Guests are a godsend when one is very busy. Not in real life, of course: they get in the way – especially if you work from home – and you have to entertain them, but as a blogger... You give them a deadline and they produce a piece of writing, which you just have to post on your own blog. Marvellous! So here, for your delight, is L. of Urban Chick. She used to live in London, where she was literate, witty and the devoted mother of two kiddies she calls Chicklets (isn't that cute?). I once thought we might one day bump into each other in the capital (I’m always bumping into people) but she's recently decamped to Edinburgh, where she's being no less literate and witty (and, I hope, no less devoted to her children), and that possibility has unfortunately become more remote. Never mind, I can still visit her on the Net, and so can you. Enjoy!
It's an established fact that, beyond a certain point, wealth does not make you any happier.
I forget the figure most recently quoted in the media, but I remember it being a surprisingly paltry sum in income terms.
And I couldn't agree more. Commercialism, with very few exceptions, leads only to misery and wasted time.
You know how it goes...
You buy a new white good. Perhaps you do so after taking time out to research which model is best/most reliable (an hour online). It fails to arrive within the timescale stated, so you chase the manufacturer or retailer (an hour and a half on the phone, during which you encounter some appalling customer service that leaves you mentally penning emails to consumer rights bodies and media outlets when you should be sleeping). The product arrives and it is slightly damaged but not to the extent that it won't function, but you fret and stress and complain to your friends nonetheless (many hours). You eventually decide that, given the considerable sum you paid for it, you want a replacement, so you investigate how to go about this (more hours spent online or on the phone to 'jobsworth', scripted call centre operators). You make arrangements to return the product or have it collected 'at your convenience' (you're getting the picture now, right?).
So this lovely, shiny new thing which was supposed to transform your toast-making abilities/TV-programme-recording capacity/life has cost you precious hours of tedious activity, infuriating interactions with faceless service providers and stress.
You therefore resolve to lead a life free from unnecessary acquisition and you take time painstakingly to establish just what is and isn't necessary to live a good life (no excessively packaged foods, fewer clothes, no more purposeless ambles around indoor shopping centres and so on). And yet, with frightening ease, you find yourself slipping back onto the path of least resistance.
You find yourself being sucked in by those ubiquitous 'buy one, get one free' or 'three for the price of two' offers. No matter that the product was not something you particularly needed or that it's likely to go off before you get round to opening it. Heck, if the second one is half price, why not?
You become convinced that you need a newer version of a product you already own. A faster computer. A new car. A more aesthetically pleasing ironing board cover. The one you have is perfectly functional but there seems to be a good case for upgrading/renewing/replacing. (To hell with landfill and the environment!)
You give in to well-meaning relatives who regularly deluge your children with toys at birthdays and Christmastime, even though you've tried (subtly) to remind them how much more imaginative children's play is when they have to improvise with bits and bobs from around the house.
So I'm slapping the people who continue to believe that acquisition leads to happiness. But I'm slapping myself for being so weak in the face of this knowledge and giving in to the commercial imperative. (Hey, who can resist a little self-flagellation now and again?)