To buy, or not to buy – that is the question;
Whether tis nobler in the shops to suffer
The slings and arrows of a lack of fortune,
Or to use cash against a sea of troubles,
And by purchasing end them.
Yeah, that’s right: I just made one of the greatest, most famous soliloquies of all time about shopping. Forgive me, Shakespeare.
I am of course talking about retail therapy. The weird little part of our brain which wantonly whispers If you buy a new pair of jeans/car/house/super yacht/500ml pot of Crème de la Mer, I promise you will feel much happier.
So it’s not real therapy; more like a really bad therapist who takes your money without actually helping you; like a therapist who’s pretending to be a therapist without having actually gone to therapy school. A con-therapist. A thera-takingthe-pist. Whoever came up with the name ‘retail therapy’ was obviously being either ironic or just deliberately obtuse.
Having said all of that… shopping makes me happy. In the same way that having some chocolate spikes my sugar levels and picks me up again if I feel tired, buying stuff spikes my spirits. It’s not a slow, banana-like, release of happiness. It’s really more of a metaphorical large slice of chocolate fudge cake with whipped cream filling and ganache icing – it’s going to make me extremely happy while I eat it, and for a bit afterwards while I can still taste it, but then I’m going to quite likely experience a wave of regret, possibly accompanied by nausea.
The larger the piece of cake, or the larger the price tag (pause here to sing Jessie J under your breath), the greater the guilt. A pair of Topshop jeans I can manage without too much of a twinge, but that aforementioned 500ml pot of Crème de la Mer would have me hiding under my duvet from my own conscience. (£1,300 for the record. For moisturiser. Fer real.)
So buying a new camera when I’m still not used to the magical, mystical wonder that the less starry-eyed among us call ‘pay day’ was an interesting lunchtime online experience. Having uhm-ed and ahh-ed for what my poor colleagues must have thought was forever, I finally summoned the courage… to ask my Dad what he thought I should do. He reckoned I should press ‘confirm order’ so, palms sweating as though I was on a rope bridge over a chasm with a bunch of crocs at the bottoms (the reptiles, not the footwear, although I’m frankly quite scared of the shoes as well), I spent £531.62 on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II. And then the rush of whatever hormone shopping releases (dopamine? seratonin?) hit me, and I sat blissed out at my desk, staring at next month’s social media schedule as though it were a Patrick Heron painting and I’d taken something.
About a week later, it arrived in all its glory. (Not literally. Literally, it arrived in a box, which is a far better means of transportation.) I’ve been waiting for the post-shopping comedown to hit me ever since, but something strange is happening. I feel no regret. I feel no nausea. My camera lust has turned to camera love, and I’m so happy with my new toy that I’d spend all 531.62 of those pounds again in a heartbeat.
It is, after all, helping me to better appreciate the finer things in life. And yes, by that I do mean cake.