Wednesday, 12 March 2008

A catalogue of stories

For some reason I am still on the mailing list for a certain 'out of my league' clothing catalogue. It is one that specialises in 'anonymous chic' ie simple cotton/linen clothes in muted colours that are very expensive.
I once bought an organic cotton t-shirt in the sale and they have been trying to tempt me back ever since. The catalogues however always end up in the recycling bin and I really should do something about getting off their list to spare the tree-worth of paper that they send me each year.

But meanwhile I am fascinated by their catalogue and by the 'life style ' they portray in it. It's all very much 'the simple life' with rough stone, unvarnished wood and unglazed pottery (a bit like my house come to think of it minus the piles of books, bikes, toys, wellies and unfinished art projects). And the pace of life in their little vignettes is so slow, the women are so calm and patient. They are all quietly busy, but most of all they seem to be waiting. They each seem to be at the beginning of a story in which the next thing that happens is a stampede of horses, or a whirlwind, or a bush fire or the sudden appearance of a naked man. Meanwhile they are just - waiting. All very passive and ever so slightly annoying, but I have to confess it has given me some story ideas and some character outlines (once I have de-beautified the models).

The same catalogues also make me Laugh out Loud. The current 'Home' one being a prime example. I mean obviously you would turn to a posh catalogue when you need a new scrubbing brush (£15) , their long handle dust pan and brush (£45) promises to 'facilitate more elegant housework' and how could you dream of living your simple calm muted life without a 'pretty brush in oiled birch with horsehair bristles' (£19). Maybe it's all just a big expensive joke.

They do promote renewable / recycleable resources over plastics and other synthetics, which is great, but there seems to be a lot of cynical marketing there too and I wonder how many of these things will be bought for displaying against a rough plaster wall rather than actually being used. Not to mention the fact that similar items are available much more cheaply elsewhere but without the life style marketing.

Phew enough of ranting (although hope you notice the writing ref which sort of legitimised it). Have to mention the item below though before I go (100% linen, £145).

I want one. On rainy days, when the internet keeps crashing and my keyboard keys get stuck and I've lost my cordless mouse, I will pull the hood low over my face, and drift slowly around the house making a soft moaning noise, refusing to stop until someone brings me a cup of tea.


Cal said...

Laughs. That looks like something Jesus might wear. Or the monk in the Da Vinci Code! £145? Wow.

HelenMH said...

Now, exactly how long do you think I'll have to wait for the sudden appearance of a naked man? Just so I know!

Sarah Dunnakey said...

Cal - I know its spooky isn't it, and linen! Just think of the creases

Helen - I think the time is probably inversely proportional to your patience - shorter the patience, longer the wait

KAREN said...

Ooh, I quite like the look of that floaty number, but I'm sure you can pick up something like it, but cheaper, in M&S !

I know exactly the sort of catalogues you mean - I once bought a simple t-shirt affair from one, and now they won't stop bombarding me despite being WAY out of my price range. They must have got the message by now.

Sarah Dunnakey said...

Karen - I once got a really creepy letter from one catalogue saying "we've noticed you haven't bought yourself anything new lately, have we done something wrong? Please let us know how we can entice you back by filling in this questionaire." Unfortunately there weren't any tick boxes for 'massively reduce your prices' and 'make clothes that look good on real people not just models.' Grrr

KAREN said...

That's just desperate - like a whiny ex-boyfriend.

A well-known catalogue company recently phoned to ask if I'd like to spread my payments over a longer period of time and increase my credit limit, despite me not having bought anything for yonks. I nearly said yes, then came to my senses :o)