It’s a beautiful world

I watched the Shawshank redemption the other night, sadly it was on very late and perhaps even worse it was on commercial TV. This means that just as the film turns a corner, an ad break comes on for aproximately 7 minutes.

I dislike advertisements. Actually, I hate them. I really hate them.

I hate everything about them, hate hate hate hate.

I despise mindless consumerism anyway. I’m suspicious of most technology as it seems to only want to take your money off you.

However, what I particularly despise is the ‘vie-faux’ of the adverts on TV.

Everybody is a model, they all live in large houses, everybody smiles all the time, they’re all up to fabulous things such as attending parties with tigers, or dancing in a Mediterranean palace with svelt nymphs feeding on fresh grapes and Belgian chocolates.  Car adverts show deserted roads that lead to mysterious destinations.

Of course it’s all sales. Selling a life of carefree, sexy and eternal youth with whatever the latest product is; alcohol or mobile phones seem to be the ones whom make the most expensive adverts.

However, the picture on the left of this screen shows you the local shopping precinct in Hindley. In the stores here you can place a bet on a horse or a dog, you can buy magazines that feature anorexic looking models living in fabulous houses and pretend that actually your life isn’t so completely shit for a while



The real horror of halloween

I don’t have many childhood recollections of Halloween. The reason being, it wasn’t a big thing in the UK. Of course, following the meeting whereby it was decided that everything was now going to be made utterly awful from now on, the UK spends millions on this strange event.
I have to ask, ‘why?’. Surely this time of year is about gathering wood, and building the biggest pyre one can with the feeling of excitement and anticipation leading to the 5th of November?
Sadly, Guy Fawkes night seems to have been overtaken by a more commercial holiday. After all, the beauty of ‘bonfire night’ is the fact that by and large it was a home-made effort. Of course fireworks were bought but these days we are ordered to attend organised displays. Organised displays lack the quintessential thrill of setting fireworks off in the back garden, that is, the prospect of having either your hand blown off or gaining a manly burn across the face.
So, again, we have become increasingly risk averse in British society.
Instead we have replaced this potentially character building effort with a tacky and frankly un-scary marketing opportunity..sorry I mean, holiday.
Looking at the array of ‘Halloween’ goods in the supermarket I was intrigued to see that almost all the plastic crap and underwhelming costumes were made in China. Items ranged from as little as £1 to over £40. It did make me think that some chap in China would have worked like a soldier ant making plastic cauldrons to sell in the west. Is that really any way for a person to live their life?
I miss the time that Britain sneered at Halloween, that we viewed it as purely an American phenomena, much like Thanksgiving. We had our own celebration, a joyous and indeed bigoted re-enactment of burning a catholic terrorist.
Given that we have turned back the clocks one hour this week already, can’t we try a little harder and push it back 30 years?

Buy! Buy! Baby

The more observant readers amongst you may have picked up on the fact I’m not a fan of consumerism.

I don’t own a mobile phone that can play nihilistic gangster rap, nor have I used it for happy slapping. I use the internet at home and in the office but I feel no need for it when I’m out and about.

The reason why of course I do not think consumerism is a wise policy for the world to pursue isn’t simply my hatred of mobile phones. It’s just that I see it as utterly evil.

Let’s think for a moment where most things are made these days. China and South-East Asia. Let’s just have a little moment and think about the working conditions there. Slavery at the end of the day. Workers in China making Apple products were made to sign agreements promising not to commit suicide last year. Just to satisfy the insatiable demands of the westerners to have the latest model.

Then of course there is the environmental damage. Thousands of factory’s using coal for power, a proliferation of nuclear power plants. Goods being shipped or flown across the globe,  driven then to warehouses where they are then driven to retail outlets, where we all drive to, and so the cycle continues.

Of course there is always another model just around the corner.

People sit in their boxes..sorry houses, watching TV seeing a world of handsome men and gorgeous women laughing, climbing mountains,riding bicycles in charming French villages and experiencing levels of transcendent joy because they’ve got a bottle of water or a new credit card or whatever.

How is all this paid for? Debt. Personal debt in the UK is over £1 trillion. I don’t even know what a trillion is. It sounds like something from Star Trek. It’s a lot of money though isn’t it?

If you can’t make the bills. If you can’t pay the debt then you go to court, or the bailiffs come and take away your precious possessions.  You then get a black mark against your name and you become deviant. Credit agencies are powerful things and do not take kindly to you not giving back money that doesn’t exist in the first place.

We run like hamsters in a wheel, an endless circle of desire, that leads not to happiness but to more greed. Greed is greedy!

Today, I read that UNICEF report that families in the UK are trapped in a cycle of compulsive consumerism and that time spent with children is traded off with ever new shiny things and longer hours at work.

Super fantastic shiny things

 This is the same model of mobile phone that I use and have used for years!

Over the past 8 months I’ve been working with homeless people and refugees. Even the poorest people  in society think my phone is rubbish. I get no end of stick from my younger colleagues whom seem to have a new phone every other month.

Personally I’ve never really been into material things. I like my Harris Tweed jackets etc but they are all second hand.

Still, people tell me that their super-duper Apple phones and Android gizmo’s will make my life amazing.

Just like all the advertisements you see on TV where women with perky breasts and gleaming white teeth offer their immaculate children buckets of chicken, my joy will transcend all known pleasures.

The truth is of course, it wont. It’s a sad thing that so many people look for happiness in their material possessions. Indeed, it seems our entire culture and it’s economy is based on the pursuit of selling shiny things in order to find happiness.

I’m a very quiet rebel. I don’t want many things at all and I don’t believe that by owning a thing I will be any happier. I’d even go further than that and say  that happiness is all well and good, but I don’t obsess over it. If I am happy then all well and good, but, let it go, just like if I am miserable, oh well, let it go.


Everyday is like Saturday

I’m not religious at all. I think it’s all a load of gump. However, one thing I do miss is the quiet Sunday’s we had. Do you remember when everything was shut on Sunday? It was boring as a child I suppose, but was it? Is there really any joy from 24 hour shopping? Is MDF so utterly compelling and fashion so riveting that we have to look at it 7 days a week?
I’d love a day free from commercialism. Consumerism is so utterly inane it drives me quite mad at times.
Mobile phones for example, I have an 11 year old model. I can phone people up and send text messages if I so wish. Homeless people laugh at my phone. Women and those under 40 laugh at my phone. The thing is, they get these gizmos that can send pictures, chat on-line and listen to music. Wow.
I don’t mind facebook. But bear in my mind my last ‘update’ was the word ‘pah’.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to just stop buying shit we don’t need for a day? Or even going without something. Imagine running out of milk. Or sugar or bread. So what? Is your head going to fall off?