Friday, 20 April 2018

Long campaign to fight for the right to spell things wrong

EVERYONE loves a David and Goliath tale, and in the case of comedian Dave Griffiths his Goliath is fashion giant

EVERYONE loves a David and Goliath tale, and in the case of comedian Dave Griffiths his Goliath is fashion giant French Connection. He’s been firing slingshots at them now for 13 years.

The 44-year-old from Peppard has written a comedy show based on his fight, C U In Court, which is now showing at the Edinburgh Festival and previewed at the Rowbarge in Henley’s West Street in July.

He said: “I saw the first French Connection FCUK billboard back in 2000, and that day I came up with the idea of making a T-shirt. It had “King CNUT” on the front — which is the Danish spelling for the English King Canute — and “French Correction” on the back. I wore it to a gig I did at the Comedy Store in Leicester Square. Someone from French Connection was in the audience, and a week later I received a letter with a threat of an injunction not to wear the T shirt, and a threat of criminal procedings.

“The letter was from Davenport Lyons, one of the biggest legal companies in the world. I was worried. But I was also a bit indignant that they believed they owned every word that was spelt wrong.”

The flame was alight. The former Henley College pupil launched into a battle against the company, and claiming that French Connection themselves were infringing the copyrights of other companies he started to approach them all — Ford, Pepsi, Mars, IBM and Dunkin’ Donuts, to name but a few.

He said: “Out of the kindness of my heart I phoned Ford head office in Brentwood and asked to speak to the trademark department. I have recorded all my conversations. I have 50 to 60 hours of conversations with different companies. And I’m still going. It has taken over my life.”

Griffiths says he has always “fought injustice”. He won a police bravery award in 1992 after rugby-tackling a burglar to the ground at the corner of Hart Street and Bell Street and making a citizen’s arrest. The burglar had stolen £25,000 from the safe of AT Mays, the travel agent where he worked, which was next door to WH Smith.

He says: “The Edinburgh show is all about hypocrisy. I’m always putting myself in there to protect other people, whether it’s bullying at school or getting the bravery award. I will stand up for what I believe is unbelievable hypocrisy.”

Meanwhile, he says that ironically he’s probably one of French Connection’s best customers, having bought about 60 T-shirts to examine their logos. And he’s also launched his own CNUT T-shirt range which helps to fill the coffers, since it’s a hard life being a lone campaigner and trying to make a bob or two as a stand-up comedian.

Later this year, he’ll be back in Henley to take part in the town’s Living Advent Calendar.

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