Tuesday 02 December 1997
My friend Geraldine likes to do things properly and so figured that the only way to be sure that she didn't buy anything on International No Shop Day was to leave her money at home. If you think that sounds easy, try it and see how comfortable you feel. In the end Geraldine decided to take a little bit of money. But, she explained, it was just pounds 5 and only to be used for cappuccino emergencies and the like. The result? The pounds 5 disappeared at the same time that a book appeared in her hand. She was shopped. "God, what a failure," she wails but then perks up because her boyfriend had marked International No Shop Day by getting up specially early to shop even more than usual.
This all sounds rather familiar. I am usually addicted to one thing or another - not many people have their hypnotherapist on their Christmas card list - and so I recognise all the tactics. The first is classic safety- netism. You convince yourself that you need to take this bar of chocolate/bottle of gin/packet of 10 with you but that you have no intention of ever, ever actually using it. A few hours later, of course, you have. Geraldine's boyfriend, however, is doing something else entirely and even hearing about it made me nostalgic. I don't miss nicotine so much these days but I yearn for the rush of puffing away like a maniac on National No Smoking Day.
Addiction is all the rage now. No one has habits anymore, only addictions. My daughter says she is addicted to magazines and it does seem to me that a small rain forest is felled each month so she can learn yet more about sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and fingernail polish. And addiction. In the latest Bliss, for instance, there is the story of a girl addicted to pens. "Once I bought 10 Biros, two packs of felt-tips, three markers and seven pencils in one go," says Lisa Brown, aged 16, from Suffolk. Now, with 700 to choose from, she has cured herself. "I think it's all to do with self-discipline. If you're addicted to anything - chocolate, shopping, cigarettes - it's up to you to stop."
I pondered this as I trolleyed round the supermarket on International No Shop Day. Now I had a very good reason to be there - starvation, cashback, loyalty points, Diet Coke cravings, the need for extra dry sherry - and I resent the idea that my presence signals a lack of self-discipline. I completely support International No Shop Day and as far as I can see there was only one problem with it: it was on the wrong day. Of course, it's hard to say what the right day might be.
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