A month or so before Christmas, we started noticing how much One Direction merchandise it was possible to buy.
We started taking pictures of merchandise when we saw it.
Some sort of blog post at some point in the future must have been the vague subconscious plan, but there wasn’t really a point to these photos.
There certainly wasn’t a “let’s take a photograph of every One Direction trinket it’s possible to buy” agenda.
We didn’t actively seek out One Direction merchandise.
All we did was take a snap every time we saw a One Direction item while we were looking for something else.
There was quite a lot of it.
In one sense, it isn’t really surprising that there’s lots of One Direction merchandise for sale: they’re the planet’s biggest boyband.
But it was still interesting to discover just how hard it was not to see One Direction when you were out shopping.
You might not guess it from the years-old images used on some products but the vast majority of the merchandise was official, although there were a few unofficial publications.
And it was nice to see some familiar old names back on sale.
Some unofficial paper goods, it has to be said, were better than others.
(There were official publications as well, though.)
We were surprised by the number of things in which other things could be carried. A lunchbox, for instance, makes sense.
As does a sort of over-the-shoulder pouch thing.
Or even two over-the-shoulder pouch things.
But the more you look at One Direction-branded things to carry other things in, the more you wonder exactly what it is that One Direction fans are carrying around so much.
Perhaps they use One Direction-branded things to carry other things in to actually carry other One Direction-branded things to carry other things in.
After a while we wondered if it wasn’t the proliferation of One Direction merchandise that was interesting, as much as how little visibility there was for other acts.
There were one or two exceptions. Those points when other X Factor artists were permitted a look-in.
But really, it was One Direction all the way.
How great it must be for One Direction to completely dominate this field.
It’s hugely significant that massive retailers think One Direction merchandise – and One Direction merchandise alone – is worth piling high in the run-up to Christmas, and it’s probably a better barometer of the band’s success than music or even concert ticket sales.
But at the same time, what does it say about the state of pop that no other acts are deemed worthy of a similar spot on the shelves of Britain’s supermarkets, toy stores and newsagents?
If One Direction never existed, what would be on these shelves? Would the space be filled by another pop group? Without One Direction’s presence, would another band have become this popular? Or would there just be loads more Hunger Games stuff all over the place? And then you wonder what will happen in Christmas 2015 when One Direction are no longer as big as One Direction were during Christmas 2013. Is the band that takes One Direction’s place already known (ie is it The Vamps)?
Or will some new, unexpected, and unexpectedly amazing pop group arrive in the next twelve months?
Now that would be a cause for celebration.