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Tesco Academy

I went to a state primary school; admittedly, one in a fairly posh part of the world (Christchurch School in Ware, Hertfordshire, for the morbidly curious). It was the 1980s; education was OKish; there were about 30 people in my class, and the ones who properly dribbled on themselves were removed for maths and English lessons.

I discovered Sue Townsend when I was about 10 and therefore managed to get the entire class of Year 6es singing anti-Thatcher songs loudly in assembly, until the deputy head told me that if I didn’t stop doing that they’d tell my nan on me.

I was in the choir. I know that’s a remarkable concept for those who know me these days, but I somehow lost my ability to sing whenever my voice broke. Oh well, it probably saved me some abuse or other. We were a good choir. We went to Cambridge to enter the Best Year 6 Primary School Choir Competition. We lost. It was probably because I couldn’t sing. Also, our song was bloody lame.

But the other thing we did as a choir – and I’m still in awe this happened in 1989 – was to sponsor Tesco’s. There was a walking-running challenge from Newcastle to London sponsored by Tesco, and alongside their computers (or, possibly in those days, typewriters) for schools vouchers, some of my classmates’ mums, aunties and sisters were participating in this challenge. So we were nominated, as a Leading Choir, to record the theme for the Tesco North To South Run Song. What we sang was, to the tune of ‘When The Saints Go Marching In”:

Tesco is here!
Tesco is here!
So can we have a great big cheer!
(YAY)

…the rest of that verse is sadly lost, apart from the soul of Tesco’s then ad agency and then marketing director, where it’s permanently etched in the blood of innocent children.

They’re setting forth right in the North
Collecting money all the way
[repeat first bit]

We were eventually rejected, presumably because one of the choirs on the route from Newcastle to London kicked our arses. Which is probably, again, my fault. Or, reflecting on the scenario 21 years later, the fault of the satanic bastards who set the challenge up in the first place.

This weird occurrence is something I’ve been meaning to blog for ages, mostly in the sense of “marketing to kids is more insidious than when I were a lad? Fuck off”, and also just in the sense of “that happened. No, that actually happened. A choir of kids sang ‘Tesco is here, so can we have a great big cheer’. That happened.”

So yeah. Now that my mates are parents, and angry about marketing, I still can’t think of anything more insanely blatant than that one. If Tesco did it today, they’d be keelhauled, and possibly hanged at the yard-arm.

  1. Matthew
    June 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm | #1

    Ware is near Tesco's HQ though, isn't it? Does this explain the eagerness?

  2. June 26, 2011 at 6:15 am | #2

    Yup, people have been chatting gaily about the increasing exploitation, commercialisation, violence towards, sexualisation of, whatever etc, children since time immemorial (or a century at least) and rather mysteriously, if you compare nowadays with your own child hood, it hasn't really changed a bit.

    It's like "new improved Persil", if they really did improve it as often as they claim, then seeing as it's OK now, it must have been really useless thirty or forty years ago. Only it wasn't, it's much the same as it is now.

    we know that it was an OK washing powder

  3. July 2, 2011 at 6:11 am | #3

    My dear father, born 1935, tells me people have been complaining about the commercialisation of Christmas for as long as he can remember.

  4. Paul Newman
    July 6, 2011 at 7:18 am | #4

    I come from Herts,St. Albans..akshually.People get their knickers un-necessarily twisted about marketing to kids. I have three and I "Just say no". Its marketing to weak impressionable credit card carrying mothers I object to.

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