There are 72 different types of toothpaste invitingly positioned on the shelves in my local supermarket. I have a feeling of anxiety and a small panic attack as I near the aisle for dental hygiene. All I want to do is brush my teeth but I have to ask myself, do I want to Deep Clean and Whiten or would I be better off with just a Healthy Clean. There again, there is always Original Repair or I could fall back on everyone’s favourite Max Fresh which sounds like a character from a Marvel Comic.
I usually plump for any toothpaste that uses the word “sensitive” as I assume it’s made for the more artistic members of society like myself.
It’s the same when looking for a new car. Now dealers want you to “configure” your new chariot before you’ve crossed the threshold and they give you a “Why don’t you know what you want haven’t you studied our website yet?” look.
The options are bewildering. My local main dealer (Peugeot) printed out a small book about the size of a glossy magazine which listed all of the options available and each option apparently is going to immeasurably enrich the quality of my life. I think the implication is that if I don’t choose all of the options I would somehow be diminished as a person, ridiculed and ostracized by my peers. The situation would have been a little different 50 years ago.
Picture the scene as you went to your local B.M.C. agent. You might have intended to buy a Morris 1300 but you were seduced by the classic lines of the MGB GT you had your eye on. Your options would have been: colour, an ashtray, automatic transmission, radio and a heater.
One didn’t have to worry about which type of touchscreen, Bluetooth synced infotainment dashboard supercomputer control system or what size of alloy wheel and ultra-low profile tyre your new machine came with or if you needed heated six-way electrically adjustable seats.
I’m not confident that any of this stuff dramatically improves the way your car drives or as they say now, “enhances your interface with the road surface”.
I’m not some crusty old dinosaur who believes that everything new is not worthwhile but I’m not sure that more choice whether it’s in the supermarket or the local car dealer is enriching the quality of our lives.
Talking of supermarkets have you seen how many different types of dishwasher tablets there are?
All the brochures were lent to me by MG specialist Nigel Guild whose showroom, Former Glory is based at Postcombe 12 miles east of Oxford. OX9 7ED