Every now and then, my assumption that western civilisation evolves at a more or less even tempo receives a jarring wake-up call. Today is one of those occasions.
Somewhere in Ohio, apparently, it is still 1978.
How the years slip away and Benny Hill’s face moves into crisper focus, as I watch someone called Joe Jordan and R&R Bait & Tackle combine their promotional efforts around a single theme. And fishing.
Joe at least, might just have got away with his part of the deal, so willing was I to extend him the benefit of the doubt and assume that the bikini’d young woman who opens the clip is his wife or girlfriend. On reflection, he may feel that the part where he has to check what her name is should never have survived the first edit.
This, however, pales alongside the advertising intermission at the 33-second mark. It’s not the body of Bikini Woman number 2, holding up an ‘Open Seven Days a Week Sign’ in the floats aisle, that lingers in the memory, so much as the body language.
This is either a model, slowly coming to terns with the fact that she’s drawn the day’s short straw down at the agency, or else a long-suffering staff member mentally calculating before our eyes what ‘taking one for the team’ will cost her employer in bonuses and free bait.
We return to Joe and his associate, reeling in bass and pike in northern Michigan, before popping back to R&R at the 4:47 point, where a young woman in hot pants (probably the accountant) wants to tell us that you can’t go wrong with Weld-craft fishing boats. Lest there be any doubt on that score, the camera cuts to a photo of the said vessel, with another woman in a bikini draped across its back end, clearly savouring every second aboard “the most reliable, durable boat on the planet”.
All told, this peek into Joe and R&R’s parallel universe runs to almost 12 minutes, and even as you hope that there might yet be some ironic, self-aware punchline that makes everything all right, the clip blindsides you once more, closing with a quote from St Paul’s letter to the Philippians – I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.
Whether it’s Joe or the proprietors of R&R Bait and Tackle whose strength needs occasional replenishment isn’t entirely clear.