Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bad Shopping

I was out on the town the other day and something close to miraculous happened. I walked past a book shop without going in. Now what’s miraculous about that? I hear you ask. Well, it’s like this: I am a terminal book addict. I’ve joined book clubs, left them and later rejoined again - just to get the special 500 top sellers for a penny each and you only have to buy 30 books a week for the next twenty years. Yeah, I’m exaggerating – but you get the drift. So why did I walk past the book shop, when I had plenty of browsing time on my hands? The reason is that the penny has finally dropped that I cannot possibly read all the books my habit has already amassed on my creaking bookshelves. I’ve got loads of wonderful books, but I probably won’t live long enough to read them all. I DID buy a book on Amazon a couple of weeks ago (for a fraction of the shop cost), but I can easily justify that one. Its “The Lore of the Land”, a reference book on English folklore by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson. I had two reasons for buying it. One was to do with finding out interesting facts about places before I visit them. Why visit them? – to take photographs which might be sold to a publisher. The other reason was because it has, on page 65, a photograph of “Jeremiah’s Tea House” at Little Abington. I took this photograph and it was my very first photo sale to a publisher, so I thought it would be nice to have the book. The rest, I’m not bothered about, but there’s always got to be a first.

I have become a very bad shopper. I am bad because I hardly buy anything. Because of this, unless it’s very expensive, I can afford to buy pretty much anything I see in the shops I might desire. However, I am constantly having an internal battle as to whether I can really justify spending the money. I don’t just say to myself “that’s too expensive” because I pass up practically all the cheap things as well. I think a lot of it is that I have really become a bit bored with the consumerist pressure to constantly go out and spend money on things I don’t really need, and NEED is really the operative word. I love photography. I do not own the very latest equipment, but it does the job. Yes, I will eventually buy a new camera one day, but as long as my equipment gives me the results I need, then I am a lost cause as far as the camera shops are concerned. I am bored with all the magazines available. I hardly ever buy a magazine at all these days because most of the ones I’ve got I rarely find the time to sit down and read anyway. And as for photography magazines, my knowledge of the subject is so vast they could hardly teach me anything! You see a photomag screaming out about how to do outdoor photography. Well, here’s how you do it: You pick up your camera, step outside your front door and start taking photos. Easy, Eh??

Another thing – you see all these special offers – SAVE this much, no! – SAVE that much. No!! The way to save is not to buy the bloody whatever in the first place. If you are really honest with yourself and analysed all the stuff you buy over a month, let’s say, I bet a lot of the stuff, for many people, wasn’t really necessary. No, the best way to save money is not to spend it. That way, when you DO treat yourself and buy something, it becomes that bit more special and you begin to appreciate things that bit more. I suppose, what I am driving at here is my disdain for this consumer led society we live in, where someone is trying to entice you to buy something at every turn. Buy this, buy that – no – stop – don’t buy anything.

Oh woe – this is not good though. If everyone was like me, all the shops would go out of business. All the breweries would have to close (I drink very little, just the odd binge once in a blue moon). This is the contradictory world we live in. We all want to earn money. To get money we work. The money is generated through sales – of various sorts. If nothing is sold, nothing happens. So, in order for society to thrive, we all need to spend, spend, spend and then there will be lots of jobs for everyone. So, if you are unemployed and reading this, I apologise. It’s probably people like me who are to blame for putting you out of work. Not only am I a bad shopper, I’m also a bad credit card user. You see the credit card people don’t want me to pay off all my debt so they can charge me interest. I don’t play their game – I pay it all off every month, I don’t pay interest. But what I DO do is build up my loyalty points and every now again, I can go out and treat myself – or get the groceries, for free. How bad is that?

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