A Touch of Humbug

There are news reports this week that retail receipts in the High Street, especially in London’s West End, are poor for the Christmas season, and that once again we may not have to wait until the new year for the sales and price reductions to entice us into further spending.

I’m not a big shopper; I regard it as a chore rather than a leisure activity, and the sight of rows and rows of merchandise usually sends me straight back out of the door heading for a coffee.  You’ll not be surprised to learn that I, along with many others I suspect, have been an enthusiastic user of the internet for unavoidable shopping.  I left a few Christmas things a bit too late for delivery, so yesterday I hazarded a trip into the West End for a precision strike on a couple of shops.

After years of working in the area, I know most of the routes around, and from point to point, avoiding any need to walk along the hideousness of Oxford Street.  First stop was Marks and Spencer.

There are some things which are guaranteed to annoy me, but which I seem generally to forget about in between times.  This might sound like quite a good thing; but it also means that when I inadvertently put myself in the way of them, they aggravate me even more, because I forgot about the need to avoid them.  The Marks and Spencer shoe department is one of those things.  I wandered in there because I need some new slippers, as my old ones were soaked and beyond recovery after my recent domestic plumbing drama.

But as soon as I found the slippers, there it was, that thing that drives me mad.  The shoes are arranged on shelving stands, the small shoes on the top shelf, where the short people with little feet have to stand on tippy toes to be able to see them, while the large shoes, generally worn by taller people, are on the bottom shelf, meaning that in order to see them I would have to get down on my hands and knees.

No sale there then, and I’ll continue to use my British Airways issue slip-ons until they completely disintegrate.

And so I went to have a few moments respite and a cup of tea, only to be confronted by another pet hate.  The man sitting behind me slurped his way through a box of food, his face barely six inches from the table, his elbows splayed wide on the table.


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  1. Can’t imagine anything much worse than a slurper behind me – the hackles are going up on my back just thinking about it. The shoe racks (a new one on me, though I’m sure I bought my ‘kids’ shoes at M&S – VAT free in those days – I was totally broke!) beyond comprehension. Apart from an aversion to getting down on my haunches in public – a necessity both to fetch a pair to try, and to see it in all but the most basic outline – it makes no sense, as you say, and that is one of the most maddening things in the world 🙂

  2. You are so funny. I’ve never noticed that about shoe shops, but then i don’t generally buy shoes from racks like that. It is shocking that you had to endure that, and if you let me know what size foot you have, I will make and send you a pair of house slippers that are so comfy (not to mention trendy) that you will be crying for more. And you will never ever have to go to that horrible department store again.

    • It’s only in the shops like M&S where the shoes are self service that the back to front upside down display arrangement seems to apply. They’re cheap shoes, but not enough of a bargain to get down on my hands and knees to find the right size….

      That is such a lovely generous offer; I’d feel honoured to have a pair of your house slippers. Thank you. I’m a UK 8 or Euro 42 if that means anything to you.


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