Sunday, May 31, 2009

From the date of Creation



A village in the north of the county. This is the Old Manor House. Note the date on the gable Anno Mundi 5710 - this is 1706 according to Dr Usher's calculation from the date of Creation (the crazy old man).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The past week at work

Tuesday

Returning after the weekend I had no inclination to do any work. It was a very quiet day, and I spent most of the time in my office. Andrea (my immediate boss) spent most of the day in her office, occasionally emerging to ask why things had not been done (admin assistants Louise and Denise are getting very slack as the time nears for them to leave). Duncan's behaviour is becoming obnoxious in a juvenile sort of way, and Andrea cannot stand having him in the same room. Neil (graphic designer) doesn't seem to be doing any work at all. Chris (our part-time Accounts person) came in and we talked a little about the Expenses Scandal ("how can they get away with these things?" she asked, bemused at the sums of money involved).

In the afternoon the ad for the architectural practice was finalised - when it came down from the studio I thought it was not as creative as it could have been, but at such speed the client can hardly complain. Andrea must have complained about the admin assistants as Terry (our MD) came down on the war-path and intended to ask Denise to leave at 5 o'clock, although he later relented. When I went to Terry's office later he talked candidly about the agency and asked my advice about the "heavyweight" he plans to bring in (I hate being implicated in all this).

Wednesday

As a team we processed ads without enthusiasm (the usual retail stuff).

Andrea came in with sandwiches and chocolate and asked me to share her lunch.

"You've never bought me anything" she said with mock accusation.

"If I did I would just be added to your list of gullible men" I told her (but I made her a cup of tea).

Thursday

When I arrived this morning I found that Terry had dismissed Louise and Denise at five o'clock yesterday (apparently they had been called up to his office then escorted from the building).

A crisis with an ad that has gone wrong - we offered to run it again at our expense, so the rest of the day was spent calling in favours to minimise the cost.

Terry told me he had appointed a "Head" of the agency, and had informed Andrea. I am to report directly to this new Head instead of to Andrea. When I talked to Andrea about this she was subdued (it must be humiliating for her).

Lots of interviews for the new admin assistant. We have had over a hundred applications for the post. I interviewed a young woman called Carol, but mostly the interviews were carried out by Andrea and Patricia (Terry's PA).

In the afternoon we thought a client was going to call and hurriedly tidied the place up, but it was a false alarm.

Friday

I had to get up at an outlandish hour so I could be at the agency by 8am for a meeting with a potential new client. The meeting went well and we were given some trial ads to do. Afterwards I felt very down - possibly because I was so tired.

Terry told me the new Head of the agency would be visiting next week on Wednesday and formally starting on Friday.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Fog of Games



Above: the lecture at the LSE.

Last night I went to a very interesting public lecture at the London School of Economics.

Entitled The Fog of Games: Legacy, Land Grabs and Liberty - Reporting the London Olympics the two speakers (film maker Mark Saunders and photographer/writer Martin Slavin) talked about the negative impact the Olympic Games is having on the East End, including destruction of the beautiful Lee valley and its wildlife (this environmental impact will be permanent - the landscape will never recover its original beauty).

"In the press the story has been about the fantastic transformation of the East End, but academic studies have begun to highlight significant negative impacts... Our own government in 2002 produced a document called Game Plan which identified five categories of benefits and said they would be more about celebration than economic benefit... It represents strategic misrepresentation by politicians seeking to appropriate scarce resources..."

"How did London win the Olympics? They were a reward for participation in the war on terror... The IOC is among the world's least accountable organisations, non-representative and insular... The IOC doesn't pay tax anywhere in the world..."

"The benefits so far announced have been double accounted - they were going to happen anyway... We're not looking at any meaningful green legacy, just golf-course style development that looks nice but isn't really green... The speed of the approaching deadlines overwhelms the planning process..."

"The Olympics is a television event not a sporting event - in Australia during the Olympics television-watching rocketed and never dipped down again..."

Big Brother tactics: "Use of anti-terror laws will be stepped up during the Olympics, for instance to log onto the site for the Cultural Olympiad you have to tick a box saying you will behave in a certain way..."

Seemingly unaccountable individuals running the 2012 Olympics: Dennis Hone - "it's a huge area, it's an important part of London, and this guy is making up policy on the hoof"; Ray O'Rourke - "he is at the centre of control of every single contract, a massive transfer of public money into private hands"; mystery sponsor Atos Origin needs investigating.

Population issues: "the people being moved off this site will not be moved back... thousands of volunteers will put themselves forward and Atos Origin will benefit from this free labour... there is a big scandal over the payment of living wages to all those who are working on the Olympics..."

More: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/LSEPublicLecturesAndEvents/events/2009/20090312t0857z001.htm

More: http://www.gamesmonitor.org.uk/

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Robin Hood



Above: Occasionally I have been watching the BBC dramatisation Robin Hood, starring Jonas Armstrong and produced by Dominic Minghella. Although aimed at children, it works as a drama within its own terms (which do not include historical veracity). The dialogue is bad, the plots are far-fetched, the authenticity is poor - and yet it works (although occasionally there is an element of the knights who say ni).



Above: the inclusion of a black character in the third series led to accusations of political correctness and political re-education. There has been a number of these highly suspect (and clunky) attempts to rewrite historical narrative to support modern political policy. I would like to know who is funding the Francis Pryor revisionist documentaries that very persuasively argue that the Anglo-Saxons never existed (persuasive until you realise that the spoken language completely changed in the fourth century, evidence that the population had completely changed).



Above: the most recent versions of the Robin Hood legends locates them in Nottinghamshire, but in reality there were probably many "outlaw" gangs throughout the country, and over a period of time these coalesced into the archetypal "Robin Hood" we know today.



Above: Ronald Hutton has tracked the performance of Robin Hood folk plays in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. They show that awareness of the Robin Hood legends was very widespread, and this reinforces the idea that there was more than one "Robin Hood". Sir James Frazer identified Robin Hood with the fertility figure Jack-in-the-Green.



Above: Robin Hood plays have remained popular throughout history - the scene you can see above is from a local play in the 1950s and shows Robin Hood and Maid Marion.



Above: the Robin Hood character still figures in modern pageants, plays and parades.



Above: this pub supposedly has connections with a local version of the legend, although it might be just a marketing invention by the landlord.



Above: the Robin Hood legends include references to a massive hollow oak tree which acted as the outlaws' headquarters. This oak tree is the largest in the county, and fits the description. It is on a local farm.



Above: this is a photo of an old photo which shows the oak tree in Victorian times when a door was fitted to the entrance and the hollow interior was used as a dining room.



Above: to sum up, the Robin Hood legends are a ubiquitous strand of national folklore, continually developing and transmuting into different mediums (folk tale, printed book, television, film, Youtube etc). Possibly they represent a longing to escape the restrictions of urban life and return to the primeval forest life of our ancestors. The United Kingdom has lost much of its broadleaf woods and forests since the Second World War - a situation the Woodland Trust is trying to redress.

More on the series: http://www.bbc.co.uk/robinhood/

Saturday, May 23, 2009

We talked about the Expenses Scandal - the past week at work

Monday

This morning in the office the cistern in the loo began flooding, Louise (admin) failed to turn up, and the fax machine stop working (but who uses faxes these days?).

Milson, the IT client, caused problems most of the day. Andrea managed to get very grudging approval of the reworked designs, and we dropped in the client's rewritten (and dreadful) version of the copy. It was proving to be one of those campaigns where everything seems to go wrong.

David T rang to talk about the Expenses Scandal.

Andrea asked me who my ideal woman would be, and I told her "A mixture of Sally Wagner-Watson and Rebecca Carter" (knowing both women are detested by Andrea).

In the evening I went to the educational charity where I do voluntary work. Only the committee was in the building (we could have ransacked the place and no-one would have stopped us). We talked through the various clauses of the International Constitution and prepared for the conference in Ottawa.

Tuesday

Not a great deal of work to do.

Andrea talked at length about her boyfriend Chris and his latest 'phone call. She had sent him a letter telling him not to call her. I told her to send him a text telling him to destroy the letter unopened.

Every time Terry (our MD) came into my room I was reading the newspaper.

Creatively it was an interesting day, with some interesting briefs coming in, although none of them add up to much financially.

Lynn (one of the upstairs admin staff who has been with the agency since day one) handed in her notice. Terry was in mysterious interviews most of the day. A rumour spread around that the agency was up for sale.

Small client Botell finally approved their ad - a superfluous act since I had already sent it to the publication.

I went out at lunchtime and looked round various shops, and when the hour was up I half-seriously thought about not going back.

The afternoon was much like the morning. I sat at my desk which was covered with paper, none of it particularly urgent. I asked Duncan if he wanted to be the Account Executive for a small client that had come in - he was delighted.

Wednesday

Nothing to do in the morning, so I read the Times Literary Supplement and did some of the paperwork for the Ottawa conference (I am not going myself, but I have been saddled with most of the administration).

Andrea went off to a networking lunch ("I would say enjoy yourself, except that I know that you won't" I told her). I joined Terry for lunch upstairs. We talked about the Expenses Scandal.

Nothing much to do in the afternoon - this idleness can't go on.

Thursday

Another morning with no work to do. I spent most of the time arranging aspects of the Ottawa conference. A very tedious phone call (to do with constitutional issues) from a colleague on the committee of the educational charity.

The Milson ad finally appeared, and even in its truncated and reduced state it looked magnificent. We got the go-ahead to do some PR around the campaign. When I went upstairs lots of people complimented me on the ad (as if I had done the work!).

Friday

In the morning I went with Rachel (PR account executive upstairs) to see one of her clients who wants to do some advertising. He was bespectacled and wearing jeans, and had the sort of obnoxious manner that indicated he would be a difficult client. I showed him some examples of our work and he described the Milson ad as "something that has fallen off a Christmas tree".

On the way back we stopped at Rachel's flat in Maida Vale for coffee and she showed me her photograph album.

Then to Cavendish Square and a meeting with our architectural client - they just tell us broadly what they want then leave us to get on with it.

Back to the office where everyone was winding down for the long weekend (it is a bank holiday on Monday).

On the train home a couple in the seats behind me were talking about the Expenses Scandal.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ascension Day



Yesterday was Ascension Day. In the evening I drove out into flat lands for an eclectic service at a lonely Methodist chapel - one of those mysterious chapels you see in the middle of nowhere (railings and a tiny space of gravel, a row of purple irises, two mature poplar trees providing shadows in the warm breeze). The evening sunshine was tremendous, beaconing across the flat landscape in vast billowing shafts of creamy coloured light.

The building was 1930s gothic. Inside was a carpeted hall painted in pastel colours, big displays of spring flowers, gothic windows filled with clear leaded glass (with some bits of coloured art deco). The wooden chairs were modern and comfortable, facing towards the polished dark wood of the gothic podium.

About thirty people were present.

The service was led by an Anglican nun from the Sisters of Mercy (located on a remote island community about five hundred miles away - reference was made to the long journey she had made to get to the service). "Heaven is all around us" she said. "The life of Heaven is going on here and now, in the Church and within ourselves, and there is no separation between Earth and Heaven - we can reach out and touch Heaven now..."

Talks, meditations, contemplation of the Early Desert Fathers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Prime Minister's Questions, 20th May 2009



Above: St Stephen's Tavern (on the left). Just across the road from the Houses of Parliament. When I first joined the agency I was warned about Terry (our MD): "...and don't whatever you do get him started on what he said to Sir Ronald Bell in the dive bar of St Stephen's Tavern back in seventy-eight..."

A very hurried lunch today, but I went up to the Board Room to join Terry watching Prime Minister's Questions on BBC2.

The bench behind the Prime Minister looked far too cramped, with a sort of jostling and elbowing going on ("there's far too many MPs" said Terry). Gordon Brown read out the latest casualties in Afghanistan but saved his sincere tones for valedictory praise of the Speaker (who announced his resignation yesterday). As the Prime Minister addressed the Speaker's chair it seemed like one lost cause saluting another.

The Prime Minister looked very ill at ease in this session. He made an unfortunate slip about the post office losing millions of letters. He meant losing the business, but it sounded as if the Royal Mail had actually lost that number of items, leading to guffaws of unkind laughter from the Opposition (just to one side of the Prime Minister we could see Harriet Harman narrow her eyes, as if willing him to get a grip).

David Cameron asked again and again when there would be a General Election. Gordon Brown should have been better prepared for this onslaught. Even the most junior PR on our top floor could have predicted these questions and come up with some lines.

One Labour backbench MP referred to those brave British soldiers who "died in the cause of Afghanistan" which made me wonder what exactly is "the cause" that must be mentioned so obliquely.

Conservative Stewart Jackson stood up to talk about fairness and equality in the cause of grandparent's rights ("surprised he has the nerve to show his face" said Terry - Stewart Jackson was disgraced in the on-going expenses scandal).

Labour's Keith Vaz got up to point his finger righteously over the issue of human trafficking. On the bench behind Diane Abbott MP had a worried look on her face, as if concerned for him. Mr Vaz was wearing a lime green tie, and I wondered idly whether it was silk, and if so whether we had paid for it (Keith Vaz had used taxpayers' money to buy luxurious silk cushions for his second home - there is no mention on Google of this money being paid back).

An excellent question on the building of a high speed rail network.

An interesting question by Martin Linton on the Citizen's Convention (but who would trust this lot to "reform" the constitution - they would only gerrymander the whole process to suit themselves).

But mostly I thought how unimportant and irrelevant all this was. I used to look forward to Prime Minister's Questions each week. Now I just felt what a charade it all is.

Disgusting people (most of them, but not all).



Above: have just watched the start of Newsnight. A Conservative MP has been forced to "stand down" because he has spent £2,000 of taxpayers' money on an in-lake "duck house". There was some debate about what a duck house might look like. One of our neighbours has a lake duck house which I photographed recently (see above). It seems a reasonable use of tax payers' money, although it should be expenditure authorised by the Department of Environment rather than the House of Commons Fees Office. An in-lake duck house keeps the ducks safe from foxes, which is reasonable.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Le goût Westminster



Above: one of the farmers in a neighbouring village has a moat - it is actually quite expensive to keep up and causes them a lot of worry.

Overwhelmed with work, I have been averaging less than five hours sleep per night for the past three weeks. I have had to let this and my other websites languish. I am so tired I have started experiencing "aura attacks" (flashing lights in my vision) which are supposed to predict migraine attacks, although thankfully the headaches when they come are very mild.

I have, however, been keeping up with the Great Expenses Scandal (I feel the capitalisation is justified) and recording my impressions of the unfolding disaster / tragedy / farce / debacle / nemesis / götterdämmerung.

There have been suspensions from the Labour party. A Cabinet minister has resigned. David Cameron has threatened his parliamentary party.

Today The Speaker of the House of Commons announced he was standing down (an unprecedented development).

Today also Douglas Hogg MP (at the centre of the moat-cleaning row) announced he was standing down (as a taxpayer I am fairly neutral about moat cleaning, but I do not want to pay for trouser presses and silken cushions).

If I had time I would like to do an analysis of what the expenses claims reveals collectively about the style of the British political class (le goût Westminster in a homage to le goût Rothschild "a suffocatingly glamorous style of living whose decorative elements include neo-Renaissance palaces, extravagant use of velvet and gilding, a sense of Victorian horror vacui, and masterworks of art").

But there is never any time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

For a beano it's a fair old treat



Above: during the recent bank holiday I dropped into a concert given for charity by a Pearly King and Queen. The audience was elderly. The format was a sing-song including Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner, the Lambeth Walk and London Pride Has Been Handed Down To Us.

Not being an extrovert I had been dreading the singsong aspect of this concert, but actually it went well. The audience really enjoyed themselves in a knees-up-mother-brown sort of way. I meant to just stay long enough to take some photographs, but was so interested I stayed until the end.

There is a Pearly King and Queen for every London borough. The tradition started in the mid-nineteenth century when a dirt poor teenage crossing sweeper began collecting the mother-of-pearl buttons he found in the gutter and sewing them on his clothes. This developed a youth fashion of the time, and young people wearing this fashion were known as "flash" (giving rise to the term Flash Harry).

Because these pearly outfits attracted attention they were adopted by costermongers (possibly as a marketing device?). In turn, the costermongers became involved in raising money for charity, and set up the network of Pearly Kings and Queens in each borough. Permission to use the royal titles was given by Queen Victoria in recognition of their charitable work.



Above: I was interested in this ad for the White Stripes as it gives an indication of how the original flash fashion would have looked.

The White Strips did this ad for Coke: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9zgT3WzTVA&feature=related



Above: unlike most youth fashions the pearly style has persisted. It is now seen as an aspect of London culture and heritage. This illustration of the Mayor of London portrays him as a Pearly King, and appeared in the Daily Mirror.

The survival of the Pearly Kings and Queens is a living link to working class culture of a hundred and fifty years ago, and reminds me of the early Underground posters portraying this vanished world - see For a beano it's a fair old treat: ://www.ltmcollection.org/posters/poster/poster.html?_IXMAXHITS_=1&IXinv=1983/4/319&IXsummary=results/results&IXsearch=hampstead&_IXFIRST_=15&IXenlarge=0157-54

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

For decades they have colluded amongst themselves

A sort of PR campaign seems to have started to justify the expenses claimed by MPs (not sure whether this campaign is spontaneous or organised).

On the Today programme this morning two MP's wives appeared, indignantly defending the fact that they are obliged to maintain two homes. Ann Widdiecombe also contributed to the debate, using a tone of voice that indicated she wanted to knock some heads together. A couple of days ago Stephen Fry, in what appeared to be a particularly insensitive let-them-eat-cake pronouncement, wondered what all the fuss was about since "everyone" was claiming spectacular amounts of expenses ("I do it, you do it, YOU do it" he accused directly into the camera).

Do the political elite (using elite in its widest establishment meaning) still not grasp the underlying message of this situation?

The ordinary public resents the claims of their "representatives" because they do not think these "representatives" are worth the money being paid to them.

No appeals for reason over the issue of second homes are going to get a sympathetic hearing. No faux-outraged hissy fits by heavyweight thespians are going to assuage the popular mood. No honest-brokering by a battleaxe-laureate is going to have the slightest effect in calming the clamouring mob.

Members of Parliament have been cast in the balance and found wanting.

For decades they have colluded amongst themselves to ignore the people they are meant to "represent" (ignoring them over the big issues and over the little issues) and have repeatedly imposed their will on the majority as if they were a ruling caste of Brahmins rather than representatives and conduits of the people they are supposed to represent.

By maintaining an unspoken "common purpose" the main parties have managed to subvert the political process under the impression that if they all say and do more or less the same thing as a political class they will go on forever "managing" the people in a turn-and-turnabout self-perpetuating regime.

This expenses debacle is an early warning that "common purpose" is not tenable when it ignores the popular mood (however uncomfortable the popular mood may be).

If you refuse to represent us, the people are saying, we will refuse to pay you.

The next logical step (and I hope I am not overstating this) is revolution.

Not sure how "conspiratorial" this is, but it does cause me some concern: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7929210.stm

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Who's your favourite member of Westlife?



Proof of the dumbing-down influence of Rupert Murdoch's evil empire was provided by the April issue of Sky magazine. Weighty political editor and PMQ's interpreter Adam Boulton was interviewed in a gushing style more suitable to the now-defunct Smash Hits. As I read the interview I kept expecting Adam Boulton to be asked: Who's your favourite member of Westlife?

The interview reminded me of the Prime Minister's press conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOHkjFPhCio

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vazian



Yesterday I was at a remote village on top of the internal cliff that runs through the county.

After Holy Communion, when everyone had gone for coffee, I went up into the gallery at the west end. This gallery had been used in the 18th century by the "band" (fiddles, flutes etc) that played music at church services. Then in the 19th century the church purchased an organ and the band was ceased (Hardy writes about this in Under The Greenwood Tree).

The lord of the manor moved up into the gallery and turned it into a family pew, which function it still performs today. You can see it has been decorated with red plush in the manner of an opera box. A fireplace has been put in. The volumes you can see are the family's prayer books. There is a table for refreshments. The family's Coronation chairs have been put up there in an absent-minded grand gesture.

I sat on one of the Coronation chairs and thought of the expenses row currently convulsing Westminster.

I have often noticed that genuine aristocracy inhabit environments that are shabby and threadbare, whereas the nouveau riche strive for a perfection of appearance that (by trying too hard) usually betrays their social ambitions.

Can you imagine the opulence with which Keith Vaz would decorate this gallery were he to become lord of the manor? This is not so improbable an idea since many people suspect he covets a seat in the Upper House. Were the outrageously-expensive silk cushions he bought at our expense dyed with Tyrian purple and edged with ermine (you would think they were, judging by the price he - sorry we, paid for them).

I attempted to understand the underlying motivation of MPs who insist on every bathrobe, plastic bag and light bulb being charged to those who (mostly) have so pitifully little wealth in comparison. Were those silk cushions more delectable for having been bought at the expense of the people he is meant to serve? Is that what this is all about?

On the spur of the moment I invented the word vazian to describe the enjoyment gained from an object paid for by someone else. It is not enough for things to be luxurious in themselves, there must also be an added frisson of power encoded in the purchase that demonstrates the superiority of the honourable and right honourable members. By reclining on these silk cushions (the argument goes) I am reclining upon the prostrate kow-towing bodies of those who owe me deference and esteem.

This is not to single out Keith Vaz (I keep wanting to call him Sir Keith Vaz, so thoroughly has he projected his importance). The mole-catching activities of Sir John Gummer are just as reprehensible. The "flipping" activities of other MPs are genuinely criminal tax dodges (except that they are not criminal - they are "within the rules").

And there are thousands and thousands of other examples I could quote.

Speaking personally, I am not angry with the rapacious greed of our MPs. I feel I understand them (for we are all greedy on occasion), and so I forgive them. But millions will not.

I am not sure who is collectively advising the MPs, but they must be made to realise the game is up - at least for a while. And they must not even think about increasing their salaries to "compensate" for the loss of the expenses scam. Otherwise their windows will be smashed, their cars vandalised, and people will spit and swear at them in the streets.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"I acted within the rules"

Every news bulletin at the moment includes politicians walking quickly away from the cameras saying "I acted within the rules".

"I acted within the rules" has become an incessant mantra, as if by repeating this incantation the inconvenient questions can be finessed away.

But the rules say: take what you want, as much as you want, as often as you want. Go on, take what you want, no-one will see you. Go on, you can't get caught.

Unfortunately for them ("them") they have been caught.

And so we are reading about a Tory grandee using taxpayers' money to install chandeliers at his country mansion. Silken cushions purchased to ease the posterior of Keith Vaz. A complicated tax fiddle (but a fiddle within the rules!) whereby the Communities Secretary's main residence is simultaneously not her main residence.

Sometimes (but not very often) a claim is refused. I would like to know why the bathrobe claimed by the Culture Secretary was thrown out. What was it about this bathrobe that could not be countenanced?

Politicians (all parties) are supposedly in despair about what to do about this morass (one that is threatening to suck them all in and smother them). I am surprised that no-one has suggested the obvious solution. Pay the money back.

Friday, May 08, 2009

My dog



"Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
And all the Virtues of Man without his Vices." BYRON

Havn't been able to update recently. My dog became very ill last weekend and died yesterday (an x-ray revealed he had a tumour behind his heart). Like Byron we've buried him on the front lawn, and I'll get a suitable monument made for the grave (maybe even a small copy of the one at Newstead).

One of the advantages of an anonymous blog is that I can state plainly that he was my most valued friend, more valued than all my human friends.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Outside Organisation



Above: the offices of The Outside Organisation (and I waited so that I could include someone actually waiting outside - a subtlety ruined by my poor photographic skills).

PR agency The Outside Organisation is based in Tottenham Court Road. It was founded by Alan Edwards, who is one of the most astute and effective practitioners in PR today. He understands the importance of "names".

More: http://www.outside-org.co.uk/index.php?/publicity/company/our_staff/

Monday, May 04, 2009

The end of the long May Day weekend



Above: bank holiday empties.

Today is Bank Holiday Monday, the end of the long May Day weekend. I had planned to do so many things this weekend, and wrote a long list with different tasks allocated for each day. But actually I have got nothing done.

A party on Saturday, too much to drink at lunch on Sunday, too much to drink at lunch today.

And it's back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Tescos



I got this leaflet from Tescos promoting "fresh food in season". But when I went to the store there was nothing on offer apart from the usual stuff transported round the world. Anyway, three items seems tokanism to me.

Also I have noticed on the Tescos deliveries we get that they always substitute at least three items, and these substitutions are always (absolutely always) more expensive than my original selections. It doesn't make much difference to the overall bill, but if it is a covert marketing stategy applied to all deliveries then will boost sales by significant percentage points. Or am I being too cynical?

I wish we had anti-trust legislation that would break up the big four supermarket chains and impose a limit on the number of outlets they can have. Imagine the positive impact that would have on boosting small family shops, regenerating town centres, and providing employment opportunities (smaller shops have higher rates of employment). Plus Tescos is a nasty organisation (for reasons I can't really reveal) and their managers are predatory and exploitative (in my experience).

I would be glad to see the back of them - these mega organisations are not good for society.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Fragment of the may pole



Today is May Day. In the photo above you can see part of a ladder in a church tower I went to recently. The ladder was made from the old may pole that was destroyed in the puritan hegemony after the Civil War.

If you enlarge the photo (just click on it) you can read the inscription: THIS WARE THE MAY POUL 1660.

Sir James Frazer, writing in The Golden Bough, argued that may poles were originally sacred trees that were refined over centuries into the beribboned structures we see today. This theory has been disputed by some folkloreists and anthropologists. However the preservation (no doubt covertly) of this local fragment of the may pole, in a disguised form as part of a ladder, suggests a reluctance to absolutely burn or destroy the fetishised object.