Right now, the hipsters of the East End* are popularising a word that is irritating me somewhat. The rise of the word ‘artisan’ is seemingly inexorable.
Remember the florist selling sticks at 18 quid a pop? Well, if you look at the façade of her overpriced tat shop, you’ll see that as well as being hatefully twee in calling itself Botanique**, in itself enough to set my teeth on edge, it claims to be an Artisan Store. If we look at the obvious meaning, it will be useful place should I ever need to buy some artisans. I suspect, though, that it’s a reference to the wildly expensive pots of cosmetics on sale alongside the sticks. No doubt the sticks are ‘artisan’ too.
It doesn’t stop there. There are artisan bread shops. When I were a lad they were called bakers. Craft beers are made by artisans. In my day they were called brewers, and as far as I can tell ‘craft’ just means a/ small output (hence high priced), or b/ adulterated with something that has no place in a beer, such as strawberries.
Artisan potteries. Anything hand-thrown is pretty much de facto produced by an artisan, but you don’t need to sodding spell it out, do you? If it’s all lumpy and lopsided, it’s been made by hand, but no artisan worth his or her salt would sell it.
There are even, and you may wish to brace yourself here, artisan baskets available. These have the additional benefit of being fully right on and PC, since they are imported from Africa. This apparently ‘empowers’ the people (probably women, I’d hazard) who make them. Whether they get empowered to the tune of over 100 smackers for a laundry basket is a moot point.
While we’re here, anybody else bored with the word ‘empowerment,’ and indeed the whole concept? It seems to have pretty much lost any meaning now it’s so overused. It’s a word from Humpty Dumpty’s lexicon. ‘When I use a word…it means just what I choose it to mean-neither more nor less.’
*And offshore bases such as Hebden Bridge
**Predictably, in the photo I’ve seen, there’s a hipster’s fixed-gear bike complete with roller brakes propped up against the wall.