Friday, 30 November 2012

The Holistic Approach to Retail (or how I got suckered by the cool kids)

Alright, so this is a little bit of a cop out. I hold my hands up to that from the outset. Even though this is a Year Abroad blog, it’s also my blog, and I’m going to write about things that interest me. In deference to regular readers, this does have a slightly French slant.
This topic has come to me when I started looking at the top brands, and how they try to get you to buy things. That topic began when I saw Cartier’s latest advert on Youtube, and promptly vomited on my lap because of its pretentious tittery. Mind you, then I told you about it, and even linked to it so maybe I’m just playing you all for fools.
Thing is, a certain person in my life implied that my life would become immeasurably better in several interesting ways were something bought from this company to end up in the aforementioned person’s stocking. Christmas stocking, presumably, since nobody much likes something spiky and cold in their socks, even if it is a ring from Cartier. Maybe they do. Diff’rent strokes, etc.
And so - out of a sort of morbid curiosity, to see how far my bank balance would recoil upon presentation of Cartier’s prices, I perused their site. It’s a nice site, as it should be, with slidey bits and smooth movement and prices clearly shown. Until you get to the upper end. At that point, there’s just a link that says “For more information” and then underneath, as if it dare not even sully the shiny baubles with the word, is (Price).
I’m genuinely not sure now what the difference is between high-class escorts and diamond rings from Cartier, except in one I’m paying someone else to screw me before I get -
You see where that’s going.
In any case, I clicked the link, filled in the details, and got an email very swiftly. I opened it, assuming it would be a price that was so laughably high that I could write a lovely blog mocking the house of Cartier and their vile markup on otherwise common and boring carbon.
Instead, the cheeky chaps at Cartier sent me an email assuring me that somebody from their sales team was going to email me soon, and they appreciated my custom.
And now, suddenly, I’m back at school asking the cool kids to play with me. No, in fact, it’s worse that that. I’ve submitted an essay to a teacher whose approval I am desperately seeking. I really, really want to be accepted. I’ve started freaking out a little - are they running credit checks? Is there a sneering jeweller somewhere in Paris looking at my little bank account and laughing at its pitiful nature?
I mean I don’t care, I’m like totally cool. Whatever man. I don’t even want to buy one of those silly rings, despite the delights deliciously depicted and dictated to me. I’m not even bothered.
Yea, and denial is just a river in Egypt.

The point I’m making, in a very roundabout and unpointy manner, is that by the simple action of letting me know that my custom is not the most important thing to me, they’ve actually made me want their damn silly baubles more. As it happens I’ve just got their quote through, and as previously imagined it is so unbelievably, laughably high that if it represents three month’s salary for any man then I need to find that man, and marry him first. Because now I simply must have one of these silly, silly baubles. They’re precious. And we wants it.

The sum they asked for, by the way, was “a partir de (starting at) €26 000.”
That's approximately £21,000.

I don’t even love myself that much.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Pip pip, how'd you do, a pint of beer please old chap

Long day today, really long, and even though it’s Thursday - and therefore for normal people almost the weekend - I’m going to be dragging myself from my bed to teach Maths (which the dear student calls Math, coming from the colonies as he does) and a little English at 10am. On the other hand, it’s a beautiful walk, and Autumn (Fall, as we used to say, and as a result our cousins from across the water have stuck with it) is well settled into the little town in which I live. About 45-55 minutes, but it’s gorgeous, and I’m going to take some music. If you have any suggestions drop them in the wee box down there. Classical preferred.
Work is getting fairly tense; we are, as my colleague explained to me, under pressure - sous pression - but apparently David Bowie impressions are not a suitable response to that phrase. Even with the high warbly bits that require elastic bands. Such is the nature of genius; it is never recognised in time. I’m obviously not saying I’m a genius. I want to make that clear, that
I’m not saying I’m a genius. I am not saying

I’m a genius.

In the meantime, under pressure in the office as our annual dinner rolls closer and apparently it is typically French for invitees to understand “Please respond to this invitation with a cheque for some money before very reasonable date” as “Please, take as long as you want to send back this invitation, with or without the cheque, because we’re all friends here and as long as we get some money from you before the end of the financial year all is sauce au jus de viande.
In the afternoons students who’ve done no preparation for an exam they knew about at the beginning of the year are suddenly realising that they’ve not done any preparation. Although I would love to tell you that this sentiment is unknown to me, it would be a lie. I wasn’t a great student when I was a young man, and the look of nervous fear and apprehension was sadly familiar to me. And as a result I have to be firm but nice to the wee ones. And cackle inwardly, because this time it’s not me in trouble. And that feeling is brilliant.
In the evening - oh yes, it never ends - I taught a fantastic oral class, which was sparsely populated this week due to various events and internships which have stolen my students - so we explored oddities of English, including where taurine comes from, the feeling one gets from running one’s fingers down a blackboard (haptodysphoria, by the way, because I know you wanted to know) and the revelation that there are neither bikinis nor rivers in Saudi Arabia. I also taught students British slang, because they are going to London soon and, being engineers, they’re already lacking in social skills. Bless them. They’re going to get slaughtered/robbed.
If you’re in London in January next year, and you see lost looking French/Indonesian/Chinese/Columbian students, please look after them. You must not rob them.

So: give me exciting new words for my students, either slang or wonderfully complex.