Do not label me!


So many years ago, that I don’t want to remember when, we had a catchphrase in our household: Trago Labels.

We said then, and still do, that after the apocalypse, when the earth is a smoking heap, there will be two things left – cockroaches, and Trago labels.

What did this mean? Just that our local shopping outlet used labels so fiercely tight and non-removable that not even a nuclear bomb would shift them. I STILL have Trago labels on some items in my house today.

So, what’s the deal with labels?

Why is it that I can put on a soft woollen sweater, so comfortable and warm, and revel in the feeling against my skin until – GRRRR – that prickly, itchy, annoying back-of-the-neck sensation that tells you there is a label on the collar? Sure enough, in the softest sweater you are bound to find a label woven from what feels like wire wool.

What to do? If you cut it out you lose the maker’s name, size, and washing instructions and are in danger of snipping the wool. If you leave it in, you can’t bear to wear it!

Before we met, my husband had obviously grown so tired of scratchy labels in his tee shirts that he literally ripped them out. I know, I inherited the task of sewing up the holes. These days he’s not allowed to – when he complains I’m fast enough with the scissors to forestall the damage!

But why should I have to? Aren’t the makers of clothes able to produce a cotton label that doesn’t scratch the back of your neck? This puzzles me.

Price Stickers

And as for paper labels, they are just as irritating. Nowadays, at least, birthday cards come with removable price tags, but before then the choice was to leave them in place and admit to your relative what a cheapskate you were for buying a supermarket card, or try to budge it, leaving a grubby sticky mark.

You carry home your new purchase with glee – it’s a little wooden ornament, or a table lamp, or a framed print. But what’s on there, in the most prominent position? Yes, a price label. The person who stuck it there couldn’t be bothered to stick it on the back, or the bottom, it’s right where it’s going to cause the most damage.

Even if you can soak some items, then scrape it with the potato peeler, you are still left with a smudge of gooey gunk that no amount of hot water or scrubbing will remove. Drat the labels!  Like many others I leapt at the chance to buy Betterware “Sticky Label Remover” and it saved the day on many occasions.

IKEA are amongst the worst culprits. Their labels are superglued on.

I needed a new toothmug and found a nice one at a discount price – but it still sits there with a big label across the side telling me what it is (something I’d guessed already) and how to clean it (if only!) and giving me the indispensible store location number. I haven’t been able to shift it yet.

Giving somebody a CD or DVD as a present? Good luck with that. A huge fluorescent label will tell them precisely how much you paid, and unless you want to rip the clingfilm off it, you will have to accept that little proviso.

What’s your worst label disaster?

Our most recent one was a much-needed new frying pan from the Supermarket. Cheap and cheerful.  That very evening it was put to good use on our gas hob. Later, I said to hubby, you know, I’m sure there is a smell like paper burning. I looked all around, but could find nothing on fire – perhaps it was chimney smoke drifting in the window?

The next morning he said to me, guess what. There’s a pile of ash on the top of the cooker. The new frying pan had gone onto the hob with the label still on the bottom.

WELL, at least that’s one way to remove them!

(Note: TRAGO, in those days, was a delightfully quirky commercial park, with outdoor stalls and little buildings owned by self-employed traders, with a pond, a children’s playground and some sandwich bars. You could spend the day there, looking at curious little shops and stalls. It was growing all the time, to the great dismay of the Local Authority, who regularly tried to put a stop to its expansion. In return, the owner (one of the last great British Eccentrics I think) used to post a long rambling diatribe in the local newspaper every week, and stick self-made cardboard posters with his (not very polite) opinions of the Council all down the road to the site.

From Wikipedia: The chain is owned by local businessman Bruce Robertson, son of founder Mike Robertson. He has faced controversy for adverts which he took out in the local paper containing anti-homosexual views. Bruce is also a major supporter of United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), famously refusing to stop using imperial measures in his stores despite contravening European Union law. Despite his opposition to immigration from countries in Eastern Europe, Robertson was revealed in January 2007 to be employing around 30 migrants from Poland in his Newton Abbot store.)

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One thought on “Do not label me!

  1. I have found using an emery board on clothing labels and other rough and scratchy surfaces renders them soft and agreeable. Some manufactures have changed their labeling to stamping right onto the fabric and after a few months of wearing the ink/paint curls and lifts to nothing short of coarse sandpaper, which no amount of filing can soften. I’m with ya on the overuse of glue on hard surface purchases. You’d think with all the technology we have there would be something more suitable.

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