“Discontinued” : some rhymed verse

The Japanese may have devised the idea;
I refer to their crass ”innovation”
Where products have barely the life of a year.
Oh, the speed from launch to truncation!
Every few months a new model is born – –
New colour, new size, or new speed – –
And the prospect of spares for a gadget that’s old
In what seems like a flash can recede.

Planned obsolescence is now universal.
For consumers it’s antipathetic.
What once just applied to recording machines
Is now in the realm of cosmetics.
My wife combs the shops for the lipstick she likes,
Dodging the so-called “new” sprays,
And at last she discovers the colour she thinks
Will last her the rest of her days.

The trick is to buy all stock she can find,
And store it away as if gold.
For try to return in six months and she’ll find
That the colour is no longer sold.
“No, Madam,” they tell her, as if to a child,
“That shade is no longer in fashion.
Young ladies wear lipstick in silver and white.
This season complexions are ashen.”

The same for men’s shorts. For years I have worn
Light cotton that’s comfy and dapper.
Millions were sold, they looked good, but oh, no!
In the new styles I look like a rapper.
They’ve got it all wrong, for no youngster who’s cool
Would be seen in Marks*, dead or alive.
Nonetheless, we’re resigned to be once more de-signed;
It’s us middle-aged men they deprive.

Sauces and hi-fis and cleaners and shoes,
You can barely buy anything twice.
We like the familiar, the tried and the true,
It’s not just a question of price.
This all helps the salesman – – new models to sell!
But consumers? Oh, dear, here we go,
Fruitlessly searching for something again
We had settled on ages ago.

So who’s going to set up a sensible website
Where it’s no longer Autumn or Spring,
Where they stock the right colour, or flavour, or size,
And where changing the range isn’t King?
Where the goods you have known for a decade or so,
That the shops are unwilling to sell,
Are there, reassuring and ready to buy,
And sent to the house where you dwell.

Who’s going to set up a sensible website
To sell last year’s colour of paint,
And wallpaper lately removed from the market,
To replace the areas gone faint?
The margins on cost will be bigger and better;
Convenience only would rule!
I reckon he’ll end up rich as old Croesus,
While the marketing boys play the fool.

* Marks & Spencer, the traditional mid-budget clothes store in England.


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