I need to listen to my own advice. But I didn’t, and I went to the shops and it was fecking awful. I know, I know. I’m all about my forays to charity shops; about experiences instead of material goods, and home-made truffles instead of a box of Miniature Heroes, but I’m also a realist. Sometimes, you have to buy knickers and socks and a new laundry basket from TK Maxx because your children have made a sleigh of your old one, by attaching a dressing-gown belt to the handle and tugging their sibling and a multitude of stuffed animals about. Said laundry basket is now buggered and a jagged edge threatens to take the hand off you every time you look at it.
Anyhoo, the Mothership, and I hoofed it to Bloomfield Shopping Centre, which bears little resemblance from how I remember it in the nineties. The M&S was so big and cavernous that we found ourselves wandering around gormlessly like Father Ted when he got trapped in the lingerie section. It was like a maze, particularly since the aisles were blocked by folk with trollies full of food. A law should be passed, stating firmly that trollies don’t belong, EVER, in the clothes section, because the aisles are too narrow to accommodate them and consequently all movement is reduced to a standstill. Very irksome, when all you want is to grab your size 12 full briefs and find the nearest exit.
But it was Next which committed the greatest faux-pas, by cranking up the in-store muzak to ‘wreck the nerves entirely’ level. Dropping the latest beats from DJ ‘Deck-the-Halls-and-Rob-da-Manger,’ it created a frenetic atmosphere with a beat so pounding and intrusive it rendered any considered shopping an impossibility. I lost all ability to make a decision, and before I knew it I’d sought out a shop assistant. ‘Excuse me,’ I said, ‘but would you mind finding your manager, and making the case that this is a shop, not a night club, and that I can’t concentrate with that din?’ Her smile faded, but she diligently trotted off. But the music wasn’t turned down, or at least not in the three minutes I lasted before seeking sanctuary outside. The west wind blasted a wet drizzle into our faces but it was still better than the alternative. ‘That was horrible,’ I said to the Mothership, who agreed that indeed it was.
Later I told LSB the craic. ‘The thing is,’ he said, as he tucked into a Tunnock, ‘they don’t really want you there. You’re not the right demographic.’
‘What the actual f**k?’ sez I. ‘Not the right demographic? I’m their ONLY demographic!’ Always quick with a retort, he piped up, ‘Their perceived demographic. They make the mistake of thinking they’re trendy.’
He’s right, isn’t he, auld LSB. Who else do you think shops in Next only women in their forties, picking up bland office wear or choosing stuff for their kids or the ubiquitous baby gift?’
I was chatting with my friend over brunch earlier, and asked if she felt the same about shopping these days. ‘Of course I do! she replied. Her pet-peeve is stores with lighting so subdued that you have to employ the torch on your phone for a better look. Once she had to explain to a store detective at Hollister that she wasn’t stealing a denim jacket, she just wanted to see it in the daylight, to see whether it was black or navy. Turned out it was dark green.
So is shopping just for the young’uns? Is internet shopping the future and does it herald the end of the high street and a as a result a trip out with your mum ? I don’t know. All I know is that my wee wrecked head can’t deal with the reality of actual forays these days.