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In For a Penny?

It seems that the world is full of Pound Shops.
If you are not familiar with the term, the idea is simple; These shops display goods that look like screwdrivers, cleaning products, plastic containers etc. but don't actually work properly, and sell them for a pound each.

Great fun can be had in these shops by going up to the checkout with a selection of items and asking the (usually not too bright) assistant "How much is this? And this? And this?" until you get told to shove off.

I have to admit that I'm attracted to these places and this worries me. I appear to be being dragged into a the all pervading ethos of quantity over quality which is seeping into every part of our lives.

It probably started in the U.S. these things normally do, and the ultimate sterility of the idea is best illustrated by the "All you can eat for £5" offers you see in cheap restaurants.
These establishments preserve their profit margins by making the food unpalatable. Only the most bloody-minded glutton would eat his way through anything approaching £5 worth of the greasy gristly fare which is usually on offer.
He won't enjoy it. He will feel he has been short-changed despite being stuffed full of cholesterol and additives. It will leave a bad taste in the mouth.
But he will forget about that and he will return. Only £5, surely it must be a bargain?

It is in our cultural life however, that the corrosion is most dangerous.
My satellite TV system allows me to view 325 channels, most of them not worth watching.
A digital radio would offer me about about 50 radio stations, mostly not worth listening to and at worse quality than I get on FM.
My local multiplex cinema has at least a dozen screens showing generally mediocre movies.
London's West End theatres are full of musicals.
If I ingested all that lot, I really would be sick.

Just think what a truly magnificent TV channel, movie or theatrical production we could have if we weren't spreading our resources so thinly; if we weren't sacrificing our cultural lives on the alter of "choice".

But who would then decide the content of that station, movie or show? A panel of the great and the good? A focus group? A referendum?

Think back to the golden days of "The BBC". One TV channel, "Light Programme", "Home Service" and "Third Programme" on the radio. They catered for most tastes, but each genre had only a few hours a week.
As a child growing up I hated that stuffy old BBC with a vengeance.

So away with the rose-tinted view of a bygone age of culture.
The age of choice is actually a positive thing, so long as we don't allow our choices to be limited.

Make the effort, search out those quirky alternatives, walk round the corner, twist that dial, press all the buttons. Somewhere in that pound-shop is a bargain waiting to be discovered.


© Winamop & DA. March 2004

Read old page 94s here.


© Winamop 2004