How true do you find the above saying? And is it just me, or are you also finding that it seems to be more of the norm these days when it comes to purchasing good and services. For instance how about the ‘free’ meal offers that seem to be all over the place? Don’t you find that these turn out to be not such a good deal as they are alluded to in the first instance? The cost of the starter you have to buy to be entitled to use your voucher and the overpriced drinks make up for any ‘savings’ made. Or how about the new revolutionary fad diet that promises fast results, but actually only has me losing pounds out of my purse buying the accompanying DVD and stocking the shelf with foodstuffs I would not have otherwise thought to buy? And another classic… the tortuous body undergarment that promises to create smooth lines and a flat stomach, but forgets to mention that if you squeeze flesh into any tight space it doesn’t just disappear. It has to spill out somewhere. Hardly flat or smooth! But I shan’t tell you any more; rather let you create your own image. Only to say that it looked nothing like the very attractive picture on the packaging that persuaded me to buy the garment in the first place… There again, what about the face cream that promises to iron out wrinkles? It’s only discovered, after purchase, that the model whose picture ‘sold’ it to me had been photo-shopped. The mascara that is also supposed to give me the equivalent of giraffe-length eye lashes was the same. But being wiser this time, I was able to point out the miniscule disclaimer to my daughter who was pouring over the advertisement; dreaming of spending her pocket-money on it. And get this… the offer of a free night in a hotel, which turns out to be nothing of the sort when you are told that you have to buy a second night at a highly inflated rate! My latest ‘it’s too good to be true’ experience was when I came to cash in some ‘free air miles’ in exchange for a free flight. The cost of airport taxes and handling charges made it anything but. These are only a few of the examples. Don’t you wish that people were more honest and up-front, rather than wasting time in leading us up the garden path? Or am I just being old-fashioned here and actually it’s all about maximizing profit and ignoring the human element?
A slightly different version of the above saying was used by Mark Twain in 1876 in his novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He wrote then: ‘It’s too good for true, it’s too good fortune’. For those who don’t know of this book, it’s a story about a young boy called Huckleberry who, in the company of a runaway slave, makes moral choices based on friendship and human worth; decisions which are made in direct opposition to the things he has been taught. When the book was first published it was branded as ‘coarse trash’. By way of a protest nine years later, copies were removed from library shelves. Rubbished it might have been in its early days, still regarded as offensive even now, it was in fact removed from USA school reading lists as late as 2009. However it still manages to sell about 200,000 copies each year. It would seem that not only does sex sell books (see previous post). So does material considered to be of an abrasive and controversial nature.
Another way of paraphrasing ‘If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is’ is with the comment: ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’… a topical point to note for anyone following the UK Beef/Horse meat scandal. For those who are not, let me bring you up to speed. In the UK, along with other European countries, officials have recently made the shocking discovery that many of our ‘beef’ meat products like burgers, lasagne, kebab, meat balls etc. consist either in part, or in one case 100%, horse meat. The question of the products being fit for human consumption is not the biggest part of the debate. It is the revelation of the audacity of some and the extent of the deception. We have clearly not been getting what we thought we were buying. Too good to be true? Food too cheap and convenient perhaps, but what about the respect for our fellow human beings?
Another example of ‘being too good to be true’ is said to be Kate Middleton; Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William. Says who? Hilary Mantel for one. She recently described Kate as a ‘shop-window mannequin’; a woman who has been so well-groomed for her royal role that she has no emergence of character. Harsh perhaps, but isn’t Kate just trying to present to us the image of the woman she thinks we want to see? No doubt in the fullness of time we as a nation will behave as if shocked and utterly astounded when Kate reacts or behaves ‘out of character’, as if it was not to be expected.
So tell me… how does a genuine product, that does not exploit sex or use offensive language, win people’s attention in today’s market? How does a product that has not been dumbed down so as to appeal to the masses get a look in… especially when it seems that our attention is too easily attracted to the products that are glitzily wrapped? Such products often lead us to disappointment when we concede that they were indeed, but only usually after we have parted with our cash or wasted time pursing them, ‘too good to be true’ after all.
This is the predicament I am in, having written the book; ‘Alice Wakes Up’ (which I am pleased to say will soon be available on Amazon and through the website www.jaynefranks.com … more on this soon). ‘Alice Wakes Up’ has not been written by a mind that puts the words down on the page in order to conform to publishing rules and expectations. Nor have I created a plot that exploits sex or controversy as a hook to entice some to part with their cash. It is a book that has not been written from a perspective of what I think you would expect to read in a novel, an autobiography or self-help book. That’s not my style. It’s all three to be honest, but being dyslexic I suppose I tend to do a lot of things unconventionally. This is a book that genuinely wants to entertain, yet also be thought-provoking. It invites and challenges the reader to think beyond the surface of the story. It is a novel that illustrates, through the language of autobiography, the idea that if we learn to recognise our own thinking patterns we can learn to practice ‘shifting our attention’. If you are someone who is looking for new choices and new experiences in life, then this book could well be a genuine and honest agent for eliciting self-discovery and change.