Rab McNeil’s Week:
Well, that’s putting it a bit strongly. Let’s strike a moderate tone here and just say I believe the toy bricks concept to be profoundly evil. I never got into it as a kid and, as in adulthood, spent much of my life Legoless.
I seem to remember emotionally blackmailing my parents into buying me some for Christmas one year, because it was the in-thing in the Sixties (“I’d like some Lego and some cannabis, please”), and then opening the box and thinking: “What is this crap?” Still, at least I enjoyed the cannabis.
The fault is probably mine. I have no engineering instincts whatsoever. I think that, as with Airfix kits, Lego demanded too much work. It was just too damned fiddly, even when I had wee fingers. My feelings are the same towards self-assembly today. Best thing about Ikea is the meatballs. And even they need an Allen key.
Damned Scandinavians. Lego is Danish, which is quite an unusual thing to be, and arguably the toy equivalent of Nordic Noir, with a complicated plot and a disappointing ending.
All the same, the last time I took notice of the Satanic building blocks, they were starring in movies and the brand was enjoying a resurgence. That would explain its decline: the moment I detect a trend is the moment that it starts to crumble.
That said, Lego is still the world’s number three toymaker, and it just appears to be the case that what has previously gone up (profit) has now come down (ditto).
The global toy market as a whole has experienced 3% growth this year, so it’s not as if nippers are turning their backs on the sector as a whole. I’ve a feeling Lego is the kind of things parents buy children, whether they want it or not.
So the kids are just showing a bit of natural rebellion against this and have decided that, all in all, Lego is just another brick in the wall.
I’ll take a bit of fantasy
Continuing the toys theme – well, vaguely – The Independent reported the shock news that Games Workshop, creator of Warhammer and other fantasy shenanigans, is now worth 20% more than Debenhams, the department store chain.
Poor old Debenhams never seems to get its demographic right. Mind you, retail analysts say the same about many department stores, such as Markies, with the latter forever being accused of being too old, too young, too radical and too unimaginative.
Debenhams always seemed to have that “oh yes” factor about them. Shoppers would think: “Right, I’ll try John Lewis and then Markies. Oh yes, and maybe Debenhams.”
Illustrious name, though. Debenhams has been going since 1778, which is ridiculous. There wasn’t even an escalator to the first floor back then. Hell, there wasn’t even a first floor.
As for Games Workshop, it was founded in 1975, which is also ridiculous (I thought it was just a couple of years ago) and has become a leader in the creation of “tabletop gaming”, it says here. Many of you will have me at an advantage, as I’m not really clear what that is, and had assumed it was all about computer games featuring bovine figures jerkily blundering through crap cartoon landscapes and killing stuff. Well, whatever it is, it’s disgraceful.
The Independent suggests that this is all about geeks going mainstream, a development that I broadly support. But I can’t help feeling that, between this, virtual reality headsets, and even sex dolls, we are slowly heading towards a fantasy world far, far away from the real nitty-gritty of a grounded existence.
Sounds great. Where do I sign up?
Why we need a comments watchdog
Congratulations to Bank of Scotland, which once more topped the list of complaints for the first six months of 2017. To be fair (boo!), only 22% of the 20,541 complaints were upheld by the Financial Ombudsman. And 83% related to PPI, which is hardly surprising.
The banks get absolutely no sympathy from me, though normally I feel for any concern that has to deal with the great British public.
You could get a feel for the latter by reading comments “below the line” on the BBC’s report of the story, which ranged from being unable to understand Bank of Scotland accents to blaming Nicola Sturgeon.
Surely it is time for an Internet Comments Ombudsman, which will order such people to compensate decent ratepayers bewildered by their peculiar world views.
Doing the donkey work
Continuing the complaints theme – well, vaguely – readers of the public prints and websites are often baffled by surveys and, in particular, by who carries them out. You know the sort of thing: “Diesel cars should be phased out, according to a survey by the makers of Bonko Sugary Loops breakfast cereal.”
Thus my befuddlement at reading that a survey about moaning at work had been carried out by “animal charity Spana”. What’s it to do with them? So, I looked up Spana and it turns out be a charity that campaigns to protect working animals, such as donkeys. Ah-ha!
And there you have it: the survey had made the news, inducing gullible punters like moi to check out the charity. Not that one minds being gullible for animal charities. Not sure where the name comes from, though? Do they put a Spana in the works of animal abusers?
The survey, incidentally, found that Britons spend nearly two working weeks a year (77 hours) moaning, often about their fellow workers and their smelly food, crawling, gabbing, gossiping, mug-nicking and lack of cleanliness.
All in all, it sounds as if most of us would rather work with donkeys. They might poo on the floor but at least they don’t nick your coffee mug.
Rab McNeil’s column is sponsored by Scotland’s Award Winning independent financial advisers, Alan Steel Asset Management