There was a time you could look across the NTI newsroom to Billy’s desk and see his fingers moving semi-surreptitiously just out of view when you could be pretty sure he was web-surfing, looking for a job where he could work less hard and get paid more. It turns out that the answer to his search is to be a Polish truck driver… in Poland; finally sick of working conditions in the UK. However, now his dancing fingers can only be attributed to playing ‘Pop it’, the latest craze and a ‘fidget toy’ that replicates the feel and sound of popping bubble wrap.
Online and actual physical (as in ‘walk in, look around and buy stuff’) store, The Entertainer, say they have sold a million of these toys, but could have shifted five million had more trucks been available to deliver them to their shelves.
Maybe this is the answer to Mrs Raab and Williamson respectively when they ask the question: “What can we buy our husbands who had everything in their jobs, but are on the verge of losing them, as they aren’t terribly good at what they do?” Pop it, ladies. Oh, and Mr Williamson? Not all orange people look the same, either.
The orange balloon appears to be popping for EasyJet, the budget airline which is not budget enough to fully compete with its more-affordable, less orange competitor Whizz, but also not smart enough to see off British Airways and other national airlines who also have intercontinental routes and cabin crew whose age does not match their IQ. It seems future European air traffic control screens could be dominated by just four jumbo big-name high flyers and two, maybe three, budget versions skimming the ground about 33,000 feet beneath them.
A question is being popped in the Treasury; what more do we need to do to protect people from that other satisfying new craze: ‘get and play with it now and put your wallet away, sir’? Some of the initial concerns about the ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ craze, so popular that it wraps itself around its own cuddly acronym, have been dealt with by legislation. There was a hasty papering over the statutory cracks completed in March of this year, when a quick amendment to the Financial Services Bill gave powers to tackle the exemption that many BNPL credit agreements fell under, but the Government are still behind the curve.
It appears that many people who have no money in their pockets but like to have new stuff, enjoy the idea of walking out of shops without paying for it. In Croydon, Surrey, there is a gang systematically shoplifting clothes from local stores in order size … and police say they are still at large. (Sorry!) But, seriously, the ‘BNPL’ revolution, with the bank Revolut at its head, as reported by the NTI newsroom ten days ago, demands closer attention.
The Wollard review of consumer credit is due to report soon, but may not address the credit craze which has grown from virtually unknown and unused, to the staple of a third of current consumer transactions in Great Britain in under a year. The only phenomenon that has grown more quickly in the past six months is the reputation and bank account of the astounding Emma Raducanu whose name we all hurriedly learnt to mispronounce in the last three weeks.
Stopping people popping out to the shops in July was that other latest craze, ‘the pingdemic’, which is blamed for a desultory GDP growth rate of a measly 0.1 per cent in July. 00 Sunak was at pains to tell us that this was still jolly good and that orange is the new Whizz, but we still have 2.1 per cent to make up by December in order to reach pre-pandemic GDP levels.
So, off you go today. Nip out, buy three Pop its, don’t pay now, do it later, send one to Gavin Williamson and buy a flight on poor old EasyJet to help them out. And learn the name of our Emma. You’ll need it when telling your mates who is the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for this year come December.