The Saga of the Loyalty Card

“Would you like a loyalty card?”

“Does that require a complex process right now, broadcasting all my personal details and signing my life away? I only want a coffee.”

I am tired and going for a train.

“No, no. I’ll just activate your card right now and add your points and when you get home you can go online and enter this website, then register your card, then we’ll send you emails every time we can offer you a free drink. It’s really simple.”

Yeah simple. Even though I am fully internet savvy. This is not simple.

“Do you know I have a wad of loyalty cards in my purse an inch thick? I don’t want emails. I have 5000 unread emails.”

“Why wouldn’t you want an email when you’re getting something free? It’s a free drink.”

“I don’t care. It’s too complicated.”

Really, I think, although I’m not rich, is it really worth it?

“It’s not complicated. Do you have a smartphone? You can get our app, then it’s really easy, you can just click on the app….blah blah blah”

My brain filters out.

“Stop, no thanks I do not want an app.”

“But it’s really easy. You get free drinks…”

In the end I gave up. He wasn’t listening. I took the card home and threw it away. Yes, really wasteful of me. Disgraceful.

I do not want an app for every single shop that I go to. Do you think I want to fill my phone, my emails, my attention, my consciousness, my entire life with shopping shit?

A simple loyalty card, that’s fine. Collect the stamps, then claim your freebie. But your loyalty is not enough. No. They want your soul.

It’s too complicated. Even though I am intelligent, computer literate, even internet addicted, it’s too complicated. They want your email, your ID, your loyalty, your attention, your consumption, your cash, your credit card number, your date of birth, your family, your friends, your habits, your hobbies.

“But it makes life easier!”

No, life was easier in the first place. You made it complicated, so you could hoodwink us into signing up to make it easier, by signing up to be pestered and harassed constantly.

Do you know how many companies send DAILY emails to their subscribers? Clearly they think we are sitting there waiting with baited breath to read the one and only email we get that day. I don’t even talk to my friends everyday. Just because I expressed an interest, dear organisation, who looked perhaps relevant to my life and worthy of further attention, does not mean I want to marry you. If you come on too strong, I will divorce you, nay I will take out an injunction. Do not come within a 1000 yards of my email address. Ever. Again.

That was 2016.

Fast forward to 2018, same company, different branch:

My wad of loyalty cards has grown, such that it takes me five minutes to find the right one at the till in each shop. But I still haven’t registered with these guys, because, well, priorities. And by now both my phone and tablet are too full for any more apps. There is no way a shopping app gets a look in on my devices. All my apps are for my work. Somehow I have acquired a loyalty card for this place, but failed to take the vital next step. I’m not sure what is holding me back from committing to this relationship. I must be a player.

“Have you registered this card? No? Well your points won’t be valid. You need to go online and register this card.”

“Oh yes and then you’ll be sending me emails. Do you know I have 10,000 unread emails?” Yes, it’s 10,000 now. (Ok, I know. I should delete them.)

My daughter interjects, “She’s not exaggerating.”

“Oh I couldn’t be doing with that, I have to deal with things straight away.”

Ok Mr Judge.

“No mate, these are emails I’m not going to read, because I’m not interested.”

He really doesn’t get it. I’ve been self-employed since 2001. I’m a disabled single mum with ADHD. I have a busy life, a pile of never-ending paperwork, endless emails. I have a backlog even of the ones I like to read. The volume of unread information I have saved for later is utterly, overwhelmingly vast. Because I’m a writer. It’s all information that is relevant, interesting, useful or essential. My life is full enough.

“So, are you going to register?”

“Well, ok, if I get round to it.”

“Do you like the design of this card?”

I shrug, “Well it’s ok.”

“Would you prefer one of these designs?”

I begin to panic. I thought he was just looking for feedback. Not another damn range of options. Will I ever get my coffee? Is this the Café California?

“No. I don’t care. It’s going in my purse.”

I’m mystified as to the possible importance of the card design to a blatantly scruffy, middle-aged woman (well, I’m a writer, innit?) who has already declared her complete lack of commitment. I’m not sure how he came to the conclusion it was the design of the card itself that was putting me off. But here we are. I fatefully uttered the magic words, “Please can I have a latte?” We are now hurtling through the portal to the Magical Land of Accessories, where we all love shopping till our arms drop off. Thank the gods I stopped myself from facetiously asking for platypus milk with my daughter’s mocha. Who knows what twisted universe we might have ended up in.

“But look, you could get one to match your smartphone.”

Through gritted teeth, I just manage to keep my tone light, “I’m not remotely bothered. I’m not going to look at it. It’s just functional. To be honest, what’s wrong with just a basic loyalty card and a stamp?”

He reaches over to pick up a different card. Give me strength. I know he means well.

“No, really, this one is fine. Not another piece of plastic. Let’s save the planet.”

I just manage to stop myself gleefully blurting, “That’ll be 38 dollars,” as he finally turns his attention to the till. After all, there’s no need to be rude. Those card designs were pretty fabulous, darling.

©️Janey Colbourne 2018

P.S. Perhaps I should have shown him my smartphone.

“Have you got a card to match this please?”

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Why We Need International Women’s Day #IWD2018

So, this morning on social media, I saw these questions asked:

Why do we need International Women’s Day?
Why should we celebrate one gender over another?
Do we need to differentiate? Aren’t we all just the same?

I’d like to give an answer to that, and please hear me out. If you can’t bear to read statistics, although they are important, please jump to the last paragraph for my conclusion.

Aside from the answer that there is in fact an International Men’s Day, and the fact that there’s nothing wrong with celebrating diversity, here are a few reasons why we still need International Women’s Day:

“Around one third of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives.”

“In the majority of countries, less than 40 per cent of the women who experienced violence sought help of any sort.”

“In almost all countries with available data, the percentage of women who sought police help, out of all women who sought assistance, was less than 10 per cent. Women’s reluctance to seek help may be linked to the widespread acceptability of violence against women.”

“More than 125 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to female genital mutilation…”

“Across all sectors and occupations, women on average earn less than men; in most countries, women in full-time jobs earn between 70 and 90 per cent of what men earn.”

“…women are clearly underrepresented in fields related to science, engineering, manufacturing and construction. Women are also underrepresented in the more advanced degree programmes, especially in science-related fields, resulting in fewer women than men in research. Women account for 30 per cent of all researchers—an increase compared to previous decades but still far from parity.”

Source:
https://unstats.un.org/unsd/gender/worldswomen.html

“Two women are killed each week by a current or former partner in England and Wales”

“In the year ending March 2016, 1.2 million women reported experiences of domestic abuse in England and Wales…Whilst this number is shocking, we also know it is grossly underestimated. The cap on the number of violent crimes published, set at five per victim, means that even if a woman experienced 100 incidents of domestic violence, only five would make it into the official data. Thanks to research by Professor Sylvia Walby, we know that were the cap to be removed, the number of incidents of domestic violence would increase by approximately 70%.”

Source:
https://www.refuge.org.uk/our-work/forms-of-violence-and-abuse/domestic-violence/domestic-violence-the-facts/

“The CSEW estimated that 20% of women and 4% of men have experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16, equivalent to an estimated 3.4 million female victims and 631,000 male victims.”

“indecent exposure and unwanted sexual touching was experienced by around three times as many women as men (2.7% compared with 0.8%)”

“fewer than 0.1% of men had experienced rape or assault by penetration (including attempts) compared with 0.9% of women”

“Data from the Home Office Data Hub show that in the year ending March 2017, females were victims in 88% of rape offences recorded by the police, with the remaining 12% males”

Source:
https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/sexualoffencesinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2017#how-prevalent-are-sexual-assaults

“women were far more likely than men to be killed by partners/ex-partners (44% of female victims compared with 6% of male victims)”

“The majority (97%) of the female domestic homicide victims were killed by a male suspect, whereas among men, only around a third of domestic homicide victims were killed by a female suspect.”

Source:
https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/compendium/focusonviolentcrimeandsexualoffences/yearendingmarch2015/chapter2homicide#relationship-between-victim-and-principal-suspect

If only we were all the same, dear friend. If women could walk down the street, or start a relationship, and feel safe, if women could expect equal pay, if girls could grow up without early sexualisation and objectification of their bodies, if girls as young as 11 weren’t asked why they don’t shave their legs, if women in politics and the public eye could expect not to receive death threats simply for expressing themselves, if the #metoo campaign was not experiencing a backlash of misogynistic hate and victim blaming, if speaking out didn’t result in minimising, mocking and denial, if perpetrators were no longer treated as the victims, if girls like Jade Hameister, the youngest person ever to ski to both the North and South Poles, wasn’t told to ‘make me a sandwich’ (see her awesome response HERE ), then perhaps we could say we don’t need International Women’s Day any more. I look forward to that day.

©Janey Colbourne 2018

Janey Colbourne

I’m taking part in Papergirl Blackburn this year. Artists of all kinds donate work to be exhibited and then given away to members of the public.

PAPERGIRL BLACKBURN

Artist: Janey Colbourne

I am primarily a writer and musician but I’m a very visual thinker with a vivid imagination. I meditate and practise shamanic journeying and I like to walk in the woods and talk to the plants. I sometimes draw pictures of my visions and dreams. My octopus sketch is my attempt to capture the spirit of a dream I had about a baby octopus that wanted to be rescued and taken to the ocean. It was a significant dream that I wanted to share because of the feeling it gave me. This baby octopus is overflowing with unconditional love.

I drew the picture on my iPad with my finger. Although the drawing is very simple I think I have captured the mood of the dream. I awoke with such a lovely feeling that stayed with me, I’d like to pass that feeling on.

I also like to…

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My #songs and #spokenword on YouTube

I’m building up a bit of a collection of my songs and spoken word poetry on my YouTube channel Janey Colbourne Poet-Seer. A few of the songs are based on poems from one of my poetry collections, which are available in print and in Kindle format from Amazon. Here is a selection of some of my songs. Click on each image to go to the songs.

falling free

bad boy freckleface creative nation

Images by Janey Colbourne with PicsArt 2017

All content © Janey Colbourne 2017

 

Writer’s Block: are you procrastinating, or is it a necessary fallow period?

Some successful writers subscribe to the view that we should sit down and write every day, no matter what, even when inspiration is absent. There is of course value in this, and it may stimulate the flow. After all, as they say, “you can’t edit a blank page”. However, personally I’m not going to sit down and write hours of bullshit, just to throw it away. I know when I have something to say. When I haven’t, then I have a number of options. It may be a good day for editing. When the mind is not in ‘the zone’ it may instead be in a suitably critical state for proof reading and editing. Other days may be reading days. The life of a writer is not spent solely in writing. Ideas have to come from somewhere. To be a writer requires being comfortable with hours of solitude, and although our imaginations may be extremely fertile, at some point if we never come out of the house, and never see people, we have nothing to feed our work. When I have a fallow period, it may signify a need to broaden my perspective, to get out of the inside of my own head, to stimulate my mind through engaging with the world. It is important, however, to recognise when really we are procrastinating and making excuses to ourselves. If we have not written for a while, then a bit of self-discipline and courage to get started with some writing of whatever quality, may break through the inertia. Writing a journal is a good way to maintain regular writing without pressure, and may yield a few gems. Other forms of creativity can also awaken the muse. Self-care is as important as it is in any career. Personally, meditation and walking in nature are my sources of sustenance and sanity, and at times, direct inspiration. Whatever you need to do, do it. Let’s call it a ‘research day’.

© Janey Colbourne 2016

Book review: The Mindful Writer by Dinty W. Moore

‘The Mindful Writer’ is written by Dinty Moore, a well established author and writing teacher. Moore is a Buddhist, but it is certainly not necessary to be a Buddhist to find inspiration from these widely applicable words of wisdom from successful writers. The author was already discovering Buddhist truths in his process of writing before he became a Buddhist. He says that his work is not so much influenced by his Buddhism, as that his writing process is confirmed by Buddhist philosophy. There is very little direct mention of Buddhism and his warm, compassionate writing style is very appealing.

This is a mindfully written book about mindfulness. As a writer myself, who writes from the heart, I was very interested to read it, and I was not disappointed. I would highly recommend this book for any aspiring writer, for those looking for fresh inspiration, or for those times of stagnation and ‘writer’s block’. It is also nice to read confirmation of your own process. I like the format; in the main section of the book each chapter begins with a quote by a famous writer, followed by discussion. The book ends with a chapter of prompts for mindful writing, which are useful for getting started or shifting blocks. The style is easy to read and digest.

What made this book stand out for me was that Moore focuses on the deeper meanings and inner process of being a writer, the heart of it, rather than the technical skills. On the qualities needed to be a writer he says, “Are you still insatiably curious…Are you feeling as well as thinking…to be so open that it actually does hurt?” Moore writes on finding your authentic voice, freedom, opening the heart and writing for the love of it, but points out, “Write with your passionate heart, but edit with your calm brain”.

There are also practical suggestions, such as the quote from William Faulkner, “kill your darlings”, meaning that there may be times you have to find the courage to cut even writing that you love, if it does not fit. Sometimes being too precious about certain passages or phrases may actually hold us up from moving forward.

You know it’s a worthwhile book when you want to highlight almost every sentence. There are many humorous metaphors and clever analogies that ring true. For example, “It helps me to think that I have a certain number of bad sentences stacked up inside of me…and they have to come out, like the dried glue often found at the tip of the tube; dried glue that has to be squeezed through the hole before you can access the good glue necessary to finish your current project.”

I would say much of the philosophy and advice in this book is relevant to most forms of creative endeavour, not just writing. Overall a great read and would make a good gift for the writer in your life.

Janey Colbourne 2016