Either I’m in the midst of a full-blown midlife crisis, or I am proof that propaganda does work, for how else to explain what’s been happening to me lately? As I wrote a few weeks ago, I thought I’d given up on self-improvement and made peace with my failings, but alas, it seems I am growing a conscience at the tender age of 47 and ¾.
Actually, I blame Brexit and climate change for the unnerving change in my conscience, two forces that have served to cement my misanthropic outlook on life. With my faith in humankind shattered, I have been unwittingly drawn to the animal world. Not only did I give up meat a few months ago, but more recently, I’ve declared to my family that I will no longer buy items made of genuine leather for myself.
As it happens, I have an indecent amount of leather bags, leather shoes and Smythson notebooks stuffed in wardrobes and drawers throughout my home, and my husband and daughters have banned me from making any new purchases. We also have two leather armchairs in the living room and sheepskin rugs, not to mention the leather jackets, leather gloves and my Canada Goose coat, which not only is filled with real down feathers sports a genuine fur trim on its hood. To declare that I won’t buy leather, therefore, is a bit rich.
Still, I cannot escape this voice inside me that recoils at the thought of animals being killed so that I can feed my obsession with the finer things in life. To make matters worse, I found myself cosying up to a friend’s dog the other day, despite my pet allergies, and later at home, I suddenly felt a longing for my own dog. A dog! Only when I reminded myself of how much I hate seeing dog poop on the streets, did I manage to suppress this, for me, wholly unnatural urge.
Yesterday I took my kids to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the two-part show that’s been an enormous success in the West End. The production was every bit as amazing as I’d heard, and I am not even a huge Harry Potter fan. Yet halfway through the first part of the show, I was distracted by some very unwelcome thoughts:
“Are those real leather shoes the actors are wearing? And what about the feathers on that costume?”
I looked down at my feet, clad in my favourite leather boots. A wave of guilt washed through me.
“Time to look for a vegan alternative.”
I never asked for this highly inconvenient development of my conscience, and if it doesn’t stop, I fear I’ll be a full-fledged vegan and card-carrying PETA member by the time I turn 50.