My original blog was Hoses of the Holy (ca. 2003), which ended up being abandoned in the dark days of 2007. I started this one in 2011. Scroll down for the archives!

Time for a Change?

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Spent the morning tracking through my Amazon orders looking for particular payment amounts in order to match them up with a few on our latest credit card statement. One of them turned out to be the silicone kitchen jug I’d ordered to replace my third broken glass one – the one that doesn’t fit in the microwave. The eye-roll emoji goes here.

A general panic takes hold when you try to match payments on your statements, doesn’t it? I find myself spiralling into an existential crisis. Going through the FOUR PAGES of Amazon orders from the past THREE MONTHS, I kept thinking, what is wrong with me? Some of the shit, honestly. Like the big box of dehumidifiers I ordered – not the kind you plug into the mains, the kind filled with (I guess?) silica beads which gradually absorb the moisture from the air and turn to jelly. I only needed one, but I bought a box of 10 because it was kinda sorta cheaper. I need them for my car, which (thanks, Volkswagen) tends to be way too misty on the inside. It’s like fucking Kew Gardens in there. The dehumidifier works a treat, on the car, but it give me dry mouth when I’m driving and I’ve got a box of the NINE I haven’t used yet sitting in the corner here. What is wrong with me?

Male grooming products, too. I could get these in Tesco, but I don’t. My beard oil, in Tesco, is nine quid. Amazon often do it for a fiver, free delivery. How it is possible for a thing to be packed up in a cardboard box and delivered to my house by a chap in a van for half the price of including it in my weekly shop is everything that is wrong with both society and me.

Then there are all the 99p books – a shocking amount, frankly, I read too much – and plenty more tat I don’t really need, and some that I do. None of this tat, of course, was purchased on the high street. Due to my spending patterns since 1996, I am singlehandedly responsible for the closure of several shops, probably. I often think about this. For example, my new Beats Fit Pro noise cancelling earphones. Purchased on Amazon. But could I have bought them on the high street? Yes, but no. I never would. Never in a million years would I make that kind of impulse purchase on the high street. The very thought of speaking to a shop assistant in the Apple Store or John Lewis gives me the heebs. Also, Amazon let you make five interest-free payments without having to fill out a single form.

It’s not just the convenience that Amazon offers. I’m reconciled with them knowing all about me, but don’t want to let anyone else into my life.

Recently, I bought a couple of pairs of shoes in the Geox online sale (extra discount for buying two). Same thing: I often look in the window of the Geox shop in Mulhouse or Colmar, but rarely buy anything in there. And two pairs at the same time? Never. But of course, you’re punished every time you buy something online, because the emails never stop, even when you tell them to stop.

I just made myself a second cup of coffee using the machine I’ve had since 2014, and it also occurs to me to wonder if I’ll ever return to Caffé Nero or Costa. Pre-pandemic, every trip to MK would come with a visit to Nero, but whenever I walk past there now, I look at the queue inside and just think, nah. And although I miss the days when my younger daughter and I would have a Costa first thing in the morning when we got to school, I don’t think I’ll ever bother on my own account. I don’t think I even like coffee unless it’s cold brew.

The other day, the younger was home for the weekend, and she wanted to go to MK, like we used to in the old days. So we did. But I do still feel on edge when I’m there. We’re definitely not back to normal, and we’re in that odd phase where some people are still wearing masks while others most definitely are not. And I think this feels like a permanent change now. What the last seven years have given us is a deep distrust of other people: I feel hyper-aware now that a simple decision about mask wearing reveals so much about a personality and likely political allegiance, and it’s impossible to get past it. Faces you wouldn’t have even noticed in the past now loom out of the crowd as a tangible threat. They might as well have S-O-C-I-O-P-A-T-H tattooed on their foreheads.

While we were in MK, we decided to stop for a burger at a “posh burger” place that shall not be named. Christ, but it was an entirely joyless experience. The manager who was allocating tables was just rude. You had to use your phone to see the menu, it was horribly noisy, and the whole meal just felt like something to endure rather than enjoy.

So much seems to have just gone, all the joy sucked out of life by the dehumidifying effects of Brexit and the pandemic. And I’m picking, dry-mouthed, through my life trying to find the things that bring a bit of happiness, but it feels a little like going through your Amazon orders trying to find that unexplained £36. What is wrong with me?

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