Date: 23/06/2021
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Pondering London Underground adverts and more

The Lord Mayor of London (which Dick Whittington was four times in the 15th century) is these days a post of commercial importance, whose holder is largely unknown outside the City of London, other than as the reason for a rather good parade every November. The relatively recent institution of Mayor of London is a political post of great power - Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson and lately Sadiq Khan. Livingstone is so disgraced I hope he will ever be a power in the land or the Labour party again; both Johnson and now Khan see the post as a step to national power as Prime Minister, or senior cabinet minister.

One of Sadiq Khan's first actions when elected mayor was to censor unsuitable adverts off London Underground. The one he ordered be removed first was for a slimming product (always dubious stuff to a fat lady) featuring a pretty blonde girl in a yellow bikini and the slogan "Are you beach body ready". As a picture of a pretty girl in a swimming costume it was unobjectionable, in my opinion, but the slogan genuinely had overtones of 'body shaming' which was the excuse for it's removal.

I'm with the wag who remarked, 'How to be beach body ready. Locate body. Take body to beach. Job done'. 

At the time people wondered if it was going to be the thin end of a puritanical (sharia compliant?) wedge. Advertising gurus advised their clients to think carefully about future campaigns. 

The next advert to receive scrutiny (that I know of) was for a brand of tights, Heist. These are quite expensive but are said to be long-lasting and VERY comfortable. To show how comfortable they are they showed another agile young blonde haired woman leaping in the air with joyous freedom of movement. It was a back view, the movement was gymnastic rather than sexy, her legs and bottom were covered by the opaque and substantial nylon fabric, but her back was bare.

"This advert will only be acceptable if you paint in a matching brassiere". Which the company complied with, AND added a bit more blackness over her bottom. That one I did not understand.

Gary Lineker the left-wing, refugee friendly, anti-racist, former footballer advertises Walkers crisps in a very amusing series of television commercials which transform into still posters. A series of adverts showing him naked from the waist up had to be altered to make it clear that he was wearing shorts/underpants/swimming trunks beyond the crop of the shot.

Transport for London guidelines say an advert will be banned if it “depicts men, women or children in a sexual manner or displays nude or semi-nude figures in an overtly sexual context”.

Even serious historical fine art isn't exempt. It's starting to get silly. 

I travelled into London earlier this week and had time to study the adverts. They really are rather dull these days. Admittedly times are hard; budgets have been cut, maybe London Underground is no longer a cost effective placement. But of the adverts there were quite a few were just text. There were some with pictures of people. Films, shows and concerts featured members of the cast; Aladdin, Bat out of Hell, Tommy Steele. 

There were many public information posters from the Mayor of London himself.

Know about the London Living Wage! 

Help fellow passengers if taken ill! 

Khan and his office seem to find women in uniform acceptable. 

But anything that looked like fashion, frivolity, fun was missing, or was from my line this week. All bar two posters, one or both of which were at almost every station. They were advertising swimwear from the cheap on-line (mail order as it was when I was a kid) firm BooHoo.

I think this is the same model, also in a yellow costume, but much more sexually provocative (open legs, open pouting lips)  than slim Miss Ready for the Beach. 

I wondered about BooHoo. Apparently they aim to rival Primark and sell clothes so cheaply that a garment can be worn once by a fashionable 'Pretty Little Thing' (a sister company) and then discarded. According to the Burnley Express

The owner of Burnley online fashion retailer boohoo.com has been named in the Sunday Times Rich List as being one of the top ten wealthiest people in the North-West. Mr Mahmud Kamani and his family are said to be worth £1bn

That increase is partly down to the huge growth that boohoo has experienced in recent times, not least becoming the biggest employer in Burnley with around 1,400 people working at its distribution centre and offices on the Hesandford Industrial Estate. The site saw a second huge warehouse built in recent months.

However, it has not all been plain sailing for the company which came under criticism last year for its working practices following an undercover investigation by the Channel Four Dispatches programme. The programme appeared to show examples of staff at its Burnley depot being given two 30-minute breaks, one of which was unpaid, per 12-hour shift.

It is good when a large proportion of any retailers produce is manufactured in the UK; it is very bad when working conditions show practices that were dying out when my parents worked in factories in the 1930s which had gone by the time my husband started work in a Midlands textile mill in the 1970s. That, of course, was workers organising themselves in the days when Trades Unions were for the working man and woman. Unions now are for political control, and mass immigration has undercut our bargaining power. British workers who recall the hard fought rights our parents bequeathed to us are now condemned as lazy. 

This picture of a memo circulated around Boohoo workplaces became public in 2012. The websites that featured the story are not all exteant now, but the employee review of Boohoo on the website of Employment Agency Indeed confirms that the restriction on pork products is true and continuous. 

It also foreshadows some of the poor working conditions discovered by Channel 4 Dispatches.

 Customer Service – 27 August 2012 - Pros: friendly people, after 13 weeks of working you gain access to discounts. Cons: pork free environment, constant stress in relation to statistics, boring work overall, job security is not there at all.

(Former Employee) –  Burnley – 28 April 2014 - Cons:No pork allowed on premises

(Former Employee) –  Burnley, Lancashire – 19 January 2017: Bullying environment. Managers intimidate you. No breaks even if your working 6 hours shift

Lets have a look at other members of the Kamani family. According to the Manchester Evening News

The rags to riches story of Manchester's billionaire Boohoo family

Having taken the reigns of the Kamani Property Group, CEO Adam Kamani opens up about how his grandfather came from Kenya and founded a UK business dynasty - and how he has set his sights on a real estate empire. Meeting property expert Adam Kamani in his swanky Ancoats office is an experience in itself . . . Adam had already co-founded fashion business PrettyLittleThing with his brother Umar when he began focusing on property two years ago. Adam and younger brother Samir took a step back from the business, which is now being led by older brother Umar, who he says is doing an ‘incredible job’.

Adam took on the Kamani Property Group, a portfolio of investments made by his family.

The latest project to get approval from Manchester City Council is the refurbishment of a five storey building on Chorlton Street into ten apartments.

The portfolio also encompasses a new-build scheme in the Northern Quarter which will house the property office and was approved by Manchester City Council late last year.

There's some money in this good Muslim family. Am I being nasty in imagining that some of it might have changed hands in order to secure their adverts on London Underground? Inquiring minds wish to know. 


Pre-order on Amazon or Amazon UK today!


Order on Amazon or Amazon UK today!


Order at Amazon or Amazon UK.today!
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