Thursday, 5 April 2012

Hooray for the Nanny State! Kind of...

What ho old chaps! How are you all on this fine Thursday? That’s good to hear. And what is that I hear you asking? Am I in London? Did I arrive safely? Was my flight alright?

Well, how jolly kind of you to ask! After, well, let us call it a bearable flight (I seem to have developed an inability to sleep on a plane), I am indeed back in Blighty! Now, after living on nothing but scones, crumpets, and steaming mugs of PG Tips for the past eight days, I am beginning to feel my old British habits creeping back. I never really lost them, don’t you worry, but I am finding myself tutting much more than I have done recently. Yes, you did hear me correctly. I have been back in Britain for just over a week and I am already complaining about everything and anything.

I’m not too surprised, to be honest. We Brits are rather good at complaining. In fact, I would feel pretty damn confident in saying that we all enjoy having a good old splutter at the daily headlines, and this is exactly what I did today. Well, not quite exactly. I guess I’ll have to explain.

There I was, sitting with my bowl of Weetabix and my oversized mug of tea (milk and two sugars, if you wanted to know), and I happened to pick up a brochure for a large supermarket chain. I’m not sure I should publicly embarrass them on my blog, but lets just say their name sounds an awful lot like Besco. The first part I thought was fine; food and drinks faded into household products, household products faded into electronics, but the transition from electronics to sofas saw the pages get turned upside-down. I never knew that sofas were sold, let alone advertised, any time other than in the month before Christmas, when the country suddenly decides that after being lumbered with their sofa for a year, they must change it. Why? Because the telly said so. I had always presumed that with the vast lengths that DFS go to over their advertising campaigns in December, that that was the only window in our calendar that sofas could ever be sold. Clearly I was wrong. Fair enough. It happens so often now that I don’t take notice of it anymore.

But that wasn't the thing which bothered me, and I’m sure you all noticed the catalyst for my frustration: the flipped pages. After getting over my immediate annoyance of having to turn the brochure the other way up, I got thinking (brace yourselves). The only reason why they would have flipped the pages would be to present a clear difference between sofas and the rest of their products. Wow. How useful. I never knew that sofas are different from wireless keyboards! I’m so thankful that they put this in, because for the past four years I have been watching the telly whilst sitting on a rather lumpy hoover! Finally I know what I am doing wrong!

Seriously though, I think we as a nation deserve a little bit more credit than that. And on that note, if you are going to flip the pages, then you might as well put it somewhere where there is a distinct change, like, I don’t know, between food and electronics perhaps?! If any of you out there happen to work for Besco, think a minute. Your customer service hotline is hardly being bombarded by thousands of numpties who have covered their new Toshiba laptop in tea after mistaking it for a Hobnob, and if we can tell the difference between products there, why do you see a need to make a separation for furniture? The mind boggles. It really does.

I wouldn’t want to leave you all on a sour note, though, because being back in London has been lovely, and to be honest, I did mange to find one benefit to this nanny state of ours. It wasn’t much, but it was the most useful sight that I have ever seen. After landing at Heathrow airport and beginning the endless shuffle to baggage claim, there was a little yellow sign displaying some vital information. The sign warned that the upcoming toilets were the final set of facilities before border control. That, dear readers, is genius. Not only did I choose to relieve myself there an then (making waiting in the queues at the border much more bearable), but if any of you have ever travelled with children, these sings are vital. Pure gold. Because we all know that after offering the children the use of a toilet, they will inevitably reject them, but fifteen minutes later, in the most inconvenient place possible, they will innocently look up at you and state,"I need the toilet. Now." That is possibly one of the worst things that one could ever hear, and that is why Britain might have finally got something right with their obsession with health and safety, signs, and other such nonsense. The fact that they ended up not being the last set of toilets, though, is beside the point. At least they tried.


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