Doing better than good, and why that’s never enough for Tesco – Published: 11 Aug 2009

In 1998, the government commissioned a study of the impact of big stores on market towns. It found that when a large supermarket is built on the edge of the centre, other food shops lose between 13 and 50% of their trade.

The result is the closure of some town centre food retailers; increases in vacancy levels; and a general decline in the quality of the environment of the centre.

Towns are hit especially hard where supermarkets “are disproportionately large compared with the size of the centre”.

In these cases the superstore becomes the new town centre, leaving the high street to shrivel.

Read George Monbiot’s article in full

The Tesco Effect, as witnessed by me, on my local high street…

A Tesco opens

A new Tesco opens on the high street, with its tried and tested formula...

Long established grocers Harts and also Cullens both close down.

…and long established grocers Harts and also Cullens, both of which offered a product range based on local demand, were forced to close down.

Modern Life is Rubbish #23332 – In the future, all shops will…

[ Published: 12 May 2009 ]

Asda. In the future all clothing will work on a buy one get one free basis (already successful with socks)…

But jacket, get trousers free. George at Asda.

But jacket, get trousers free. George at Asda.

And at the news stand in Tesco…  

In the future all magazines will be distilled into one magazine called Jamie.

Jamie Magazine

Jamie Magazine

Each page will have a flavoured picture of Jamie that you can lick.

If you lick it enough, the picture wears away to reveal TV listings showing when the next cookery programme is on.

In the future cookery programmes will be on all the time, meaning the Editor of Jamie can just use the same listings issue after issue, saving time and money. This saved cash will be put to better use buying more page-flavouring.

In the future, after Jamie is dead, licked to death by an obsessive fan presumably, the magazine will fold. That will be the end of the printed word because people won’t read anything that doesn’t have a flavour.

In the future, Asda will produce a suit that has the shirt, tie, socks, pants and shoes all conveniently sewn in. If you buy one you’ll get a second one free. When you get a hole in a sock you’ll just throw it all away or give it to a tramp.

In the future, tramps (many of them redundant Listings Editors) will all wear suits and ties as these will be cheaper than jeans, T-shirts, tracksuits etc.

The reading material they will sleep under will also be their evening meal.

Profound messages printed on T-shirt packaging at NEXT – Published: 25 Mar 2009

Next Tshirts

NEXT, makers of blue, grey and brown clothes, lead the way when it comes to making everyone in the UK look roughly the same.

Well done I say. Having to coordinate colours, if we’re honest, is beyond us. Go into any living room in Britain and you’ll know this is true.

Limiting clothing to two and half colours is a weight off, frankly.

But for Next, the help doesn’t stop there. Oh no. They have plans for our minds, not just our legs, arms, rude bits and upper torsos.

Witness Next making big strides into to world of high street, off-the-peg Confucianism (see picture).

Whether you work hard, play hard or both, from time to time we all need to relax.

That’s just beautiful, that is. On a packet of three t-shirts they expect you’ll sleep in (consecutively, not all three at once).

If you analyse this profound message, it breaks down like this: whether you a [where a is any activity] or b [where b is a different sort of activity], or a and b, from time to time you’ll need to x [where x is a not-necessarily-related essential bodily function].

So, let’s try reworking it with new a, b and x‘s.

Whether you lick the end of pencils, see visions of death in puddles or both, from time to time we all need to visit the toilet.

A suitable maxim to stick on the packaging of an air freshener, perhaps? 

Whether you enjoy touching the surface of your eyeballs, collect things you find on buses or both, from time to time we all need to reproduce.

Actually, I wish I hadn’t started writing this. I mean…if you stop and think about this too deeply you’ll despair.

Grown adults, paid wages, intelligent graduates all, working in teams, and they get out of bed each day and think up a massage to print on the plastic wrapping of a packet of t-shirts.

That’s what our economy is based on. People doing jobs like that.

There aren’t emoticons to express…


Hello sir, welcome to Next.

Modolf – Published: 27 Jan 2009

Adolf as a modOf course the big question that Political Historians have so far failed to answer is just what would the 20th Century have looked like if Hitler had been a mod?

For a start it’s hard to imagine anyone goose-stepping in bowling shoes. And the Blitzkrieg would surely not have crushed Poland quite so effectively if it had been the Lambretta-krieg.

A more positive hypothesis puts forward the idea that the whole of World War II may have been reduced to no more than a weekend of brawling with greasers and pigs on the seafront at Brighton.

A bottle of Pepsi, a snog with a local girl and a dance to The Who might have pacified the ambitious young Austrian. I suppose we’ll never know.

Next week, we look at what a New Romantic Joseph Goebbels might have been like.

Your heritage is safe with us – Published: 16 Dec 2008

Take a look at this amazing, grade one listed building in Leeds…

Temple Mills, Leeds

And then read about how well they’re looking after it

I remember studying this building for an ‘A’ level in art history. I thought at the time this structure should be a major attraction and celebrated, locally and nationally. Now parts are falling down.

Though this is a rather extreme example, you see this sort of thing all over in the North. Visit Liverpool and see dozens of fantastic buildings simply falling to bits.

Temple Mills

Temple Mills collapses