Lunch will eat itself
My local Sainsbury's Local, on the Fulham Palace Road, has started putting up all sorts of notices around the drinks section, masquerading as serving suggestions but presumably designed to prompt you to go back and buy the suggested accompaniments before you hit the checkout.
The masquerade, however, is more substantial than they may have realised. One notice that caught my eye read as follows:
Try serving your ale with thick slices of ham, cheddar cheese, apples and chunky bread for an authentic ploughman's.An authentic ploughman's? There's no such thing. I learned this twenty years ago when sitting through Richard Eyre's The Ploughman's Lunch, which employed that item as a metaphor to describe Thatcherism, or at least the manufactured account of a British past by which it buttressed itself.
Make people believe something that's false and then they'll make it true by buying it: that was the way it seemed to work, back in the days when a political party could be notorious simply for using an advertising agency. How different then than now, when they are dominated by the marketing operation to the extent that the difference between one and the other is not immediately apparent:
The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.My first assumption, on being reminded of the ploughman and his anachronistic lunch, was that this was something that the marketing kids concerned would not have been aware of - being, if nothing else, too young to have even heard of the film. Or, quite likely, being Thatcher's Children, born and brought up in a age defined by marketing, that even had they seen the film they would not have grasped the point of it.
But then it occurred to me that perhaps they were very well aware of it. It must surely be referred to in advertising circles, even if only as a critique of what they do: and they might even (at a very long shot) have deployed the phrase slyly and ironically, to draw attention, for the benefit of the informed observer, to their own awareness of the falsity of what they were doing. To use the false to communicate the truth about the falsehood: too unlikely, really. And too complicated a sequence to get my head around. On a Monday lunchtime, anyway.