There’s a lot to be said for a laogong jicun chu

By Keith Newbery

Friday, January 17, 2014


THIS ISLAND LIFE THEY'VE given the world everything from cast iron to the compass; from bank notes to blast furnaces; from nickel silver to nail polish.

But it is doubtful whether the Chinese will ever surpass their latest, greatest invention — the laogong jicun chu — better known to you and me, of course, as the "husband cloakroom".

As their embrace of commercialism gets ever wider and warmer, and shopping malls start to pop up over that vast land in ever-increasing numbers, the Chinese have come up with an idea to make them even more welcoming and therefore even more profitable.

The "husband cloakrooms" are now an integral part of these vast complexes, and they contain chairs, tables, wi-fi and even access to alcoholic refreshment for spouses enduring the side-effects of extreme ennui as their wives gad about revelling in the retail experience.

We have nothing remotely resembling a mall on the Island, of course, but there are lessons to be learned by the local supermarkets, especially as they struggle to win our custom following some indifferent Christmas trading results.

I’m thinking primarily of Morrisons, which keeps threatening to extend the size of its Lake store, where shopping is beginning to resemble a round of the Krypton Factor, as customers slalom around the aisles while trying to avoid dead-ends.

Indeed, it ought to add to the fun of shopping there by introducing daily competitions.

"Want to win a £5 shopping voucher? Easy! Get from paste, pickles and preserves to the bakery area without passing frozen products or knocking over a dawdling pensioner as she emerges from behind a stack of cheap dog food thoughtfully placed in the middle of an aisle!"

Then there’s Asda, which may one day actually get round to building something along St George’s Way.

The architects involved in both schemes might like to make minor adjustments to their plans and include whatever the Chinese is for "a little room where other halves can have a kip or a read while the shopping side of the partnership goes about his/her business".

Forgive the use of the phrase "other halves" but if I were to use all the politically-correct descriptions of the roles of respective individuals in relationships, it would take up most of the rest of the column.

The only respite for non-shoppers at the moment is the occasional chair but these are often placed outside women’s changing-rooms where men have to endure suspicious glances from women who are not their wives, as they perch there awaiting the dreaded "does my bum look big in this" inquiry from the woman who is.

I must point out I am not an unwilling pack-mule for my wife or daughter.

After all, there is much fun to be had people-watching but it would be nice, occasionally, to be able to do it from a sedentary position.

In desperation, I have sometimes resorted to slumping in the seats in M&S which are actually there for the benefit of customers intending to purchase shoes.

I find removing one’s footwear and sitting next to a couple of half-opened boxes, diverts staff long enough to allow for a brief rest and for some semblance of feeling to return to the lower torso.

But we men should not have to adopt these sneaky tactics. Shops should realise there is nothing more guaranteed to make a woman linger and spend than the knowledge that her old chap cannot be heard sighing and grumbling in the background.

After all, we’re not asking for a fully upholstered, lavishly equip-ped laogong jicun chu. A few strategically spaced, comfy chairs would do nicely.

A selective approach to Anglicizing the Bible

MY thanks to those readers who took the trouble to explain the reason the disciples had English names was because those responsible for the English Bible translated the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek names they were born with.

This point — which is fine as far as it goes — was made by Bob White, from Herne Bay, Kent, Paul Bailey, from Spain, and Alan Sargent.

But it doesn’t explain why the translators of old adopted a selective approach and appeared only to put their own spin on the names of the apostles and a few other well-known characters in the Bible.

Indeed, Alan inadvertently emphasised the fact in his e-mail when he pointed out James "was the son of Alphaeus and Lebbaeus".

But why were the names of his parents, and most of the other people who feature in the Bible, not accorded some Anglicization?

Was James, in fact, the son of Alfred and Elizabeth?

Then there is the name of Jesus himself. According to good old Wikipedia, the Hebrew version of his name is Yeshua — the English version of which is Joshua.

So why do Christians not worship Joshua Christ?

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