Thursday, 26 April 2018

A nice problem

There’s a down side to comping: it develops tastes, creates needs.

Take confectionery, for example. It wasn’t so long ago that my idea of aspirational candy was a chocolate Matterhorn. That was back when duty-free shops the world over made like Fort Knox and stacked their king-size Toblerones like gold bars, and Alan Partridge scarfed a lap-full while driving barefoot to Dundee. Without doubt, Toblerone was the acme of sophistication.

These days, however, it's become a staple. Partly that’s because I can get my fix at Poundland, and partly that’s because I have over the last few years won a silly amount of top-end chocolate.

This year, in particular, my wins have become increasingly fancy (or increasingly grown-up, as my lad might say), culminating most recently in this great stack from Octo.

Clearly, this is made for posher folk than I. Consider, if you will, Exhibit A: this 100 g bar of raw white chocolate with salted pistachios retails at £8.50! Translated into Toblerone, that kind of dough would score a kilo of chocolate with enough change for post-binge Alka-Seltzer.

Raw white chocolate

You can probably see where I’m going with this - yep, it’s one of those problems that gets little sympathy: I’m becoming a chocolate snob - worse, a cocoa bore. I’m currently so flushed with the stuff that I’m sprinkling my morning porridge with goji berries coated in raw chocolate. I look like a right middle class ponce, even though I wouldn’t recognise a goji berry if I woke up in a sack of them.

My so-called problem is by no means limited to sugar and spice. I recently won some serum - man serum, to be precise. I was planning to let my wife use it, but at her behest I gave it a go. Which is to say, at her behest and under her direction, as I had not the first clue what it was for or how it should be applied given that my skincare regime had never graduated beyond patching cracked fingers with hand cream.
The serum I won
Fancy serum
And here we are: one week of half-heartedly following her guidance and the dry, flaky bags under my eyes are now just regular bags, albeit marginally less creased. Which is great - but given that childcare commitments mean I can work only part-time, the idea of ponying up £50 for another 30 ml of this elixir gives me the heebie jeebies.

That said, it could be worse. During the advents, I won a month’s worth of la-di-da serum for my wife. It retails at £200, which in terms of sustainability presents a lifestyle choice between slightly smoother skin and feeding our children.

REALLY la-di-da serum
Insanely fancy serum
Suddenly, my Toblerone habit pales into insignificance.

Has comping actually driven up your consumption of things you once considered luxuries?! Let me know in the comments below!


  1. We've had a similar 'problem' - my friends joke about how after all the nice hotel stays we've won somehow travelodge just doesn't cut it anymore! lol. They also think I'm a grocery snob for shopping at waitrose sometimes - but the reality is that in the past I've often won john lewis vouchers which i can then spend on food shopping at waitrose so that is why i end up there. In reality the wins are a bonus of course and actually I'm just as happy with travelodge as i am with a 5 star hotel if need be. Posh chocolate is definitely a good thing though!!!

    1. We stayed in the Bellagio once (not a prize!) and the room had a remote control so you could open the curtains without getting out of bed. It's now a running joke that if we're staying somewhere with manually operated curtains (ie everywhere we've stayed since) then we're slumming it! The truth is though, whether we stay in a Travelodge or the Savoy, my kids will give me a rotten night's sleep, so why spend more?! :D

      Nice tip on spending the John Lewis vouchers at Waitrose - I hadn't thought of that!

  2. oh god yes once I won an amazing bundle of skincare products from Kiehls. I've not been able to find any products that are reasnobly priced that are anywhere near as good so I've had to purchase more this year!

    1. Once you notice the difference, it's so hard to go back! This reminds me of the freebie razor I once "won" - the Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5. It costs at least twice as much as what I was using previously (which was already a galling amount to spend) but it never nicks and never gives razor burn - unlike my old one. I may be smoother now, but I'm definitely poorer...