The Big Issue : Edition 480
THEBIGISSUE20MAR–2APR2015 13 Which, I should tell you, are a very stubborn flower. I also watch the telly. But I do have a Marxist impatience with capitalism. And I don’t just mean I agree with his important ideas about the base of injustice and its supporting ideology. I mean this as a shopper. Recently, I became ready to storm the winter palace, aka a sports store fitting room. I had visited an ordinary shop in order to buy a brassiere for running and I found myself wanting to shout, “There is a spectre haunting your stupid shop! It is the spectre of communism!” From the minute I stepped into this edifice of fitness until I slithered out, sans bra, I was given the impression that no one wanted my money. The store was fairly empty and music was blaring. Some young thing was singing about strong feelings and empowerment, and the store clerks, of which there were about 17, lacked even the most basic sales skills but were very gifted at looking disgusted. They were all wearing $200 tracksuits and had perfected a look of disgust that must have taken years of practice. I asked: “Where are your sports bras?” A young man replied, “over there” while pointing wildly at everything. He might as well have said: “Your breasts are not wanted in this business.” Perhaps I was insufficiently young or insufficiently fit. But, whatever the case, it was clear I fell outside whatever the youngsters had agreed was their market. With every gesture – and these were all very exhausted and slow for a group of people presumably selected for their interest in fitness – they said “get out get out GET OUT”. Now I don’t really mind being disliked by idiots and I am, in fact, quite inured to the concept of inciting disgust. But I do mind the sacrifice of my time, which could be better spent trying to understand Karl Marx or, more likely, germinating delphiniums. I have noticed that some ultra- premium stores in shopping centres now employ bouncers. Although it is ludicrous to see a velvet rope and a red carpet and a man who had protein powder for morning tea, instead of biscuits, in front of a business that asks for a thousand dollars per T-shirt, it is more efficient for the customer. If one is denied entry, then one does not waste one’s time. But middle-range or discount stores that employ a sort of retroactive door policy once you cross the threshold are a waste of my afternoon. If you don’t want me in your stupid shop to buy your stupid lycra, tell me before I disburse a half-hour trying to understand your fictional sizing system. All I want is to put my norks somewhere safe so they don’t fly away while jogging, and I would appreciate it if this process could be as painless as possible for both of us. Of course, it rarely is. And it’s in these moments that the logic of capitalism undoes itself. You can’t make me want/ need an item and then refuse to sell it to me while still hoping to survive. Anyhow. I think I’ll get a specialty tailor to make me a bespoke sports bra with the text of Volume I of Capital stitched onto it with my beard hair. I imagine this is probably easier than managing a simple purchase in the contemporary mall. “All I want is to put my norks somewhere safe so they don’t fly away while jogging...” RAZER No Visible Means of Support PHOTOGRAPHSBYJAMESBRAUND TO BE HONEST, Karl Marx and I have little in common. While it’s true that, as I age, I could cultivate a thatch of white Marxist chin whiskers, I tend to have these removed by my beautician. Karl, to the best of my knowledge, did not wax and, if he did, never posed for a picture before regrowth. So, apart from the (potential) beard and a reported fondness for staying indoors, we can’t really be compared. Marx, of course, was a brilliant optimist who reworked the thought of one of the great thinkers, Hegel, to provide an enduring description of industrial markets. He was the father of sociology. I, by contrast, spend much of my time germinating delphiniums. » Helen Razer is a writer and thinker who knows a lot more about the propagation of plants than most runners.