Supermarket Gripes

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I haven’t had a good rant for a while, so best I put that right.

I had cause to go into a large store of a well-known supermarket a while ago.

Make that a very large store.

An extremely large store. Obscenely large.

It was like a medium sized city inside.

Or possibly a large cathedral, which would feel more appropriate, since these things are the glorification of the worship of money. How so? This store, like most others of its hateful ilk, does not simply sell food, any more.

Oh no.

It sells clothes. It sells white goods. DVDs and CDs. Computers and accessories. Mobile phones. Books, stationery, and greetings cards. Items of furniture. Garden items. DIY stuff. It has started its own bank and offers everything from insurance policies to bank accounts. The list seems endless. If I had wanted a lighthouse or a wolf they would probably have got me one from out the back.

There seems to be very little that it does not yet sell, although I have no doubt that it will only be a matter of time before those few gaps are filled.

Its business plan is simple – put every single other type of shop out of business, and corner the market in everything.

I had the strangest feeling – the feeling that I was somehow diminished, just by being in there.

And the food items? The reason I went in there in the first place?

Apparently it is essential that we are able to choose from well over a hundred types of cheese which particular one we need – strong, very strong, beat your brains in, mild, sliced, grated, chopped in cubes, turned into string, low fat, no fat, cows’ milk, sheeps’ milk, antelopes’ milk, crocodiles’ milk, virtual cheese, and all produced by four or five different companies.

And that’s just the cheddar.

Its website tells me that it sells 343 different cheese products. I’m all for choice, but, good grief!

Interestingly, looking at a website for a rival big multinational, I find they sell 344 of these products. Perhaps I should go there, instead? I wouldn’t want to miss out on a shopping opportunity. They might be able to offer me a better ‘shopping experience.’ For my ‘shopping solutions.’

Why do advertising agencies have to come up with that drivel?

And that brings me to another interesting thought.

There is the push to encourage all shoppers to use the ‘self’ check-outs, but at least they seem to have reined back a little on the verbal persuasions. I was standing in line at my ‘local’ small branch last year, when I was approached by a member of staff who suggested I use a ‘self’ check-out.

‘No thanks.’ I said.

‘It’s okay,’ he told me, ‘I’ll show you what to do.’

I can see perfectly well what to do. I don’t intend to use it.’

‘Why not, sir?’

‘Because it’s sole purpose is to take away your jobs.’

‘That’s not so…’

‘I suggest you look at their website, then. Because I have. It clearly states that is one of the advantages of buying one.’

Damn the lot of them.

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Are those blasted kittens still there?

Having posted a few days ago about my inability to finish one project before starting three others, I’ve attempted to organise myself a little to try to deal with that.

And not too long ago, I also posted about my inability – fear almost – to promote myself effectively.

Coincidentally, several days ago I took part in a Webinar aimed at small businesses (theoretically, that includes writers trying to sell books), about using social media effectively, and whilst I was pleased to discover that I seem to be doing a fair bit right already, there are several things that I should definitely change, which I will do shortly.

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Not kittens.

The first thing I’ll do, will be launch my own Author page on Facebook; something I really should have done before now. And to promote it, I plan to serialise a new short-ish story on this blog, over several posts. It’s something slightly different, for me, in that it is a spoof/satire ‘gritty urban detective drama’, but set in Elizabethan England. So, cue daggers, bawdiness, vomit and lots of mud and sour beer.

This will probably be during the second week of next month.

I have also learned a little more about publishing, from the company Wet Zebra at our local writers’ group, and from a few other independent sources, which might possibly lead to my attempting to publish my next book a little differently.

That next book will, I’m now reasonably certain, be The Assassin’s Garden, which has picked up momentum again. If all goes according to plan (!), it will be the first book of a series, stretching in time from the sixteenth century to the late twentieth century, and set variously in Persia, India, Europe and England.

So, what’s it about? I’m so glad you asked. A secret, something stolen, a pursuit, crossing time and continents. Revenge. It has elements of detective story, a bit of classic Gothic horror, a touch of fantasy, a soupcon of sex and violence, some ‘straight’ historical drama, and kittens. Yes, really.

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Not a kitten either.

I’m nothing if not ambitious.

And, bearing in mind how easily distracted I am, the research will give me huge opportunities to prevaricate and wander off at tangents to all sorts of odd corners of the internet.

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Buy it, read it, make me happy!

And for Making Friends with the Crocodile, my published novel, I am going to re-write the promotional blurb and have another attempt to push it out further into the big, wide, novel-reading world.

Rich Beyond my Wildest Dreams

The other day, a friend of mine jokingly asked me whether I would be moving into a big mansion and getting a chauffeur driven car, once my novel is published and I have made a fortune.

For a few minutes we invented a whole new life for me; where my riches enabled me to buy whatever I desired and to do whatever I wished. Then we got tired of that, and the conversation moved on to more mundane things.

But let us say this came to pass, because, you know, things happen. Unexpectedly. What would I want?

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I can only listen to one piece of music at a time, no matter how much I may love music.

I can only read one book at a time and, God knows, I have a pile as high as, ooh, this to get through already. I continually try not to buy any more books when I go out. And I continually fail.

I don’t want a flash car. I don’t actually want a car at all, as it happens. I’m stuck with one at the moment, because the work that actually provides me with a tenuous living requires it. If I no longer did that work, I would probably get rid of the car.

A bigger house? No, not really. Perhaps one further out of town, though.

There is travel, of course. More trips to India and Nepal, for a start. But again, time is not infinite, and there would be a limit to how many different places I could go. Would I stay in luxury hotels, then? No. I have no desire to do that. Fly first class? That is probably the one thing I would do. I am tall, and the leg-room on most flights is a little mean even for children. And then my back causes me so much pain at the best of times that any long-haul flight is extremely uncomfortable.

We all use language carelessly at times. What do I mean by rich? Well, possibly something different to what you would mean, then again, possibly not. For some people, the idea of being rich means having virtually unlimited money so that they can buy every conceivable luxury. For others, it simply means not having to worry about whether they can make ends meet in day to day life, and that is the category that I fall into.

I have known people who earn heady amounts of money yet do not consider themselves rich, because they find it too easy to spend it almost as fast as they earn it. I have known others who would consider themselves rich if they came into a very modest windfall.

Today, in the affluent western world at least, the vast majority of us are rich, although we don’t recognise it. Why? Modern advertising is insidious and relentless and companies spend billions of pounds each year persuading us all that we cannot live without their products, that we all have a right to them and that we want (and deserve) them.

And that we want them now.

This has meant that luxury fripperies have come to be seen as necessities.

Audiences watching TV programs, or walking down their high streets, or opening magazines, are constantly bombarded with an unending stream of images of luxury goods that they are told are rightfully theirs, and which are paraded by their football or ‘reality’ TV heroes.

What these advertisers don’t want us to see is that the trash they are pushing is unnecessary and does nothing to enrich our lives.

Now, where was I?

Oh yes, I just have to nip out for a loaf of bread.

Of course, it has to be an artisan-crafted Estonian cob loaf made with organic Bulgar wheat flour milled under a full moon and leavened with yeasts descended from the very yeasts used by the court baker of Peter the Great of Russia and baked for thirty seven and a quarter minutes in a bread oven fired with birch logs and scented with juniper and a teaspoonful of fuller’s earth.

It will be damned expensive, but I DESERVE IT AND I WANT IT NOW.