Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

One of my pre-recession pleasures in life used to be curling up on the sofa with a glossy magazine and a small vat of tea.

I made happy sighing noises at the sheer gorgeousness of the perfect life that was just within my grasp...all I needed was a credit card and a shopping list of this season's must-haves (be it phones, clothes, cars...take your pick).  These lovely, shiny pages promised me I could be young/thin/rich/healthy/calm/clever while effortlessly being a gourmet chef/chic home-maker/wise parent.

It was also nice to have an accommodating bank manager who flung loans at us like confetti.
("a new computer?? Of COURSE you must have the latest fuel-injected, leather-upholstered, platinum-plated laptop that a  family of fourteen could happily live in...or is that a car?  I get confused...have some money anyway!!") .

Then the recession happened.
In the space of a few months all our dreams of owning cars with silly names evaporated into the ether along with the collective conscience of the money lenders.
Hell, I even stopped buying my glossies to make sure we could pay the phone bill.
(I still had lots of tea, would be MADNESS to give that up.)

Yesterday I had a precious few hours to myself, and I decided to have a browse in the newsagent.

It's amazing how much perspective a little distance can give you.
I was horrified and a little disgusted at the magazines I used to hold up as my bar for things to aspire to.
Without exception, they all imply that there is something wrong with our lives.
The covers scream that unless we are having raunchy al fresco (*cough*) relations  with a flamenco dancer while tapping business deals into our blackberries that we are a poor excuse for a modern woman.  They accuse us of (*gasp*) looking less than perfect in public. They insinuate that our child-rearing/ cooking/house-keeping (*OK...anyone who has ever lived with me has permission to laugh freely here*) skills   would put Rosemary West to shame.

A perception of happiness is heavily marketed  by the glossies.
They  peddle aching self-doubt that we try to soothe by galloping out to buy, buy, buy.

Now most of us can't buy these things any more, and I don't know about you, but it doesn't make me feel any different.
I still like to look nice and try hard to care for my family.
But I can nip over to the petrol station for milk at 7.30am without a hair-do and full make-up.  If I frighten the guy behind the counter that's his business.
I can still enjoy the gym without believing it's all utterly pointless unless I achieve a bum like Kylie's and a waist like Cheryl's.

Hmmm.  I'm getting an idea for a brand new glossy.
It's called "Buying Junk Doesn't Make You Happy.  Have a Cup Of Tea Instead".
Catchy, no?


  1. Wow, Jean - that really made me think!
    It's amazing how your priorities shift when you have children and even more so when autism enters your world!
    I'm glad you still have your tea though!-you're right, giving it up would be absolute madness lol!

  2. Wonderful! (and so much more economical!)

  3. @ Fiona, priorities change, but tea remains constant in a world of madness
    @ K, thanks for that!

  4. I stopped buying glossies a while back as they didn't seem relevant any more...but the GHD and black eyeliner are still wielded in this house every morning before I venture out to face the world. Glad you got the broadband back Jean, and hope you didn't run out of tea as well xx

  5. Life is definitely hard enough without some money making glossy asking us to gasp at the horror of cellulite on celebrity bodies. What hope have women got if we constantly criticise and judge each other? Can't belive you went out without your make up on though...

  6. I think you are on to a winner there and if you EVER brought out a magazine I would buy it, no doubt about it :D I stopped reading those silly magazines years ago and never got into the celeb gossip ones at all. I prefer a good 'whodunnit' :D The tea/coffee is a necessity though, glad you didn't get rid of that:) Jen

  7. I don't need to read glossies, I read your blogs and you make me smile.... Love them. :-)

  8. I feel a bit sorry for fashion editors these days, cobbling together content that is up posed to be aspirational when most of us cannot afford it - really can't afford it as even easy credit has dried up. And everyone else is afraid to spend as you never know what is around the corner. But I am cynical enough to appreciate that "make do and mend" doesn't buy advertising space in what is largely an online circulation these days- so perhaps the tongue isn't so far in cheek when they suggest I will be begging for a shearling aviator jacket with a month. I won't.

    I am aspiring to a fully tiled bathroom - as we live in one of the developer terraces churned out during the boom. But at least in this new era of realistic pricing, we are being quoted about a 1/3 of what it would have cost 2 short years ago. I hope that includes grout that doesn't dissolve in water this time!

    (And I hope we don't need those savings to live on)


  9. @ Taz, complementary copies for all my friends!
    @ Blue Sky, I'm all about looking good...just as long as it's for you
    @ Alison, agreed agreed agreed. You've seen me without my make-up...I could hold up a bank with this face
    @ Jen, I go to the hairdressers every 6-8 wks and get to read the gossipy mags, and I honestly haven't a clue who 80% of the "celebrities" even are
    @ Elaine, thank you darling

  10. It's so true... after a while I think you just grown out of them, they are all the same, fashion, diet and then some 18 year old spouting on about her spiritual philosophy of life (apologies to all 18 year olds out there!)
    I have to confess though the only one I recently find myself picking up - and only coz its in my MILs house is Woman & Home- loads of good recipes for the freezer - how sad is that??

  11. @ Hammie, good luck with the bathroom...gotta say water resistant grout in a bathroom is wise
    @ Northside Mum, there IS some good stuff in some of them, but I think you're right about growing out of's the same old recycled rubbish

  12. How very true Jean. Thing is most of us didn't go that mad in the boom years with their fancy cars and BT clothing etc. That makes it a little bit easier for us now ...I think.

    I still want to have nice things...they're just not essential to my happiness. Like you say, paying the bills are more essential! But it is nice to put a bit of basic make up on to look half decent...if you feel like it. It's also ok to want something, I just prioritise it now. Do I really need it? If so, I just save a bit each week so I can afford it! Or go do a summer camp to earn a few extra bob ;-) Then everyone's happy!
    Oh, I'd buy your glossy too!
    xx Jazzy

  13. @ Jazzy, thanks for your comment hun! XXX