Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Over doing it

Consumerism. It’s got me written all over it. I don’t like to think that I equate happiness with consumption and the purchase of material possession, because if I did, I’d be shallow and superficial, my life would have no true meaning and you’d think I was vain and inconsiderate of the real issues of the world – of poverty and disease, of politics and war.

Well, I do care about those things, but I also like buying things. Can I be a happy consumer with a conscience?

Whilst on my recent holiday, I noticed that I was on a downward spiral of spending. It wasn’t my fault. It was my camera’s fault.

Because I am snap happy, I took lots of holiday pictures. Lamenting the death of the printed picture, I decided this time, I’d buy an album and make sure the pictures got printed and put in a pretty album for my coffee table. Not just any old album. It had to be a Paperchase album, they are so pretty. And we’ll need a nice new frame for the best picture, to go on the mantelpiece. And if it’s going on the mantelpiece, we better get some candles to go next to it. With matching coasters. Those coasters only come with matching tablemats. Ooh! Look at that table runner. That’ll look good when we have guests. Let’s get a fancy wine bottle holder too. Going to need some good wine to go in it. Have you tried this new recipe? It goes well with wine. Maybe I need an apron, for all this cooking. Perhaps a new outfit. Some new shoes to go with my new outfit, as I simply have none that match. Some new plasters to mend my feet where my new shoes rub. Fun plasters, I like the fun plasters best.

Taking that first holiday snap has proved rather costly and suddenly I now have a whole new wardrobe. But then, if I didn’t buy that new dress, then I'd effect so many people. If I can get my head around the politics of the recession, as my dad has tried so many times to explain to me, then as I understand it, if we all just carried on spending, they’d be no recession.

(All I hear is, carry on spending. Then my mind wanders off while he explains recession and depression and currency and …. Oo! Currants! They go down nicely sprinkled on yoghurt. See? How will I ever learn, when all political lessons drift into culinary delights?)

Anyway, what my father is trying to teach me, is that if I don’t buy my dress, the shop sells less dresses, so they buy less dresses, so the dressmaker is told to make less dresses, so she sells less dresses, so she makes less money, so she spends less money, and so on and so on, until suddenly I’m responsible for the lorry driver who would have delivered my dress to the shop being made redundant and the dress maker having to sell her children to make ends meet. Just keep spending, Kim, just keep spending. These people need you.

I do have a needy urge to spend on a regular basis and I satisfy this urge by being ‘in charge’ of the weekly shop. My feminist, independent friend Nic thinks I’m mad for relinquishing the responsibility of food shopping from my fella, but I know if he did it, he’d come back with a crate of beans, a carrot, and a bewildered look on his face. More importantly, I would not have satisfied my spending urge, so would end up on a website clicking ‘add to basket’ manically at 3am with a carrot in my hair and beans in my tea.

I’m not shallow or superficial, honest. The true meaning of my life is to spend quality time with my loved ones, to laugh and feel thrill and content on a daily basis. I’m considerate and only slightly vain. I help blind people cross the road, on my way to the shops. I care about the world, I buy fair trade, I recycle.

Half of me wants to give it all up, live on a deserted island with nothing but a coconut for company. The other half likes my new outfit. And I do already live on an island. The island of the United Kingdom. Bring on consumerism and it’s many outfits. I can get a coconut in Asda.


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