Emperor’s new clothes or the ramblings of an ageing realist?

12 Feb

Tattoos, Jimmy Choo shoes, celebrity news…there’s nothing to choose between the extraordinary range of woolly things being pulled over our eyes and ears by various emperors parading naked along our high streets, invading our homes by TV and our minds by internet and blackberry.

When I stopped being passed my elder brother’s hand-me-downs and refused to wear his Dunlop green flash plimsolls, I became aware of a new and seductive devil in society – marketing. Dunlop and Fred Perry had competition from Adidas, Puma, Ralph Lauren, Slazenger…second hand became second rate overnight in the 1960s and the commercial gallop has continued unabated. Extraordinarily, though, prices have spiralled way beyond quality- the gap is extraordinary and we are all being happily duped. Chamapagne v Cava? Petrus premier cru at £600 per bottle v Tesco’s Malbec at £5.99? Chefs who pile tiny layers of food to make a mini-mound with upturned fish on the top and charge £40 for half a plateful. £400K for a bedsit in Clapham or Balham- what’s that about?

It’s a very sensitive subject but didn’t we all think that Jimmy Savile was a. Very odd, b. Very creepy, c. Very stupid and d. Completely incompetent? Rap music – particularly the stuff that issues invective and expletives in angry indecipherable volleys. What does David Beckham think he’s doing to his body? And why do so many men and women copy him, mutilating their bodies at huge expense? £60 to watch Fulham play for 90minutes? £200 to watch Mick Jagger strut his 70 year old stuff? John Terry earning £150,000 per week? Why are big schools, big hospitals, big police stations, big local authorities better than small ones? When I went to the private hospital for treatment on my verucca, I was surprised to find that the swish clinic/Holiday Inn lookalike was a fraction of the size of its gigantic NHS counterpart up the road. Private schools are 400 strong on average; the comp. near me me boasts 2,500. Hmm. Food for thought.

Well I suppose we have choice – don’t we? Trouble is our judgement has been blunted. We can no longer distinguish between reality and cloud cuckoo land. The booze-fuelled orgies in Faliraki are a common rite of passage for youngsters who have to be ‘up for anything’. Discretion and judgement are dirty spoilsport words. It’s all about empowerment and What the f**’s it got to do with you?

When we hold our children in our arms and watch them grow through early years and then arrive, rising 5, at their primary school – the first real ‘slap’ from the outside world – what do we wish for them? That they will become Jimmy Chooed, tattooed, drunken slappers or thugs with questionable moral compasses who will offshore bank account-it and tax avoid it if possible, lie barefacedly to get off speeding fines and have oral sex in the White House? Or would we rather that they kept on that path of love and wonderment which characterises so many of the pre-school cherubs. We humans are terribly flawed and we’ll never get away from our original sin. But hasn’t the gap between appearance and reality, order and chaos, perspective and madness widened just far enough to think that we are too often naked, dressed in those emperor’s new clothes racing towards some kind of armageddon – things fall apart the centre cannot hold and anarchy is loosed upon the world. If I believed in God I’d wonder what he’d make of the mess we’ve made of things. He’d take a quick shufty around and decide that his Second Coming wasn’t worth the bother.

Other dupe categories and characters include Bono, Fifty Shades of anything, Euro MPs and almost all that goes on in Brussels (at vast black-hole expense), Alex Salmond, the dog that won Britain’s got Talent, Tracy Emin’s bed, the BBC in Salford, man bags, shops that sell cheap booze but won’t open on Sundays, religion in general (but I do enjoy a good hymn), health and safety and CRB and compliance and regulation madness, speed bumps and cameras,….and I’ve barely started.

I’d advise that you settle down to watch the euphemistically named Pointless on BBC. You’ll feel better. It bucked me up after writing this yesterday.

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One Response to “Emperor’s new clothes or the ramblings of an ageing realist?”

  1. Lauren Pomerantz February 12, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    oh my! how enchanting and well written is your reality shake up!

    true internationally the insane grip of marketing and complicity in hoardes

    so satisfying a few deep true friends and simple daily acts of kindness self directed lives – free in the realms where freedom still exists

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