Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Made in England

At the weekend, I had occasion to notice the phrase "Made in England" printed on the side of a Philips Avent baby bottle. It struck me that this is a phrase you just don't see very often any more. Likewise, you don't often see "Made in Britain" or even "Made in UK", and that's a bit sad, isn't it? As a country, or collective of countries, we don't really have much in the way of manufacturing industry left, do we? So hooray for the baby bottle, right? Okay, so it's hardly heavy industry, is it - it's not a car production line, or a coal mine, or a steelworks, or a ship yard, but at least it's actually made in this country. Pity that the parent company is Dutch, so the profits go overseas, but hey, you can't have everything in life, right?

This got me thinking about what we do actually make in this country, if not proper "things". I started making a list and came up with overpaid footballers, tabloid journalism, the worship of so-called celebrities, corrupt politicians and a morally-bereft society. At that point, I decided I should stop making the list. Instead of letting my own malaise run riot, I decided instead to do what everyone does these days when in search of an answer - I turned to Google, and asked the question, "what does Britain lead the world in?" Depressingly, these are the answers.

Per capita, Britain is the world's:
  • biggest producer of arms;
  • biggest importer of wine;
  • biggest consumer of fast food;
  • most surveilled nation, with around four million CCTV cameras.
Yes, I know what you're going to say. Surely the US makes more weapons and eats more fast food? Well, yes, in total, but these are figures per capita - per head of population. So, guns, booze, burgers, snooping - remind me again what puts the Great in Great Britain?

By the time my train of thought had barrelled through this station, I returned to that original phrase on the baby bottle - "Made in England". In an effort to improve my mood, I started thinking about a TV show from the early days of Channel 4 called Prospects. It starred the late Gary Olsen, who went to find more mainstream fame in 2.4 Children, and was pretty good, though I remember it most for the theme music, which was by a band called (can you guess?)... Made In England. (See what I did there?) It featured Ray Dorsey on vocals, and was so good I bought the show's soundtrack to get it, even though the rest of the songs on there really weren't up to much.

That soundtrack is, as I write, in a box 165 miles away and besides, the tape it's on has probably oxidised by now anyway. However, by the magic of YouTube I can at least present you with the title sequence from the show, featuring the truly excellent Prospects by Made In England. Enjoy.

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