All In Good Taste


You really want one of those aluminium dolphin toilet seats, don't you - admit it. You're thinking about that orange porcelain pig, sipping beer and wondering where you can get one. I know your sort.

The spaceport greeted arrivals with a gigantic polystyrene pig, suckling plaster porpoises. Things rapidly went down hill from there, but, as it was designed, it became one the most popular tourist destinations in the galaxy. Artists from all planets queued up to inflict more atrocities on the senses.

The giant jewel encrusted garden gnome with laser searchlight eyes was justly famous as the nadir of monuments in human space. Elvis Presley was considered the guiding spirit of the planet. Christmas was the holiest of the holy in Kitschland, as it had always been a time of relaxed aesthetic sensibilities everywhere. When else could one wear an acrylic beard, and flashing neon rings? When else could one festoon ones residence in tinsel tack and plastic angels and feel no self consciousness whatsoever?

Kitschland had to do better than average in exploring the bottom of the aesthetic barrel. Most Kitschlanders retrovirussed their appearance for a month before Christmas. They turned themselves into elves, Santas and two legged reindeers. Giant solar reflectors, selectively shining colours, circled the entire planet. From a distance it looked like a spherical Christmas tree. It could be a little disconcerting to have your passport examined by a 1 meter tall elf, in pink and green costume. On the other hand, it did let you know what you were in for.

Every R-taxi was made to resemble a sleigh, laden with faux presents. As we came within range of one, it lit up with a hologram of Santa, ho ho hoing with merry abandon.

Part of coming to Kitschland, of course, was kitching yourself up. Only the grossest would do. Quiet restraint was the enemy of this place. I dressed myself as British naval captain, circa 1770. That in itself was judged insufficiently kitsch, by the inspector. Adding a synthetic leopard skin hat, with pink day glow spots did the trick.

I opened the purple and green door to my hotel room with some apprehension. Predictably, it creaked with authentic sounding rusty hinges. Even considering where I was, my room was an assault on the senses. I had been given the tropical suite. A large rainbow coloured plastic parrot perched on my bed. The bedside table was made from what looked like an outsize elephant leg. The floor covering was pure 20th Century, genuine Astroturf, the parrot assured me. I asked the talkative bird to shut up. The lamp was covered in crocodile skin. Departing from the tropical theme, my soft screen was covered with doilies, and decorated with orange Tinkerbelles. Quite how the mirror ball and strobe light fitted in to the scheme I could not work out, but then perhaps that was the point. The bathroom was a pure delight, each tap was in the shape of a green snake, with outsize human like eyes and a ruby encrusted forked tongue. After flushing, the toilet emitted a lion’s roar. The towels were adorned with puppy-with-big-eyes-and-mournful look, beloved of late 20th Century Earth.. For reasons unclear, the room was dominated by an enormous wagon wheel. On the ceiling had been painted another timeless image from 20th Century earth; dogs playing poker, though the Kitschlanders had improved on it by giving each dog illuminated lights for eyes, and three dimensional sex organs. I was impressed; I didn’t think that anyone could sink lower than the original. I hadn’t been to Kitschland before, I imagined it was a “gift shop” writ large- but clearly the gift shop attempts at timeless inelegance were amateur.

Who exactly has need of three hundred thousand porcelain pigs, with orange legs sipping, beer? Was there a human being imaginable that would voluntarily have their planet defaced by kilometre high, pink plastic dinosaurs, covered in glitter? Was there somewhere that could welcome four hundred thousand aluminium dolphin toilet seats? Apparently there was. For once a nut toppings planet was producing something that someone wanted. It stands to reason that the export was an eyesore. Kitschland was, and still is, famous as eyesore central. Only one planet was interested in what the Kitsch had to offer, and that was the most unlikely planet of all.