Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Keeping up the standard...

I’m not expecting this post to be read, due to the ‘big story’ of the day – a few inches of snow having brought the country to a standstill. It's a darned shame, because I’d really like everyone to hear me letting off steam and having a bit of a rant. Anyway, here goes... please stand well clear and prepare for the blasting:

Last night I managed to get hold of a copy of the Evening Standard. It hasn’t happened very often lately – at least not since it’s been free: I tend not to use the underground - and I don’t hang about every afternoon in Sainsbury’s or Waitrose, or wherever else you can find a copy (as it happens, I usually do my food shopping early in the morning, or late at night when most of the papers have long been removed from the shelves).

Anyway, I wonder how the sad demise of the paid-for version of the publication has affected our small, local shops? The one near me, for instance, that I used to visit every week-day to make my purchase…where every time went in, I always ended up buying at least one other thing, or five? Now I pop by on a Saturday, or occasionally on Sunday, if I haven’t already picked up my mountain of papers at the petrol station. And what about the curiously characterful Standard sellers in those funny little booths, that used to be dotted about the streets all over London – what happened to them?

I have fond memories of the one who became trapped underneath his upturned metal stand, when it was blown over outside Bank underground station during the storm of 1991. And all the drivers of those quirky orange striped vans – do we see quite so many now? I’m curious to know, as these days I rarely get a chance to read the newspaper that I once considered to be something of a favourite. Not so long ago, in fact, I was so addicted to my daily fix, I’d do almost anything to get a copy.

However, what really bugs me, is not the strange void left by the absence of fashion, food, film and trends (as covered by my favoured London newspaper), but that I’m still prepared to pay for it – as are many of my friends, who were also loyal readers and are equally champing at the bit in annoyance at being denied regular access to something they enjoyed and identified with. Unless I’m seriously mistaken (and please do correct me, if I’m barking up the wrong tree), someone, somewhere has got something very wrong?

The website's perfectly fine, but I still like to hold, touch and turn the pages of the real thing - and see the printed word on paper. The issue I managed to get hold of yesterday lived up to expectations - full of articulate articles, thought provoking features and stuff I totally disagree with, making for stimulating and compelling reading, (even though it’s now very rarely available to the likes of me - unless I happen to be passing a far-flung railway station, walking down the right street, or shopping in the right shop at the right time of day).

I particularly like the article by Andrew Gilligan about making the Thames a proper highway: Well, I would, as I live on the river - but seriously, why don’t we make more sensible use of this amazing natural transport route, upon which the very foundations of our great city were created?

An article by Sarah Sands, entitled ‘Captialism can wear a halo too, you know’ really got me thinking – yes, we’re easily duped by large global corporations trying to sell us stuff courtesy of their ‘we’re oh so righteous’ multi-million pound marketing campaigns. By way of example, she says, “Whole Foods Market offers an entire feelgood philosophy…” curiously adding “I think of Whole Foods and imagine that I’m Laura Bailey”. Well, I have to admit that I’ve never visited this store in Kensington, but I’ve certainly seen plenty of people traipsing around London with Whole Foods’ rather dull looking fabric bags - perhaps that’s the only thing they’ve bought there, as I've heard the prices are pretty steep. As for wanting to be Laura Bailey, whom Sarah Sands suggests is an ‘athletic blonde’ - isn’t wanting to be someone else rather a sad waste of time? By the way, Sarah, having been in close proximity with LB at my former gym in Notting Hill, I can confirm that she is indeed blonde – though very waif-like.

When I read the news items towards the back of the paper about ‘Upbeat Next ramps up profit forecast yet again’ I became quite depressed that we really are so very easily duped by hype and the power advertisers and politicians have over the media. Judging from my local branch of Next, it’s obvious Mary Portas has never visited – it’s one of the most downbeat, in terms of location, lighting, window display and presentation, of all the shops I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, back to Ms Sands, who concludes that she admires the founder and chief excecutive of Whole Foods, John Mackey’s honesty for destroying the assumption that only Left-wing people believe in good food. “Amusingly, you can eat kale and watch Fox TV”, she claims. Well, I say it’s a shame I can’t tuck into my spam fritters, whilst poring over a free copy of the Evening Standard, as some of the very people advertisers would surely want to be targeting are being totally overlooked… Oh, and another message for the Evening Standard: Sorry for taking you for granted… and sorry for being negative.

Now it’s time for some fun - create your own Evening Standard headline here and post it with your comments.

Will you?

PS If you’re looking for unique and unusual, individually handmade and naturally beautiful things to buy at up to 50% off, do check out the ShopCurious sale.


worm said...

Hi susan, just popping in for the first time! I love your blog!

and totally agree with the baffling mystery of how Next continues to thrive - I can't think of a single item of (men's) clothing I've wanted to buy from there in years, and my girlfriend says the same

Susan said...

Cheers worm - and thanks for popping by. I enjoy your thought-provoking and amusing posts too!

That's Not My Age said...

Hi Susan, sorry it's taken me so long to pay you a visit. Love the blog! And I agree, it's impossible to find a Standard these days, unless you are travelling through a main line London station. I think all the sellers/drivers were unceremoniously dumped (but I could be wrong!?)
As for Next, I never understand why people start queueing at 4am for their sales! What is that all about?

Profoundly Superficial said...

Next? No way!!!

my wonderland said...

haha yeah I know what you mean...