Tuesday, 12 May 2009

now panic and freak out

Cleaning off my desk just now I found an FT article I ripped out of the paper from a few weeks ago. I cut it out and set it aside because it annoyed me so much. In big red letters underneath the article I scrawled, "The last thing we need is backwards looking/thinking - GO FORWARD!" Yup. That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the current situation. And by "situation" I mean the social side of the recession, not the economic realities. If you've lost your job recently, I get that looking forward is much easier said than done, but seriously - what is up with the whole nostalgia kick? I've seen those KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON posters everywhere lately.

That's what the FT article is about. The headline: "Britons discover taste for nostalgia as credit crunch bites" and goes on to say that British people are buying loads of disgusting shite that supermarkets stopped selling in the 50s because it was disgusting and because in the last 10 years, the quality of food and cooking in this country has increased exponentially, and therefore people do not need to by disgusting old crap.

Again, speaking personally, I think Cadbury's chocolate is vile, but some 40,000 nostalgic online petitioners revived the Wispa chocolate bar. According to the FT article, sales are also up on:

- Bistro gravy (creepy looking crumbs that you mix with water to make gravy - no meat harmed in the making)
- Birds eye custard (creepy looking powder that you mix with water to make custard - do you sense a pattern emerging)
- Birds eye frozen fish fingers (creepy looking powdered crumbs that you gently warm in the oven before feeding to your already obese and lazy, Wii playing brats)
- Birds eye arctic roll desserts (I have no idea what these are and I'm not looking them up either, though by now I'm a bit suspicious that Samantha Perason, who wrote the article for the FT, is a covert marketing spokesman for Birds Eye)
- Marks and Sparks' jam sandwich (how lazy do you have to be to BUY a jam sandwich? the M&S line on jam sammies is that "for those who haven't eaten one for years, one bite takes you straight back to your childhood.")

But dear old Sam saved the best for last with Bob Cotton's (CEO of the British Hospitality Association) stunningly insightful comment that "when people feel uncertain or insecure they revert to secure childhood memories." So hey everyone, don't worry, according to this very same news media who brought us Financial Catastrophe version 2.0, eat a jam sandwich or some fish fingers, and everything will be peachy keen.

Now before you get me wrong and jump down my throat for being a cynical nag, let me just say that I am completely for being positive and optimistic in the face of all this economic doom and gloom. In fact,
especially in the midst of all this doom and gloom, so kindly sponsored and supported by our national media. But to sit there and say that the best way to be positive and optimistic and keep calm and carry on is to eat crap you ate when you were a kid or to play with toys you played with when you were a kid (also suggested by good old Sam) is completely and utterly ridiculous. Just reading that last sentence makes absolutely clear how ridiculous it is. Wouldn't it be so much nicer, for one example, to save up for a really nice meal (i.e. food that grown-ups can enjoy) and splurge on that instead of blowing the weekly shop on nasty "comfort" foods. I don't see how that anaemic-looking jam sandwich can really be called comforting.

I just don't understand this whole looking back thing, with media and brands trying to persuade us that we're living in the immediate aftermath of WWII and that we should all "garden for victory" and "spend our way out of recession." Certainly I don't have all the answers and am happy to admit as such, but if anything, even I can see that the best place to look is forward to the future and not behind us, succumbing to the quicksand of nostalgia.

And finally may I offer you one possible alternative to the barrage of keep calm and carry on merchandise plastering shops and walls, the most hilariously witty T-shirt I own: NOW PANIC AND FREAK OUT. Everybody dance!

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