So, in continuance of the Trouser Saga, today, for the very first time, I decided that we would head off to The Trafford Centre in Manchester to locate some new trousers for Agnes. It was to be my mission for the day as I despise shopping and would rather sit at home and read a book, knit fog or batter my head repeatedly against a brick wall.
The Trafford Centre is a large shopping mall in the north of England and, according to the voice-over as I was having my enormous frothy coffee, the safest shopping mall in the UK. I had to ponder how they'd arrived at this statement and wondered if they interviewed hoodies as they walked in to ask if they were a) into bag-snatching (1 point) b) pick-pocketing (2 points) c) glassing an unwitting shopper in the face for his money (3 points) or d) just giving an old person a jolly good kicking for the hell of it (10 points). With an average score of less than 3, could they thus claim 'safety'? When I vocalised my musings, I was informed that this information was probably returned by the lack of reported crime. Quite simple really, but I was in a reflective mood...
#1 daughter dragged us immediately to Selfridges - a large department store where everything is exorbitantly priced and gives me whole body shakes. As we walked in, I was immediately captivated by the Star Wars light sabres on display and decided to take the shop assistant up on his offer to 'have a go'. I was Yoda, I think - he was one of the Darths. It was very reminiscent of penis envy, in some ways, in that he had to have the biggest and heaviest: he was a very small chap, and I towered over him in my heels. He thrashed me...
Anyway, I had a task to perform and off I toddled to the Kookai concession in Selfridges, where I spotted my dream trousers retailing at £59.00 which is a far cry from the prices I pay for the kecks I normally buy from the charity shops for about a fiver.
I explained to the pushy shop assistant what size I needed. Unfortunately, my size simply wasn't there. So, she told me to try a 36 and a 40. But I'm 38, I explained. My old trousers are 38 and they fit me like a glove. What's the point? Just try them, she told me. I half expected her to tag on, 'For me. Please...'
No, there was no point going through the ignominy of hauling my thighs into a 36, and I knew the 40s would hang off me. In desperation, she checked the trousers on the mannequin. 'Got 'em!' she declared triumphantly. 'Here's your 38s. Try them on!' As ordered, off I went to the changing rooms with #1 daughter.
Well, the changing rooms were the most bizarre in which I have ever stripped in all my born days. Four canvas 'pods' which looked like caterpillar cocoons were freestanding in a carefully lit room. I was shown into a pod and looked around for somewhere to hang my clothes: #1 daughter's head came in handy. Attempting to balance and remove my boots, I toppled and reflexively reached out to steady myself. My hand fell onto the canvas, which had no support, and over I went with a small yelp. #1 and I exchanged glances. Above me, in the pod's 'breathing hole', a spotlight burned down on me with the intensity of the Arabian sun. I was starting to get hot and bothered, and was not a happy Agnes at all. So, I started to curse. Loudly. Exclaiming to any other person within earshot that these pods had "obviously been designed by a bloody bloke!" who had no idea of all the 'foundation garments' us 30-something ladies need to wear in order to snare a member of the opposite sex. I had actually taken a posh Karen Millen frock in to try, too, but I was buggered if I was going to continue this battle any longer. They could have lost a sale of £250.00 due to those pods. Then again, I would probably have gone onto eBay and bought the same frock for a fraction of the price...After five more minutes of wrestling with the hangers I had suspended from one of the ribs in the pod's frame which nearly took my eye out, I managed to get dressed and stalked out of the pod with as much decorum I could muster.
I am ashamed to say that I launched an attack on the young Saturday girl shop assistant who had obviously heard the pod's profanities and due to her kind nature and training, empathised with me immediately. The wind was somewhat taken out of my sails as it wasn't her fault, and I was just being a grumpy bitch, really. The girl obviously felt for me as I moaned that I wasn't a human chrysalis. #1 told me to shut up as I was embarassing her.
Well, the trousers fit. I bought them - and their wrapping was almost as complicated as trying them on. I watched with amazement as tissue was flourished, tape stuck down and two shop assistants in almost perfect choreography danced round each other, attempting to alleviate the pain on my credit card by distracting me from my mental financial calculations.
So, I don't have to suffer cold legs now and have the warehouse blokes gawping at my legs when I sneak out for a fag at work, and passing comments that I could do with getting some thermal drawers on. And that's my shopping done for a while. Under no circumstances am I heading off to any shopping mall in the near future, Christmas or no. Presents will be purchased online or not at all. Shopping involves crowds of stupid people, ingratiating shop assistants, fast food and slow queues.
It was obviously invented by a 'bloody bloke'...