Let’s be clear. The customer is very rarely right. The misapprehension that companies should always give their customers what they demand, when they demand it, has been used to the advantage of many an arsehole over the past 5 decades. As a result, the relationship between customer and service provider in the 21st century is like that of a skilled extortionist and a powerless serf, with the customer wielding power like a giant baseball bat, ready to brain the unsuspecting salesperson with their skewed interpretation of The Consumer Rights Act 2015.
But this wasn’t the only nonsensical statement hammered into the public consciousness back in the day.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day: No it isn’t. It’s the most useless meal of the day unless you are a growing child or an elite athlete. The notion dates from the 1950’s and was cooked up by the Egg Marketing Board in a bid to sell more eggs. These days breakfast is a Pain au Chocolat and a quart of sugary latte, specially designed for you to fall asleep at your desk at 3pm when your blood sugar plummets.
Form follows function: What does this even mean? This pretentious epithet is bleated by people who think they know something about design, but it still doesn’t explain why Polo Mints have a hole in the middle, or why the label on a bottle of Angostura bitters is 3 times too big for the bottle. Or why trainers are white.
An announcement on the London Underground, asking for an Inspector Sands to come immediately to the control room, is the cue for Londoners in the know to make a hasty exit from the station dragging their bemused out-of-town friends with them. Long thought to be a coded message alerting station managers and on-duty police officers to a major emergency, such as a bomb scare or inferno, it has emerged that this is not the case.
We spoke to the real Inspector Sands in his Gothic lair deep beneath the ticket hall at Charing Cross. Settling into a dark green leather wingback armchair, with a glass of Malmsey in his hand and a stuffed owl on his shoulder, the Inspector cuts and intriguing figure.
“I do wish they wouldn’t drag me away from my parlour when I’m in the middle of Call of Duty: Black Ops. It’s nearly always a false alarm, like the time someone freaked out at a Tesco bag left under a bench, or when some French tourists vaped under the smoke detectors.”
The Inspector hasn’t seen daylight in 35 years and his approaching retirement will force him above ground. “My pension will get me a nice basement flat in Hampstead, where I can keep my rats. I like rats. Rats are my friends. Unlike the duty managers who keep cordoning bits of the concourse off for no reason. Why do they that?”
A new Inspector Sands will be recruited soon, and applications are invited from serving police officers who like stale air, rats, unexpected gale force winds and taxidermy.