Monday, 10 August 2009

Lunch-hour dispatches

1) You join me in Cos, a place I am increasingly resigned to calling The Shop That Got Away.

Actually, that would imply that there has, at some point, been a connection between us, and my recurring failure to find anything I would like to buy in there is just a melancholy case of faulty timing. The fact is, Cos and I simply have no chemistry whatsoever – and we never have. And sometimes, this just happens between a woman and a merchandiser. On paper, we are nothing but compatible. We should gel perfectly. I am the right age, I have the right job, I have the non-standard shape that should be perfect for its boasts of superior tailoring at mid-budget prices. I even have the mid-budget for the mid-budget prices. Sometimes, though, sometimes the sparks you're desperate for just do not fly, and you are left slumped, alone and unsatisfied, in the changing room with your clothes on the floor, and a fine-knit jersey dress around your ankles, wondering what exactly didn't go right this time.

However, it is important not to take this personally, and be plunged into the deep, deep well of Retail Self-loathing. Instead, I am resolved to look at myself in the fitting room mirror and repeat this self-affirming mantra 10 times:

'I am a special and worthwhile shopper and I am remembering how jealous people are of the really cool stuff I always find in H&M.'

Anyway, this particular lunchtime in Cos, I was met by a dummy whose body language I can only describe as hostile.

It was as if she was saying, 'No. You have to leave. I can't go through it again. I'm just so tired. Leave now and save us from any more awkwardness and heartbreak.'

It's either that or

a) she's consumed with silent fury at having to pose in front of the unflattering backdrop of a yellow skip. Seriously, yellow is really hard to wear. The unworkable clash of my pallid complexion and the joyous colour of sunshine and buttercups and Norwich City is the greatest fashion cross I have to bear. The fact that the sight of me in skinny jeans – if they can even be prevailed upon to stretch up and over my knees – is enough to cause permanent blindness to anyone unfortunate enough to see it is water off a duck's back in comparison.

b) when the sun came up this morning, causing her to freeze in the middle of whatever nocturnal activity she was engaged in (all tailor's dummies come alive at night – you will know this if you have ever seen the documentary Mannequin presented by Andrew McCarthy), she was practising the dance routine to Biology by Girls Aloud.

2) This is the future of the Post Office.

It is a machine that helps you post your letters and parcels without the need to queue up for the best part of an hour to be served at a Actual Counter by an Actual Person. While I am a fan of any benign automaton, I can't help feeling that this striving towards efficiency and swifter customer service will deprive us of the endearing/frustrating foibles of a British institution. In order that these vital minutiae of British life should not be lost, I am hoping that the machine will suffer sporadic 10-minute delays while messages are flashed up saying things like, 'Please wait, a senior citizen is telling me in detail about her ulcer'; 'Would you like to buy a DVD copy of Licence To Drive starring Corey Haim and Corey Feldman for £4.99?'; 'Please wait, the customer in front of you wants to send 20 packages of assorted size to the Philippines'; 'Can I interest you in the post office's pet insurance policy. It's extremely competitive.'

In addition, ambient smells should be emitted from the machine at various intervals, in an initiative earlier adopted by the Jorvik Centre, but in this case conjuring up not the aroma of a viking settlement, but the heady scent of the great British post office queue, including Unsuccessfully Radiator-Dried Laundry, Oniony Sweat and Whiskas.

No comments: