I don’t think I’ve been into British Home Stores since I was dragged there to get some forgotten item of school uniform, probably a shirt or a grey V-necked jumper. Is it possible to by grey V-necked jumpers anywhere else?

Maybe the grey V-necked jumper and cream chino market has fallen into fast decline. I blame those bloody schools that sell sweatshirts with logos on, and men over 40 who think they have any right to wear anything other than cream chinos and lightly-checked shirts under their car coats. Sweatshirts for small children? Children who — at least used to — run around all day in states of high excitement, think of the olfactory organ headmasters and governors. Maybe that’s the reason kids aren’t as energetic these days, they’re too afraid of wet patches under the arms of their grubby blue jerkin things.

So, no I’ve not been into British Home Stores. I have, however, been past the outlet on New Street in Birmingham this week. At first I thought the shop had closed and been taken over by one of those ‘anything for £5’ shops, those boils on retail that blast awful chart ‘rnb’ at you as you hurry past (and who said they could use ‘rnb’ as a genre? R’n’B is early Stones, early Who…). But no, the management of the venerable BHS have decided to employ the lowest market tactics available. They’re not competing on price, quality, ambience, or heaven forbid ‘cool’. No.

They’ve employed someone to shout “come here, come get your luveryly V-necked school jumpers and cream chinos”, and not in a chirpy cockerny market stall way either. A dull monotone hawker skulks out of sight, drawling about “store credit cards” — the mating call of the terminally feckless shopper — through a PA too small to do the job in anything more than buzzing compression.

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Bhs, you may as well pack up now.

4 thoughts on “Speakers you shall find

  1. Always surprised that Philip Green has been so successful with TopShop, but has totally failed with BHS. The problem is it doesn't know who it is meant to be enticing through its doors…a bit like Littlewoods….it wants to be Marks and Spencers and can't admit it's Primark.

  2. “and who said they could use ‘rnb’ as a genre? R’n'B is early Stones, early Who…”

    That's a tired and silly trope, Jon, and usually used by people far beneath you. In terms of first useage, R'n'B “is” Fats Domino, Louis Jordan, Ray Charles etc. You might just as easily tell the old British bands that they can't use the name (admittedly they were only one step removed rather than two).

  3. Ah, in my defence I was in a foul mood about the BHS thing. I'd still contend that both the early R'n'B you speak of and the British rhythm and blues copyists were part of one genre. What gets called rnb these days is a completely different style of music. It's like me inventing a sub-genre of donk and calling it baroque.

  4. Only one extra step removed, I think. R'n'B + Britification whitification = Stones. R'n'B + gospel churchiness = soul, then soul + hip hop and/or modern dance-pop = modern R'n'B.

    Obviously that's massively simplified.

    This is also hugely off-topic so I'll shut up about it.

    The idea of having a shouter seems amusingly quaint, somewhat like BHS itself in fact.

    Few seem to remember that Sainsbury's Savacentre in Oldbury (there may be more elsewhere but I've never seen them) was originally co-owned by both Sainsbury's and BHS.

    Although really that's off-topic too.

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