A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times


If, like me, you find time passing by ever more quickly, then I’ve found a brilliant new solution for you all. Simply get yourself a rowing machine. I’ve had one for quite some time now, it was originally my parent’s, and its effect on the passage of time is really quite extraordinary.

You see, if you just flop into your favourite armchair to watch a TV programme, half an hour passes by before you even know it, but set the timer to 30 minutes on the rowing machine or any other piece of exercise equipment for that matter, and it’s like time is all of a sudden, standing totally still. And if you could somehow re-create that effect across your whole life, I’m sure you would live to be about 297… or at least it would feel like it.

And it has another strange effect too.

Because it has also turned me into quite an obsessive reader of food labels whenever I’m at the supermarket.

You see, the rowing machine has an on-board computer which measures the number of calories burned away during your exercise. I know for example, that I will burn away about 400 calories in a half an hour programme.

Remember though, that this isn’t just a regular half-hour. It’s a rowing machine half-hour, which is an awful lot longer in real terms. So when I look at the label on a cream cake, and it tells me there are 425 calories in it, you can bet your life that I’m going to think very carefully about whether I really want to eat it or not…

Because I now know the ‘real price’ it will cost me… more than half an hour’s hard labour on that bloody rowing machine.

Now I know a lot of people think that this sort of behaviour is a little somewhat extreme, but to me it seems to be perfectly logical. I mean, when you go into a shop, do you not automatically look at the prices anyway – what you’ll have to give up - before deciding whether to buy or not? Do you not compare the prices of different items to see which offers the you best value?

Well I do the same thing while in Marks and Spencer when I look at the number of calories in two different ready-made sandwiches for example… the tuna mayonnaise will cost me 22 minutes of hard labour while the BLT costs me nearly twice as much at 47 minutes of blood sweat and tears.

So there really is no contest.

Now I doubt that you have a great deal of interest in my own specific diet, but I think that this idea of knowing the ‘real price’ of things can have many wider implications too. It can certainly be used as a very powerful tool of persuasion for you.

For instance, if you’re trying to persuade someone to take or avoid a particular course of action, then spelling out the overt or hidden ‘real price’ of going against what you want, can usually be very effective. And that could be a financial price, an inconvenience price, a hard work price, a health price, a personal freedom price, a status price or something else.

The point is that by not doing what you want, there will always be a price of some sort. You just need to spell out exactly what that price is going to be. Because, like most people when they eat a cream bun. They don’t know what the ‘real price’ actually is.

This is something that can also be effective in all forms of communication too… socially, at home, in the workplace and of course in any sales and marketing situations. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling by mail, on line, by telephone or face to face; simply highlighting the negative consequences - the ‘real price’ - of not taking the action you want, can often pay off in a big way.

And as I’ve recently found, when you’re selling to yourself (and that’s what you’re doing when you try to forego those high calorie foods) it helps if you have a very clear focus on the ‘real price’ of going against your own internal pitch.

Without a clear picture of the ‘real price’, there’s no other solid means of quantifying and comparing the benefits.

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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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