Friday, 28 November 2008

‘Deck The Halls With Conspicuous Consumption, Tra La La La La…’

Carol singing brownies and guides have been banned from a shopping centre because they are considered a health and safety risk.

The girls, whose ages range from five up to teenagers, have sung for pensioners and disabled people at a late night Christmas shopping event at the Marlowes centre in Hemel Hempstead, Herts for more than 20 years.
Ahh, but we can’t have that! There’s no room for tradition, when we need to spend, spend, spend to bring about Gordon’s financial revival. Why, every Brownie or Guide occupying valuable shopping space is one less shopper helping the country recover by putting Christmas on his or her Barclaycard!
But the centre's managers have not invited the 100+ members of the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides this year because they will obstruct fire escape routes.
Inanimate objects can ‘obstruct fire escape routes’. Animate Guides and Brownies, not so much. I’m presuming these Brownies and Guides aren’t securely chained to the floor? Boy George isn’t the musical director, is he?

In other words, this isn’t a ‘health and safety’ problem at all, it’s simply the centre’s managers using it as a cop out.
Today, West Herts Guides Division Commissioner Gill Oxtoby said: 'It is a big event for us. Last year we had more than 100 girls and they and the shoppers really enjoyed the singing.

'It's such a shame because it's been a long tradition going on for more than 20 years and has allowed the girls to give some service to the community.

'We weren't even told that we couldn't attend. I went to ask what date it was and that's when I found out.'
Of course you weren’t told – you are the wrong sort of people for the centre; you clutter up the valuable shopping areas with your singing, and might make some shoppers think twice about whether they need those Chinese-made Christmas tinsel-tree decorations for the front room after all.

And someone might complain about the lack of diversity, and ask for space for their own singers, or request reggae, or rap instead. Can’t have that…
Marketing manager Eileen Gannon said: 'With changes made to the centre's Christmas decorations and trade units there simply isn't space for a huge number of performers.

'We're disappointed, but our priority has to be the safety of people inside the centre.'
Heh. More likely, the safety of their wallets….
Another centre worker said: 'There were a lot of Brownies last year and they caused absolute chaos.'
How? By running riot? Or by getting in the way of people buying overpriced tat?

And yes, they do indeed have the right to bar them from the centre, and to pursue Gordon’s dream of relentless borrowing instead to prop up an increasingly shaky economy. Just as shoppers are within their rights to go elsewhere, should they prefer the sound of carols to the sound of credit-card PIN keypads….

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