It's a familiar scenario. I arrive home from work, have a couple of glasses of wine to wind down and decide to relax for an hour by surfing the internet. That's where the trouble starts. The alcohol loosens my inhibitions and suddenly it seems like a good idea to order a DVD of The Cruel Sea.
This must be what it's like to have an affair. First there's the excitement of the moment, followed by the regret and guilt the following morning. Finally, there's the moment of reckoning when your partner discovers what you've done.
During the last few months I've ordered the following:
- A wall clock featuring the animated characters from the BBC series Life on Mars
- A meteorite
- A CD of Finnish accordion music
- A boxed DVD set of the first series of Starsky and Hutch
- A Queen Elizabeth I silver sixpence
- An LP of Hilding Rosenberg's 8th Symphony
But it's not all regret and guilt. I love my meteorite and get a thrill every time I hold the sixpence in my hand and imagine all of the other people who have possessed it. I have also bought some really good things on the internet during my nocturnal shopping trips in cyberspace. Perhaps my best purchase was a pair of Doc Marten shoes that were produced for the Royal Mail and are still in perfect condition after two years' constant use.
However, there should be some software available that makes it harder to buy things over the internet after 6.00 in the evening. Every time I decide to buy something, I'd like to see a little pop-up box that says 'Do you really need it?', 'Where will you put it?' 'Will you be any happier if you buy it?' and 'Can you afford it?' The software would also refuse to process my purchases until I'd had 12 hours to think about it.
That makes sense.