Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Shiney Things For Idiots

Hay made a Freudian slip yesterday and came up with the excellent word “bollotics”, which we defined as politics of a particularly bollocky and bull shitty nature. She came out with it while listening to a radio interview with William Hague, who she thinks sounds as if he’s trying to convince himself, rather than those to whom he’s speaking.

Now for my trip to Greece.

Do you, like me, feel there simply aren’t enough Harrods shops in our airports these days? I’m not sure about you, but the first thing I want to do after transiting airport security (besides having a pee, a coffee and a sandwich) is to spend shedloads of hard earned money on expensive and intrinsically worthless crap. The operators of Heathrow Terminal 5 have addressed this woeful situation by providing not one, but two Harrods shops.

I had a scout around in the duty free and was gratified to discover I could obtain a 70cl bottle of Gordon’s gin for about £2 more than in my local Co-Op.

Once I’d boarded the plane I had a quick scan of the British Airways magazine to see what films I could expect to watch on the 4 hour flight and was overjoyed to see a veritable plethora of cinematographic delights on the 12 or so available channels. However, when I looked at the back of the seat in front of me, I suddenly realised that there was no personal entertainment system – it was an old 767 with just a single screen for all passengers.

I then had a bet with myself and selected what I thought would be the most boring film and sat back to await the announcement of which film would be playing. Bingo – I was psychic! OK, it wasn’t boring, but it was certainly the one I thought would be the most boring.

To while away the hours I decided to partake in one of my favourite in-flight past-times, scrutinising expensive shit in the duty free magazine. Time was when expensive things were made of expensive materials; these days that rule has been broken by the marketing people and expensive stuff is also made of crap that looks as it if will fall to pieces within a pico-second of purchase.

Just for a minute, let’s look at something of intrinsic worth - gold. Now gold is said to hold its price due to its rarity. However, given gold has been mined since prehistoric times, the amount of gold in circulation has increased, meaning it should be dropping in price year-on-year. Counter-intuitively it continues to increase in price – but that is due to the yardstick by which we measure its worth becoming worthless – i.e. money.

Let’s look for a minute at house prices. It surely can’t be right that a house which costs £X to build can cost 3 x £X when sold on. This discrepancy is due to what we experts call ‘the market’, which is a mechanism that restricts supply (or increases rarity) so as to maximise profit. It is illusory and can be destroyed at the whim of a government that decides the tax payer will subsidise housing costs (see yesterday’s post).

Anyway, back to shoddy goods designed to relieve the wealthy and weak minded of their money.

In my youth, Lambretta was a name synonymous with parka coats, short haircuts, oily 2 stroke scooters and soul music; these days it’s a name associated with high fashion. Lambretta now aligns its name to a shoddy £60 watch. What the connection is between Lambretta and watches is beyond me. Possibly they're going after the 50-something nostalgia market.

Now for The Oregon I Balance Bangle: “Wear this stylish bangle and benefit your health. Negative ions may help raise the alkaline levels in your body, neutralising harmful acidic toxins and thereby facilitating blood circulation, enhancing metabolism and soothing fatigued muscles.” Price £45.

Note the weasel-word “may”. Marketing people use this word in the manner demonstrated in the following sentence; “You may become a billionaire by midnight tonight.” See what I mean? What the word “may” means in marketing-speak is, “never in a billion, billion years - not even in the multiverse where all possibly combinations of time and matter exist simultaneously, but we have to use it to prevent us being sued for making unsubstantiated claims”.

Next comes marketing maths, as in the description of the following trinket – the SpyPen – which can record sound “within a 5 metre squared radius”. We experts with an O level (or even an 11 Plus pass) know that radius is a linear measurement, not one of area.

I then decided to partake of the chargrilled pieces of chicken in a creamy coconut Thai red curry sauce served with rice (contains fish and shellfish!).

On my arrival at Athens airport, I discovered that the shouted phrase: “Let me through, I’m British,” no longer cuts any ice at the immigration queue.


  1. You would make a delightful travelling companion CB. We could be transported along on a tsunami made up of the milk of human kindness and good cheer.

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