Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Lucy Mangan: "The principle of online shopping is not a new thing"

hero.jpg
lucy-hero.jpg

"My husband is baffled by the number of parcels that come to the house. All for me. All from somewhere lovely and filled with lovely things. Clothes and toys for the toddler from gap and John Lewis. Boringly sensible but satisfying tights and underwear from m&S. Less sensible but even more satisfying tops, trousers and bags from topshop, asos, hush and atterley road (so far I just look at Net-a-porter, but one far-distant day, when disposable income and dietary discipline allow, I shall make my move – there’s no point going into debt for clothes, nor in ruining the line of something beautiful with thighs that require separate postcodes). And of course, there’s my amazon habit. I know I shouldn’t – tax-avoiding, indie-everything-smashing juggernaut that it is – but I can’t go cold turkey now. I suppose ocado is for both of us, but as I choose everything, I feel – as I do with the toddler – that it’s really all mine.

‘You weren’t a shopper when we first met,’ says the husband, stepping over cardboard boxes spilling tissue paper everywhere. ‘What happened?’

What happened to me is the same thing that has happened to most of us over the last few years and that makes online shopping predicted to be worth £50 billion a year by 2018 – it just got so much easier. So much easier than it was at the beginning, when you could only do it from a desktop (which meant doing it secretly at work, missing your lunch hour or isolating yourself from the rest of the family to commune with the pC at home) and so much easier full stop than going to the shops. At the moment one in every £10 spent is spent online – by 2018 it will probably be one in every seven. Now we can shop literally from the sofa, with our smartphones and tablets. We can shop while watching television. We are living the dream.

Our grandmothers used to get everything delivered

Of course, we are living a dream that previous generations would have called absolute and utter normality. Our mothers lived out of catalogues. Grattan, Kays, Freemans, Littlewoods, Clothkits – these are names from the darkness of the Seventies that make the spirits of the unfortunates thereby clad quake still. our grandmothers used to get everything delivered. Food and everything else would be ordered from shops – face to face, if you can imagine such a thing, or by a phone call (after which the ‘receiver’ was replaced on the ‘cradle’) and brought to the house by a delivery boy or van. Ancient, ancient technology, but the principle’s the same. You stay put, retailers bring stuff to you.

The modern part isn’t really the shiny tablet, it’s not having to wear a nice twinset and matching lipstick for when parcel carriers arrive who know your name and could blight your reputation for villages around if the door is answered by a woman in a tea-stained onesie. and now we sit, doing pretty much exactly the same thing and feeling like we’re about to burst with clever modernity.

It’s just like when Jamie oliver ‘discovered’ lamb shanks, or the green lobby went mad over baking soda as a replacement for all known cleaners. this was not new knowledge. this was knowledge mislaid by an entire generation. See also: privatising the NHS, scrunchies (missoni have designed one) and feminism. humanity – we is idiots. Well, not idiots exactly, but certainly Quite Stupid, shorttermist and not very keen to put into practice the idea of history as linear progress. Why do we keep reinventing so many wheels? Why do we have no collective memory of how things used to be? I have a feeling that we used to. I don’t know of course – I can’t remember, and if there’s anything out there that I’m supposed to be absorbing by cultural osmosis, I’m too busy clicking on links to kittens in glass bowls from my sofa to do so.

Ah, well. We may all be disaffected, unwitting members of a mass engagement in infinite retrogression hung about with a few distracting baubles, but not to worry. Look, here comes the courier with my new bag!”

Related

rexfeatures-1562245a.jpg

Lucy Mangan: "Bridget doesn’t speak for us all"

rexfeatures-3055306h.jpg

Lucy Mangan: "Leave politicians’ wives out of it"

rexfeatures-832838a.jpg

Lucy Mangan: "We can cap house prices? WTF?"

Comments

More

Lucy Mangan: “Why I regret losing my religion”

"The older I get and the more chaotic the world gets, the more I wish I could trust in a higher power."

by Lucy Mangan
03 May 2017

Lucy Mangan exposes the dangers of parental point scoring

“Enough of this parent worship”

by Lucy Mangan
01 May 2017

“Family planning: the equality question”

Lucy Mangan on the burden of contraception

by Lucy Mangan
01 Apr 2017

Lucy Mangan on why feeling beautiful starts with your thoughts

“Erase the ugly voices in your head”

by Lucy Mangan
01 Apr 2017

“A step-by-step guide to sexism”: Lucy Mangan responds to ‘Legs-it’

You are a lady and you have legs. Use them to kick ass.

by Lucy Mangan
01 Apr 2017

“If you need me, I’ll be in the woods”

Lucy Mangan on the joy of being alone

by Lucy Mangan
01 Mar 2017

Lucy Mangan explains how a tragic event can actually unite us all

“Amidst polarising opinion, we are still united”

by Lucy Mangan
01 Mar 2017

“Brace yourself – it’s time we had the baby chat”

Lucy Mangan on why it’s fine to not want children

by Lucy Mangan
01 Mar 2017

“You can take your heels and...”

Lucy Mangan on the high heels debate

by Lucy Mangan
01 Mar 2017

“All hail the big cosmetic surgery U-turn”

Lucy Mangan on a welcome change in the fashion and beauty industry

by Lucy Mangan
03 Feb 2017