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The saddest pictures I’ve ever taken

by Darren

These aren’t my greatest work.  I took them tonight at Hamleys, the store in the centre of London which is using these reindeer to flog toys at Christmas.  And when they’ve finished with them, they’re getting in some penguins.  I’m a [redacted] stone, big lump of bloke, and yet I have a tear in my eye as I look back at them and think of what this company is doing in the name of profits this Christmas.

That, and the fact that I was using a compact camera, without flash, and with ‘bouncers’ nearby, probably explains the appalling quality of the images, but I guess you’re not here to see beauty.  There is nothing beautiful about this.  It’s crass and stupid and selfish and cruel and horrid and abusive.  In summary, it’s just plain wrong.

As an aside, apologies for the watermarks.  I’m not proud of these images, I don’t need to ‘protect’ them like my other pictures, but I’ve spent quite a while trying to work out how to turn it off when uploading to the website and have given up – there’s more important things!  If you want to use the pictures of Hamleys to help get the message out, please go right ahead.

Anyway, while I was there I spoke with a smug guy from marketing called Andrew.  When I say spoke, mainly it was me asking and him refusing to answer.  They still won’t tell us where they are coming from, but he did claim they were from a ‘local supplier’.  Well first, the use of the word supplier tells you exactly what Hamleys think these reindeer are – a commodity.

Second, the word ‘local’ is not true.  We know that because another member of Hamleys staff told me last night that the reindeer had spent six hours in a horse box on a motorway in a futile attempt to get them there in the bad weather.  Clearly the decision to bring them was more about the bottom line and nothing about welfare.  I digress, we were talking about motorways and ‘local supplier’.

Brent Cross (the start of the M1) is 16.2 miles away, and Google Maps says it takes 35 minutes to get there (presumably without traffic).  The M4 is 8 miles away and 22 minutes.  The M11 14 miles and 36 minutes.  Add 6 hours to any of those figures (from what I understand they were stuck on the motorway when they turned around).

Hamleys have already shown us they don’t know where penguins come from (they think the North Pole) and now that they don’t understand basic words like ‘local’.  They are claiming this stunt is to educate kids – do you want them educating yours?

Finally, there was a moderately funny moment when the security guard who was at Hamleys bellowed “If you don’t belong here, move on.”  They were penned in, but I’m sure I saw the reindeer make a beeline for the exit!

So, if you’ve a strong constitution, read on and take a look at the pictures.

A masterclass in how to make profit, Hamleys style this Christmas.

First, put down some dodgy tarpaulin.  Don’t worry about the edges – reindeer have strong hooves, and if they break a leg, we’ll get the ‘supplier’ to send another one pronto.  Don’t want to lose any time, we’ve got toys to sell.


Watch out though. Reindeer can be quite bolshy if they’re locked up for hours on the motorway so they can sit in a 4m square pen to be gawked at and pawed by our customers.  Don’t want them biting anyone, that would be bad publicity (and then we’d have to go into hiding for ages and pretend it doesn’t exist).

We need to give them food.  In the wild they’d eat plants in the summer, fungus and algae in the winter, but we don’t want any of that mucky rubbish in our pristine store.  That’s not going to encourage people to buy our stuff.  Give em a washing up bowl full of whatever.

Add some moneyed up punters, and our job is done.

Pay here.  Lovely jubbly.