About five minutes ago I was sat on my sofa avidly listening to an impassioned sales pitch on QVC while I was eating my breakfast.
“This is sooo convenient,” the presenter enthused holding his mobile phone up to the screen for me to see, “It doesn’t matter where I am- I could be on the train on my way home, at the supermarket or even on my way back from the airport after a long holiday- and I can control my thermostat!”
I am not going to lie. She had me sold. How brilliant would that be? No matter where I am, I can adjust my thermostat, thus ensuring the house is snug and cosy upon my return! And just in case that wasn’t fabulous enough, this wonderful system, priced at a very reasonable £249, was also on easy pay instalments!
My cup literally runneth over. Where had this wonderful gadget been all of my life? I hastily pulled out my own mobile phone, because it is already loaded with the QVC app in readiness for such an eventuality, and quickly put the item into my virtual shopping basket. After all, they had already sold over two hundred of them so far this morning and I certainly did not want to be the dithering fool who missed out…
Then I stopped and did what me and my husband call some ‘thunking’. Because to ‘thunk’ something means to resist the temptation to act on your first instinct. You have to weigh up the pros and cons properly, then make a reasoned decision. Like Socrates or Plato would have done in days of yore.
So I sat and contemplated the pros: virtual control, cosy home, perhaps even a reduction in my utility bills. Splendid. Cons: I usually go on holiday in the summer months when the heating is off anyway, £249 is actually quite a lot of money to do something which is effectively only a flick of the wrist, I work from home…
I work at home, in constant, easy reach of my own thermostat. What an idiot! Why was I even considering such a ridiculous gadget at all?
And that, Dear Reader, sums me up perfectly in a nutshell.
I am an independent, intelligent woman. I have a degree. I used to be a teacher. I write books for a living for pity’s sake, yet beneath all of that common sense, I am a sucker for clever marketing. My husband often comments I would buy a bottled fart if it had the word NEW emblazoned across it. I wish this statement was not accurate, I really do. But alas, I am weak and open to suggestion.
My house is filled with things which, frankly, never should have been bought in the first place. And all because of the lure of hypnotic words like ‘New’, ‘Introductory Offer’ and my personal nemesis ‘Limited Stock’.
I have an electric egg boiler, which claimed to take all of the faff out of boiling an egg. This miraculous invention involves piercing the bottom of the egg with a strange pin attachment so it doesn’t explode during the revolutionary new process. Then you have to measure the exact amount of water for the number of eggs being boiled and according to the desired firmness of the finished egg. Once you have done that, you put the water into the machine, close the device and hey presto! Five minutes later you get the perfect three-minute runny egg. Or not, as actually proved to be the case. But it was ‘New’ and shaped charmingly like a yellow chicken so I had to have it.
Then there was the revolutionary seamless bra which, and I quote, “this unique new bra conforms to your curves… has no wires or hooks that can dig into your skin… giv(ing) you a perfect lift and a smooth shape… is so comfortable it won't even feel like you're wearing a bra at all.”
Well, they got that part right. I’m a big girl in the boob department, and the seamless bra did little to defy gravity. What it did do was flatten my ladies and push them downwards in a most unflattering way! The silhouette created when I looked in the mirror was soul-destroying.
And then there are all those beauty products which make promises they cannot keep. I have not yet found one which significantly reduces wrinkles, repairs damaged hair or gives my complexion the dewy glow of my youth! But I keep buying them because of their clever advertising, I have versions in every premier brand cluttering my bathroom cabinet, each one ultimately a crushing disappointment. Little jars of lies which taunt me every time I reach for the floss. What they do, do is empty my bank balance and make me feel stupid for trusting my aging body with them in the first place.
And as for the miracle grass seed I purchased to repair the bald patches in my lawn. You PROMISED the seed would begin to grow in just SEVEN days. It’s day twelve. There has been plenty of rain and a good amount of spring sunshine. The exact conditions, I am reliably informed, which are perfect for grass seed to grow in.
Look at my lawn people. Just look at it…
Virginia Heath's debut novel That Despicable Rogue is available in paperback and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, WHSmith and all other online retailers now!