Sunday, 4 April 2010

Walking on eggshells

Today I saw an Easter wreath.

When I was a girl, Good Friday was the quietest day of the year. It was the only day - with the possible exception of Christmas Day - when one was guaranteed that everything would be closed; schools, businesses and shops. Even public transport virtually stood still - though for 1970s and early 1980s Brisbane that is probably nothing to write home about. The point was though, that Jesus died on Good Friday - we remember and we have a quiet and simple day.

It has therefore always been something of a shock, living in London, to find that Good Friday is commercially much the same as any Bank Holiday. Admittedly it is quieter than a Sunday or a Bank Holiday as so many people travel for the school holidays, but it is business as usual on the high streets. Indeed, the smaller volume of shoppers makes for a very pleasant outing to the mid-season sales. A sombre day of mourning? Retail therapy?

We spent Easter Saturday in the country. A simple day - no vomiting pigs, no fleas or other small flying insects to plague us. We took part in a fairy tale themed trail through the park of a stately home searching for clues and answering questions in order to claim our chocolate egg prize. Afterwards we wandered the nearby town. That was where I saw the wreath made of pastel coloured "distressed" looking hollow (I hope) eggs.

Perhaps I am a shopping philistine. I certainly lay no claim to following trends, brands or labels, but an egg wreath seemed a little over the top somehow. I may well be years behind current chi-chi Easter styling; just something else to add to the list.

I realise I am beating about the bush here. I suppose what I am trying to say is: why is there an accessory or a gimmick to accompany every single event in our lives? Some would say: that is what happens in a free market. Should we do away with the internet, phones and The Gap? Savvy companies and entrepreneurs see an opportunity and supply a product or service. One is free to choose to buy into it or not. Indeed, we have all been in a store, seen some useless, overpriced item and thought  - "who would buy that?", only to discover it is on all the "Hot and Hip" lists that season. On that basis we can forgive all sorts of marketing ploys, branded knick knacks that do nothing for anyone and complete debacles of style and substance.

On the other hand, even noticing and commenting, lamenting the passing of simpler times when global
merchandising and branding did not sway our choices and dominate our decision making processes, one runs the risk of exposing oneself as the grumpy old woman one has become - or perhaps always has been.

No, one does not want to throw the baby out with the bath water. At the end of the day if one is a believer in free will and freedom of expression, one can hardly begrudge people their buying choices, their self expression or their own dearly held beliefs that Fashion House Branded Golf tees will enhance their game. Or that copious amounts of eye makeup will ensure they are as young, vital and energetic as they were in their prime. Or that a cap that matches their car makes them look cool and wealthy...

So in spite of myself, and in the spirit of Easter, new life and new hope, I offer you an Easter Basket of joyous nothings.

It is a day for celebrating.

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