Brand UK was at its sparkling best last week, aided by some lovely sunshine and much of the population being in a good mood as a result of two long weekends in a row. The abundance of red, white and blue, union flags, glistening regalia and matched horses with shining coats in a beautiful ‘camera ready’ London did much to enhance the brand that is brand UK. It was a right royal knees-up as many enjoying a street party and general celebration. While by no means universally popular, the fuss and spectacle generated comment and debate in abundance. Just how many programmes about these two people and their relationship is it possible to make? One TV critic pointed out an average of six programmes per day not counting the news coverage wall to wall.
I was curious to see the range of commemorative articles for sale and was not disappointed. True to form there was the good, bad, ugly and downright baffling. I’m not a great one for commemorative items, but recognise eager purchasers, be it avid collectors or people wanting a keepsake to mark the event. A day out in Chichester the previous weekend had shown that there at least there was lots of red, white and blue about from commemorative items to accessories for decorating your house or party.The windows of the Cath Kidston shop beamed with pastel good wishes of celebration for William and Kate. A brand match made in heaven.
At Westminster Abbey I could purchase a replica of the Diana engagement ring or a set of wine glasses, but I decided to take a mass market/budget approach to reflect our austere times resulting in a £2.97 spend in the 99p Store. I came away with a plastic tray (robust and useful), a ceramic bell with dreadful quality photo transfer (a bright, tingly sound, but of little practical use in my household) and celebration polyester mini cushion (of no use whatsoever). They’d run out of bunting and flags, so I took what was going. Now I’ve documented it, it’s going to the charity shop.
The most baffling item I came across next to the polyester cushion was a figurine, meerkat versions of William and Kate, to be found in Morrison’s supermarket. I wondered whether the happy couple had seen themselves anthropomorphised and what they would think. Meerkat cuteness combined with Will and Kate a winning combination on the basis of put two things you like together and come up with something brilliant that everyone will love. Perhaps I should have bought one. I’d better hotfoot it to see whether there are any left in discount corner.
My favourite item was a tea towel from the Tate shop – no pictures of the happy couple, rather some lovely illustration and a distinctly mid-century modern graphic feel. I thought that it reflected perfectly the tree-lined aisle at Westminster Abbey and the couple’s refreshing attitude. The tea towel looks like it’s a good investment already being offered on ebay for more than the purchase price. Indeed if you want to see what other commemorative tea towels are on offer just log on to ebay and do a search. All this goes to prove what I have long thought, that we love a good tea towel!