Thursday, 16 February 2012


I'm going to be taking a little holiday from blogging – not the now-habitual week or two between posts, I mean a proper holiday for a few months. Look on it as the blogging equivalent of going travelling, only I'll still be here in southeast London, trying to sell my flat and buy another one and execute various other tedious chores. I suspect once I've told myself – and you – that there'll be no blogging for a while, I won't be able to help myself, but who knows. Anything could happen. It's a thrill ride, in a flat, uneventful sort of a way

See you in a few months. I won't Forget You. That makes me sound like a cold-blooded, watchful killer, but no need to double-lock the door, it's just an excuse to post this:

When the blog returns, I'm definitely reintroducing Muppet Monday.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

On Marks & Spencer and their self-respect (slight return)

Oh Marks & Spencer. Have you not read my laments for your lost dignity? For your slightly self-conscious slide into twee packaging, alien brands and freshly flipped burgers?

No one even calls you St Michael any more.

A fresh blow, for me, is the latest self-checkout apparatus, where you must hurl your coins down a chute, just as though you were tossing pound coins into a pint glass in the kind of grubby public house I have never been in.

This coin orifice, it should be noted, lights up and flashes, as does the notes slot on the opposite side, like the embellished extremities of a brassiere at the Moulin Rouge.

I imagine.

In the interests of raising awareness of this grim spectacle, I have attempted to photograph it:

I have had to improvise with Photoshop to demonstrate the full effect, as the lights don't flash in synchronisation.

The Marks & Spencer of legend would have been slightly embarrassed about asking for your money, automatedly (yes, I'm totally sure this is definitely a word). The Marks & Spencer that would sooner have closed its doors for ever than allow a box of Kellogg's or a can of Coke into the stockroom would merely encourage the sober placing of cash in a brown envelope (provided) and the opening and closing of a hatch. Or better, the recorded voice of Stephen Fry (Nigel Havers if Fry's busy making a documentary about words somewhere warm and exotic) apologising profusely whenever an unexpected item finds its way into the bagging area. 'Oh, I know this is a terrible bind, but would you be a brick and pop that little soldier through the scanner again. Everything shipshape now? Oh, good show!'

Not this clattering of coins from a great height. Not this vulgar neon beckoning.