‘Got your number!’ yell the drunken oafs in the bar, harassing some hapless woman who has dropped a glass; ‘Got your number!’ shout the kids in the park to anyone who passes; ‘Got your number!’ cry yet more children, sat astride a gun-barrel in the unfinished municipal Napoleonic theme-park. Seen the advert, yelled the catch-phrase, bought the T-shirt’ this is one of the more extraordinary side-effects of the directory enquiries anarchy unleashed by that unlikely harbinger of apocalypse, the telephony watchdog.
Is this popular culture? The adoption of a message designed to sell you something as a badge? A humorous and sophistication negotiation of cultural codes? Just fucking boring? You tell me. The original adverts smack of Royal Tennbaums cod-70s retro styling and a horrible little-Englandism (count the non-white faces): a fitting soundtrack to a summer which has seen the wholly reverential and entirely non-ironic resurrection of the bloated corpse of Elton John. This is a Britain in which the behemoth of the culture industry really has got all our numbers.
I’m biting back the urge to deliver a pompous sermon on the evils of the advertising industry when a passing mother, clearly trained in the handling of infants, beats me to the better response: ‘Oh yeah ‘ what is it then?’ Doesn’t shut the little fuckers up mind.