Lady Bracknell perorates on the proliferation of seasonal ceramics
In the halcyon days of Lady Bracknell's youth, when there were but three television channels, and when only one of those was commercial, there was very considerably less pressure put on those of an easily-persuadable nature to plunge themselves into debt in the pursuit of objects which could not, by any leap of imagination, be deemed vital to the continuance of day to day life.
It is true that all but the poorest households would have two sets of china, one of which was kept for 'best'. But what they did not have were entire sets of china themed for use solely on a specific high day or holiday.
This is a trend which began some years ago with Christmas. Thick, glossy catalogues - which were squeezed through letterboxes by perspiring postmen - arrived, containing page after page of photographs of aspirational dining tables groaning under the combined weight of Christmas table cloths; Christmas glassware; Christmas candlesticks; Christmas napkins; Christmas centre-pieces; and jolly Christmas dinner services. Christmas tea-towels were also available, lest the post-Christmas dinner washing-up session seem too distressingly mundane.
Easter followed much more recently. Messrs Marks and Spencer (or, more probably, their descendents) filled their display windows with pastel-coloured ceramics featuring fluffy bunnies, yellow Easter chicks, and gambolling lambs.
And now, apparently, it is the turn of Hallowe'en to be blessed in this way. Something which Lady Bracknell discovered on one of her very rare ventures into real, physical shops yesterday afternoon. Now, Lady Bracknell is not unaware that the odious tradition known as "trick or treating" has, of late, gained a stronghold in this country. (Although quite why any responsible non-Mafia parent would wish to encourage his or her offspring to demand sweeties with menaces is a phenomenon her ladyship cannot understand.) She is aware, also, that innocent householders feel duty bound to have ready copious quantities of garishly coloured confections to bestow upon parties of amusingly costumed small children for fear that, if no such treats are forthcoming, their front doors or windows will be pelted vengefully with flour or eggs.
But is there really any need for the sweeties to be proffered to the importunate youngsters from a ceramic platter of a particularly spooky design, such as the one pictured on the right? It is not that Lady Bracknell is unmoved by colourful ceramics. But, given the modest proportions of the majority of modern homes, she cannot for the life of her imagine where bulky objects such as this are stored on the 364 days of the year on which their use would be inappropriate. Readers who themselves experience chronic pain, fatigue, or both would, Lady Bracknell imagines, share her concern that, should they purchase such items for their own use, they would be highly unlikely to have the energy to retrieve them from whichever inaccessible corner of the house they had consigned them to for storage on the dates on which they wished to use them.
Lady Bracknell is by no means averse to all of the paraphernalia associated with Halloween but would, for Bracknell Towers, choose something decorative which was both smaller and easier to store. She is very much taken, for example, with the stained glass bat which this ebay seller is offering. Not only do the design and the craftsmanship appeal to her ladyship, but she is quietly confident that Mr Bat, when his services are no longer required, could very easily be wrapped in tissue paper and slipped into a drawer.
Lady Bracknell's friend Alva has just drawn her attention to The Holiday Sweater entry in Shoeblogs. Readers are strongly urged to click on the link. They will not be disappointed.