Oh Marks & Spencer. Have you not read my laments for your lost dignity? For your slightly self-conscious slide into twee packaging, alien brands and freshly flipped burgers?
No one even calls you St Michael any more.
A fresh blow, for me, is the latest self-checkout apparatus, where you must hurl your coins down a chute, just as though you were tossing pound coins into a pint glass in the kind of grubby public house I have never been in.
This coin orifice, it should be noted, lights up and flashes, as does the notes slot on the opposite side, like the embellished extremities of a brassiere at the Moulin Rouge.
In the interests of raising awareness of this grim spectacle, I have attempted to photograph it:
I have had to improvise with Photoshop to demonstrate the full effect, as the lights don't flash in synchronisation.
The Marks & Spencer of legend would have been slightly embarrassed about asking for your money, automatedly (yes, I'm totally sure this is definitely a word). The Marks & Spencer that would sooner have closed its doors for ever than allow a box of Kellogg's or a can of Coke into the stockroom would merely encourage the sober placing of cash in a brown envelope (provided) and the opening and closing of a hatch. Or better, the recorded voice of Stephen Fry (Nigel Havers if Fry's busy making a documentary about words somewhere warm and exotic) apologising profusely whenever an unexpected item finds its way into the bagging area. 'Oh, I know this is a terrible bind, but would you be a brick and pop that little soldier through the scanner again. Everything shipshape now? Oh, good show!'
Not this clattering of coins from a great height. Not this vulgar neon beckoning.
26. PROBABLY SOMEWHERE IN LONDON, IT WAS A WHILE AGO NOW
10 months ago