It’s an often expounded theory that times of stress will either bring out the best in people or expose underlying problems in all kinds of horrible and embarrassing ways. If anything the recession has revealed that people of my generation (that’s anyone under thirty, thanks for asking) suffer from Acute Fiscal Split Personality Disorder, which the yet-to-be-published Sarah Waldron Dictionary defines as ‘a personality disorder that exposes a disproportionate spending habit. Symptoms include mania, hysteria-related hair loss and simultaneously bulk buying tinned food from Lidl while making an appointment with your personal shopper. There is no cure’.
I am an AFSPD sufferer. There, I admit it. On the behalf of myself and all of my female friends I would like to bring this terrible affliction out into the open. We are all intelligent, grounded women. We are good people. However, we are terrible shoppers and this is the very root of AFSPD. We have double personalities; we don’t eat so we can afford clothes, we take cheap holidays but blow the pedalo and sunhat budget on booze, we congratulate ourselves on finding a bargain, no matter how impractical or superfluous to our daily lives (“I’ve always wanted a masticating juicer/ski boots/blue lipstick/koi carp pond!”).
Take my friend L, for instance. L and I had a leisurely breakfast before work this week and strolled down to Recessionista Heaven, aka Penneys for a quick look at their new winter party dresses and jackets. Both of us have no intention of buying anything as I’m cleaned out after an exceptionally tasty Eggs Benedict and L had fulfilled her daily shopping requirements by purchasing a wig for an upcoming fancy dress party.
After a few minutes I sidle up to her and notice an ever-growing pile of clothes in her arms. She turns to me and says “Which blazer do you prefer? I’m going as Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction”. “Never mind that – what’s all this?” I say pointing to the polycotton heap. She defensively recoils as if I’m Rumpelstiltskin coming for her first born. “Long sleeve shirts. I need them”. “L”, I patronisingly tell her, “You don’t need them. No-one needs that many. I would certainly never, ever be that impractical. I only ever buy things I really need”.
We proceed to the checkouts, a distinctly frosty atmosphere developing. I turn around to L. “I saw a pair of PVC trousers in Topshop – what do you think?” She gives me The Look. “What?” I practically shriek. “I need them!”