At one of the London Undergound stations, maybe Knightsbridge, across the tracks from the platform, a huge sign advertized the famous bookshop Foyles. That poster stuck out in the midst of countless images of handsome men and glamorous women sporting very white teeth, coiffed hair, and heaving bosoms promoting whiskey or airlines or movies.
The Foyles ad (or advert as the Brits would say) was about gift buying – more text than image – two fat paragraphs and the image of a row of books against a green background.
You could read some of the titles: Donna Tartt’s new book “The Goldfinch,” a Bill Bryson book “One Summer,” a book with a title, “Demon Dentist,” I didn’t want to consider too carefully. Something by Neil Gaiman, “The Circle” by Dave Eggers, and “Sounds Like London,” which I am curious about. Appropriately, the front cover of the last book reads: “The Novel Cure.”
The poster pushes books, of course, but the fat paragraphs discuss the giving of socks as a gift, and offers “interesting things you ought to know about socks.” (Somebody clever at Foyles – or its ad agency – had a really good time.)
“No sock groups meet on a Tuesday night over wine and nibbles,” “A sock has never been turned into an Oscar-winning film.” “The greatest minds in history have not expressed the contents of their heads and souls in a sock, nor do you recognize your own life in a sock.” “You don’t place socks on your coffee table to impress your guests.” There are many more. “You do not think about a sock long after, perhaps even years after, you’ve put it down.”
All these familiar and well-known phrases turned on their heads (or heels). Just under the row of books, it takes you a minute to catch on, is the cliché most associated with gift giving.
At first glance it says: “It’s the thought that counts.” But it doesn’t say that, it’s talking about why we cherish books beyond all the sock-suggested reasons. A red strike-through eliminates the “the,” so it reads: “It’s thought that counts.”