Cuckoo Clock Culture

Nearly there, I passed the house with the ’his and hers’ matching BMW’s, went a bit further, and almost turned in at the wrong gate. The next-door neighbours were so fascinated by our trail blazing consumerist tastes that they had spent the last three years unconsciously echoing them. We had finished up with similar black cars, similar gravel paths, similar house paint jobs, similar fences, and even similar house names. His wife had an identical hairstyle to my wife’s, their kids changed bikes precisely one week after ours, and they appeared to be equally interested in ‘Next’ catalogue clothes.
There was certainly no need to bother with genetic cloning in our street because we achieved the same ends by cultural means, and I toyed again with the idea of equipping our family with yellow plastic Macs and top hats to see if the neighbours would start copying that too.
This was cuckoo clock culture, where every social action was repeated through the weeks with fiercely guarded pinpoint accuracy. Cars were washed on Saturday, gardens tended on Sunday, wheelie bins emptied on Tuesday, dogs walked at 0600 and 1800 hours, nights out were arranged for midweek, houses and cars were changed every two years, and people always died five years after retirement. I could already feel the invisible wooden rod pushing me out through the tiny door as the clock struck nine, and I prepared for conjugal warfare.


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