Monday, September 29, 2008

Let's party like it's 1929

I was in hospital most of the day with a relative and had nothing much to do but watch tv - something that I don't do very much these days. I was glad that I did though - it's been a twilight zone of a day.

BBC1's morning line-up was a bizarre set of programmes themed around making money by buying houses, tarting them up and then selling them on at a profit, or finding bits of old tat in your house and selling it at a profit. This is the line-up. What does it tell us about the sort of society we have become?

10:00 am Homes Under the Hammer
11:00 am Open House
11:30 am Cash in the Attic
12:15 pm Bargain Hunt

In the middle of all this the news came on and announced that mortgage lending in August was only 5% of July. That's not 5% less than last month - it's 5% in total of last month. There is more money swishing around in this week's lottery winnings than we borrowed in August. While we're all blaming irresponsible bankers and their fat bonuses - I think the media also need to take some share of the blame, as do we. These "tart it up sell it on" tv shows are toxic - and there are so many of them on tv. If you listen to them, you hear the words "profit" and "money" again and again. Somehow - all the BBC tv presenters turned into covetous Fergenis.

It's like Daytime tv has no ethics at all. When you think about the BBC's original mission to educate, inform and entertain, you realise how far it has strayed. Now it's just about how to make money.

I wonder how much longer these shows can last? There was a rather "end of days" feel about "Open House" this morning. Camp and over-dressed presenter Kristian Digby had on a very ordinary couple who were wanting £355,000 for their very ordinary three bedroom home. Bearing in mind that the median wage in the UK is about £26,000 that'd mean you'd need to borrow about 14 times your salary to get that. Anyway, Christian got the couple to move all their clutter into storage, put in a downstairs toilet and get rid of "heavy dark furniture". After they held an "open house", they got one offer of £325,000. The couple refused the offer saying it was too low. Kristian kept talking about the "nervous market" and the screen kept flashing up the usefully contextualising information that this all happened back in May. I wonder whether the couple managed to sell - or whether they've now had it revalued? I wonder if Kristian will even have a job this time next month? As the programmes seem to have been made a few months ago, it will be interesting to see how increasingly desperate these sellers get - and the lengths that Kristian will have to resort to in order to get a sale. I also suspect that the natty sweaters and nice suits might end up being replaced by a shell-suit from Oxfam.

Kristian love - if I were you, I'd be getting your agent to see if you could present an "economising" show - you know, the sort of thing where they tell you how to rip out all your decking and plant potatoes in your garden instead. And rather than fussing over the latest Prada, you should get yourself a needle and thread and make your own clothes out of a pair of curtains.

I turned over to Channel 4 to watch a weird 1950s matinee called "Lost" about a kidnapped baby. Eerily there was an upbeat advert for Bradford and Bingley - they must have paid for the advertising space weeks ago.


P.Brownsey said...

Do you find cold callers irritating? There you were, rushing to the 'phone expecting a call from a friend, and it's someone trying to flog you a new kitchen. How annoying. Maybe you even register with the Telephone Preference Service so that you don't get plagued by such calls.

In much the same way, I am irritated by the fact that I can't walk in my local park without being cruised by men looking for sex. These people seem to have no thought of waiting for some signal that that's what I might be looking for. Jane Austen-wise, they seem to regard it as a truth universally acknowledged that a single man out for a walk must be in want of sex. Just as I want to say to advertising agencies and marketers, "Look, I am not just a selling opportunity," I want to say to the park cruisers, "Look, I'm not just a cruising opportunity." It could even be that if I don't want my boyfriend to be suspicious of what I'm up to, I now have to avoid that public park. Sure, when I was younger I cruised public places; now I think what a selfish and inconsiderate ***** I was.

Deborah Orr's piece is unfortunately phrased in some respects - the respects you mention - but in substance she's right.

P.Brownsey said...

Sorry - the above was meant as a comment on your Saturday piece about Deborah Orr on George Michael's "proclivities".