How to Intellectualise Shopping: Maslow Part 2

Dull people are more than happy to make sure that only their lower order needs are met. You will know these people as they are badly dressed and do not have lamps. Lamps are useful in the home as they create ambience, without which it is possible to see enlarged pores and dog stains. Many of us however, once we are satisfied that we are no longer hungry, and have a chimnea, seek out shopping opportunities that meet Maslow’s higher orders: self esteem, and self-actualization.


Many men love standing outside clothes shops. This is because they have not yet discovered that buying and wearing nice clothes makes you feel better about yourself. Nor have they discovered that when you are too fat to fit into anything, your self-esteem can be substantially boosted by the purchase of earrings, which always fit (footnote: for fat days there is always magic underwear. This is underwear that diverts all of your fat towards your ankles and creates panic when you (a) think its never coming off and (b) might be seen by a boyfriend). The acquisition of accessories is not a new development as even in the olden days women took a huge amount of pleasure in a new ribbon (cf Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn and how the bad ’un horse thief Jem woos poor Mary Yellan with a ribbon for her bonnet (footnote: this may have been a euphemism). People who live in places such as Boredom-on-the-Water and Slow-on-the-Wold are impressed still by ribbons but this is only because they have not yet discovered gladiator sandals) (footnote: Gladiators simply loved sandals. At first they found all the straps a proper palaver, but soon invented a zip at the back to make taking them off much easier, and more importantly, getting them on quickly enough to fight lions and Kirk Douglas. When the Romans invaded Britain they only thought to bring sandals and it has been suggested that the fall of the Roman Empire was in part due to the fact that Ugg boots hadn’t yet been invented and the British winters were parky)

The other reason men love standing outside shops is because they have no interest whatsoever in what they wear. Whilst women have many choices about what to dress themselves in, men have to be content with what amounts basically to a variation on a top and a bottom. This then has led to apathy and can be seen by the number of abandoned multipacks of underpants and socks scattered near the tills at Marks and Spencer: men are far too busy doing important jobs to queue and quite frankly who can blame them? If the call comes to rescue a kitten on which you are going to have to perform open heart surgery, and there’s a customer in front of you, your underpants are going to have to take a back seat. Shops have totally failed to recognize that men are impatient shoppers and persist in making their clothes shopping experience as difficult as possible. In clothes shops and department stores, where women (who honestly will make an effort) only really have to stumble from the street into retail mecca, men will be forced to go upstairs.

To alleviate this problem it should be possible for men to buy, from the internet, and ideally through the Screwfix site, a Bloke In A Box: an entire clothing kit to see your average man through at least one year. This Bloke In A Box would contain:

  • 12 pairs of pants: some men may see this as excessive, especially as only three pairs will become favourites
  • 17 socks (assorted): there is no need for matching pairs
  • Five work shirts, two going-out shirts and one casual shirt. These are, in effect, all the same shirt
  • One suit: suitable for weddings, funerals and court appearances
  • Two pairs of jeans: ill-fitting
  • 87 t-shirts
  • Two pairs of trainers (one clean, one paint spattered)



Maslow believed that once all our shopping needs were met, we would then be motivated to find retail opportunities that enable us to strive to be the people we want to be.

For those of us whose parents lived through the Second World War, there were really only three major food groups: meat, vegetables, and evaporated milk. All meals were therefore constructed around these choices with only minor variations, although an element of daring had entered British cuisine with the Vesta beef curry, tinned spaghetti and the hostess trolley. In only one generation, our diet has been transformed. Although our parents regarded foreign food as something not to be trusted, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican and Italian cuisines have become our new staples. An Indian friend of mine said that on Fridays she lets her kids eat English food “you know, lasagne stir-fry, whatever”. Despite the choice over what we can eat, and when we can eat it, we never cease striving for more, and so our self-actualization leads us into the world of Gwyneth Paltrow.

Gwynnie says that her passion for food came after having a panic attack at a dinner party, and in her manic state inadvertently named her children Apple and Microsoft, and said she would die rather than feed them Cup a Soup (footnote: we are too busy to call it Cup of Soup). Her cookbook shows us just how dewy and glowing she is now, a huge improvement on the old and withered crone she used to be. A typical Gwynnie recipe looks like this:

Remove your make up and slip into an oversized chambray shirt and a floppy hat, pop on a Coldplay CD, and take a few sprigs of cilantro and add a teaspoon of chipotle in adobo and blend with a handful of goji berries and arugula. Enjoy!

Obviously only Gwynnie knows what any of these foods are. We are however, very excited about Quinoa (pronounced Queen Latifah). For millennia, people have foolishly diced with wheat, and simply did not realise how dangerous it was. This explains why people in the west are extinct. Luckily Gwynnie has helped us see the error of our ways, and uses so much Quinoa that she even has recipes for leftover Quinoa, although she seems not to have realised that there is a reason why it is left over. She’s a lovely woman, and obviously very concerned about global poverty since she saw it written on her husband’s hand. The price of a Quinoa crop is around $6000 per ton compared to $300 per ton of wheat. Luckily, we eat so much of it now that the nice people in the Andes have been able to give up eating it themselves, sell it on to us, and start eating Cup a Soup.



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