Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Luxury goods for luxury people

My local Tesco Express has turned into a weirdly inverted communist Russia. I don’t know if it is something to do with increased fuel prices (not quite as expensive as beer, but jolly nearly), but the shelves are bizarrely empty.  They are just not filling them up as regularly.  The average shopping bonanza has the echoes of customers’ footsteps bouncing round the two or three items huddling in the middle of the shelf like a bread-based Hansel and Gretel, and clucks of dismay from the somewhat underwhelmed shoppers filling the air.

There are no signs that the shop is closing down, despite the ‘everything must go’ vibe about the place, but it is increasingly resembling the unfair stereotype of a little shop in communist Russia with a huge number of people queuing for the three potatoes that are on sale.  This situation differs from the stereotype, however, by dint of the goods themselves are not what you would expect: the products available for purchase tend to be the premium and branded items, the cheaper value own brands having long gone.  Whether this is due to inflation, VAT increases or heightened customer caution is immaterial: I simply find it annoying that my range of purchase options is so restricted.  Obviously this isn’t a problem for most things as one can simply go to another shop or wait for a new deliver of stuff but sometimes you are not in the position to do so and you are forced to take what’s on offer.

This rather unfortunate circumstance happened to me this week when, as a part of a last minute Sunday evening shop, I really needed to buy toilet paper.  We were down to the last two sheets so waiting was, quite frankly, not an option.  I dashed down the aisle to the relevant section and made my purchase choice.  The purchase decision that was forced upon me was one that I truly resent and resulted in much mutterage and teeth grindage, as I was forced to buy expensive designer paper which has been infused with stuff to make it more expensive.

Now I find this abhorrent and have done ever since toilet paper companies started churning out quilted, super duper double thickness in any colour to match your suite.  As far as I’m concerned, that provided it is not that nasty institutional tracing paper of the past (zero absorbency, one hundred percent useless, unless required for actual tracing things) the regular white, probably from recycled material as we are kind to the environment these days paper is perfectly acceptable and we don’t really need anything more whizzy for it to fulfil its function.  We don’t need triple quilted softness or whatever and I don’t care about its aesthetics as I will be throwing down the loo, not putting it on the walls.  But that’s just me and I have watched these terrible developments over the years from afar, tsking and shaking my head when I heard about the pre-soggied paper which seem to be a bit like facewipes for removing makeup but not really.  I rolled my eyes when they infused the paper with aloe vera for a more sensitive approach to one’s bottom and I spluttered in outrage at the launch of a certain company’s “most luxurious toilet tissue ever” – basically bog roll with added shea butter.

The writers of awesome copy on their web site tells us:

“Offering a multi-sensory experience, this luxurious new toilet tissue has some new and exclusive features that will make you feel truly fabulous. Each sheet is gently enriched with Shea Butter lotion, the central core is scented with a light Shea Butter fragrance and the pack is a deep, rich luxurious brown colour, matching any contemporary bathroom design.”

A multi-sensory experience? What on earth can that possibly mean? I cannot say it enough times, this is toilet roll not a lifestyle choice.  Anyway, rant aside, I had to pick up a bag of this wonder product and it is now in the house. 

I’m not sure how fitting the packaging is with my not very contemporary bathroom - that is for guests to comment on as they are edging out of the building as I follow them, screeching “But what about the toilet paper, eh?  What about the toilet paper?  You did look at the bag, didn’t you? You didn’t? Get back up there this instant!”

The paper feels weird - like when you have hand washed a glass but a small smear of grease as somehow got on in the pile of dirty plates and it feels, well, not right and a bit slippery.  They certainly have bunged in lots of fragrance: it is really strong and attaches itself to your hands, so you find yourselves suspiciously washing your hands twice to make absolutely certain all traces of the stuff have gone, but perhaps this will revolutionise my world and I shall be forced to eat my own words.

Perhaps I will have the face of a thirty-something but be sporting the butt of a much younger model.  Maybe I’ve just invented a new product – Anti Ageing Toilet Paper, infused with AHAs and other dark wizardry created by makeup companies, exclusively for the woman who has so little in her life she has to worry about ageing bottoms. I don’t think the scaremongering magazines have even thought of ageing bottoms as being a problem yet!

I’ll make a fortune!

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