I was watching the adverts last night and there was one that stuck out. For trying a bit too hard. Almost uncomfortably so; embarrassingly, like a kid in the playground who makes up a stupid nickname for themselves, a belittling one – so people will befriend him / her. And by dint of wanting too much to be liked, is a little despised.

Well, this advert was like that. I can’t remember for the life of me what it was for – that’s the nature of the nondescript, perhaps; their utter immemorability – but what I do remember is that it was out of place.

It was showy, smart, and most of all, was calling “buy, buy buy!”. Perhaps it was for Sky or a snazzy TV – yup – got it; Blue-Ray recorders. Ho ho ho. With the lovley, seductive voice of Sean Pertwee (yup, son of Dr Who and the guy who shags Hermione Norris in the penultimate season of Cold Feet.)

Anyhoo, the Imp smiled at the obsolescence of the ad. Obsolescence? Sure – ‘cos who – really, who?! – is buying up new technology these days, when they already have DVDs, plasma screens, and – verily – VHS machines?

Are there really people out there, listening to Sean’s dripping, dulcet tones, saying to their Signif. Oth. “Gosh, babe, yeah, let’s nip out and get a Blu-Ray recorder at the weekend!”? The only person I know who might ever have said those fine words is bankrupt and (finally) happy.


I wonder whether we have moved to a new era – from the “gotta get the best” to “it’s good enough” mentality. I mean, after all, if your standard of living’s fine, and you’re managing to pay the bills, in the current risky climate would you really consider (even before you know the cost) upgrading your home TV system for some slightly enhanced technology (might be worth getting an eye test and better specs before splashing out several thousand for a new box)?

New UK graduates can’t get jobs – I doubt they’re going to live incautious financial lives. Millions can’t get on the housing ladder (the definitely-over-35-year-old Imp included, but that’s been rationalised to A Good Thing). Are they going to be hunting for new technologies to splurge on? Ahem.

If we are shifting to a “good enough” consumer approach, might that outlook bleed into other cultural areas? For decades to come, as UK debt mushrooms and people have to make decisions their parents and grandparents did not have to, how can the near-universal big-consumer mentality survive? Tony Blair’s taxpayer (read: consumer) “choice” agenda looks profligate in such an environment – although the Conservatives will seek to widen (wealthy) taxpayer choice if they get elected in 2010. And they’ll make it aspirational for the struggling middle-classes. Just like in the first half of the C20th, when the Tory vote was hard core working class. But this is not about party politics – it is about people politics (ah, how they forget, these men and women of The Party …). It’s about the best way to make life good for as many people as possible.

Making the most of what you have, working ambitiously within limitations, can inspire innovation. Not having easy access on demand to whatever you… demand can develop self-discipline and resourcefulness [God, I sound like a Presbyterian (Prime) Minister]. These things are good as long as they’re encouraged. The flip-side is “don’t try too hard; you can’t win. Nothing’s possible; this is just the way things are.” Utter bull, of course, but look at how some communities and societies lived that mantra through the 1950s. We can’t go back there. Selfishly speaking, it’s not how I want my middle age to be spent, with the politics of envy and class division thriving. What we need is support for those who fall (victims of pension fraud, the aged unemployed, the pregnant woman made redundant, for example) and encouragement for those who need it (new graduates, young parents, 16 year-olds with an idea).  Not a Blu-Ray. Swap it for an eye test and a run in the park, having ideas.

Here endeth the lecture…..