in America). The day Miss Vietnam World 2010 was nominated for Miss Earth. The day Typhoon Megi, the first super-typhoon of the 2010 Pacific typhoon season, made landfall in the Philippines. The day Burma banned all foreign media and international observers from the upcoming general election. The day American Olympic gold medallist LaShawn Merritt was suspended 21 months for doping and most importantly, Necktie Day in Croatia.


2 years, 7 months and 16 days have passed since then, and it’s time for me to move onwards and – at least geographically – upwards (more about that later). Here are some of the things that have happened in my time at QC.

I have lavishly drenched myself with around 350 litres of Red Bull and Relentless (imagine those classic Herbal Essences shampoo adverts and you’re close to the experience). That’s about three times the internal volume of our office beer fridge (which has sadly never had a can of Red Bull in it). I have also stuffed my shout-hole with around 80 kilograms of macaroni cheese. That’s almost my own body weight in awesomely cheesy pasta. “Feeding time at the zoo” has never been so calorific. Astonishingly I’m still alive.

Feeding-time aside, I’ve also managed to achieve a few things for QueryClick. The company has been re-branded from scratch and are on to the second iteration of the new site. The Edinburgh office (which now encompasses three separate office areas including a dungeon) is now a nice clean white with red feature walls. We have a shiny sign out front (although if the cleaners are reading this, can you give it a bit of a polish please?), swanky business cards, an empty beer fridge (hint hint) and an awesome yet horrifically under-appreciated red toaster. We have offices in Edinburgh, London and soon to be New York City. We’ve delivered some awesome websites for clients, completed some exciting emails and campaigns, and I’ve learned how to run a persona workshop, the importance of a detailed process document and how to get away with very sweary websites.

Thanks to QueryClick I discovered fairly sharp-ish that SEO isn’t all just a bunch of shower-dodging mouth-breathers sitting in dark offices scamming clients in to paying through the nose for dodgy inbound links. There are actually at least 8 people doing it well these days, and when done correctly, it can bring value to your site. I know…! Who’d have thought? Colour me impressed. That said, I’ve still to meet this “Roy” bloke that everyone keeps talking about. He seems to get all the glory.


According to most of the staff here at QC, my legacy is going to be one of grumpiness and frowns. I have no idea why. I’m pretty chipper, all things considered. People even laugh when I say that.

One thing I’m very happy with is that since starting at QC, I feel I’ve found my writing voice. Previous attempts at writing tended to come out like some self indulgent emotional school-boy LiveJournal entry, but after being let loose on the QC blog, I’ve managed to build up a relatively decent library of hate-posts. Classic original editions like “Why I Hate Instagram” and “QR Codes and Why They Suck” are still boasting some of the highest page-views on the QueryClick site. Luckily I’ve managed to do these two and a half years without having to write something boring and tedious about bloody Excel (I’ll leave that to Stu, Gill and Luke – keep it up guys, insomnia is still at large).


Not only happiness, but tolerance has been a big factor during my time at QueryClick.

Tolerance for those of us who seem to have been born in a barn, for a start. I’d probably get about 30% more work done if I didn’t have to close the door after everyone who walks into the dungeon office. Not only that, but those who do seem to be able to close the door can’t do it without slamming it. It’s one extreme to the other. I hope, for everyone’s sanity, that one day QueryClick will have automatic doors.

Tolerance for those who can’t seem to eat with their mouth closed. Thanks guys, I always enjoy hearing and seeing what you had for lunch WHILE you’re eating it. There’s nothing quite like the delightful slurping and chomping sounds when you’re trying to write a design brief.

Tolerance for those who can’t stop bloody coughing, or for those who like to come into work riddled with whatever the latest disease “going round” is. You know it’s “going round” because ill people like you keep coming into work, yeah?

Tolerance for dog farts. Oh Archie. I probably won’t miss you, or your distinctive flavour but you have matured in to something of a majestic beast. Your loyalty knows no bounds. Literally none.

Tolerance for other people’s AWFUL music taste. How did we manage to hire the only 15 people in Edinburgh who have absolutely zero taste in music? If BBC 6Music is the best you can come up with, there is literally no hope for humanity. I thought I’d be on to a winner with Chris, when I found out he loves hip hop, but there’s only so many times I can listen to Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” in a row man.


I’d like to take full credit for suggesting the social fund here at QueryClick. Without that, we’d have missed out on the worlds most uninspiring cocktail class (which was actually pretty fun, and worth it for free pizza and booze!). We’d have missed out on the world’s tamest white water rafting, where some of our more fragile members of staff still somehow managed to get hurt (The “SS Fat Bastard” I’m looking at you guys!). We’d have missed out on the opportunity to see just how bad everyone is at bowling and pool (eyes-closed bad) and we’d have missed out on the awesome social awkwardness of seeing all of your co-workers in their swimming gear at the bizarrely relaxing spa-day (mind you if I hear one more joke about facials, someone will be getting punched).

I can’t however, take credit for the pub. We do end up there from time to time, and there’s something rather liberating about getting a few pints closer to death and finding out your own sexual fantasies are nowhere near as odd as those of your co-workers.

Forgive me

It’s probably worth bowing out by asking for some forgiveness.

Michelle, forgive me for sounding so incredibly astonished when having to explain what “you had me at hello” meant. I thought most people knew about that. I probably over-reacted. The blog title’s for you.

Apologies to those nervous souls who didn’t realise I had the camera running while they were doing their test-run for the QC Tips videos, only to finish, ready to do the live take and be told “right, that’s us – got it”. I can only pull that trick once, but for the most part, it worked perfectly!

Apologies to any of the girls who caught an eye-full when I was wearing my jeans with the holes in them. It’s easy to forget there’s holes in the crotch when you’re sitting in the office, and to be fair, you probably enjoyed it. I have subsequently given those jeans away to a real male stripper.

Apologies to anybody who I offended at Luke’s wedding. Amongst the profanities and awkward discussions, I may have said some odd things. I will take care not to overdo the rum in future.

But apologies most of all for missing 2 weeks of work, when I turned in to the biggest pansy in the world and bailed on getting my flight back from New York City. Never have I felt more like a baby. I will say this though, if you’d seen how luxurious my 7-day and 7-night trans-Atlantic cruise on the QM2 was, you’d have all come along too. Me, you lot and 2000 people over the age of 60.

The soppy bit

So I guess amongst the purchase and consumption of a crate of 200 cream eggs, and the getting Photoshopped into a ginger and a wizard, and the making of pretty much the best piece of linkbait ever created, in the face of the haters ( I’ve done pretty well out of my time here at QueryClick.

I’ve worked with some awesome people (and some absolute idiots, mind) and I’ve worked with some cracking clients, on campaigns from small to large. I’ve made some new friends and probably some new enemies too, but it’s time for me to move on. Latvia, an ex-QueryClick copywriter, and a new life in Eastern Europe await me the other side of The Baltic Sea. It’s about time I had a new adventure.

This post was originally written for the QueryClick blog.

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Alex Cowles

About The Author: Alex Cowles

A largely cynical and often sarcastic designer and front-end developer by day. Unknown international DJ & music producer extraordinaire by night (and at weekends). You probably won't like him.