Wednesday, 28 January 2015

As Close As A Blade

It can be truly said that barely more than a generation ago you could tell a lot about a British family by how many buttons they had on their TV set and what they did with them.

This was, of course, back in the days when in order to watch a TV programme one had to switch on the set approximately 3 days in advance so it could warm up and that in order to do you had to get up from your sofa, walk across the room and press a switch (oh, the humanity!), bang the set a little  and then wait.

By the time you had sat down again there would be the beginnings of sound and then, shortly thereafter, there would be a steady black-and-white picture. 

Of course, in these days, there were only 4 buttons on the telly – the on/off button and 3 channel buttons: none of which were ever touched because, of course, there was only one channel that any right minded British person would watch.

For most people owning those early boxes things started going wrong when those additional buttons started being the home to programmes. Obviously there was the BBC – that bastion of England, where radio presenters wore dinner jackets and everyone spoke in a clipped Etonian accent: unless they were interrupted by Winston Churchill saying something extremely patriotic. Then later there was BBC 2 and already there were mumblings that perhaps this was a channel too many.

When ITV came along with its adverts pumping their way into your home, bringing soap operas and light entertainment in their wake there was a lot of frowning and disapproving puffing on pipes being done across the land. My own father can clearly remember watching ITV with his father’s disapproving glare on his back: the second he glanced anywhere else my grandfather would reach over and switch back to the only proper channel. In these days of course there was no morning telly, broadcasting would stop around bedtime for children and programs would stop entirely at midnight.

When Channel 4 and later Channel 5 came along forcing us to buy sets with extra buttons there was practically a civil war.

It was whilst I was having a shave the other night that I found myself thinking along these lines and remembering the old adverts for Remington that were fronted by entrepreneur Victor Kiam with his 2 famous catchphrases “so good I bought a company” and “shaves as close as a blade or your money back”

Now I have to admit that I am something of an infrequent shaver - whereas growing up I was constantly told stories of ancestors who had survived Ypes and never missed a day’s shave I am often known for going several days without trimming the old face fuzz and generally only shave when it becomes properly itchy. Additionally if I am poorly (i.e. cold) I may leave this longer so as to truly feel well once the symptoms have started to pass.

This is because I truly feel there is something nice about a really good shave that one has waited for – if you shave every day you can begin to take this for granted, whereas if you wait a few days until the stubble is annoying you and then have a really good, close pruning session your face feels much more refreshed for it. Additionally about 12 years or so ago I went over to shaving with a blaze and, aside from the inevitable cuts, I have never looked back.

But even I, on those days when I finally do get round to momentarily not looking like a vagabond or extremely cheap rate Pirates of the Caribbean reject, cannot quite understand what it must have been like for Victor when presented with this amazing piece of technology he didn’t merely think “gosh this is quite good, I must thank my wife for her thoughtful gift” – which most sane people would have done – but instead decided to go out and buy an entire company.

It makes me wonder what kind of life he had lead up until that point that he could be so amazed by a simple razor (always assuming she didn’t buy him the Remington Fuzz Away for nasal hair removal) – and I can’t help but wonder what his wife’s reaction was.

“Honey: I like that so much I’m going to go out and buy the company!”

“Dammit: I knew I should have bought him slippers!”

Maybe we all need to pay more attention when using everyday items, perhaps one of you out there reading this could, upon opening your next tube of toothpaste, realise that this is the minty freshness that everyone needs and become the next Victor Kiam?

Oh and by the way...I still rarely watch ITV...

We still have some standards here you know!


Stephen Hayes said...

I don't think there's much of a chance I'll be buying a company, no matter how pleased I am with their products.

The Bug said...

I have the exact same theory about shaving my legs - ha!

And no, I am no entrepreneur - I'd rather just sit around & read blogs :)

Lydia said...

Your commentaries regarding anything at all having to do with your life there is always fascinating to me. Who knew about the buttons corresponding to stations? As you know, I am a fan of the BBC, so that would be my worn-out button.

Never heard anyone speak about the joy of a shave after not having had one for a bit. Makes perfect sense. Willow just jumped up on my lap and my comment is, thus, interrupted and over!