Monday, 24 October 2011


Yesterday, I went into town to buy a coat. I came back with two. 

I surprised myself with my first purchase, a camel coloured trench coat from Oasis. I wasn’t expecting to buy a trench and definitely not a camel coloured one. However, Christopher did a Gok and persuaded me it was a wise investment, and I couldn’t disagree with the £50 price tag, especially when it was reduced from £85; I was saving money!

Despite feeling very happy with such a successful start to the shopping trip, when we carried on walking round town, I couldn’t help but keep an eye out just in case I spotted a better one. I could of course take the first back if I needed to.

I found the second item in H&M. As I tried it on, part of me hoped it wouldn’t be as good as the first one (that would save me a lot of umming and ahhing) but it really was, and at £40 it was a snip! It had a lovely fitted shape and yet it was a duffle coat, which was the sort of coat I had been looking for in the first place. Perfect!

SO, I found myself with a dilemma. Should I:

A) Buy the H&M duffle and take the trench back to Oasis? 
B) Stick with my original purchase only and forget about the second option?
      C) Buy the duffle and keep the trench too?

Finding myself reeling off a very convincing list of justifications at Christopher on the shop floor (quite literally at this point), I decided to plump for option C.

My rationale sounded something like this:

Firstly, the trench is quite a thin coat in comparison to the duffle, really suited to milder autumnal days than the harsh cold of deep winter. Secondly, the trench doesn’t have a hood but the duffle does and on some days I won’t mind wearing a hat but on others I will. Thirdly, the trench coat is quite light in colour and would be in danger of getting dirty if, say, we went for a muddy winter walk in the woods. It’d be better to have a darker coloured coat for occasions like that. The trench is also smarter so would be perfect for wearing over more formal clothes, if we went out for dinner or something. The duffle would look good in the playground… And so it went on.

The moral of the story: I am a sucker for a sale and victim of a consumer culture. That’s not to say it’s society at fault and not me, like I’m passive to the materialistic and falling for two coats has been done unto me in some uncontrollable way. That’s not what I mean. Only I whipped out my debit card in an all consumed shopping frenzy. Only I have two new coats hanging up in the hallway.

I have my hands up here. It’s my fault. I’ve allowed myself to be caught up in the materialistic. Again.  Every now and then it smacks me in the face. Like when I find myself mindlessly posting a photo of a possession or when I block out the world in favour staring at my laptop screen, browsing online shops, or when I buy two coats. 

All of this got me thinking about how I felt when I came home from Africa. Stepping off the plane back onto English soil, I hoped that I would live more frugally. I hoped that I would remember how material things count for nothing and life is only rich from the people who you meet and the experiences you’re lucky enough to have. Africa gave me that reminder full on; it was stark and it was in my face and I knew it and I understood it. Like, I properly understood it. When I stepped off that plane there is NO WAY that I would have bought two coats. I wouldn’t have bought one. Because really, I don’t need one. 

So, where does this realisation leave me? Will I return the coats? Will I take one back and keep the other?

Honestly? Probably not. I’ve been sucked back in and I’m feeling weak to consumerism and I like them too much (and there was a plethora of other factors influencing the coat buying, which I haven’t mentioned, such as needing to look smart at work and working hard to afford myself a treat. And stuff.) 

So I’m going to enjoy these coats but I’m not going to post a picture of them of Facebook.

And maybe I should buy a plane ticket back to Africa.

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