No 2: work hard and play hard
During the 1980s a lot of British people pretended to be American. At least they thought they were being American but this was in the days before you could fly to New York for 25p return or get three months at DementiaWorld, Florida and still have change out of a Â£35.50 M&S gift voucher ( no air miles allowed if you are not buying a drink with your sandwich ).
All most people had to go on, in order to learn their American ways, was Dallas and Dynasty. This is what people used to do to amuse themselves before there was the possibility of sending photos of your privates to strangers on the internet. As a consequence, British Homestores, Tesco Home n Wear and C&A, in a prescient extrapolation of the fashion zeitgeist, commissioned what was perhaps the biggest consignment of shoulder pads known to mankind since Abraham Lincoln compulsoralised the playing of American Football and everyone had to sew their old socks into worn out bras and strap them onto their shoulders to prevent chafing when Ten Hutting at the 25 yard line (I’ve done my research as you can see). A whole generation of aspirational young people were seduced by Baroness Evil into believing that mortgaging your granny to buy a council house, setting up your own business to sell customised anklewarmers at railway stations, trading options in your offshore whelk mining conglomerate and wearing unfeasibly large shoulderpads to work would allow you to become Blake Carrington by the time you were 30 when you would be retiring to Bali in a tuxedo. Essential to the WorkHardPlayHard (WHPH) Lifestyle – (for this too was the era when Lifestyles were first made available by Terence Conran) – was the heavy regime of exercise and bodily honing required to develop the hulking musculature needed to support ever increasingly massive shoulderpads. One’s day would consist of pre-breakfast meetings, often before one awoke. A punishing and sweaty run would be followed by a healthy breakfast of Alpen washed down with a designer cup of The Max (Maxwell House, made by business god Captain Bob). Mornings of cut-throat ankle-warmer action might involve the arbitrary humiliation of subordinates, ball-breaking, back knifing and grimacing menacingly to camera whilst stitching up a deal on your BT Viscount. Filofaxes, expensive lunches in which you stub out your fag in the prawn cocktail whilst breaking someone else’s balls over your garlic bread were de rigeur. When it came to the other half of the WHPH Lifestyle, most devotees liked to do something aggressive. Thus squash, shooting things and driving horribly around the M25 became very popular. The latter, in the late 80s, took on added appeal because it became possible to stitch up anklewarmer deals whilst driving, using the newly available carphones which could, at that time, be obtained by evicting your granny and re-mortgaging your council house to Carphone Whorehouse. WHPHers today have evolved. Now there are far more opportunities for Working Hard ever since Tony Blair launched The People’s Capitalist Enslavement (Call Centre) Act of 1999. At the same time he built the Millenium Dome so as to provide opportunities (with attendant responsibilities) for The People to play in a kinder, gentler way. Less emphasis was placed on gratuitous aggression and more on large models of Tommy Cooper’s brain and invading other countries. This represented a new sublimation of the PH aspect of WHPH since it would be possible for most to view the PH bit on telly whilst eating high calorie foods such as the newly discovered Kettle Chip. The cult that is Jamie Oliver was then born to save us from obesity. Jamie is the iconic twenty first century WHPHer – he is British, his work is his play, he is his own brand, he is a rich tosser.
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