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Cars and shades as the language of lifestyle

Lifestyle. That's what it is all about apparently. We poor saps who slog away in education have got it wrong. Education, education, education is nowhere near the top of people's priorities.

I have it on good authority from a man who works in advertising and public relations that "lifestyle" is what turns the British public on.

When you and I buy a book, a pair of sunglasses, a car or a chargrilled chicken, mango and pineapple dinner for one, are we in fact purchasing these actual objects? No, we are not.

According to my advertising chum, we are actually selecting a lifestyle, and that is what the decision to purchase is all about.

The advertising and PR industry spends a fortune trying to find out about people's actual and preferred lifestyles.

The outcome of this assiduous enquiry is a proliferation of adverts that are often more about people's dreams and aspirations than about the products themselves.

Look through any set of adverts and you will see this current orthodoxy shining through. One book club advert stresses the friends your children will make if they read the right books.

You thought that sunglasses were what you wore to keep the sun out of your eyes? Poor fool. Expensive sunglasses are for sad people who believe that they will bring success with the opposite sex, though quite how a piece of twisted metal and tinted glass can compensate for an inadequate personality and halitosis is beyond me.

Car ads suggest not only power and control, but being abroad, somewhere on the Mediterranean or in the mountains. The writers of these minor literary masterpieces have conveniently forgotten traffic jams to Dover, evil cross-Channel-ferry fish and chips, lorry drivers blockading the port on the other side and the ludicrous price of motorway tolls.

Advertisers' obsessions with lifestyles have led to a whole new genre of newspaper supplement. Weekend newspapers in particular have so many pretentious lifestyle supplements it is quite an art to find the news or the particular bits you want. Indeed, The Times Educational Supplement has its own batch of pull-outs. Only a lifestyle supplement is missing - until today, that is ...

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