By Adam Taylor-Smith
At the end of term 1 we were reminded that you can’t attempt to persuade people if you don’t spend time observing them. The holidays were an opportunity to burst the bubble of advertising we have found ourselves in and get back to humanity for a bit. Marc suggested that we take time to simply sit and watch people go about their daily lives.
We probably weren’t meant to observe our own family. It’s just that when I was sat at my grandparents dinner table it occurred to me that, if we weren’t all related, there would be no natural scenario in which such a strange mismatch of people would congregate.
My uncle and his husband have ballooned to an unrecognisable size since I last saw them. He’s having a 1960s themed fancy dress party for his 50th in January. It was whilst he was describing the floral mini dress and white leather boots he has bought himself for the occasion that I glanced at the wall behind him. His graduation photo hangs there next to my mum’s. I noticed there was actually a striking resemblance between him then, and me now. I looked back at his transformed shape. It scared me half to death.
My gran was complaining because her sore throat has meant she hasn’t been able to sing for 2 weeks. She’s the lead singer of a jazz band that tours the country. She’s 75 with a perm and she has arthritic groupies.
My 22 year old cousin is a carpenter, he’s getting married next year and he has a mortgage. I can’t even drive. For just a moment we manage to land on a topic of conversation – he slaughtered and stuffed the turkey for Christmas, and I got a taxidermy jackdaw as a present. Christ I felt ridiculous.
Another uncle has set up a sushi restaurant at the top of a hotel in TelAviv this year. He’s talking about how often he has to explain the fact that the sushi isn’t kosher.
My brother catches my eye and mouths the words “help me” over the shoulder of a great aunt who is gesticulating and talking intensely at him. I’ve no idea what she is saying but he is seriously misguided if he thinks I’m coming over there to his aid.
There were others there but I’d better stop in case they ever find this. I think the point is that the word ‘consumer’ is vague and meaningless. Everyone at this table could easily be lumped into the same social category. The only real distinguishing factor being their age. It becomes obvious how inaccurate that is when you try buying presents for them all.