Friday, 10 August 2018

Cheap laughs and nil culture - a joke shop window

You don't very often come across a shop dedicated to selling novelty gifts to make you chuckle, bizarre outfits, and equipment for practical joking. But I did, in a Hull arcade. It's worth a post, if only to record what the shop-owner was able to sell to his local customers.

Was it an indicator of Humberside humour? Who can say. If the typical fun-loving Hull resident was popping into this shop, I'd venture to say that he or she must be a person of very doubtful taste. Anyway, I am going to show you the items that caught my eye. Some of this did indeed make me chortle, but it is all absolutely tacky and low-brow. If you are high-minded, or do not possess a frivolous nature, look away now.

The arcade itself was elegant in a Victorian kind of way. One end of it was noticeably more rarified. The joke shop was at the other, low-class end. The arcade was L-shaped, and it was possible to sneak in and out without being seen by anyone in the posh end. The joke shop is on the right in this shot, with the yellow frontage.

Let's begin with some of the joke shop's milder offerings. A roll-on plastic Fake Car Scratch for £1.95. 

Now isn't that the irascible, easily-provoked teacher from the Bash Street Kids cartoon in The Beano comic? The one who was always blowing his top about something, and thwacking pupils' backsides with his every-ready cane? Does he still do that? He certainly did in The Beano of the 1950s, in the same way that Dennis the Menace's dad constantly laid to with his slipper on his very mischievous son's bottom. Such violence must have been meant as an Awful Warning to high-spirited young readers that painful corporal punishment awaited all naughty or cheeky children. But I'm sure it had no deterrent effect whatever, except with timid youngsters like myself, who were going to be 'good' anyway. Bolder kids chanced their arm without fear, and if caught would earn kudos and respect within their clique for taking a severe thrashing. Such is human nature, of course.

Another two essential items. One, a rather pointless key-ring gadget called a Key Finder for just £2.99 that plays a tune and flashes a light once turned on. Presumably you somehow know when your keys are about to go missing, and you turn it on before you lose them. Mmm, clever. The other, Exploding Cigarettes for your best friend. Only £1.99. Looks as if he will be off to A&E afterwards, after he thumps you by way of thanks. 

Continuing the pointless fun theme, how about Finger Football? Why go to the match, or watch the game on TV, when you can play this? Against yourself, perhaps, with boots on the fingers of each hand? Something for the daily commute, or the office desk. Only £1.95.

Want to spend a bit more, on an item of real quality? £9.99 would secure you a set of remarkably Ugly Teeth for those special occasions. 

There were a lot of tempting things on a Dracula or Zombie theme. Such as these Vampire Fangs for £2.99, superb for a dressy evening out - when you might also need that classy red Flashing Bow Tie (only £3.50).

Or this Severed Zombie Foot, so realistic with that congealed blood, and perfect as a stocking-filler for Christmas. (Stocking filler: get it?) A snip at £2.99.

There were loads of party outfits and other things to wear. I thought this Green Fairy Outfit quite appealing, and terrific value at £17.99, although the silver platforms weren't included in the pack. 

Then there were scary things like this Elvis Wig. Clearly you needed to have the right kind of 'come and get it' eyes - the sort this very cheerful young man had. (I'm assuming it was a man) Only £8.99 for the classic black look; but in red also, as an even scarier alternative - or to match your severed zombie foot.  

Another bargain for the man in your life. What about a green Mankini for a giveaway £9.99? I was never quite sure what a 'mankini' actually looked like, but now my ignorance was dispelled. Well, well. I've missed so much, you know, not getting out a lot, nor mixing with the right people. Sigh.

To finish, three disrespectful takes on the current President of the United States, aka Mr Donald Trump. For £5.99, a President Trump Rubber Face Mask - surely a remarkable likeness - for those magic moments when you want to be mistaken for that well-known media personality. 

Or, for a mere £3.99, a 'Squeeze The President' Anti-Stress Ball. This could in fact be a useful and practical gift, a serious thing. Especially as having Mr Trump in charge of the US's nuclear button is no laughing matter at all.

I've saved the worst for last. £2.99, will buy you a 'Squeeze The President' Poop Keyring. He is sitting on a toilet seat with his pants down, and if you squeeze him something brown emerges from his bottom. And the shop-owner has written on the card, 'We all knew he is full of it'. For goodness sake. Talk about the dregs of the barrel.

Mind you, I have a suspicion that all over the world, in every similar kind of shop in tucked-away arcades and street markets, other national leaders are grossly lampooned in precisely the same pants-down, key-ring way. I don't care much for Mr Trump, but he does hold high office - and this is ultra-disrespectful to that office. (And scorning it is a much more serious thing than the more obvious insult thrown at the present incumbent) 

Still, this execrably low-taste accessory does remind us all of a bald truth that many a puffed-up leader would have you forget. They all need to go to the loo - and because of that cannot be different from you or me, nor super-human, nor extra-special, and certainly cannot be gods. 

Don't let any of them kid you otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. I do hope that they have given old rubberface a joke fake button, they would be mad to do otherwise. There is only one person who is being disrespectful to that high office and that is the blatant liar who is laughing at the world put up with his inanities.

    If Spitting image were still on the go it would be a real challenge to out do the contorted rubberface he presents to us and make so many of us sick.


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