Finally the icey fingers of winter let us go and the late snow melted, even the driving hail storms and easterly wind has abated.
May morning, the tester of has summer really “A come”? We were up for the dawn; it was cold at 2 degrees Celsius. As the day warmed it brought a May mist which is said to bring youth and beauty, the earth finally warming after the long damp and cold months and breathing in a bright and glorious May.
Slowly I’ve been motivated to be outside more and more and relish every minute, even with those domestic tasks that proved arduous in the winter, it’s nice to loiter just that little longer in the garden, or on the way home. My senses have been seduced to lap up nature, the sun, bird calls, new flowers and trees bursting into life.
What a contrast with my city bound experience recently. I had call to wander through the shiny aisles of the glamorous stores in West London, the synthetic perfumes tickling my nose, the bright spotlights making sure the jewellery and watches sparkled and caught my eye. The air was dry and the café over the on the other side of the floor beckoned with cool drinks as I took off my jacket and felt hot and my throat drying. Everything was about looks and presentation and as I wondered through, naturally my instincts were drawn to the latest colours and lines, did I measure up? Do I need something new?
I’d only come in for a quick errand to check on a booking for someone, I had no intension of purchasing anything. The way the floor was laid out, although not martialled as in some stores, it was still not easy to go from A to B without being taken on a little mystery tour around the various departments. Slowly one by one catching either your sight, smell, touch, taste or hearing, each time making that little suggestion that you need it, or really could do with it. I have to admit, I do sit in the bracket of people who actually does not particularly enjoy shopping, however I’d like to think that perhaps that makes me better able to observe what’s going on, rather than be completely smitten by it.
Suddenly, on this occasion, it fell into place why I particularly don’t enjoy these large glossy stores, it’s because I feel manipulated. Constantly martialled, or heated, or dehydrated to the point where some purchase of some kind is likely. I’ve also found that trying to rush out of these places makes the experience even worse as they are made for meandering. Finally the penny dropped why for years my dislike for these places has actually grown despite spending power at times having increased. It is that my senses are being used not for my own wellbeing and safety but to persuade me to line someone else’s pockets. The experience is simply magnified if you are in a large modern shopping centre. If you doubt this, then start to have a look into Architectural design. There are studies that have been undertaken around how we move through a building or space, what catches our eye, how light and air can play into this interaction with a space. Space designers, architects and marketers use all of this to their advantage wherever possible. A few years ago the Channel Four series “The Secret Life of Buildings” touched on this. No wonder we often feel we need go around set-on to “Sceptic” nearly permanently.
So perhaps you might like to bear that in mind next time you feel called into the great outdoors or enticed into a purpose built facility. Personally I prefer allowing my senses being stimulated and seduced by the natural surrounds which has no agenda, then manipulated by the man-made place that I am in, which no doubt will at some level have an agenda – but hey each to their own!