I am rubbish at shopping. Really, spectacularly rubbish. Although I dabble, I remain an unreconstructed lefty when faced with the opportunity to become a proper player at consumerism. I balk at the opportunity to hand over sums of cash in return for a fleeting glimpse of happiness. God knows I see enough ordinary human misery in my job to realise that consuming like there is no tomorrow brings little more than debt and a hollow feeling that you have just been had.
Obviously there are times when I have to go to a shop and buy things. My general rule of thumb is that if something comes in a brown paper bag I can manage it. Anything bigger, and it means that somebody is trying to sell me something and the rubbish shopping thing kicks in. I can just about handle the over stimulation of the senses that goes on in a large store. I can switch off to the ‘buy me,’ ‘no, buy me instead’ from every product. What I can’t handle is the fact that every single transaction with a sales assistant has a psychological ulterior. Nothing is as it seems in the world of shopping. These people are trained to take my money. I am trained to understand unspoken and psychological communications. It is a match made in hell and makes me a little unruly.
I survived Ikea this week, with barely a scratch. Well, just one minor hiccup:
Me: (very loudly) who in their right mind would buy a suite in such a dreadful colour?
Kooky hypnotherapist: perhaps that man sitting behind you?
His partner was clearly quite taken with the dreadfully coloured suite. He smiled at me conspiratorially, and so I rather suspect he wasn’t. I said sorry quite a few times. I think I just about got away with it.
I left Ikea empty handed, apart from a battery operated milk frother which cost £2.50 and I am really rather taken with. No need now for that hugely expensive cappuccino maker.
I was feeling quite pleased with myself that I had managed a full circuit of Ikea without falling out with my companion, ( although the kooky hypnotherapist is particularly difficult to fall out with), without stropping like a twelve year old and having only slightly offended one person. All in all a good shopping day. (I know we didn’t actually buy the chairs we went for, but that really is a minor detail. Not having a nervous breakdown is a good shopping day as far as I am concerned.)
I took a call from The Husband on the way home. I had to meet him at a local bathroom shop because, apparently, we have an urgent need to fit a new bathroom. I was bemused. We have lived in our Old-Lady-Style-House for 4 years, in the full knowledge that it needs redecorating and that neither of us can be arsed to do it. But suddenly WE NEED TO FIT THE BATHROOM THIS WEEKEND.
(Ouch, so sorry for shouting, but that is what the message said.)
So I met him at a major retail outlet and frankly it was a bridge too far. Sensory overload. Too many special offers - a veritable Woolworth’s pick ‘n’ mix of taps, fixtures, fittings and toilet seats with sweets embedded in them. (What's that all about then?) The background music was way too loud, and I maintain that 70's disco music is only appropriate for.....well, a 70's disco really and then only under sufferance. It was all too much for me.
I felt sorry for the twelve year old assistant who tried in vain to interest me in her lovely (?) bathrooms. She should have been sitting in a park drinking Diamond White with her friends. I should have been somewhere else sticking pins in my eyes. I ended up sitting on a toilet rocking gently whilst The Husband translated her sales speak to me, and I told him to tell her to speak up and stop mumbling, as if she were the one with the hearing problem and not me. I can’t imagine how rude she found me. Sorry little sales girl. It really wasn’t your fault. I think my Old-Lady-House has turned me into a grumpy old woman.
Operation Bathroom started yesterday. I shall be glad to have rid of my Old-Lady bathroom. I already have sciatica and greying hair, and was concerned that the shell-style bathroom suite and maroon patterned tiles would soon start looking quite attractive to me.
I escaped Operation Bathroom with my son. The two of us took a wonderful walk up Pen-y-Ghent and I began to feel human again.
The workings of capitalism are clever. They needle our inherent desire for satiation, knowing that when it is within our grasp they will needle once more. We sublimate our core relational needs into the need to consume, and neatly side step the issue of built in disillusionment that accompanies the built in obsolescence.
I would like to claim that this is why I hate shopping, but that would be just too pompous. Really, it’s because I am rubbish at it. Very, very rubbish.