Lush Unicorn's Horn: Western Privilege and Catholic Guilt

    Lush , as we all know, is a favourite destination for bloggers and young folk who love to pamper themselves. As many of this site's readers fit into one or both of these categories, this intrepid reporter decided to throw himself head-first into the renowned store in order to truly understand the phenomena and the peers with whom he shares a generation. Sadly, and as is so often the case in tales where fools rush in, this is a story in which the writer learnt more about himself than anything as pleasant as luxury indulgences or cosseted bath-times.

   For anyone who has every stepped foot in a Lush store, it goes without saying that each shop is an assault on the senses - primary colours, aromatic breezes and unburdensome sonic palettes flail gently at one's face like a bantamweight in the fifteenth round. No matter where one turns one's head, mountains of rainbow-bright luxury bath items are piled and ready to be sold to a clientele who wish for nothing more in life than ending each day soaked in a cocktail of herbal mixtures and hot water. We all have to try our best to forget that we are each alone and slowly decaying in an empty, Godless universe; doing so in a fizzy bath just makes the whole process a little bit more comfortable I guess.

   Alas, surrounded by young adults loading their baskets with shower gels and facial cleansers, I wondered desperately if there was a single soul who felt as I did in the store when a booming voice alerted me to a kindred spirit. The statement I overheard betrayed dual stereotypes belonging to both Yorkshire folk and obedient boyfriends dragged into Lush despite their clear lack of interest in rows upon rows of coddling luxuries:

   "That's a lot of money to spend on something to make water fizz."

   It would, to be frank, take a strange logic to deny how correct this assertion was. I'm not one of those folks who believes brands should give their products away for free - I entirely understand that each one of the creations on display requires craft, attention to detail and array of miscellaneous costs which add up and make each product an appropriate price on the market-place. Yet, away from commercial perspectives, the disgruntled boyfriend makes a good point - the items are fripperies at best, an over-bearing example of the flagrant narcissism which blights post-Enlightenment Western culture at worst.

Lush Leeds shelf
Image C/O: Adventures In Tea and Cake

   This was brought into context when, having purchased a handful of goods, I left the store and was greeted by the voice of a man sat outside on a pile of blankets. He was weathered around the eyes, unwashed and clearly homeless. In front of him was a crumpled paper cup with a smattering of coins inside - at most, the collection of coppers and loose change must have amounted to around two pounds. In Lush, this would not have gone far at all. Yet, here was a gentleman who didn't require anything as extravagant as fizzy water. Here was a gentleman lacking the fundamental basics each of us take for granted - a roof over our heads, companionship, running water and regular food.

   I scooped all the coins I had in my wallet, placing them gently inside his make-shift money-bank. "Thank you so much," he replied to my actions. "Have a nice evening." I was uncertain how to respond to this - I surely couldn't say the same back to a man in such a situation. I gargled a few vowels, nodded, and walked away, headed towards a home and the comfortable bed I sleep in every night.

   As I ran a bath a few days later, I took a small part of the Lush Unicorn's Horn I had previously purchased and sprinkled it into the running water. The cartoon-ish primary colours dissolved and dissipated, an aromatic lavender-based scent rose upwards - everything which, on paper, suggests a pleasing, stress-free experience is about to be had. Yet, as I lay still in a hot blanket of water, two sentences bounced back and forth in my head: "That's a lot of money to spend on something to make water fizz" came first.

   The second sentence, however, hit hardest and  caused me the highest degree of discontent. "Have a nice evening." I lay in a mountain of bubbles and guilt, realising that, despite my comfort, I was not enjoying myself. Furthermore: I shouldn't be so self-involved. Its not difficult to think of people having a much worse evening than I. The water turned cold and the bubbles faded; this was, at best, a temporary joy in a permanently amoral universe.

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