Sunday, January 07, 2007


Last night, the wife was ferreting around on Ebay, eyes wide with excitement. She'd found a company that sold on goods at wholesale prices to her, which she could then sell on on Ebay. She seemed to think that she'd hit a gold mine, and that she would soon be making tons of profit. After all, that's what the publicity on the company's website said.
Advertising is a wonderful thing; In adland, everyone's smiling with perfect teeth, the weather's always just so, no one has grey hair, and there are large, luxurious houses with perfect kitchens and bathrooms, and broad, empty roads along which one can swish, wearing perfect sunglasses on perfect noses, going to perfect places where one will have completely fulfilling, perfect sex with one's perfect partner. A vertitable Tir-nan-Og. And it's all perfect bollocks, but it still makes us drool and wander off to the shops to stock up on this or that frippery in the hope that it will make our lives just a little less imperfect, a little more controlled.
I have hated and distrusted advertising since the age of five. I despise its promises, its lure and the ways in which it makes us complicit as consumers. I can date my loathing almost precisely. Picture then, a day in April. It is one of those days where the sky above the chalklands of my home is a silvered blue, and a lively breeze sends tattered sails of clouds rushing across from southwest to northeast; And in my house, the gas fire in the living room is on full, because it is cold, despite the promise of warmer days to come written in the burgeoning hawthorn and the first flowers of spring. Lying on the beige and white fabric sofa (This was the 1970's) is me, under a blanket, recovering from another bout of the bronchitis that plagued me when young. In the corner next to the large front window, the TV, a new Sony Trinitron colour television with a large black and silver dial with which one tuned into the channel you wanted to watch, is tuned to ITV, and it's adverts time. There is one for a powdered orange drink, featuring a couple playing tennis; another for some washing-up detergent, where a girl complains of greasy dishes; Then the next one. It is this that engages my attention. A boy, of around my own age, is sat at a dinner table, similar to ours. He looks like the sort of boy who does not like his greens. His mother is preparing his meal in the kitchen. She turns to a cupboard, and pulls out a tin.
A tin of peas.
'He'll never eat them', I think, as she opens it with a gleaming wall mounted tin opener, and tips the contents into a pan to heat up. By the magic of the ad, the peas are instantly ready, placed on the boy's plate, complete with a livid yellow knob of butter, and brought through. The boy looks at the peas dubiously at first, then tries one, then a forkful, and suddenly, the whole plate of peas is gone. Next, the boy is in the kitchen, tugging mum's apron.
'Mum!' he says, 'Have we got any more?'
And cut to the name of the tinned pea product.
I was staggered. I hated peas; This boy, my own age, and in a room similar to mine, hated them; His mother had bought these special tinned peas, had put said peas on his plate, topped by mustard-coloured butter; He'd eaten them and now wanted more!
Those must be damn fine peas, I think, or words to that effect.
Half an hour later, I ask my mum.
'Can we have those peas, mummy? I think they're tasty.'
And so, after the next weekly shop, there is the tin of peas. My mother makes dinner - fish fingers and mash, and opens the tin, warms the peas, puts them on my plate, and brings it through to the dining table. And I tuck in, making sure I get a forkful of these juicy, juicy peas. I take a mouthful, and begin to chew.
They taste like fucking shit. I spit them out, which of course makes mum angry, and she stands over me to make sure I eat up every last one of the fucking peas I'd specifically badgered her for.
And that is why I never will trust advertising.

I told the wife this tale, and she completely ignored the moral of it.

Last night saw me smoke 6 cigs and imbibe one bottle of white generic at 11.5% abv, plus a glass and a half of something else white.

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