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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Thursday, February 08, 2007

In which we learn that only heterosexual persons buy one another chocolate

The Editor is currently receiving a plethora of emails from purveyors of goods and services suggesting that their website holds the perfect gift for Valentine's Day. Most are deleted unread. However, the Editor's fondness for dark chocolate tempted her to open the one from Green & Black.

In a break from the usual sentimental drivel about "the one you love" deserving the most expensive item on the website (and this despite it having only very recently been Christmas, and therefore probably safe to assume that you very recently showered the individual in question with a variety of lovingly-chosen gifts for which he or she is still desperately trying to find space), Green and Black have a more novel approach.

This is what they say:

"Dear Editor,

Valentine's Day is looming - is that bunch of 'whatever as long as they're red' really going to cut it? Possibly not. So why not drop your lover a subtle hint? Forward this email onto him immediately.

All he has to do is visit our online gifting service where he'll find a deliciously tempting range of Valentine ideas, beautifully presented and stylishly wrapped. Each gift contains a sumptuous selection of Green & Black's intense chocolate and delivers immensely more pleasure than anything you're ever likely to put in a vase.

Gifts are wonderful things. They're even better when they're gifts you actually want. So send him this email and make sure he gets it right.

The Green & Black's Team"

There are two issues here. The first is that Lady Bracknell was brought up in a world in which one did not know the financial cost of the gifts one received, and it would have been considered the height of bad manners to ask. Sending the Green & Black email to "him" is surely the modern-day equivalent of dragging "him" by the ear to the local chocolatier's, pointing at the confection one most desires, and saying, "Get me one of those, Humphrey. You can surprise me with it on Valentine's Day.".

Is this what now passes for romance? At exactly what point did it become acceptable to pour scorn on the gifts one's significant other chooses to the point where one decides he can no longer be permitted to actually do the choosing himself, and that one is entitled to "make sure he gets it right"? Are Green & Black sending their male customers an equivalent email in which the masculine pronouns are exchanged for feminine ones? Are both genders permitted to dictate their choice of gift? And, if one is dictating one's choice of gift, might it not be a great deal simpler all round if one just bought it for oneself? When did we, as a nation, become so deplorably acquisitive that the gift became more important than the intentions of the giver?

Secondly, unless Green & Black have been carrying out extensive surveillance into the Editor's private life, how can they be sure that she is straight? The answer, of course, is that they can not be sure: they are merely making an assumption. An assumption which, in light of the fact that 10% of their customers are very probably gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered, could cost them very dear. It simply beggars belief that any marketing team, in this day and age, should have so little awareness of the diversity of what Lady Bracknell believes is called their "customer base".

Have these people never heard of the pink pound? Or is their company so embarrassingly successful that they can afford to simply throw away 10% of their turnover? (Lady Bracknell has been watching Dragons' Den on the television: note how cleverly she avoided the trap of equating sales with profit. She feels rather proud of herself, and believes she may be possessed of previously-unsuspected financial acumen.)

Perhaps the marketing team are not entirely ignorant of diversity issues. Perhaps they considered the problem their email presents, and concluded that replacing "him" with the grammatically incorrect "them" in order to avoid a firm indicator of gender would be more likely to be offensive to their homophobic customers than the current implication that only straight people are entitled to Valentine's Day gifts is to their LGBT ones. Which, if true, would be rather more disturbing than it having never occurred to them in the first place that their heterosexuality bias might cause offence.

Lady Bracknell wishes to make it abundantly clear that she has no criticism of Green & Black's products: her criticisms are confined to their method of marketing them. Oh, and to their unforgivable use of the barbarous term, "online gifting service", of course.


Blogger The Goldfish said...

A certain lingerie shop has run a service similar to Green & Blacks for some years, sold on the idea that men (again, apparently the only one's buying lingerie for women) are useless, lack the cunning to discover their female loved-one's tastes or bra-size and thus need their obligations spelling out to them - very expensive obligations too.

And worse.

From the 14th February for a few days, they run a service (for an extra charge) whereby you can buy lingerie for a loved-one to be received with a note of apology for the delay from the company itself. Thus it can be made to look as if it was the company's mistake that lead to the item being late, as opposed to the donor who had forgotten about Valentine's Day.

May I recommend Lavendar Lifestyles, who supply Valentine's Cards for women to send to women and men to send to men.

11:13 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Love is... knowing your partner's favourite chocolate without being forwarded marketing emails.

11:31 am  
Blogger seahorse said...

But I do love Green and Blacks. It is good for my condition and I treasure each bar even more so that little Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, who only got one bar of chocolate on his birthday. Valentine's Day doesn't exist in our household, but I will as usual be purchasing a Green and Blacks product this week in an act of self love. Is this so terrible?

12:52 am  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Historically there seem to have been three possible St Valentines.

Unfortunately they were all martyrs and probably also celibate.

Appropriate response to giving the wrong gift?

10:25 am  
Anonymous Vic said...

I do find it bizzare that we are expected to by presents when we haven't got even an idea of what to get; and sad that this (seemingly reasonably often, according to marketing at this time of year) applies to one's partner.

Has the Editor discover Booja Booja chocolate?

11:42 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...


There is absolutely nothing wrong with treating oneself. And, if one is going to do it, Green and Black's chocolate is an excellent choice.


Curse you for your knowledge of obscure chocolatiers! I see your Booja Booja, and I raise you Theobroma Cacao!

The Editor

12:19 pm  
Blogger belledame222 said...

gah. I like Green and Black's chocolate too, but that is icksome.

"Booja Booja" is a great name, almost worth buying for all by itself.

9:00 pm  
Anonymous Vic said...

LOL! Right, let me see *strokes chin pensively* Plamil? No, I've got it: Jungle Passion. *confident smile*. No, not another interminable "reality" TV show. I think the Editor might approve of their motto: Chocolate and other necessities.

Booja Booja, great name for great chocolates!

11:08 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...


The Editor

12:11 pm  
Blogger MissPrism said...

Amedei Porcelana is the best chocolate I've ever tasted. It is, however, £5 a bar.

In the States, there was a brand called Dagoba infused with lavender or chai spice. Mmm.

5:06 pm  

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