As another institution of the Great British High Street dies a sorry death, we pay tribute to our nation's favourite stores still thriving.
People of Britain, there’s really no need to listen to Mary Portas. What the love child of Mary Quant and Emu doesn’t realise is Britain’s favourite shops are also the most comically shitty.
Let’s be honest, we are nation of people who – up until fairly recently – thought that Ronnie Barker trapping his hand in the till whilst staring at Nurse Gladys’ norks was an accurate representation of the retail sector. Pop up guerrilla shops, flashy flagship stores, massive shopping malls- they’re all lost on us. The average British person staggers around open mouthed holding a piece of paper with ‘BUY TROUSERS’ written on it, and ends up sitting comatose in Nandos with 10 Yankee candles and a subscription to Sky.
Luckily though, the real British high street is alive and well – awash with low expectations, back-of-a-lorry party poppers, ugly jumpers, inedible sandwiches and pink cowboy hats. Allow me to demonstrate.
Yes, feminists, we burned our bras for this, a dark cavern of cheap knickers and badly crafted dildos that confuses sexual confidence with owning a packet of knob shaped pasta. Ann Summers is the be-thonged arsehole of Britain, parping out charmless hen night novelties to women who think it’s ‘fun’ to drink a pint of vodka and Red Bull out of a condom while wearing fluffy handcuffs. Amazingly, just looking at the underwear can give you thrush AND the clap at the same time. Whoo! Women’s lib!
When Sir Philip Green and Kate Moss are basking on the sun deck of his yacht, I often wonder whether he’s thinking ‘God, BhS is really fucking naff, isn’t it?’ Because I think that every time I walk past it. I’ve never actually felt sorry for a shop, but Bhs fills me with the kind of numb despair I feel when I see a Red Cross appeal featuring a crying child covered in flies. The ghastly clothes, the hideous Christmas gifts, the mind-numbing packs of white girl’s school socks – all wrapped up in acres of bland beige and unflattering strip lighting. An absolute travesty.
“Ann Summers is the be-thonged arsehole of Britain, parping out charmless hen night novelties to women who think it’s ‘fun’ to drink a pint of vodka and Red Bull out of a condom while wearing fluffy handcuffs.”
If you can see through the scrum of manky mingers fighting each other over a pair of £3 jeans, there are bargains galore to be had at this king of crap shops. Unfortunately those bargains may consist of a pair of lemon joggy bottoms with ‘Lanzarote’ embroidered on the arse in neon, but still. They’re only £1.99 and they’ll look great on you as you waddle to the job centre with a sausage roll hanging out of your mouth.
Which brings us nicely to Greggs, the lowbrow high street bakery that takes on M&S Food and Pret A Manger and slashes their smug granary faces with a rusty bread knife. Greggs appeals to all demographics using the unfettered power of pastry, a delicious untapped resource so powerful it could be used in modern warfare to stun the enemy. (Rumour has it that Greggs is developing a top secret goat and opium lattice bake which will fuck the Taliban up for weeks). From malnourished toddlers to Milla Jovovich and Rhianna, Greggs is the crap bakery we can all agree on. Mmm – trans fats.
Holland and Barrett
Do you enjoy browsing through acres of unappetising dried fruit that looks like sheep’s dangleberries? Do you often find yourself pining for a large tub of super strength selenium with a zinc chaser? Well visit Holland and Barrett, the nation’s most depressing shop, which sells things no human being could ever possibly want – like dates. If this piss poor excuse for a health food shop is the only thing standing between us and the KFC Zinger bucket, no wonder we’re all costing the NHS millions.
Of course, there are thousands more. How about Bon Marche, (which in French means ‘Good God, Run!’)? Or O’Briens, which is admittedly Irish, not British, but is still shot through with shite like a stick of shit rock – as anyone who has sampled the ‘Shambo’ will testify. Then there are pound shops, firework shops, Clinton’s Cards, Barratts shoe shops – the list is endless. Yes, despite all the fabulous displays and clever design tricks of the major retailers, it seems that all the British public really wants is a wind-up willy and a dirty great pie.
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