Monday, 10 January 2011


Some great Physics:

Entropy: the amount of unusable energy in a closed system increases..

A related truism:

Over time, material things just get cruddier.

Maybe you have to come from Manchester or Salford to be bothered by this, but if you did spend your formative years near the banks of the Irk and Irwell rivers, the following may be of importance. Though I’m not sure it would save you if you ever fell into said rivers.

I know there was some dodgy marketing by this company in sub-Saharan Africa but you have to hand it to the makers of Cussons Imperial Leather that they solidly remain the choice of soap for those whose dialing code now starts (0161). It is a hard soap, not at all flowery, fruity or foamy. It smells lovely. It is subtle and it doesn’t linger on the skin. It used to be packaged in card. It was a pleasure to unwrap and see the shiny paper seal in red, gold and black stamped into the waxy ivory bar. It was also mysterious; somehow that paper seal stayed on the soap even when it was down to an unusable slither. Bar after bar was the same, the imperial seal never came off the bar.

How do you stick something to a bar of soap?

This was one of life’s little mysteries. A mystery everyone knew was a mystery and we were just proud that it originated in our neck of the woods.

Now the soap is packaged like every other soap in plastic wrapping. Mercifully, they’ve not altered the smell or texture. They have however got rid of the Imperial Russian colour scheme, now it is just plain gold. But…..and this is the real tragedy, the seal comes off before the bar is finished. The magic and mystery are no more. And reaching for the soap bars in the local shop miles from my home town no longer feels like an act of loyalty to something special, it is just another bar of soap.

Time to drown the sorrows with a plastic beaker of weak Vimto and a Burton’s Waggon Wheel (other Manc products with a loyal following that aren’t what they used to be) and meditate on the one constant thing in my adult life; the seemingly unstoppable success of the football team I don’t support.


Robert said...

Heavens, how true this is (and of course it relates also to the lace post)!

In its way, this loss of quality and special-ness is a tragedy...

And I'm not kidding.

Today: Nothing is worth doing well, if you can sell more by being cheap.

Ttony said...

I see your Vimto, Waggon Wheel and poor taste in football team, and raise you one Holland's Steak pudding.

Sad about the soap ... being male and married to an Unmanc (which sounds like something unpleasant in Middle earth which would eschew lace) my say when it comes to choosing soap is somewhat limited. What I remember is the feel of the cardboard packaging as you unwrapped a new bar (or was it a cake?)

berenike said...


but thank you for warning me - I am going to go into the kitchen and rescue that last sliver (almost entirely label) as a previous memento. It's a fluke it's here in Warsaw at all (a passing guest left it behind, and now my grandmother is demanding that it become our usual soap).

Autumn said...

I have a picture you might like, here: