4 hours ago
Thursday, 13 November 2008
So today was officially (except in Japan) Comme day and every able bodied woman in London was in Oxford Circus this morning buying up their own body weight in H&M designer collab merchandise. I had, wisely, decided that all that unseemly queueing, scrabbling and (possibly) biting was beneath me and didn't go.
Plus, who can be arsed to start their day queuing to get into the shops like it's some sort of war time rations day. I went to work instead. At about lunchtime, I changed my mind and thought I'd just go take a look just in case the mad swarms had left something behind. Of course it was too late. The baggy trousers and polka-dotted scarf that I might just have parted with my money for were long gone.
In a way I'm happy. I gave in to a wobble of temptation when I hadn't really cared enough to buy anything from the collection anyway. Obviously, the subliminal shopper in me had other ideas but was thwarted by those more consciously consumerist and more prepared to do anything to get what they want.
You'd think that, in these supposedly cash-strapped times, another heavily hyped shopping event would be greeted with an eerie silence and the sight of tumbleweed being casually blown across the street. Not so. It appears we are still in thrall to 30 years of continuous casual consumption.
I read an article by esteemed psychologist and author of Affluenza, Oliver James in The Times Magazine last weekend. It was about the recession and how, hopefully it would change our collective mentality from one of insane consumerism and lucre chasing to one with a more balanced view, where living life will be more important than acquiring things to fill that life with.
Says he: "Affluenza values will be replaced by the pursuit of intrinsic pleasures. Interest, enjoyment and the stimulation of a real challenge will become paramount: things are done for their own sake, not simply to please anyone else." Leaving aside the contradictions inherent in the fact that he is actually plugging his book - presumably to make a bit more money himself, it's still pretty heady stuff. Wouldn't it be cool if the silver lining to the credit crunch cloud is that we just pause a moment and realise that we can't continue to buy things that we mostly don't need.
But what would we do with ourselves when the sport of shopping suddenly ends? Well maybe we'll just all become more creative. Maybe our imaginations, dulled by the bottomless need to buy more stuff and to own whatever the latest celebrity du jour has, will be revived by necessity. And maybe if we stop watching the celebrities they'll go away. And what if we suddenly had to think twice about buying those multiple celebrity magazines because we have to choose to feed ourselves instead? Maybe they'd die and we could be content with the real world and looking at real people with real lives again.
This isn't some smug manifesto. It's just the stuff that's been going on in my head lately. It's not all fully formed but it's interesting to think about. I wonder if readers of this blog have been thinking about the threat of global recession and how it might just be the best thing that ever happened?
Read recession is a healer by Oliver James