Sunday, 27 March 2011


This week has all been a bit of a rush, builders working in the garden, (why is it that employing someone, even a good tradesman, seems to be more exhausting than doing the job yourself?), someone to collect from the airport (what possible excuse can there be for Manchester Airport to charge £4 for an hour to park and pick someone up?), then there has been miscellaneous stuff to do in the garden while the weather was good (the tobacco seedlings are doing well Mr Osbourne and I’m sure the lack of additives will be good for my health). 

All in all an excellent opportunity to touch base with reality and avoid the media with their gung ho attitude to Libya where the New World Order is busy helping the good rebels, as against Afghanistan where they are fighting the bad rebels. The cynical might suggest that the differentiation between good and bad is connected with ownership of oil terminals or minerals but I’m sure there must be some high moral consideration that I’m missing.

Then there were the usual infantile hide and seek games of Clegg and Cameron as they pretend to be annoyed at the EU while they sign up to yet more of it, just how stupid do they think we are? This time it's bailing out Portugal. Isn’t it nice to know we are each allowed to give £300 to those nice people in Portugal, makes you feel warm all over with a glow of generosity. I was wondering whether to comment on the census, but I did that as a guest on Subrosa’s blog  a while back and I think we know what we are going to do with it by now, although its treatment may not be quite as dignified as intended.

And yesterday there were all those people protesting because they are scared the rest of us may stop providing them with free lunches and stuff. So Ok I’m happy to provide when someone is otherwise going unfed, or even temporarily when someone is between jobs through forced redundancy, but most of the freeloaders in London yesterday looked to me either better off than me, and thus capable of buying their own lunches, or else had made a lifestyle choice to scrounge off the rest of us.

So to trivia, which is much less gloomy. One of the columns I usually enjoy in the Sunday Times is Jeremy Clarkson’s. Of course he plays the gallery, and goes out of his way to pretend to be a clown and get up the noses of the politically correct, but he often touches serious topics, and hits out at many day to day irritations. One of the things he mentions today is the annoyance of shower/bathroom products that are unrecognisable once one is in the shower (I strongly suggest you avoid imagining any visuals!)

As I am totally blind to small visual details without my reading glasses he has hit on a pet peeve that has bugged me for years. Standing underwater squinting to decide what ‘product’ is in the bottle before anointing one’s head with some anonymous concoction is indeed one of the daily random experiences of getting older, although it can afford considerable pleasure when one gets lucky there are risks too.

It’s quite obvious that package designers think it’s a fun game, especially when they make a range of unguents, soaps and liniments in identical bottles, proudly proclaiming the manufacturer’s name and marketing range name in large print but the actual product in the smallest possible type and the most unlikely location.  I would single out Tree Same Me and Jill Ette as prime players, although Jill Ette cleverly prints the product description in white against a yellow section of the label, which I think is probably cheating.

Even worse are those firms who don’t even say what the stuff in the bottle is! Somehow you are meant to have enough psychic ability to know that McCorporation Valley is an air freshener while McCorporation Elf is clothes washing powder while every instruction and endorsement on the container talks about ‘this product’. I suppose the sorts of people who can reel off the names of Xfactor contestants or boyfriends of ‘c’ list celebrities might know what things have what names, sadly I don’t! 

I think package designers for household products probably deserve a special hell of their own, even though it need be nothing like as bad as the one I would reserve for politicians.

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