WELCOME TO A NEW ERA

WELCOME TO A NEW ERA

  Howard Saunders   Sep 19, 2022   Uncategorized   1 Comment

The new PM of GB is anointed by a Queen with only hours to live. Forty eight hours later a perfect rainbow arches across The Mall: images so dramatically poignant as to be verging on the mythical. I bet the writers of The Crown can’t believe their bloody luck. And so history is made and on a rainy Thursday afternoon a new era is born.

When Rishi was asked in the hustings to ‘name one public service that works well’ his answer could only be sarcastic. Left or right, we all know that government, local authorities, the Police, justice, education, transport, energy policy and the NHS have become sclerotic to the point of useless. We’re desperate for change and surely our opportunity must be now, as we hear the clunk of the zeitgeist shifting up a gear.

Decadence and complacency got us here. We daren’t heat our homes because we thought it was ok to rely on a mix of dictators and windmills for energy. We thought it was ok to import gas thousands of miles in diesel burning tankers, as long as we didn’t get blamed for the carbon. We watch armies of cranes constructing ‘sustainable’ buildings from glass, steel and concrete while we rinse our yogurt pots. We stop building reservoirs for the sake of the environment and then whine when they run dry after a fortnight of sunshine. We protest sexual objectification and then cavort ourselves silly on TikTok and Instagram. We bang saucepans proudly during lockdown but still curse like navvies while on hold for a doctor’s appointment. Blind to hypocrisy we lie to ourselves every day, every minute of the day from fear of alienation from polite society. We’re a living lie.

Old folks are expected to tut as the Progressive Train trundles by on its way to a future they won’t witness. But the young who cheer loudly as it gathers speed, shaking off its dusty past, have no idea where it’s heading. For much of its journey the Progressive Train had good, liberal-minded intentions but at the point we were told that punctuality is racist and schoolchildren should be free to identify as puppies, maybe we should have smelt a rat. Without old fashioned brakes, you see, the Progressive Train soon resembles the cartoon runaway version from Roadrunner, smashing everything in its path before plunging like a Slinky into the canyon below. That ain’t progress.

Young minds can be forgiven for thinking that because progress often demands the dismantling of tradition, it follows that the dismantling of tradition creates progress. Look where that got Chairman Mao. Similarly, just because truth can be a slippery fish it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to catch hold of the damn thing occasionally. Our once reliable mainstream media deliberately avoid news that doesn’t fit their narrative, and again, left or right, the majority of us know we’re being lied to most of the time. Omitting the full story is one thing but during the pandemic, it turns out, they actively demonised truth. That certainly ain’t progress.

Barely a year ago, questioning mask mandates and lockdowns would see you cancelled by the social media titans. Such totalitarian ‘kindness’ also saw otherwise intelligent, well-balanced adults harassing the unvaccinated and the sceptical with unhinged vitriol. Police arrested pensioners for sitting on park benches. ‘Friends’ and neighbours gleefully snitched on the non-compliant. Fights broke out in supermarkets over absent masks and toilet paper. These terrifying glitches in the natural order of the universe may be explained away by hysteria or mass formation, but they also gave us an invaluable glimpse into a dystopian future that none of us imagined could be so close.

Those of you who live outside the UK, or even staunch republicans who refused to be moved when the Queen had tea with Paddington, don’t think you’re exempt from our influence. We may be puny these days but we still pack a punch. British culture has wound itself like wisteria into billions of lives across the planet thanks largely to The Queen, The Beatles, JK Rowling, Shakespeare and, of course, Mr Bean.

History is organic, not linear, and just as the Georgian ‘free-love’ Romantics were the precursors to the mega-moral, industrious Victorians, perhaps we are finally turning our backs on the deconstructionists and their fantastical wokery to embrace the world of truth, logic and enterprise again. I certainly hope so. Our recent history will be wrapped and labelled soon enough but it sure feels like one almightily historic month. A month in which the future just took a screeching one-eighty.

This badly managed, rainy little island with no water suddenly has a new set of leaders clearly intent on a shake up as old school ties and school ma’amerisms have become de rigueur in Whitehall once again. Within a few short hours quick-draw Kwarteng christened his new broom by ousting an ‘exemplary’ mandarin, who was no doubt one of many human hurdles that have fetishised inertia into a fine art. If this last couple of weeks has taught us anything it’s that we can actually get our act together when we really want to. Bring it on, I say. Home grown energy, home dug reservoirs, reduced taxes and regulation, help for small business…why, the Carolean Age just might soften some of our home grown sclerosis. Of course we will grow to hate this lot as much as the last, but history draws its own lines in the sand once in a while and we’ve just crossed one. A future where independent shops and restaurants selling locally sourced product is coming to a high street near you sooner than you think. You never know, the good old stiff upper lip might even make a surprise return. (And no, not with a small black tash above it).

In a sense, the loss of the nation’s much loved Granny teaches us what most grannies teach us: that we are one tiny step in a long, long history, that families are central to our identity and wellbeing, that tradition gives us meaning, and that deeply held values live in our DNA and cannot be whitewashed away overnight.

Forever the short term pessimist but long term optimist, the era of truth, logic and enterprise could be just around the corner if we really want it. But we have to want it.

Follow me on Twitter @retailfuturist for daily insights and musings.

About Howard Saunders

The Retail Futurist, otherwise known as Howard Saunders, is a writer and speaker whose job it is to see beyond retail’s currently choppy waters. Howard spent the first twenty five years of his career at some of London’s most renowned retail design agencies, including Fitch & Company, where he created concepts, strategies and identities for dozens of British high street brands. In 2003 he founded trend-hunting agency, Echochamber, inspiring his clients with new and innovative store designs from across the globe. Howard relocated to New York in 2012 where the energetic regeneration of Brooklyn inspired his book, Brooklynization, published in 2017. His newfound role as champion for retail’s future in our town and city centres gave rise to the title The Retail Futurist. Howard has been interviewed on numerous television and radio programs and podcasts for BBC Radio 4, BBC Scotland, the British Retail Consortium, Sky News Australia and TVNZ, New Zealand. His talks are hi-energy, jargon-free journeys that explore the exciting, if not terrifying, retail landscape that lies ahead. When not in retail mode, Howard has recorded, literally, thousands of digital music masterpieces, most of which remain, thankfully, unheard.

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