Monday, 29 September 2014

The Great Dubai Razor Rebellion.

English: Hungarian razor blades - 1950's year ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Gillette website is a hoot. One of the sections of the site, richly packed with relevant content, is titled 'how to shave' and has some highly useful video demonstrations suitable for any educationally subnormal macaques who might find the advice useful or indeed inspirational.

That says more about modern life, society and stuff than it perhaps intends. I'm waiting for Clarks to catch on and include a 'how to walk' section on their website. The London Rubber Company's contribution to the debate is perhaps more eagerly awaited.

I've been building up to a minor rebellion for some time now. The price of razor blades has been steadily rising, from where they didn't really hit the radar to the point, now, where Spinneys keeps them in a cabinet behind the till and Carrefour puts them in those annoying sealed boxes I only otherwise encounter when buying printer ink. I'm forced to the realisation: We've Gone Too Far.

The printer ink security box issue is no coincidence: the business model is the same. Mobile operators will also recognise the trick. Sell the punter a base product that will only accept your configuration of consumable and then gouge them heftily for the consumable. HP printer ink, coloured water, costs more than Chanel No. 5. Sarah starting at a new school has meant I've just spent three times the cost of the printer on ink. I don't begrudge her a penny (although I do wonder why schools are increasingly relying on their underpaid teachers to resource classrooms with their own personal educational paraphernalia), but I do begrudge HP for the cost and profligacy. When a company sells a wasteful little plastic cartridge full of overpriced ink and then has the colossal cheek to sell the same cartridge with more ink in it (the 'XL' cartridge) for double the price and THEN blither on about how 'green' it is, I despair.

But I am meandering, clearly a lost, ranting old lunatic wandering through the fields in his shabby greatcoat, gibbering and raving to himself.

Employing HP's evil printer cartridge model has been good for Gillette (and others, no doubt, but it's Gillette's razor I have sitting aside my sink). They're charging something like ten quid for four of those plastic cartridges, which cost pennies to manufacture. I've found the blades generally good for a week or so. The 'high end' cartridges are anything up to £3.50 a pop. We are, ladies and gentlemen, having a laugh.

Over two pounds fifty a week. You're looking at something upwards of 50p a day. Have I gone MAD?

In India a while ago, there was a problem with the harried Rupee, which had devalued to the point where chaps were melting them down to make razor blades because the retail value of the base metal when converted into blades (one Rupee was being turned into five or so blades - 35 Rupees' worth of blade) was higher than the value of the coin. It caused a national coin shortage. Seriously. I can see that working here or in the UK these days with a razor blade costing between Dhs 10 to 20.

I'm not even starting on the question of why I would need to put a battery in my razor. I have so far avoided vibrating razors. If God meant us to have a vibrat... never mind.

The razor companies will say they have to invest in innovation, with Gillette spending $750 million in developing its popular Mach3 razor alone. How you can spend that kind of money coming up with a razor is frankly beyond me. It's stupid. But not as stupid as paying over £2.50 for a razor blade.

So I have rebelled. I've gone off and bought an old-fashioned 'safety' razor, the type my old dad used to use. You buy single blades and they are pressed into the head of the razor with a screw that runs down through the handle. The blades are the fashion ornaments so beloved of teddy boys (they used to sew them into their lapels - them, or fish hooks - in case someone tried to use the cloth handles to grab and 'nut' them. Pal Mai assures me Egyptian street thugs conceal blades in the roofs of their mouth to whip 'em out to 'do yer' when the occasion arises) and punks alike. I once had dinner at the George Cinq wearing a black Therapy? t-shirt with a massive day-glo green razor on it. The waiter was unbelievably, delightfully, pissy. And yes, 'Monsieur' is indeed a guest - thank you for asking - and there's very little you can do about him, mate...

And guess what? Basic Razor works just fine. Better, in fact. It's a tad more dangerous, takes a little skill and more caution. It's by no means forgiving of those little facial bumps that life throws at us. But I'd say that's because the shave's way, way closer.

I know this doesn't quite make me Edward Snowden, but we must take our rebellions where we find them as old age and conformity press ever heavier on our heads...


Angus said...

...or just do what I did and grow a fashionably culturally agreeable beard. Saves a fortune! :)

Rupert Neil Bumfrey said...

Surely with such good value barbershops around Sharjah, you could nip in one on the way to work or vice-versa?

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