List of Items Which Fall Through the Letter Box After I’m Dead by Dave Eales

_45592638_inflation_basket446x288One of the key indices for measuring consumer habits, and their effect on the economy, is the Consumer Price Index (CPI); called a basket of goods, its contents influence a number of policy decisions, one of which is inflation. The CPI is also an interesting measure of changes in cultural taste, and as ever on this site, this has implications for class; for example, as the Grauniad highlighted, this year’s index saw the following: “Women’s active wear leggings, quiche and raspberries are in vogue while pork pies and bottles of lager drunk in nightclubs are out.” I’m too much of a coward to make judgement of how this affects class habits, particularly as the influence of advertising is often high.

uk debt clockThe year before also saw the inclusion of gin, cycle helmets, and non-dairy milk. It’s an interesting exercise (at least I think it is), to go through the index and look at what you consume yourself. It gives you a distant sense of how you influence, or are influenced by, consumerism. However, this also shows how connected and co-opted we are by the products we consume, and the mechanisms we use to do so; a big one being debt. Debt is the diesel that fuels the economy. Years ago when I finally decided to get a contract for my mobile, I couldn’t get it because I didn’t have a debt record. I had never borrowed money (we don’t have a mortgage) so I couldn’t be trusted, at least by the computer which kept saying no.

Dave Cropped BWLife, as they say, goes on when we die, and in today’s poem by Dave Eales, List of Items Which Fall Through the Letter Box After I’m Dead, we find a fascinating and depressing set of missives from bodies that don’t know your body is no longer sentient. I’ll leave you to read the poem to see the detail, but for a moment, think about yourself dead (apologies) and what your letterbox would receive after you’ve gone. How much capitalism still chases you; still tries to get you contribute further to the nation’s debt; doesn’t discount you completely from the ever-changing consumer price index. Given the limited amount of spare landfill we have left, I’m sure coffins must be way down the list of consumer items these days. By the way of an end, a fun fact; we are now a global population of 7+ billion – do you know how many people have died since the dawn of people? (c107 billion). Have a great week y’all.

Dave Eales was born in Apapa, Nigeria in 1962. He grew up in Nigeria, South America & UK. He spent many years working in IT in London, as well as writing and drinking in his spare time. Dave lives in France and is currently working on his first novel.

List of Items Which Fall Through the Letter Box After I’m Dead

A letter inviting me to apply for a gold credit card at 17 % APR;
A bill from the Electricity company for £46.22;
A voucher entitling me to enjoy any king size pizza for £4.99 (garlic bread not included);
A letter sent to the wrong person, she no longer lives here;
An advertisement from a bank, promising the lowest rate mortgage available;
Some dust;
A postcard from a long forgotten girlfriend;
A demand for council tax from Islington Borough Council;
An offer to invest in Jupiter’s high income fund ISA;
A reminder from Central Islington Library concerning overdue books;
More dust, leaves too;
A First Direct bank statement, showing a credit balance of 342.39;
A birthday card, (unopened).



Thank You for Waiting by Simon Armitage

boys and girlsBack home in one of the bars in my local, there was no women’s toilet (this was the mid-80s). The few women who did frequent the smoke room, had to go outside, in all kinds of weather, to the single female toilet in the other bar. At the same time an old school down the road still had signs showing the separate boys’ and girls’ entrances. Society remains divided in many ways, not only in gender. One of the most obvious, yet at the same time, nefarious, regards consumer preference.

Platforms (or are they publishers?), such as Facebook and Twitter, provide their services for free on the basis that its users give away great amounts of personal information. So we now have individual profiling to “guide” us in our purchase choices. You know how it works; you may have been browsing holidays online, then when searching a news item for example, adverts pop up with specific holiday options. Business relies on stereotypes and certainty; such a social contract gives them that. So whilst there is a feeling that the Internet enables free expression, the template-nature of such social media platforms constrains heterogeneity. One of the early pioneers of web development and now critic of its outcomes, Jaron Lanier believes: “The basic problem is that web 2.0 tools are not supportive of democracy by design. They are tools designed to gather spy-agency-like data in a seductive way, first and foremost, but as a side effect they tend to provide software support for mob-like phenomena.”

In the service sector, this translates into splicing customers in different ways according to the data gathered. We are all valued by them, it’s just some are more valued than others – they would claim it is just differently. For example, supermarkets use terms such as “everyday value” or ‘basics’ ranges, to the more ‘upper’ ‘taste the difference’ & ‘you’ve never had it so good’ products. Travel firms have always done such stratification, albeit quite basically – first & second class, or economy, business, first class when it comes to flying. (more…)