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.
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.
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
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
My local multiplex cinema has at least a dozen screens showing generally
London's West End theatres are full of musicals.
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
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.
child growing up I hated that stuffy old BBC with a vengeance.
So away with the rose-tinted view of a bygone age of
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.