Britain Reverts To Tradition



The National Retail Sales Index makes for far more interesting reading than you might imagine. Its findings are picked over and analysed for retail trends. Prices have been steadily rising while the phenomenon known as shrinkflation has cut the size of many products for consumers, maintaining profits for producers. There are other signs of retrenchment, too.

Digital buying is reaching its tipping point (2/3rds of all transactions are made on mobiles), but many tech purchases appear to be flat-lining. One of the worst hit is e-readers, down by 23% since price hikes in both the hardware and the books. Smart devices are softening in sales too, especially Satnavs, and traditional non-digital items are returning; record players, egg cups, teapots, things without motherboards, low-cost objects that last a lifetime and don’t have to be updated.

Of course, this may all be wishful thinking on the part of the tabloids, most of whom would like to push us back to the 1970s, judging by the inexplicable rise of our terminally indecisive 70s-style politicians. Big pants and beige colours are all the rage now too. And – gods help us – pink is back. Sales of men’s pink T-shirts skyrocketed by 74%, while sales of pink women’s jackets rose by 55%. The cookware brand Le Creuset announced it was introducing a millennial pink range to capitalise on its popularity with younger shoppers.

Beards are staying, together with the neatly parted look that says you wish you were your granddad. What customers have really been looking for this year, amid political turmoil, is a little escapism. There’s been a 99% surge in sales of pool inflatables (who has a pool in England?), a 22% rise in mermaid-themed products and anything emblazoned with unicorns, from bedding to wallets and water bottles.

Perhaps the return to traditional form was always embedded in us, inflationary Brexit horrors or no. We can’t wait for winter (although it’s baking up in my flat today) just so that we can drag out those fluffy jumpers, thick socks, big cardies, teapots, books, cushions, duvets, cakes and vinyl records. The only thing missing now is ‘Carry On Up The Khyber’ on TV.

At least certain less savoury aspects of the past are dying out; Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace is far from complete, but sexism and racism seem to be on the run in the UK. At least we’ll never see the return of the Carry On films (all 31 of them), whether or not sociologists try to convince us that the spirit of Donald McGill ironically lives on in them. At least the long-mooted relaunch of that series appears to be dead in the water now…




11 comments on “Britain Reverts To Tradition”

  1. Vivienne says:

    Pink le Creuset? How could a decent casserole look appetising in that? Have still not got a beard or pool inflatable, but was in Zara yesterday and they have the most gorgeous soft, oversized jumpers that I am telling myself could see me through the endless dark winters ahead. Satnavs are obviously out as nobody knows where we’re going.

  2. Ian Luck says:

    Satnavs are shite. Just ask the people who tried to drive from Tenby to Caldey Island in Wales, not realising that a mile of sea separated the two. My brother got a new one some years back, and we went on a trip to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, and my brother decided to follow it’s instructions to the letter, after programming it for Duxford. We were not surprised to find it telling us we had arrived at our destination. Addenbrokes Hospital. Hmm.

  3. matt says:

    I’ve noticed men in Pink, Lovely! why not? why should the female of the species get to wear and enjoy Pink and the male not? I have Pink in my life too but not that one would notice it…..

    I loved the ‘Carry on’ films especially ‘Carry On Screaming’ I do though agree they were of their time and there isn’t a place for them in todays world.

    I feel people are realising that todays tech is just not going to last and the companies behind them are just building redundancy into to create more custom. The backlash has begun!

    As for the good old Pool inflatable well who wouldn’t want one as an accessory in their home, a talking point while you have your dinner guests waiting for their food to arrive from the Chinese takeaway 😉

  4. Dean says:

    What a coincidence, I watched the first 30 minutes of Carry on Doctor last night after reading the reference to Sid James in Disturbia!

    (Couldn’t watch any more than that as it’s pretty naff by today’s standards.)

  5. Jan says:

    Pink was originally a colour for men and worn by men. I’m not on about hunting “Pinks” the left over red material from British army gear reworked into creating hunting jackets but proper paler shades! Honestly

  6. Ian Luck says:

    The ‘Carry On’ films are indeed, a product of their time, and it would be a complete waste of time trying to ‘re-boot’ the series. Just making the dialogue acceptable for modern audiences would kill them stone dead. I will admit that I consider some of the series ‘cinematic comfort food’. They have a familiar, tatty charm, with inapproriate sound effects, like the Grand Prix car sound effect, complete with racing gear changes, that is given to the Bedford Lomas Ambulance, on ‘Carry On Nurse’. And, of course, who would star in these re-boots? Nobody I can think of – the originals had a loose ‘rep’ company, and it was odd to see someone from a ‘Carry On’ in a serious movie. Sid James, for example. He appears in Hammer’s superbly creepy ‘Quatermass 2’, and he’s utterly superb, and you wish he was in it for longer. My late father knew Hattie Jacques slightly, and said that she was a lovely, warm person, very unlike the terrifying harridans,she often portrayed on screen. I know a lot of people detest the ‘Carry On’ movies, but I don’t. I watched them as a child, and they made me laugh, and that’s all that mattered. My favourite is ‘Carry On Screaming’, a lush Eastmancolor confection that could have been a Hammer movie. Interestingly enough, the actor playing the lumbering ‘Oddbod’, is Tom Clegg, who went on to write and direct several Hammer movies. I also love ‘Carry On Up The Khyber’ (non speakers of Cockney rhyming slang would not have got the joke), because of the final dinner scene, of which I am sure some real Victorians would have approved. Because of Kenneth Williams’ character name – ‘The Khazi Of Calabar’, and, most of all, a review in a magazine, where it said something like: “Kenneth Williams (wearing Lee Van Cleef’s nostrils) is brilliantly scornful as the imperious Khazi Of Calabar” What a superb image. Like Universal’s ill-advised ‘Dark Universe’, anyone trying to re-boot the ‘Carry On’ franchise is just wasting money. It’s time has been, and long gone.

  7. Ian Luck says:

    Oh, Universal pictures. Please give up on trying to modernise your classic horrors. You cannot improve on Lugosi, Karloff, Chaney Senior, Chaney Junior, Lorre, Rains, Zucco, and Strange. Don’t even try.

  8. keith page says:

    I’m still waiting for US remakes of ‘Zulu’ and ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.What treats they would be.

  9. Geoff Dixon says:

    “pink women’s jackets” or women’s pink jackets?

    I like watching the contemporary Carry On films (rather than the costume drama ones) just to get a glimpse of 1960’s Britain (mainly round the Windsor area) and to see all the old shop names now long departed.

  10. Helen Martin says:

    Saw a man in a pink shirt (proper pink) on a program last night but don’t ask me which one. I noted it as being rather unusual – a sort of pink check and the man rather burly oh, yes, I do remember, it was “The Loch” which I pesume was shown over there first.
    Another thing, women’s faces and men’s hair. I watched the first two of the Sissy movies about the Austrian Empress (although in the German dialogue she was Kaiserein) These were made in ’56 and were Romy Shneider’s first big movies. The women’s makeup and hair styles were pure 1950s rather than 1850s and the men all had 1950s haircuts. The only one whose hair was different was Sissi herelf and while I know the empess had beautiful hair I don’t think she had quite as much as they decorated her with. (She could have played Rapunzel with all that hair.) The women’s costumes were quite plain, even the ball gowns which seems odd for Vienna of that period.
    What I wonder is why they made those period films without making the characters look properly of the period. I suppose the actors wanted to be recognised as themselves. The young Franz Josef, however, just looked like a 1950s military cadet.
    The Carry On movies always gave me an uncomfortable feeling – I must have been a terrible prude.

  11. Ian Luck says:

    I can’t stand pink – it’s neither here nor there, as far as I’m concerned, and I’d quite happily drop it in a bin for nasty colours, along with baby blue, beige, fuchsia, hospital snot green, police station pus yellow, and day-glo green. I do have a beard, of the ‘Can I be bothered to shave today? No.’ variety. I don’t have enough hair to part, so I generally wear a proper hat. My favourite grey Trilby today. I have worn black moleskin trousers for years, and a cord peacoat. I don’t give a stuff for fashion. I love cold days, when you see the trendy kids in their expensive, badly-made clothes, shivering, and there’s me, in an old pea coat over moleskins, t-shirt and wool jumper, with a pair of 40 year old Army surplus boots, warm as toast and dry. Fashionable or warm? Warm every time, thanks.

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