Put the brakes on
If it’s true that we are defined by the items we buy, then occasionally we can all be rather foolish. As anyone who ever owned one of those Philippe Starck for Alessi juicers will know, there are easier (if less elegant) ways to squeeze a citrus fruit.
Which brings us to a new product that was picking up some unwanted attention on social media last week: it is, essentially, a beautiful, hand-built, high-quality, made in England Pashley bicycle, but in the place where that gorgeous leather saddle should be, there is a bathroom sink. So this beautiful hand-built etc Pashley bicycle is, in fact, an immobile ornament for some hipster’s bathroom. Oh, and depending on which outlet you wish to buy it from (it’s the brainchild of a company called Arcade Bathrooms but it’s available from other suppliers including Victorian Plumbing), it will set you back the best part of £2,000.
Surely the venerable bicycle company had nothing to do with this? On the contrary, Pashley has partnered up with the plumbers and makes these bikes purely for the purpose. Does it not seem strange that Pashley is now making bikes that will never be ridden, I ask one employee. “Very,” he says, “but who are we to argue?”
Peak beard? The death of the hipster? We’ve read the editorials but now the concept has a physical form and it’s name is the “Arcade Pashley Bicycle with 600mm 3 Tap Hole Basin and Mixer Tap”.
Loser takes all
Writing in Psychology Today a few years ago, an “executive coach” called Ray Williams pointed out that: “America is obsessed with winning at everything. It translates from the war rooms to the athletic fields to the top of the corporate ladder.”
In the past few years, though, there are signs of a shift. Recent New York Times best-seller lists include a book called You Are Not Special, “a polemic urging kids to stop trying to be perfect”, and Congratulations, By the Way, which urges graduates to put kindness ahead of success.
A blogger and youth sports coach called Karrick Dyer last week posted a piece called “I Never Thought it Would End THIS Way”. In it, he sings the praises of his daughter, who had just missed the decisive kick in a high-school soccer penalty shoot-out. “Effective youth coaching is psychiatry and it is parenting,” he writes. “Many coaches fail to fill those needs because they falsely assume that they are training the next state champs. They fail to see each child beyond that day when the sports equipment goes in the yard sale or the closet.”
Dyer’s message to his fellow coaches? “While your players are dreaming of making that game-winning shot, you better spend some time preparing their toughness and character for missing it.”
The future’s in safe hands
Making a blockbuster speech to a party conference at a young age is not always a sure-fire indicator of world-changing political success (see William Hague), but those in the audience at the official launch of the Women’s Equality Party last week were united in their praise for a 17-year-old called Honor Barber, the co-founder of the Hampstead and Kilburn branch.
“Quotas may be scary,” Ms Barber told the room, “but not having equality when I’m 80 and you’re all dead is even scarier.” One attendee took to Facebook to say: “I wanted to get her autograph so that one day I can say that I was there when she made her first political speech.”
As Dom Joly has discovered (see page 44), these are tricky times for men of a certain age. Just last year, Matthew Richards was refused entry to Puxton Park in Somerset and, within days, the theme park announced it had banned adults unaccompanied by children. Soon, other child-friendly attractions followed suit.
This is, according to Lenore Skenazy – the founder of the Free Range Kids movement – an example of what she calls “worst-first thinking” and it happened recently to a man near his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The unnamed professor of English was sitting on a bench in his local park when he was surrounded by police.
Last week, he wrote “An Open Letter to the Neighbour Who Called the Police”, which was published in his local paper. “Suggestion,” he wrote, “the next time you suspect someone is up to no good, perhaps you should speak to them first. The policeman asked to see my flip phone and then asked me if I knew how he knew I had one. He knew, he told me, because the woman who called the police had taken a picture of me.
“The fact that you now have my picture on your phone is both sadly ironic and, well creepy. Could you please delete it?”
No rhyme or reason
Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:
It’s already had too much attention,
So forgive me this one little mention,
But beside the expense,
It just doesn’t make sense,
For a workie to manage your pension.
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