I’m re-reading Judith Levine’s “Not Buying It”, her record of a year long project to buy only the absolute essentials. Levine writes especially well about the ways in which consumption lubricates social interactions, with buying things – whether they be a meal together or cinema tickets – being central to our relationships with others. If we no longer consume as much, or start to consume in different ways, how does that impact our social position and connections with others? This question weighs heavily on my mind a lot, and my time in Gatwick airport this morning underlines my sense of increasing disenchantment. The whole place, ostensibly a holding bay for travellers, is like a mecca to shopping and booze. Aside from sitting still, there’s nothing one can do except buy stuff, or browse things that one could buy. And where else is it considered normal to order a pint of lager at 930?! Watching the numerous groups of stag and hen dos starting the weekend as they mean to go on, I admit I felt a pang of envy. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a relaxed relationship with either money or booze as they seemed to be exhibiting. And the sense of camaraderie amongst a large party is somewhat lacking when you’re travelling alone. They were buying and sharing, being joyful, communal, alive. As I looked around where I ate my lunch, I saw there were several lone travellers such as me. We were there, just less visible. Probably spending less. But living just as much, in our own quiet way.


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