Friday, August 11, 2006

Ivan’s Site of the Week

This week, why not take a quick peek into the abyss with Bad Gas’ merciless analysis of the Pound Store phenomenon. Viewed alongside their elaborate deconstruction of the semiotics of fried chicken restaurants, nail care parlours and dodgy fly-by-night churches, you’re sure to come away with a real and chilling insight into the horrors of the Great British underclass.

To me, not the least alarming thing about the site is its almost academic quality in both breadth and depth, not to mention the fact that the phenomena described are instantly recognizable to any Londoner. It’s hard to say what’s more depressing – that it’s all literally true, or that these folks were sufficiently motivated to go out and document it all in such loving – or at least passionate - detail.

Maybe it’s time they just moved?


The Great British Pound Store, yesterday, in its natural habitat (Newham E6, to be precise). A sight to gladden the heart of anyone sitting 3500 miles away…

28 comments:

johnnyboy said...

Ah yes, making fun of the poor, always such a good sport. After all, if they're poor it's because they deserve it, right ?
I take it there's no dollar stores in your neighborhood. How nice for you. I suppose they bus the poor out - don't want to offend nice people's sensibilities, or affect real estate prices.

Seamus said...

Johnny, which part of Ivan's post exactly is "making fun of the poor."?

Ivan the Terrible said...

Well, to be fair to JB, Bad Gas doesn't have a comments box, so he has to vent somewhere. Go right ahead, Johnny - don't edit yourself... :)

PI said...

Never mind making fun of the poor - what about sneering at the British??????

Desargues said...

These kids are to Theodore Dalrymple what Dave Eggers is to Joseph Conrad.

PI said...

I don't see how you can talk about 'the poor' as if they are one amorphous lump. Like all classes of society they are composed of individuals - some good some bad. This is so bloody obvious that I despair of intellectuals.
I could rant all night!

Ivan the Terrible said...

The interesting this is that there is indeed a dollar store within about ten minutes drive of my place. It is very respectable and no stigma attaches to it whatsoever. We've used it ourselves. Hackneyed as it may seem, this unexpectedly sensitive nerve that the Bad Gas article has touched is just a reflection of peculiarly British class (and under-class) sensitivities. The answer to your plaintive cry, Pi, is that only Britain would produce Bad Gas, and only a Brit would understand the joke.

In America, on the other hand, poverty is either regional or ethnic. No-one could write up Dollar Stores in the same way because no-one feels that way about them or talks about "the poor". Instead, America's cynics will crack jokes about rednecks, trailer-trash, blacks, latinos and Puerto Ricans, whose poverty is almost incidental to their broader stereotypes. That doesn't make America better - just different.

Life of a Banana said...

is this a Formalist, Satrian, Barthesian, Derridaian, Foucaltian, or Kristevian deconstruction of the semiotics of pop culture and what level of connotation and denotation.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Too many Frenchmen in that list for my taste, LOAB. Hobbesian might work, tho'...

R. Sherman said...

Point of order: What the hell are "fancy goods?"

Cheers.

PI said...

IoaB : do stop showing off!!!

poltroon said...

A sight to gladden the heart of anyone sitting 3500 miles away…...until he passes the local Dollar General in his Chevy Impala, that is.

Kieran said...

I think Eric Cantona's neo-durkheimian perspective on the British lumpenproletariat is particularly pertinent to this discussion. I'd also like to point out at this juncture that humanity is, in a sense, one giant amorphous lump of false consciousness, at least that's what Tom Cruise told me. You know the thing about pound shops, at least in West Yorkshire, is that a lot of their items cost more than a pound. That's just as disapointing as discovernig that Tie Rack don't actually sell any tie racks at all.

Life of a Banana said...

Pat: oopps, i thought this is a show what your arse can shit out blog,,,hahhahaha.

Life of a Banana said...

By the way, i did't know that semiotics and deconstruction are Hobbes's. It's always been Barthesian semiotics and Derrida deconstruction. You are the one who used those jargons.

Life of a Banana said...

oopps, sorry about my language Ivan.

Aunty Marianne said...

I've got a well-meaning, not too bright aunt, not well off, who insists on buying the entire family Christmas presents from pound shops. They are always useless. We have told her not to waste her money on them, but she still insists on gifting us lurid pink plastic sponge bags with cheap zips that break immediately etc every year.

It drives us nuts. A Chrimbo card more than does the job.

I blame these shops. They prey on the simple. They are evil.

Life of a Banana said...

forgot to mention, great blog! very stimulating!

Ivan the Terrible said...

By Hobbes, LOAB, I was thinking more along the lines of "war of every man against every man" where there are "...no arts; no letters; no society; ... and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." But I appreciate the references re Barthes and Derrida. Now I know who to blame :)

Kieran - you stay away from that Tom Cruise, you hear? That short-arse little twat is nothing but trouble.

And Aunty - remember that it's the thought that counts. Also that she might know exactly what she's doing, and that perhaps you should just stop inviting her...

Seamus said...

The Pound Shop has disappeared in ireland thanks to the Euro. Now there are EURO2 (that "2" should be in superscript, so it should be pronounced "Euro Squared") stores instead. And near where I type this there's one called "Euro Non Cents" which is a sort of generic under-five-euro shop.

Another reason to resist the advances of Captain Euro , difficult as it is to resist such professionally made propaganda...

Desargues said...

If LoaB wants to get into fancy Gallic gibberish, he should be advised that Barthes and Derrida are well on their way out. And so is Gilles Deleuze. Baudrillard is not doing too well, either. These days in the English departments of the Western Hemisphere (no, I don't work in one of them), it's Lacoue Labarthe and Alain Badiou that are all the rage. Equally incomprehensible Frogs, if you ask me, but they sell really well, they tell me.

It is a sign of the economic strength of America that they can afford to sell in Dollar Empires* the same sort of shit Britons need a Pound Store to peddle (while the sluggish Continentals have to fork out 2 Euros for it). But I guess that's what makes China a great country.

* The Maryland equivalent of Ivan's $1 stores. Here on the Left Coast, we have a place called, appropriately, '99¢ Dreams.' Take that, Albion!

Gorilla Bananas said...

I'd rather be poor than French, but fortunately I'm neither. I once heard of a man who sold all his possessions to avoid being poor.

PI said...

You boys be nice to LoaB. I pointed him in this direction

Ivan the Terrible said...

Really, Pi - quite frankly, putting a banana next to a gorilla was just asking for trouble.

R. Sherman said...

The Yank in the back still doesn't know what the hell "fancy goods" are, dammit.

Cheers.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Only one way to find out, Randall - step on inside and enter the heart of darkness...

rodw said...

Here in Oz, we don’t have pound stores because we got rid of them in 1963 and went all metric. So we call our pound store equivalents ‘Crazy Prices’, ‘Clints Crazy Bargains’, ‘Crazy Clarks’, and ‘Silly Sollys’ (Solly rebelled against the naming convention). Anyway, the common theme (for the slow witted), is that these retailers are crazy, because everything is so cheap!!! Clearly we are light-years ahead of the Brits in terms of marketing crap stores.

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