Belfast Telegraph

Rab's Week: Poundland will no longer be quids in

By Robert McNeil

I'm not really a pound shop person. I want to like them, but they remind me somehow of the end of civilisation.

It's the same with Lidl and whatnot. I waddle in, become depressed by the lack of uplifting muzak, and think: "So the British Empire is finally dead. I must have missed that announcement in the newspapers."

I write in the wake of an advertising watchdog's judgment that Poundland can no longer claim every item it sells costs £1. I write, too, in the knowledge that I once ventured in and asked how much something cost.

I thought the pound thing was just a gimmick. It wasn't then, but it does seem so now. Haven't kept up with inflation, d'you see? Onepoundtwentyshop doesn't have the same ring to it. Three people complained that Poundland was misleading customers by promoting DVDs and CDs for £2, which still isn't much to ask.

Unusually, I've done some research and found that the £1 DVDs consist largely of Fireman Sam: The Kite and Born To Kill: Dr Harold Shipman. Who in their right mind buys the latter?

Fair enough, watching it on telly as an instructive documentary on how decent ratepayers ought not to behave. But buying it as a DVD?

Like Fireman Sam, pound shops have become part of the fabric of British life. Last week, I visited one for the first time in ages. Here, in reverse order of price, is what I bought: garden lights, bird food and a tin of vegetable soup.

Basically, all the ingredients for a mad party. However, I told the till-person I'd be using them in a work of modern art. I nearly bought a back brush too, but thought that was going too far. Imagine going up to the checkout with a back brush and a Harold Shipman DVD.

You'd imagine they've a red button under the desk that alerts the constabulary to customers buying peculiar mixtures of items.

I suppose we'd be sad if pound shops went down the Suwannee. They're fun to pop into from time to time. But I couldn't do all my shopping there.

I'm not actually all that fond of tinned vegetable soup. And I cannot think the adventures of a fireman from Pontypandy would satisfy me culturally.

Sunday: Zombie kit a no-brainer

Zombie news, and a top American company has produced a kit to help citizens survive attack by the controversial undead creatures.

Costing just $1,499, it includes a revolver, flashlight, emergency signals, fire starter, compass and some batteries.

My advice to prospective purchasers is to first acquire the following: a brain.

Monday: Thought of drinking super-lager is enough to bring tears to one’s eyes

I’ve started to get right nostalgic for some reason and found myself welling up with emotion at the thought of Skol lager, the first alcoholic drink I ever bought.

So I went online and found to my surprise that it was still available, as was a super-lager version.

I mention this only because under a review of the latter, a commenter had written (usual rubbish grammar preserved): “I’ve been drinking four cans a day for the last 25 years its done me no harm apart from two arrests and going blind in one eye.”

Brilliant. Don’t think I’ll be trying any, though.

Tuesday: How to rack up a big bill 

News that high-speed broadband equipment worth £21,000 cost the Northern Ireland public sector £1m won’t rock readers of this column.

Unhampered by authoritative arguments and other mumbo-jumbo, I have pointed out how everything in the public sector costs a fortune ending in many zeros.

Not that I’m getting at the public sector. Everything should be in the public sector.

Most of the mad things in the public sector are out-nuttered by the private sector, where all the top-heavy, consultancy-obsessed, target-slavery and general trendy tripe begins.

It’s just that, cruelly, the public sector is accountable. How you account for Stormont’s Enterprise Department running up such a big bill for  “virtually obsolete” broadband racks is beyond me.

But congrats to the whistleblower who first flagged concerns about the cost.

I hope it wasn’t an employee, as such common sense always raises the risk of being fired.

Friday: Shock as Spock leaves us for the final frontier

The death of Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr Spock in Star Trek, has saddened me deeply.

It’s because the original series seemed forever young. And it’s set in a future that hasn’t happened yet. So how can Spock be dead?

Star Trek, like all good sci-fi, substitutes comradeship for family. Spock was the moral superego to McCoy’s rampant id and Kirk’s refereeing ego.

Oddly enough, after the pilot episode, the network wanted Spock dropped as he looked satanic. But we know the best US TV series are made in spite of network bosses rather than because of them. Entertainment bosses everywhere should be culled annually. They’re always the least well informed about their own business.

And now the universe has culled Mr Spock. He was rational and unemotional, so he’ll forgive me shedding a tear as I hope he’s still finding everything “fascinating” — in a universe beyond the universe.

Saturday: Discussions over dress don’t really make for colourful conversation

The whole world is discussing a dress purchased by someone on the Scottish island of Colonsay.

I’m too stern to get involved in such frivolities. But I summarise the situation as follows: people are divided as to whether the dress is blue and black or white and gold.

Strange. Odder still, like many men, I’m a little red-green colour blind. Doesn’t mean I think carrots are green.

Just means I wobble on the colour spectrum. Women chastise me frequently for saying something’s yellow when it’s mauve and so forth.

As for the dress. It’s maroon and puce. On to the next crisis.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph