How high's the water, momma?
Five feet high and rising
How high's the water poppa?
Five feet high and rising
Johnny Cash, Sun records
It was with deep sorrow that we heard that the Madeleine Online Shop is no more. It was also a surprise since Kate McCann had written that the store was not despatching goods only because “I am unable at this time to attend to website orders.” Sweet as this vision is of little Kate in her brown overalls licking sticky tape and humping packages into mailbags, it wasn't the whole story, was it?
“She wanted to let people down gently,”
Mr Pal, [you can't say that anymore. Ed.] a
friend, [nope.Ed.] a source close to the investigation [no, no, no! Ed.] a spokesman-for-the-McCanns-not-discussing-the-investigation-with-hair-the-colour-of-a-baboon’s-pink-arse [sure.Ed], might have said as he told the Sun of the closure. “The news was bound to be painful for millions of people so Kate
felt that she had no choice but to tell them a bit at a time so they could get
used to the idea."
Our sister publication, the Financial & Marketing Bureau, takes up the story:
A Nation Mourns
The news has been met with shock and dismay by thousands up and down Britain - and nowhere more than in Leicestershire. “That’s it,” said homeless and dripping Tony Parsons 77, throwing open his Morrison’s doorway home and inviting us to share his soiled duvet, “they’ll never be nothing like it again. Never. I'm gutted like a sardine.” His grizzled and somewhat toothless friend Carla Spade, career chambermaid at Rothley's Premier Inn but now fallen on very hard times, expressed her grief more forthrightly. "If you ask me, it's a f*****g disgrace and they shouldn't of [sic] f******g done it, the f*****g f*****s."
Why exactly do you think so?
"Because we slept in the doorway of that f******g warehouse for years and now we've been moved on to this pi**hole f*****g dump." Clearly there'd been a misunderstanding, so we threw Carla some cider and deodorant money and slipped away.
Beth – not her real name – a normally chirpy pigskin bleacher at Rothley’s extensive "Melton Mowbray-style" Pork Products factory, wept quietly as she told us how her childhood, like that of all her friends, was spent swapping images of the latest fashion lines on the site. “I just can’t believe it, ” she said, staring at the rain-soaked railings of the nearby village memorial and the squished papier-mache remains of a once pristine Have You Seen Her poster dribbling towards the gutter.
Was that hers? we asked. She nodded. “I had eleven, like. There was talk that Maddie had signed some of them but I never saw those."
Pedro de Silva, who runs a scented candles, fancy lingerie and souvenir stall by the bus station, was covering his stock in black plastic bags as the rain increased to a melancholy, relentless hammering from granite grey skies. He was distraught, almost beyond expression. “People like me…people like us, I no have the words but we need that little girl, we need those things of her. No, no I cannot speak.”
Later, sheltering under an awning, I encounter Beth again. She is, once more, in tears. “They’re making me redundant,” she sobs. Who are? “The Porkies factory,” she cries, “we’re on a one-day week which they said was down to Brexit and now they’ve just told us” – she breaks off to blow her nose into a Maddie Loves You handkerchief – “twenty minutes ago they told us that nobody’s buying their Porkies anymore so we're closing this week.”
There are stories that behind the scenes desperate efforts had been made to keep the Online Store open during its last months. Darcy du Cann, a tall, languid, hipster-bearded marketing expert from Shoreditch Solutions, claims he was considering offering a recovery plan but realised the task was hopeless on his first day.
“I knew at once,” he said over a Fatty Latte in Rothley’s Michelin-starred Exhaust ‘n’ Tyre Pit, the village’s social centre, “I can’t tell you how but I knew. The atmosphere was like that,” and he motioned at the memorial, now gushing rain water from every gargoyle, “hopeless. Once the belief is gone everything else follows.” The rat-a-tat-tat of a wheel-nut driver announced that the new tyre was now on his Ferrari. He gave me a wink. “One tip,” he added as we left, “never, ever, invest in failure.”
What does the future now hold? The McCanns’ celebrated financial nous and a particularly smart way with copyright means that any independent attempt to fill the gap in the highly valuable souvenir market is likely to fail, despite Mr de Silva’s hopes of stocking Sweet Tot brand snow-globes and Maddie Sticker Books (with ready to tear pages) from Vietnam. Besides, as Darcy pointed out before roaring off into the distance, “…look, these things have a finite marketing life and now it’s gone. Selling a cute blonde kid’s dead easy but how’s anyone going to sell a Maddie Tee-shirt when nobody knows what she looks like? She might be six feet tall and fat already. To be honest, nobody wants to invest in the McCann brand anymore. Ask around: once it was nectar, now it’s poison."
Later, as your correspondent headed safely southwards, wipers thudding, twenty miles back the local radio station was headlining its latest weather report, No way out from Rothley, folks. Somehow I found myself thinking again of those last few words from Darcy du Cann.
Well it's five feet high and ri - sing. Rothley brook overflows.