Howies: Tales of the City



OK, so Howies opened a store in Carnaby Street – their first in London. Which is great. I hope they do well. But I have to admit their attitude to the city – and to London in particular – has been mostly negative. Indeed, their catalogues in the past have regularly been virtual tracts for country-side life, waxing lyrically about how fabulous it is to live by fields and go biking in the woods at lunch time. Which it is. Trouble is, the vast majority of their customers don’t live this life, and it sort of pisses me off when they so blatantly bite the hand that feeds them.

Of course, many of their more vitriolic rants against the city (“We’re flying in and out for a day – it’s all we can cope with! – to do our sale” etc.) have been removed from their site – although one raging against big money remains, which I hope their new owners Timberland don’t mind about.

As I say, I hope Howies do well. I love their products and the rest of their ethos. But it’s an attitude to the city that is quite prevalent: we’ll go on and on about how shit it is, about how noisy and how grey and how unfriendly and how violent – but hell, it’s where the money is, so we’ll happily plunder it for its wealth.

I love the countryside – I’m off to darkest Wales this weekend – but let’s not pit city and country against one another. Everything in the city is raw material from the countryside – rock, stone, ore – that has been processed by human hands into metal, glass, brick. But where is virgin countryside now? Everywhere has been managed. Everywhere has our fingerprints on it. We simply need to ensure that those prints are lightly made.


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5 responses to “Howies: Tales of the City”

  1. We have some countryside left in the US that has yet to be managed. It’s called Canada.
    Just kidding – kinda.

  2. I agree with you K.
    Its a particular bug bear of mine, and its all the more insidious when its tied to God.
    I’m fed up of people saying that its easier to find God in the countryside than in the city. It’s one of the reasons why I can’t stand RS Thomas’ poetry – which, of course, goes down like a lead balloon.

  3. Its easier to find God in the countryside.

  4. God, or the Self?
    The reason I don’t really like getting into the whole ‘easier to find God in the countryside’ thing is because it seems to me a dead end. So you find God – and then what?
    Now if you’d said it’s easier to find a meaningful engagement with others, and thus with ‘other’, I’d be more interested. Trouble is, too often urban flight is flight from the other, and that’s just not something that I think is connected to finding God.
    As for Thomas, I’m not sure that’s a connected question. Though it obviously has rural themes, his poetry isn’t simply about that. Like the one I posted here a while ago.

  5. Well, I’d like to hope that Thomas writes about more universal themes. Perhaps its because I tried to wade through his collected works from the beginning (and gave up), but it seemed to me that his poems divided roughly into these five categories:
    i) I love the country (because God is there)
    ii) I’m a bit pissed off with the country today (where has God gone?)
    iii) Oh no, I love the country again (Found Him.)
    iv) I’m Welsh, you know
    v) Iago Prytherch and my guilt.
    It’s not the fact that people love the country per se, I suppose, but the implication is that you can’t find God in the city.