Sunday, 9 January 2011

More general ramblings...

A perfect day for a cycle, but who am I kidding? While I'm not tucked up in bed feeling ill, I'm still ill in the sense that I'm a functioning invalid – coughing and sniffing – although I feel fine. I say 'fine', but there's a general weariness, which this time is part of the illness, and that's a killer first thing in the morning when, it has to be said, cycling is the last thing on my mind. This morning, when I peered out of the window, it was as if somebody had dusted my car with icing sugar. I figured it might be cold out there – another reason not to go cycling in my condition. I'm not sure if I'm still contagious or not – it's been a week today – but I didn't go cycling yesterday either. For a start, I woke up around 0900hrs due to a broken night of sorts (coughing) and while normally a touch of weariness does not mean an 'abort' text to Andy, when I'm feeling rough, cycling's off the menu. Today, though, the cough has subsided a little, so I'm on the mend.

So, I didn't go yesterday or today and I'm wondering if I'll get my act together for next week when Andy should be back from Jamaica. Mind you, he might be suffering from jet lag and then there will be a strong temptation just to lol about, although I'm seriously aware that I need to get my act together and fast as 2011 is getting underway and I've little in the way of exercise since the middle of December.

A still from one of many Here Come the Girls ads from Boots.
See link further down in this post.
The house-lolling continued well into the afternoon. I sat around pretending I could play the guitar (I can't) and getting on people's nerves. There was a plan to visit the shops to spend some money and if there's one thing I despise, it's shopping. I hate it with a vengeance. Shopping is horrible as it always reminds me of the current Here Come the Girls ads for Boots on the television).

God! I hate stereotypes, but worst of all I hate stereotype reinforcment. You know the sort of thing, like when a 'lad's mag' makes the assumption that all men like football more than sex and feature photographs of muddy football boots on carpets with women rolling their eyes. The trouble with shopping, of course, is that you witness, first hand, the stereotype in action: women with branded carrier bags acting as if there isn't a recession – or rather making me feel as if the economic downturn is only affecting me.

As I walked around HMV looking at CDs and DVDs, I realised that there was nothing I wanted or desired enough to actually buy. It struck me that I could do without a DVD or a video or a boxed set of 24 or a special promotional Dirty Dancing CD. I could live without a digital radio that would accommodate my iphone; I simply don't need anything and, if the truth be known, nor does anybody else. What makes people shop is boredom, it's a chance to get out of the house and discover another environment, namely, a shopping mall. But who are these people who regard shopping as entertainment? Who are these people who get excited about a new shopping mall that, no doubt, will be exactly the same as any other, housing the same global brand names? As a group of individuals, women must swell the ranks more than men, and imagine spending the day at Westfield Shopping Centre in West London where all you're going to do is take tops and bottoms off of clothes racks and say to your accomplice, "Does this suit me?" And then, when you're bored, you'll decamp to some food outlet which you've been convinced is quality when, in reality, it's a load of shit – and pricey shit at that! And at the end of the day, you'll be sitting on the bus or tube, possibly with three of four branded bags around your feet – Primark, Next, TK Maxx, Monsoon – the contents of which will soon be on shelves in your wardrobe with all the other stuff. In the same way that food is just shit waiting to happen, new clothes are merely charity shop stock waiting to happen.

I wandered around the mall and I realised that the phrase 'less is more' is kind of bang on in terms of the argument I am putting forward here; we all sit in front of our huge, flat-screen televisions being told what we need by advertisers when the reality is we don't need anything other than food and water and a roof over our heads. Life, I figured, would be so much better without all the shit contained in countless shopping malls the length and breadth of the country. I began to long for a simpler life where I didn't feel I needed the latest this or that and it dawned on me that, as a nation, we're all so fucking greedy in a kind of footballers' wives sort of way.

Our greed, of course, comes out in force at Christmas time, making a mockery of the celebration. But now I'm back to the stereotype, as epitomised by the Here Comes the Girls Boots ads – greedy women who live to shop with their husband's credit card. Cue fat bloke in a football shirt rolling his eyes and asking 'how much did that lot cost?' as his wife stands on the doorstep surrounded by carrier bags and smelling of Chardonnay. And you just know that as soon as he runs out of money, she's off.

The Here Come the Girls ads for Boots, alluded to above, are all characterised by a few bars of brass which I now link with greedy women. Whenever I come into contact with them I hum the tune, either out loud or to myself and cringe inwardly as I do so.

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