Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday: Life as a Bargain

It's the bargain of the year! It's great value for money! Look what I got! The culture of 'I' us running a muck today. At midnight countless people across the UK took to cold streets, car parks and queues outside supermarkets under the misguided belief that what they where buying, if they could grab it, was a real bargain. As in America things quickly got ugly as shoppers descended in their thousands on supermarkets for limited stock that screamed: when it's gone, it's gone! The truth was that many shoppers where already gone when they got there; any courtesy, any ethics, any morality shot down for the promise of flat screen television. Those people today may be clutching their prizes to their chests but have taken that one step further to detaching themselves from society. 

This is the culture of 'I', the next logical step in the demise of culture and tribalism and one often linked to the idea that we are merely being tribal by hunting and gathering. It misses the point that tribal hunters hunted together for safety and gatherers...well, you get the idea. The real image here is of the starving tribe reverting to pack mentality and the one who gets away with the meat will be clubbed to death in the dark by the others. There's our primal streak for the Black Friday, this is what the sellers are hoping you will take to your heart and leave your brain at the doorway. 

This is instinct, grabbing, starving, hungry instinct, it is base and forgets a number of things. Many bargains grabbed in the crush after midnight where not needed by many of those grabbing. Yeah, but it was a bargain! No, it wasn't. It probably replaced something you've already got which you will either dump, recycle or keep as a second. This means at each step it will cost you, it will cost the environment if you dump it, it will cost you taxes if you recycle it and it will cost you electricity if you keep for a second. Yeah, but it was still a bargain. Really? Now if you got a TV and your old one is now a second TV (for the kids. Oh it is always for the kids) that one television will cost you between £29-£95.00 a year to run (on an average consumption but remember kids don't consume averagely), and then there's wastage. This is when the TV is left on standby or worse still left playing with no one in the room. That can cost you anywhere between £40-£86 a year. Now, you have two of these wonderful televisions in your house, a brand spanking new one and an old one, which was still doing the same job as the new one will. It's still a bargain! That will cost you up to £350 a year compared to half of that if you kept the old one and told the retailers to stuff the other television up their sales hole. £89 for a 32" television that will cost you over an average lifetime of seven years £1150, and that figure does not include inflation or rises in electricity. It's still a bargain! That mentality means, year in, year out you will replace your electrical goods and with an average bargain spend spanning for a 32" television anywhere between £89 and £299 it means that in 7 years you will have spent closer to £4000 for your bargain. It's simple economics that warps the idea of supply and demand. The demand is falsified, blown up and many of the electrical goods bought today will be on eBay tomorrow, most of the televisions are end of line stock, old or worse failed technology. That bargain that you now clutch to your heart has had a real impact on the environment, it has created false blips in the economies of our country and the country of production because demand has to continue, demand must continue and to do that we have to buy into a culture of the 'I'. I want this! I will get rid of this old television! I've had it for two years! I! I! I!  I becomes a culture that doesn't see the heaps of discarded goods at recycle centres, I doesn't see that not every component in a television, smartphone or waffle maker can be recycled and goes to landfill or incineration. I is too busy looking at the shiny lights, the gleaming baubles and the promise of endless supply, endless televisions, endless sales and I is more important than anyone else. I will rule the world. I will be here when the lights go out and the tribe returns, clubs beating against the walls of their houses. I will whisper in the dark: I'll bargain for my life.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Boarding and Coughing

Just under two months ago we started to rip the guts out of the house. Doors have been moved, walls pushed down and out, even some of the old plaster gave up the ghost when we tried to drill into it for a new radiator. The plaster, placed on the wall around the time Herod was King, decided life was no longer worth it and showered all over the plumber who ran from the torrent of lime dust and stone in away that wouldn't have been out of place in a Carry On film. He then told us the radiator couldn't possibly go on that wall until it was plastered again. We could have sighed, cried or just given up but in true make do and mend attitude we stripped the wall back to stone, pointed it over night, pointed to it when the plumber came back in the morning and declared it a feature wall. A feature wall in this house is like a summer blockbuster at the cinema, it just goes on and on; more plaster fallen off? Feature wall. Wood worm in the joists? Character. Stone falls on Andrew when he's rebuilding a wall? Comedy sidekick. So after two weeks of stripping, ripping and gripping out thumbs in a drawn out four letter word dance we have arrived at the other end. The whole putting it back together again and seeing which pieces we have left over.

Living in a building site

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