Wednesday, 16 November 2016

All I want for Christmas is you.

We went to John Lewis, the department store, and it stressed me out - as usual.

The only reason I ever went there before was for my Mum, usually having to take a precious day off work to do it, searching for one of the many things she wanted that 'they don't make any more'.

Back in the 2000's John Lewis usually had those kind of things, today they are a bit more modern.

On one occasion we had a coffee in the restaurant, which was full of the 'Ladies who Lunch', which meant that you couldn't hear yourself think for the noise.

There was a problem at the counter and after a very long wait my Mum got a coffee that was so weak there was virtually no coffee in it at all while mine was so strong I was still hyper at midnight.

We go to the High Wycombe store because you can park free. It's a town with some problems and some poor people but in a 30 or 50 mile radius you have some of the richest people in the country.

And it shows at John Lewis; I hate the store. The only reason we were there was because Robyn has wedding presents to spend, for which I am very grateful. The problem is that I don't want Robyn to saddle herself with a lot of sad memory baggage when I'm gone, while Robyn sees it differently to  me.

So for a variety of reasons I was stressed out and on the way there I actually lost my temper with myself in the car for forgetting my camera. The air turned blue.

When we arrived I found I'd had it with me all the time.

As I drove into the car park I was reminded of my most acutely painful visit to the store. My Mum had been trying to find a very small table for the kitchen - so small no one made them at that time. I hunted high and low and in the end we went to John Lewis and found one.

She also wanted a 'Butcher's Block' trolley and this was also at a time when you couldn't find they are everywhere.

We found the table and they delivered it for nothing. It was even more surprising because it arrived in two separate pieces and I could have easily got it into my tiny car myself.

I bought the Butcher's Block too - which was good quality and reasonably priced but, because it wasn't in 'furniture' like the table but in 'kitchenware', you had to pay for delivery.

That would have been another £75 on top - a fortune and over a third of the price of the F&$£ing thing.

I did my research and found that because the catalogue specifically stated that the wheels were not attached, I could slide it into the back of my small car.....just.

In fact, the package was so big I had to go to the collection area to get it. At which point I realised that the whole thing boxed up was actually bigger than my car.

At which point I lost it completely. Unsure what to do, I wheeled it on the trolley back to my car to have a think.

I should now explain that at that time I was quite stressed at work, overworked and exploited and as a result I'd been absentmindedly locking my car keys in the car.

So to prevent this I had taken to having my car keys attached to my belt by a short chain. I got into the car to unlock the back door, got out again and forgot that I was still attached to the car, which meant that I rather neatly bent my ignition key to a 45 degree angle in the lock.

Now I lost it 'BIGTIME'!

I had a butcher's block that was bigger than my car and I couldn't use my car because I'd bent my key.

After a while I calmed down, and found I could ease it out of the lock. I hunted around and found a half a brick in the car park. I then got down on my knees by a kerbstone hitting my ignition key with the brick to straighten it out, watched by a growing number of middle class ladies heading for their afternoon tea and a nice chat.

I may have been a bit red in the face during all this- it was summer.

I then undid the packaging around the butcher's block to take it out and slide it into my car. At which point I found that contrary to what the catalogue said, they had now taken to screwing the wheels on the trolley which made it several inches too big in most directions.

I lost it again.

After a great deal more huffing and puffing (to the consternation of the posh passers by) I actually managed to get it into the car on my own as well as a good proportion of the packaging too.

I then drove back, very sedately along the motorway, unable to see behind me. Then I had to get it all out again.

Nice day off that was.

And as I drove past the collection point all these memories came flooding back to me.

So John Lewis is not my favourite shop.

I did like this - a design classic from the 1980's;

It's an extreme juice squeezer, designed by Phillipe Starck, to look like an alien. I imagine it isn't totally practical but if I'd had a neater life and a better ordered kitchen, I would have liked one of these, once.

We didn't actually buy anything we were looking for but, after having gasped at the prices, I have agreed to return.


The Christmas area was nice;

Lots of glittery things and some happy sales assistants still unpacking and setting up for Christmas.

Lots of Golds and Reds and Greens and a bauble which said "All I want for Christmas is you".


Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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