Present participle

I can resist everything except temptation.
Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)

A nice young man at Kings Cross station gives me three plastic wallets full of discount vouchers for the Guardian and Observer. I immediately start buying the Guardian every day – at 40p off, why not? I can stop any time I want to.

Whilst queuing at W H Smiths, paper under arm, I succumb to an offer to buy a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk Cranberry and Granola *and* a bar of Dairy Milk Apricot Crumble Crunch for just £1. ‘You can get a bar for nothing out on the concourse’ says another nice young man in the queue behind me. I ask him how he knows and he points to the legend on his Cadbury-purple sweatshirt: ‘Ask me for a free bar of Dairy Milk Cranberry and Granola or Apricot Crumble Crunch today!’ I buy my paper and follow him out onto the concourse where he meets up with his companions next to a purple pallet truck. I ask him for a free bar and he gives me three of each flavour. Result! (Delicious too – especially if accompanied by a banana.)

During the week, the paper twice carries coupons for a free coffee from Starbucks. As I carry my Bankside Starbucks cappuccino past Rosie Tate’s (my coffee-stop of choice), I instinctively hide the distinctive white and green take-away cup within my open coat. Rose Tate’s staff glower out at me accusingly. They see. They know. ‘Traitor!’ they think.

At the same time, the Daily Mail is giving away the self-styled ‘greatest 80’s CD collection’ one per day and The Luxury Gap by Heaven 17 is too good to miss for the price of a paper (especially track #5*). Unfortunately, the CD seems to have been mastered from a scratched LP or sampled from another CD at the wrong bit rate – all of which irritates me intensely. I demand my synthpop crystal clear or not at all!

The Guardian on Saturday weighs 1.2kg. Besides the main paper, I find at least seven pull-out supplements, an entertainment guide, a magazine and a book. I say ‘at least’ because the whole package has been assembled like a medieval multi-bird roast and I’m not sure I have reached the quail yet.

I read an article about ‘Diagonal Thinking’, a new aptitude test designed to identify those who are both logical and creative. “Anyone scoring more than 90% can print out an Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) certificate proving their scores and attach it to their CV,” says IPA director general, Hamish Pringle. Proof of talent will become, he reckons, “their passport to Adland”. I start to worry – what if I sit the test and fail? ‘If you’re just linear, you should … be an accountant’ says Pringle, helpfully.

The wallets invite me to request more vouchers through the web site and I am unable to resist. I look forward to receiving enough vouchers to stuff a sofa. Participating is exhausting and I need a sit down.


(*) The Luxury Gap by Heaven 17 – Track 5: “Temptation”

First posted: 28 September 2008 on

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