Monday, 10 November 2014


I am not one for nostalgia. The allure of steam trains, pipe smoking and warm beer seems to me massively overrated. UKIP may look fondly backwards but hankering for the past doesn’t create a useful platform for developing the future. Indeed almost everything about the present seems to me a massive improvement - from restaurants to transport to houses everything has simply got cleaner, cheaper and more efficient.

But three times this week I felt a little twitch of affection for long lasting treasures which were they not here we’d be really sorry.

The BBC is obvious enough but the way this organisation is currently reinventing itself is astounding. Dr Who was always good but now it’s reaching Shakespearian levels, similarly Sherlock which has an intellectual power and narrative drive we see seldom except in Stoppard.

And it stretches to C-Beebies - in my days the poncy-voiced lady said accusingly “are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin”. She terrified me. Even John Humphrys has become human on the Today Programme as Cherry Owen in Under Milk Wood asking Mrs Cherry Owen (played by Cerys Matthews) to “give us a kiss”. This, after being called a “silly sausage “by Johnny Rotten in an interview. What fun. What a brilliant apostle for change “Auntie” has become.

And then the Co-op dubbed a joke company following the escapades of the Reverend Flowers and the departure of top management. But you know something? Following the Tesco story and the way the city is walking all over our grocers something stands out. The Co-op may be flawed and foolish but at least it’s authentic in its foolishness. It’s like the Archers full of humanity not behaving like a crooked MBA. Its latest advertising for its bank (proof its feet are made of damp clay) - “ethics, values and a tattoo parlour” is dreadful.

Beware a person who says “ me. I’m honest”. But beware a London ad agency for leading the good old Co-op down the smooth ad campaign route. The Co-op is authentic, real, has values and some great products. Focus on the facts and the stories but not in glossy ads. The Co-op is not nor should ever be glossy. But I still it love it warts and all.

And finally people: the diversity I recently saw in Shoreditch which more resembled New York than the London of cosy Soho. Or the laconic conversation I had in a Brighton Lidl about the weather with a quite large lady whose basket seemed alarmingly full of pies.

The Treasury has confirmed what we lovers of immigration have always known (immigration, by the way, creates what has always made the country we live in what it is- a brilliant mish-mash of talent, diversity and resourcefulness.) The Treasury news is this: immigrants bring a net £20 billion to the economy.

£20,000,000, 000 - thank you.

The BBC, the Co-op and our people - human, imperfect and brilliant. We are so lucky.

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