So far this year, I’ve written and sent off two letters of complaint (one of them I even printed out and regular posted, how’s that for dedication?). A (written) conversation with one company went a little like this:
Me: Dear Carman’s, All of your products taste exactly the same: Overpowering cinnamon flavour. Whatever the label says - be it ‘Apricot and Almond’ or ‘Fruit-Free’ or ‘Classic’ - the flavour of the bar/muesli inside will certainly be overpowering cinnamon. Would it be possible to use a little less cinnamon? Pretty please? I love your products (your fat, juicy muesli bars especially), but I don’t think I can ingest any more cinnamon without becoming incredibly sick and possibly needing hospitalisation.
Carman’s: Thanks so much for your email! Cinnamon’s kind of our trademark, though. Would you like us to send you a whole box full of Carman’s products that also taste exactly like you’re eating full sticks of cinnamon?
Me: Yes please.
Since starting this blog, I’ve noticed that words come to me far more easily when I’m responding negatively to a book/movie/product/whatever than when I actually enjoy it. I can wax lyrical about Cornwell’s ridiculous decision to add an artificial colour to their malt vinegar (it’s a VINEGAR!! Do they really think consumers will refuse to buy it if it’s less golden? When they’re the only brand available?! I THINK NOT, Cornwell’s! I think not); but ask me to write a review of Angèle et Tony, a beautiful French film I happened to see on a recent outing on my own, and I’ll come up with something like this: “Yeah, it was really, really good. I REALLY liked it. It was so good. Wow. You should totally see it.”
I’m much better at whining than I am at praising. The problem is not that I don’t notice things worth raving about, I notice them all the time: Angèle et Tony really is a brilliant film; I nearly wept with joy when I first used Sard Wonder Soap to remove baby poo from a jumpsuit in the days when nappy disasters were a daily occurrence; The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom is a truly enjoyable book. The problem is that I find it such an effort to access the positive vocabulary I need to adequately express my enjoyment of something, while words spew out of me with gusto when I’m ranting.
This needs to change. For a start, I’m going to write a thank you letter to Sard (if you ever have problems with pooey suits, I highly recommend Wonder Soap – it’s really, really good. Like, wow. You should totally use it). I'm going to try to limit my whinging. And I’m going to start practicing my praise by forcing myself to review the books or movies I love more often, rather than waiting for something to annoy me before I’m inspired to write.
It'll be much easier to be positive when this rain disappears.