Scientists have been using mice to better understand the impact on children of grand-scale exposure to garden centres.
In an ambitious study conducted over the equivalent of a two-week school holiday, a dozen juvenile rodents were released into a clutch of the most prominent ‘day trip’ plant emporiums in East and West Sussex.
The unsettling conclusions could have serious implications for grandchildren in all of the southern counties where old people creep.
‘We suspected that serial browsing around garden furniture sectionals and personalised mug stands might have long term effects on the soft brains of kids.
But we didn’t expect to see this kind of damage.’
When the mice first arrived they adjusted favourably to the airy open-plan feel and incredible choice.
But it took only twenty four hours for them to age thirty years and seek out mice-sized powder blue macs (available next season, in a twofer offer with all-new miniature peace pipe relaxation cds).
One started responding to the name ‘Barbara‘, and repeatedly re-presenting itself at the dwarf bonzai trees, with pawfuls of Baby Bio.
‘It was going gently insane,’ a researcher confirmed.
Other tendencies exhibited by the mice included a declining ability to tell which orchids in glass jars were real- a problem exacerbated by the sheer number of material ones.
‘More worrying still was that they failed to differentiate them qualitatively, even when they knew which was which.
If you translate this into human behaviour, you’re going to get a lot of young adults who place equal value on dead and living things,’ one researcher explained needlessly.
‘Or at least a subset of interior designers who specialise in kitting out 2-star B & Bs,’ added another.
In an effect psychologists call ‘anti-screening’ (a phrase in opposition to the selective hearing phenomenon in pensioners) the mice became quickly accepting of having the piss taken out of them.
On week one they balked at £9 for the brie and bacon panini with salad garnish.
Just seven days later they didn’t find it that dear- particularly when followed by a stale slab of triple- layer coffee and walnut cake.
‘Of course, kids don’t generally pay for their dinosaur lunch boxes, where they can choose four other dolls-house-sized items to supplement the nutritional content of their jam sandwich square.
But the habitualisation principle is the same.’
In one of the study’s darker twists, no one had considered what the repercussions would be if the research subjects were to wander into Pet World, which is between the faux homemade preserves and inoffensive scooped-neck tops.
‘When twelve lab mice whose next gig might be eyeball perfume testing meet two wannabe-pet guinea pigs, it ain’t going to be pretty,’ said lead researcher Timothy.
‘It was more depressing than Watership Down’, said his colleague, who is now helping out in the Aquatics section of Roundstones in Hastings to help heal his trauma.
At the end of the April fortnight three of the twelve mice refused to leave Home Decor, saying they were waiting for the Christmas decorations to arrive; five were obsessed with cactus coupons: two were toying with Emma Bridgewater polka dot plastic cupcake transporters; and one insisted the beanbag lap-tray with the country kitten scene on the front was not too big: it was just the ticket.
The rest had stopped reading newspapers.
‘Overall, it’s scary that a slice of this generation is being raised on resin geese ornaments with handbags. Systematically. Every half term.
Put simply, what the fuck kind of deviancy will they be into in their 80’s?’