January 26th, 2012

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Movies for the Recession. This week: The Last Days of Habitat (Dir: Robin Hardy)

Scene: The entrance of the main Habitat warehouse


[Hooey arrives, out of breath and exhausted. To his surprise, Sir Terence Conran is calmly awaiting him.]

Conran: So, Sergeant Hooey. You were hoping to find young Hazel McDougall here, I take it?

Hooey: Yes, Sir Terence. Either her – or her remains. I know all about her, you see. I know she told a customer that lino was comfier underfoot than hand-quarried slate tiles. For that, she had to die.

Conran: But Sergeant, here is Hazel now, looking perfectly bonny.

Hazel [coming forward eagerly]: Did I play my part well, Sir Terence?

Conran: You were magnificent! Now run along. [Exit Hazel. Sir Terence looks on with fatherly indulgence, before turning back to the policeman.] We have led you a merry dance, Sergeant Hooey, but it is over. The time has come to keep your appointment with ... the Rattan Man.

He presses a switch, and the vast doors of the warehouse trundle open on rollers. Two burly sales assistants drag the resisting Hooey to a giant human figure, within whose hollow frame numerous futons, ergonomic work stations, and Scandinavian-style waste paper baskets have been lodged. He is forced into a rattan linen chest, and the latch secured with flax. To Hooey's horror, they set light to the pile of bean bags and pine bed slats at the figure's base.

Hooey: Release me! I am a servant of the law!

Conran: We obey a higher law, Sergeant. The law of supply and demand. The gods have demanded sacrifice, and we have supplied it. Next year, our balance sheet will show a profit.

Hooey [desperate, as the fire-retardant bean bags give up the fight and burst into flame]: You think your goods didn't sell because the gods were angry? Your lines failed because your business model failed! You didn’t diversify! You can kill me, but next year you’ll still be undercut by Ikea!

[Sir Terence looks momentarily troubled; but Hooey’s cries are now muffled. We hear snatches of prayer and song, but these are drowned out by a hearty rendition of “The Sun'll Come out Tomorrow” by the assembled shop workers. At last this too fades. We cut to sunset over the trading estate - and every night a rolling down of blinds.]