1. Whenever we do an online grocery shop, I'm about to press 'Pay' when my husband scuttles in with a sheaf of tiny vouchers he's just found in a drawer, like a bird who's collected bits of torn paper for its nest. 'Can we use these?' he says. He's always been more save-the-pennies than I have, I think it's safe to say. Cue fifteen minutes of squinting at minuscule numbers on vouchers for bleach, and shortening the lifespan of my eyesight by ten years, tapping them all in. Then the store tells me, 'You have saved £3.02 on your £110 order by using your vouchers. Well done!' Hallelujah, I'm thinking. I'd rather have had the eyesight. It's hard, plucking middle-age upper lip hairs with blurred vision.
2. I went to a department store last week and spent £60 on two tops for work. I don't often buy good-quality clothes. But having started a new job, I was trying to impress by wearing outfits NOT so obviously from the Save the Children charity shop and onto their fifteenth owner. With my receipt, the assistant gave me a voucher. 'If you spend £60 in the store before 1st August,' she said with an aren't-we-good-to-you smile, 'you can get £10 off.' I wanted to say, 'I'll pop in again tomorrow! I've money to BURN.' But I didn't. She seemed a nice girl. Only thirteen-and-a-half, I'd say, and too young to be out after 4pm, but a nice girl.
3. At the beginning of the summer, in a store I won't name, but its initials are M and S, I was humming and hawing over whether to add another item to my basket. A man approached wearing a badge. He was called Emotional Blackmail, or it might have been Dave. He told me that if I spent £60 in the store that day, I would get a free box of really fabulous toiletries worth a million pounds. Possibly he didn't say a million, but he made it sound that way. In the basket went my 'maybe' item, and at the till I was given my toiletries box as a reward for emptying my purse. At home, I opened my free gift. What was in it? Hardly anything I would use. Mainly self-tanning items. Self-tanning ointment. Self-tanning cream. Self-tanning spray. And a bottle of nail varnish the size of a toenail itself. I'd like to go back to the store, find Emotional Blackmail, and say, 'Next time you offer me a free box of toiletries, can you make it wrinkle cream, Immac, and a pumice for the hard skin on my feet? Otherwise, pick your target more accurately.'
Speaking of tanning .......
4. Everywhere I shop now, I'm offered a loyalty card. 'Do you have one of our loyalty cards?' I was asked this morning in a well-known British department store I won't name but it rhymes with Mouse of Blazer. 'No, I don't,' I said, trying to add a hint of 'And don't ask me if I'd like to get one today.' 'Would you like to get one today?' said the assistant. I declined. There are so many redundant, forgotten loyalty cards in my purse that loyalty has become for me an abstract, distant concept, so much so that I fear I would even dob my dear husband in and tell the world about the fact that he can't peel a potato without making me laugh at his efforts. Oops.