On my daily trudge into work, I pass a bus-stop with other wage-slaves queueing for a lift to Seaford, Peacehaven and beyond (Eastbourne perhaps!). The outerside of the shelter always a huge advert. Each time I read it, whatever it is, I experience a curious reverie of semiotic disgust.
For a long time there was an ad for a local sandwich bar called Subway. It was aimed at late night passersby because the line was “If you’re pubbing it or clubbing it ? sub it“.
Every morning, like Groundhog Day, that use of ‘it’ preyed on my mind. I tried to work out why, at least as far as the traffic light crossing. Perhaps it was an awful sense of all those lives furiously searching for something to do with ‘it’. Life, I suppose. The pub, the club, the sandwich bar: stages on life’s way.
There have been innumerable other ads since that branch of Subway closed. This week there’s a new one, for a novel. Robert Radcliffe’s Upon Dark Waters. The cover is a blue-filtered montage of vintage warships and a woman astride a horse framed against a majestic wilderness. You’re being asked to judge this book by its cover. Above it all, the marketing announcement asks you to embrace your gullibility: “Great storytelling is back in fashion“.
Yes. It’s been out of fashion for a long time hasn’t it? If it wasn’t for JK Rowling, the Star Wars sequence, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Philip Pullman, Zadie Smith, Jeffrey Archer, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, Danielle Steel, John Grisham and Patrick O’Brian, the world would still be awash with those story-hating modernists who have been dominating the scene of late.