One of my main activities since I’ve been back in Norn Iron has been (wait for it) shopping.
Now, as I mentioned before in a post that didn’t really leave any room for doubt about my views on the subject, I do not like shopping. However, some things have changed since then. For a start, I now have money. Not that I’m rolling in it, I hasten to add! I don’t have a mattress stuffed with notes or a close personal friendship with the bank manager. But for the first time in my life, I have enough to live on, save some, and have a bit left over to actually buy things. It is progress, my friends!
Secondly, I have spent over a year in a country where I cannot go clothes shopping simply because the sizes stop about two sizes below my own. Bearing in mind that I only started off with one and a half suitcases, you can perhaps imagine how my clothing situation has been lately. Not good. I went through the summer becoming increasingly distressed about having only about three tops and one pair of shorts that were even vaguely comfortable in the heat and humidity. And by the time winter rolled around again, I discovered that I was pretty much rotating a small assortment of clothes that were beginning to fray and quite literally fall apart at the seams. It was becoming a little embarrassing, to be honest, and my joy at finally having new things to wear is almost taking over from my hatred of shopping.
And thirdly, by good fortune, I am home in a land of larger clothes at that wonderful time of the year known as the January Sales, thus easing my usual horror of parting with money for clothes. Hooray! I am almost completely certain that I have spent more money on clothes over the past week than I have spent on them over the past five years. But because of the sale prices, I’ve come away with armfuls of stuff rather than just a few bits and pieces.
I even braved the Next sale – a very scary event which I have never attended before in my life, partly because of the mad crowds and partly because I believe the clothes in Next to be far too expensive (I am a New Look/Primark sort of girl).
That’s the whole point, explained The Sister patiently. They’re good quality, usually pricey clothes… for cheaper than you’d pay for inferior clothes in other shops!
Nervously, I followed her in the direction of all the hordes of women with scarily intense expressions on their faces. Just stay calm, she reminded me. Take a plastic bag from the woman at the door, grab clothes you like, and throw them into it.
What if I need to try them on? I wondered uncertainly.
There’s no time for that! she exclaimed in horror. And indeed, the changing rooms were closed to make unnecessary queues impossible. We took deep breaths and dived in, rifling through the racks with the same grim, determined expressions as everyone else. The Sister, being of normal proportions, struggled to find much in her size, but to my delight I found that not so many people requiring my size had visited the sale. I staggered out under the weight of several large bags, and have returned a few times since to add to my new wardrobe.
The Sister has been an invaluable shopping advisor, informing me of such delights as the fact that it is once again OK to wear denim shirts (it was she who gave me a talking-to about them when I apparently wore them too late into the 90s), and that leggings are back. She has even demonstrated how I can buy skimpy little skirts of the kind I would never have looked at except to exclaim in horror “I’m not wearing THAT!!”, and wear them over a pair of leggings when my top isn’t quite long enough to cover my backside. This is like a sort of science to me, and utterly admirable.
I am amazed, and even kind of looking forward to being the sort of person who leisurely wonders what to wear today, instead of just picking up a fairly clean t-shirt from the back of a chair. ;)