“No end to the horror.” “Christmas cancelled.”
But what is the so-called “book of dreams” and why are people getting worked up about it?
What is an Argos catalogue? A brief history lesson
By John Hand
Twice a year word went round that the new Argos catalogue was out – a big moment for anyone who grew up or shopped in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
This was a time when the nearest thing to Amazon was a hefty book crammed full of pictures, enticing words and equally enticing prices. Drop it down on the kitchen table and it created a louder thump than the phone directory.
Jewellery always seemed to be at the front but younger readers knew the toys and fun household gadgets were towards the back. Toys and games advertised on the TV in the run-up to Christmas were cross-referenced in the Argos catalogue and parents were pestered. And how many adults left hopeful hints by leaving it open on the cassette-player page?
Argos stores themselves were a mind-blowing mystery. Using the kind of cheap plastic pen that even bookmakers might turn their nose up at, customers filled in an unfathomably long code number on a slip of paper, negotiated their way past the tills, then went to the shop counter to wait as your item was sent up from the stockroom – a place that must have had Tardis-like dimensions to hold such vast quantities of stock.
Within minutes, you were away. There was no need to wait in all day for a parcel or rate your seller. The only action required was to grab yet another copy of the famed catalogue to take home, to start the process again.
Now that you’ve got your head around the idea, here are six things people say they gained from the Argos catalogue – the memories they still cherish, and the life lessons learned.
1. The spirit of Christmas
Every family has its festive traditions, and for many the Argos catalogue was a massive part of the build-up to the most wonderful time of the year.
2. Childhood memories
The Argos catalogue was a defining feature of some people’s formative years, all year round.
3. Daring to dream
The Argos catalogue taught generations of children to aim high, even if those aspirations weren’t particularly realistic.
4. Coping with rejection
Others seem to think it helped them manage their expectations, especially when Father Christmas didn’t show up with the goods or the Argos branch was out of stock. Turns out Mr Frosty was a sore subject.
5. Hard work and perseverance
Others think it taught them the value of good old-fashioned graft – and a sense of accomplishment.
6. Broadening horizons
And for some, it was far more than just a book or even a festive tradition – it helped them think outside the box. From nurturing their creativity…
… to deepening their understanding of the human experience.
RIP, Argos catalogue.