Miscellany And The Victorian Principal

The Principal Attraction


I walked past an old fashioned shop the other day… there was no internet address to be seen and no visible order among the goods for sale either.  They were stacked high but didn’t appear to be sold cheap – or otherwise.

It was what used to be described as an Aladdin’s Cave – usually with veritable stuck in the front to reinforce the fact for any of those in doubt.  This particular establishment left little room to rub your lamp or for that matter swipe QR codes from the windows.  Not that there were any… QR codes that is.

Groups of mobile users gathered outside like wildebeest at a dry waterhole.  They scratched their heads; unable to swipe with those little high-tech extensions of their arms and egos.  Seemingly oblivious to comprehend the break in marketing transmission on the High Street.

The raison d’être of the shop owner appeared to champion the principle of good service.  The value of contact with real people.  There were well-meaning phrases to that effect below what passed for cutting-edge salesmanship in 1955… “We stock a miscellany of products for the discerning.”


“… a distant cousin of emporium – they sort of come together; which you really hope doesn’t happen with cousins…”


Now there’s a word you don’t see very often… miscellany.  I said miscellanyNothing to do with Dallas.  What?!  Just go ask your Dad… Though if he did watch it his principal reason was probably Victoria Principal.

If I had had a principal like Victoria then the school day would have been a more welcoming prospect.  I had a primary head teacher who was much more like J.R. Ewing.  She didn’t wear a ten-gallon hat; frequent the Oil-Baron’s Ball; or curse at Sw’Ellen but she was a bum steer branded with an attitude.  She was a Michael Gove poster girl: a dominant force that was based on Victorian principles.

I’m with Michael on one thing though… there should be a basic level of knowledge – both factual and cultural – instilled in all kids.  To fail to do so is to let the next generation down. We just disagree as to what fundamentals these should be.

I don’t suppose knowledge of Dallas is one but as a metaphor it serves a purpose.  Whether not being aware of one of the all-time famous TV shows of any age and its principal characters should make you ashamed of yourselves is up for debate.  However, it’s as good a litmus test as any.  Chemistry?  Dad?!

That’s one of the by-products of the internet… it’s the oracle that knows everything but whose daily white noise is prompted by people who know nothing.  It’s almost as if there is no need to discover all those cultural ties that bind when a click on Google will suffice.

Victoria Principal

Too late… You missed this one!

The click-bait mentality is rampant… some visiting this post would not have come for the words but the picture.  One look at Victoria’s principal assets and – click!  Bye!  Don’t suppose they got past the first paragraph – let alone down here in the depths.  They’re already long gone to another deeply unsatisfying site… Probably looking for Victoria’s Secret.  Lingering on lingerie is another matter but my primary self would have wondered out loud – “Why Victoria’s Secret?!”  Sw’Ellen!  Even through an imposed Victorian haze her secret appeared obvious to me.

Then one day my very own Victoria wafted into the school fragrant with new ideas, educational progression and a floral mini-skirt.  That mini-skirt was important on so many levels – not least the symbolic battle with the tweed two-piece so beloved of the bum steer.

Ah… even after all these years Miss Woodford still invokes a miscellany of charms.  Veritable beauty though she undoubtedly was, she never needed the adjectival leg-up as she so vivaciously went about imprinting grammar and – unknowingly – so much else into our young heads.  She was Julie Christie to my Billy Liar.  Memory suggests that the battle of educational wills didn’t end well… then again maybe my recall is all a bad dream like Bobby Ewing’s shower scene.

Miscellany is a distant cousin of emporium – they sort of come together; which you really hope doesn’t happen with cousins – but let’s get deliverance from all that.  Victoria and Miss Woodford both sure got a pertty mouth.  And this emporium of discerned goods was initially equally delightful on the eye but without the warehouse backup and online order/collection system was it simply another leftover from the past?

Where the old fashioned magic begins...

Where the old fashioned magic begins…

Trouble is all these lovely resonant words have been devalued in the world of coarse marketing.  It doesn’t get more shallow than old fashioned like mother used to make handmade artisan country premium quality especially when it comes from a factory unit of a multinational employing Eastern Europeans on minimum wage zero hours contracts on an industrial complex off the A24.

Still there’s nothing wrong in dreaming – bad or otherwise – and Victoria’s secret is safe with me on principle.  Did I buy anything?  No.  I discerned quickly there was nothing I wanted from this miscellany.  I went home and went on line instead.


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