Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday 24 April 2011

Middle Class Event Horizon

Something is happening over at Radio 4. Their heads turned by the forthcoming royal wedding and a year of David Cameron, the BBC has gone into Middle England overdrive and the Archers has become inextricably intertwined with Gardener's Question Time.

The bastard child of this unholy union is a recording of GQT (as its followers like to call it) in the Archers' setting of Ambridge, complete with questions to the real-life panel from various fictional characters about what to plant in beds that exist only in the imagination of the listeners.

This, remember, is only a few weeks after the appearance of the Duchess of Cornwall - and the endorsement of Duchy shortbread that sent the biscuits flying off the shelves in Waitrose. And as if that weren't enough, today's Archers omnibus is followed by Desert Island Discs featuring Cath Kidston, purveyor of chintzy doo-dahs to Boden woman.

Is this, I wonder, the BBC's response to ITV's melding of soap opera and news as a tram crashed into the bitter-drinkers of Coronation Street (an event requiring only an injured whippet to achieve the perfect storm of Northern disaster)?

Or could the fusion of these quintessentially middle-class institutions be the catalyst that brings about some kind of implosion, causing Middle England to self-destruct - or to rise up and conquer the world? A sort of End of Days with the odd viburnum burkwoodii thrown in?

Only time will tell.


  1. Cath Kidston rocks! She makes tea towels and peg bags which are like Hello Kitty products for grown ups.

    I was actually a bit disappointed when I found out she is a real person, and English to boot. I had hitherto assumed that "Cath Kidston" was just the trading name of some vast faceless Japanese corporation.

  2. I know what you mean - for some time, I was under the mistaken impression that 'Hugo Boss' was a name contrived by a focus group to capture a particular ethos.

    Much, perhaps, in the style of Ted Baker; though the firm was founded by one Ray Kelvin, who invented the eponymous Baker as part of the branding process - the name was carefully chosen to suggest a transatlantic influence at odds with the shop's Glaswegian origins.

    Knowing that 'Ted' is an empty marketing device puts an interesting slant on this claim from the company website:

    'Everything produced under the Ted Baker name has his personality woven into its very heart.'


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