Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Chic to be British - in China

Gok Wan in China ... weird. I suppose the BBC is desperate to find something new to put him in. His fashion programmes had become monotonous, and his ghastly series about self-conscious adolescents was calculated to make all their problems of body-obsession, self-obsession and food-obsession worse.
So they sent Gok off to China to find his father's roots, and marvel over the Tiger economy that produces more and more of all the things we buy and use. It was not nearly so entertaining as Paul Merton in China, but it had its moments. The most remarkable thing he found was a city in China called Thames Town where all the buildings are exact replicas of ones in England. Its streets are lined with mock-Tudor stockbroker houses, or if you go round another corner, chunks of Belgravia, a Gothic church, red telephone boxes, and black taxis. The city is a really popular place to live. China's rich business class buys each new property even before it is finished, and newly-weds favour it as a place to go and have their wedding photographs taken. What would Mao-Tse-Tung have said if he had seen young Chinese couples, the men in Western suits, the women in long white gowns and veils, posing outside a replica of a British pub?
Were all his efforts wasted?
It is decidedly odd that, while the UK sinks in a morass of self-loathing and self-destruction, the Chinese adore us and are building an idealized copy, with no ugly bits, just all the things tourists come to see in England. It is like huge film set, waiting for some Inspector Morse to come along and solve a murder mystery.
Maybe we should all move in there?

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