Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Am I mad or is the world insane? ("Why not buy" suggestions)

I went to the website of a well known high street retailer, (who I will not embarass by naming, let's just it starts with 'T'. And rhymes with Fresco) seeking to buy a small bookcase. I found something suitable and placed an order. Let me repeat this for the sake of clarity: I bought a bookcase.

The website acknowledged my order for a bookcase and then displayed on the screen a recommendation for something I might wish to buy, based, in their words, on my selection. My selection, let me remind you, was a bookcase. [OK, we get the picture: Ed]

The item actually recommended for me, based on my order of ... well, you know what it was ... was a CD entitled If I can dream: Elvis Presley with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Let us leave aside the fact that Mr. Presley never performed with this orchestra (he never even bothered to perform in the UK) for this hot waxing consists of a mix of old recordings of him singing and some more recent ones of them playing the accompaniment, or so I gather from the description since I have not bothered to listen to it. Why on earth anyone would concoct such a musical abortion is beyond even my fervid imagination.

What is really boggling my mind is how these two items, the ordinary piece of furniture, and the utterly pointless remix, go together in such a way that having bought one, the algorithms used by the retailer should suggest the other. Perhaps the fact that there is an 'E' in both descriptions? Did the King, as I am told some of his adherents describe him, own a really important bookcase that fans are keen to emulate? Anyway, here are some more sensible ideas:
  • Some paint or varnish to brighten up the shelves
  • Some books to place decoratively upon them
  • A late Victorian-style carriage clock
  • A vase or other ornament
  • A book entitled "50 cheap books to buy and put on your newly acquired bookcase so as to impress your friends"
This latter would surely rank highly in any computer-based scoring system seeking to build upon my consumer preferences.  But no, I was offered none of these products. Instead I was directed to a recording by a popular artist not one of whose works subsides in my collection, who failed utterly to impress me when he was alive and I was young and impressionable during the height of his success in the late 1950s and 1960s, and whose musical style is as remote from the stuff I listen to as to make comparisons pointless.

Or is it me? The next time I buy a sofa must I also get The Sex Pistols Greatest Hits performed by the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain? Does a tin of beans qualify me for Bach B Minor Mass with special guest stars Madonna, Adele, Rihanna, Dido and Lady Gaga? Should I be going "Yes, yes, I want to buy a table lamp, now rush me my 50 popular football chants by Coldplay and the massed bands of the RAF? Oh well, at least I can stack them all on my new bookcase.

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