Monday, 28 November 2011

So what is the new 'is the new'?????

This originally appeared in the Bath Chronicle on November 17

I’m sure we are all aware of that strange but now well-worn cliche where people describe something as being the ‘new’ something else.

We’ve all heard phrases such as ‘brown is the new black’ and ‘staying in is the new going out’ and just a quick check on the internet revealed other such curious uses of the term such as ‘green is the new red’, ‘Bono is the new Pope’ and ‘climate change is the new fat’.

No, I don’t get them either.

However, as readers of this column/blog will know, I’m not worried about rehashing cliched phrases so I’m going to give you two more ‘is the new’ phrases to add to your library.

The first is one I heard on the radio recently when the boss of Marks & Spencers was talking about his company’s latest financial results. He said that their range of meals for two had done particularly well because “Saturday night is the new Sunday lunch”.

His argument is that as society has changed and the traditional Sunday lunch where all the family gather around a table has become less of a permanent fixture, many such communal eating gatherings are now on a sofa on a Saturday night as we consume The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing along with our chicken and steak.

And I think he may have a point. The Sunday lunch ritual was once as clearly defined in my grandparents’ household as a religious observation and the idea of my nan, for example, not having a highly traditional roast with the family around at almost exactly the same time every single week was as unheard of as, well, an X Factor without someone saying “this means everything to me . . .”

So is Saturday night the new Sunday? Not quite I think. But perhaps not far off.

However, I am prepared to offer you my own ‘is the new’ based on my reflections of last week. And that is that in the UK now Hallowe’en is the new Bonfire Night.

When I was growing up, the anticipation for November 5 was enormous. Everybody talked about where they would be – be it at a major organised event such as the excellent one at The Rec at the weekend or in the back garden with a few sparklers – and Guy Fawkes night was a big, big occasion. Hallowe’en? A side show ignored by all but real witches I imagined.

Now, however, the tables are turned. I can’t remember a quieter build up to November 5 than this year (although it was with some gratitude that we didn’t have to hear people setting off fireworks for weeks before the big day). OK, the night itself still seemed lively enough but compared to November 5s of old it felt as if the flame was going out.

And yet look at Hallowe’en now. For weeks supermarkets had been selling all kinds of ghoulish outfits and large packets of mini chocolates for us to distribute to trick or treaters and you get the impression youngsters have really circled October 31 as their big autumn date now with good old November 5 as a mere dessert on the menu.

Ah well let’s just hope some things never change. Let’s hope no one says something ‘is the new Christmas’ and also that no one ever claims that anywhere ‘is the new Bath’.

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