When we were little our default leisure activity was going to Brent Cross. Nothing to do on a Saturday morning? Go to Brent Cross! Feeling a bit dreary after school – go to Brent Cross! When a McDonald’s arrived in about 1992, just opposite the Waitrose we’d sometimes go and have a McDonald’s while mum nipped round Waitrose then went home. That was it.
But conditioning is a dangerous thing and now my default location when I’ve got nothing else to do is: Brent Cross. I sometimes find myself driving along the A406 towards Brent Cross with no real memory of how I got there. In the dark days after Kitty was born and I was too sluggish to exercise and too brain-dead to work much I often found myself there three times a week.
(This is one of the reasons why I never take Kitty and Sam to Brent Cross and I hope will never take them to Brent Cross. I would just much rather their default leisure activity was sport.)
Dovetail this with this quite strong unconscious feeling I always have – that this new thing or that new thing might change my life – and you’ve got the ingredients for major consumer debt.
The other morning I found myself with nothing to do between 0930 and 1pm when I pick up Sam from nursery and I started thinking about these boots from Clarks, which my friend Georgina wears and looks super in. And I started thinking “Hmmm, maybe I should go and just try them on and see what they’re like. Maybe they’re a really excellent winter boot? And they’re only £60. And I’ve just been paid for a couple of pieces…” But then I thought NO STOP.
I rang my sister, Harriet, in a panic, and screamed “What are you doing come for a coffee??” She did a u-turn on the Holloway Road and came and had a coffee with me then came to sit in my house while I poked about at some work. And I didn’t buy those boots. And I won’t buy those boots because those boots will not make me a better or different person. I will be the same bastard I was last week, just wearing brown boots.