Donald MacInnes: Even though I'm Scottish, free stuff can't be good for you

 

I have dealt with the erroneous perception of a skinflint Scotland before, so forgive me if I make mention again. I do so only because of an incident last Sunday, while I was at work. It happened at the moment of the straight-sets win by Andy Murray in the Olympic tennis (over a man clearly masquerading as Roger Federer). As the newsroom cheered, someone near me shouted: "You would think, as a Scot, he wouldn't be interested in the Olympics, as there's no prize money! Hur hur hur!" Comedy gold.

As an example of how the value of something is not as crucial to us as might be imagined, I offer my lack of attraction to "free stuff". In fact, it was only but 10 minutes ago that I again rejected a freebie from a stranger.

He and his cohorts had set up a stall across from the paper's offices and were handing out free bottles of some sort of fruit-flavoured water. I strode past, ignoring the proffered beverage, and entered our building, muttering.

As you would imagine, given our ant-like numerousness, commuters in London are often targeted by this kind of marketing, but I'm sure that the whole kingdom is being offered handouts, be they oaty breakfast bars, sachets of shampoo or swigs of booze.

And it is this last one which really crystallised my hatred of freebies. I was walking through London's Victoria station a few years ago and noticed a multitude (from the Latin word "multito" meaning "we genuinely have no life") clustered around a stall branded by Ireland's most famous drink.

The stall had been set up to resemble a pub and minuscule tumblers of stout were being handed to the panting mob. We're not talking smallish glasses here, but the kind of micro vessel you get with bottles of cough syrup. I watched in unchecked amazement as people QUEUED UP to receive one of these little soupçons of Guinness, which they imbibed while leaning laconically on the stall as if in an actual pub.

These were mostly businessmen on their way to work, but were happy to line up to be handed less than a mouthful of stout. Why? I'll tell you why: because it was free. This really seems to be the only criterion required to make someone line up, mute and expectant in their docility; like sheep awaiting a dose of anti-worm medicine.

No thought was evidently given to what this behaviour might do to their sense of individuality. If such a thing existed at all. Depressed, I strode past, muttering.

But then, being a miserable sod, I'm probably not their target demographic. Then again, I'd guess, neither is Andy Murray. Thank goodness.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin visits her 1990s work ‘My Bed’ at Tate Britain in London, where it is back on display from today
artsBut how does the iconic work stand up, 16 years on?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor