Only read this post if you have nothing better to do. Firstly, it’s a long rambling petty tirade about an activity I hate. And secondly, I’m beginning to feel uneasy again about blogging about trivia when the world is in tatters. (Amongst other current horrors all over the globe, I read this morning that in Texas they execute the mentally ill.)
Once a year I go shopping in Sheffield: a designated Christmas shopping trip. It’s marked in my diary because it’s an event. It’s an event I have to build up to because I hate shopping. It’s not the Christmas, it’s the shopping.The last time I blogged about it was December 2012.
On Monday I went to five shops and came home wrecked. That’s how pathetic I am at coping with city life. There were exacerbating factors, such as my phone running out of credit mid-crucial phone call, and thinking I was locked inside my car. But still.
I started hopefully, supposedly breaking myself in gently, in John Lewis, retailer beloved of Sally Howe (of Plotting for Beginners and Plotting for Grown-ups.) But the devil has been at work in John Lewis. They have revamped it and reorganised it and there is less stock of the things I care about (e.g. buttons and wool and toys) and more space given to things I don’t care about, so cosmetics and fragrances and all associated mysteries now take up the whole of the front of the shop. It’s brightly lit and scary there, like a modern designer kitchen. I had to venture in because I needed to get something for the family member who declines to be named. I found said item but the staff had no idea how much it cost because of recent pricing changes. I said I’d go back later.
I went upstairs in search of childrens’ slippers, but the buyer of children’s slippers had obviously been as traumatised as me by the recent changes. The stock was execrable. (And as a side issue – why is there so much lurid pink around these days?)
The childrens’ slipper stock in M & S was also pretty dire, and there they have piped music. Aarrggh. I’d forgotten how piped music addles your brain. But I did alight on something suitable, only to be told they didn’t have it in either of the sizes I was after.
Next stop T K Maxx, which strangely felt calm and spacious (how John Lewis used to feel) and I bought another thing on my list. Then I was seduced by a cashmere hoodie (not on my list.) I am a sucker for cashmere hoodies. I bought one in San Francisco in 2007. It has been darned and patched and is only fit now for wearing in bed while I blog. I want another one but have never seen one priced in a catalogue below £100. This one was, so I tried it on, but the terrible lighting in the changing room showed not whether the colour suited me but what an old hag I have become. I left it. Also the piped music was doing my head in.
At so to Waterstones.
What a relief. The staff were helpful. There was no piped music. They had three of my books in stock (I mean MY BOOKS). And what a success – five things purchased, and a chance to flash my Society of Authors discount card, a perennially rewarding experience. The only disappointment was the celebratory toasted teacake (eschewed for ten years as not worth the calories). They toasted it in one of those griddle things which meant it came out not plump, cushiony and inviting, but squashed and mean-looking and not amenable to soaking up butter.
Back to John Lewis. I spent half an hour in the kitchen department (I exaggerate not) while the staff tried to price an item on the computer/till and then when I said – “Yes, I’ll take one!” they said it wasn’t in stock in that size.
I warned you about this blog post.
But this, dear readers, is why I like to shop remotely.