Thursday, 15 July 2010

I'm Backing Britain

One of the minor joys of my job is to direct clients' dosh towards the purchase of British goods whenever I can. Designers share with some cohorts of American society a belief that 'imported' means better. It's as untrue of architectural fixings as it is of liquor, and barely a week goes by when I don't append the magic words 'Or equal approved' to an architect's very precise specification of Swedish hinges or Italian toilet-roll holders, knowing a contractor will submit the Thwaite & Higginbotham equivalent given half a chance. My red pen notes - "No, lead times too long", "What is the relevant BS/EN standard for this?" or "Avoid - xchange rate risk" have the same effect. It's a small thing, but satisfying. The reality that both the 'imported' and British versions are likely to have been manufactured in Shanghai doesn't faze me.

The last 'Backing Britain' campaign was way back in 1968; Bruce Forsyth even released a single, which sold nearly, er, 8,000 copies. There were Minis. And peach-faced English girls in wide belts and short skirts. People sent cheques to the Treasury to help pay off the National Debt, and the Postmaster General introduced a union flag letter frank with 'I'm Backing Britain' on the nation's mail. The Trades Union Congress condemned the whole thing.

The firm that started the whole thing off, in 1967, was Colt Ventilation and Heating Ltd. I'm pleased to say they're still around today, and helpfully providing on their website standard specification clauses for designers. I had one such yesterday; my pen hovered briefly before moving on, without leaving the magic words 'Or equal approved'.


Blue Eyes said...

Britain does some nice kitchen fittings, premium taps in particular.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and don't buy Chinese. Takeover bid, coming to a town near you...soon!

Nicey, smiley bowing people...until they think they have got what they came for. Then they're feckers, every one of 'em.

Coney Island