Thursday, 6 November 2008

'Excess Baggage', Amazonian jungles and tasteless imagery in Selfridges, Oxford Street

On my way to Broadcasting House this morning, sitting upstairs of the number 13 bus, I was driven past Selfridges. To my right, Marks & Spencer was done up in red and green chains and to my left, the windows of Selfridges were encased in what appeared to be green hedges and twinkling lights. The window displays were sparse. They consisted of one or two items of local designer-wear transported aloft in hermetically sealed bubbles. Nothing too over-the-top one can observe - apart from the price tags on the shoes, boots, bags and dresses. However, what caught my attention was what was written across each display: "The More the Merrier." Hmm... A bit tasteless in this age of credit crunch, job loss and banking monopoly. But don't those words symbolise why it is that we have reached this appalling stage in our evolution? 'Buy', 'buy', 'buy'... Put more and more on credit. "Because you're worth it!"

I eventually pitched up at the BBC where, sitting on their deep leather-bound armchairs and with Terry Wogan and Radio 2 coming out of ear-high pa systems, I then observed the man himself appearing from behind the security glass, a healthy glow to those well known cheeks. Odd that he could be in two places at once...!

So I've finally recorded my piece for 'Excess Baggage.' It goes out on Saturday morning at 10.00am. I've no idea how many people listen to the programme, deftly presented by John McCarthy, and whether or not, having listened to the broadcast, people will want to buy the book. One only hopes so. I only hope that I didn't go off on my usual tangent. Trying desperately to incorporate as much as I can into my interview, without either be boring, repetitive or too harrowing. It's a fine line. It was a rather surreal segue from 'Excess Baggage's' other guest, Dan, talking about being a missionary in the Amazon jungle for thirty years to bring Christianity to a tribe who don't count numbers, don't have words for colours and don't understand that Barak Obama is now the leader of the western world! (OK, that last bit is a slight exaggeration...), to discussing how not to travel the world while mad.

Western materialism certainly wasn't an intrinsic necessity while Dan and his family lived in the jungle and it hasn't been a party to Zach's travels - apart from the times that he called us in extremis because he was down to his last sou and asked if we could very kindly wire him a few pounds. It shouldn't be a party to anyone's life now and it's in pretty poor taste that such a blatent and immature take on what Christmas represents is splashed all over the windows in Selfridges, Oxford Street.

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