Ever realised there was a product you absolutely needed but that didn’t exist? The kind of thing that chaps used to send new apprentices off to the stores for, like a jar of elbow grease or a bag of shoulder chips – only seriously? Well, Bedford Borough Council have the solution. They’ve hired an expert on the subject of impossible dreams, a certain Tom Hoskin, and in February, in Bedford’s Harpur Centre, he is opening Seriously Solutions in a council-owned shop in the precinct.
Seriously Solutions will offer you a seemingly endless range of products. God Glasses, for instance, to turn your wimpishness into omnipotence through power-tinted specs.
Or aging cosmetics for those fed up with being refused strong drink or fags because they don’t look old enough.
Then there are home safety signs which warn you that windows contain glass and should be stood well back from, or the home speed cam to stop people running perilously fast around the house.
And of course there will be special offers, like the wonderful rock paper scissors, which cut through both rock and paper, plus clearance lines such as No More Glue, consisting of non-rubberised fixing agents made of small shafts of steel pointed at one end.
If you can think of it, Seriously Solutions have thought of it first.
To assist him in his enterprise, Hoskin has assembled a very seriously committed team to devise your solutions: Dr Gerald C Bandler, the futurologist who lectures widely on self-navigating footwear; in charge of sales, Bob Runacre, the pie-eating champion and melodeon player for the Stradhoughton Morris; and Maxine Barzini, head of product design, who expects any day soon to have reinvented the wheel.
Well, for those steeped in the ways of the CMT family it isn’t hard to translate Tom Hoskin into our own inimitable Tim Hunkin, the model-maker, cartoonist and indefatigable jokester who has his own little end of the pier world at Southwold in Suffolk.
It was seeing Tim’s automata there that inspired Bedford town planner Phil Nicholson to ask Tim to make something for the shopping mall to fill an empty shop space.
That was three years ago, and the original idea was for one of Tim’s simulator rides to bring this corner of the centre to life, but seeing the space he thought of something better. “The ride would have been difficult to maintain from Suffolk, but this could be a low-maintenance installation that might bring a smile to the shopping folk of Bedford” Tim says.
“Shopping malls have always incorporated features to make them more attractive and Seriously Solutions, though not conventional, fits this brief. It will be close to the lifts to the multi-store parking, so I hope it will particularly appeal to dads and children who are bored shopping” he says, “and the council have worked hard to get the space ready”.
And the odd title? “It was a bit of a sideways compliment to Private Eye’s regular lists of ‘solutions’, and the grammatical errors people are always making in retail for emphasis – so not just ‘Serious Solutions’ but ‘Seriously Solutions’.
It isn’t, of course, a shop, just a shop window, but he hopes Bedfordians will enter into the spirit by suggesting products even he and his high-flying team haven’t yet lighted on. There’s even a Seriously website for you to check out: http://www.seriouslysolutions.com/
Adam & Eve are back, in all their Eden glory. Yes, the last remaining full diorama of the famous Ride of Life, Ron Fuller’s bar of the Adam & Eve pub in which the landlord pulls pints of Black Shaft English lager and the landlady puffs, sups, waves and winks, is going back on display. Originally made in the 80s for the Meadowhall Shopping Centre, CMT’s rescued scene, in working order, opens at the Oxfordshire Museum at Woodstock on January 9.
Here’s a mystery. A star feature of the Technical and Maritime Museum in Malmo, Sweden is the Robot Jazz Band, but the museum knows very little about it. Have a look at the wesbite, www.malmo.se/museer. They think it was made in England some time in the 1920s, and a Swedish toy expert reckons it was serial made suggesting that there might be others. But the museum’s curator, Jerry Johansson, is doubtful: because of the figures all being life-size and the complexity of the mechanics it was probably to expensive to make to be anything other than a one-off. Can anybody shed any light? Sarah at CMT would love to know, and so would Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org.