“I’m stressed and I need some retail therapy”, wailed Mrs M, yesterday morning.
I had to admit: she’d been working a ridiculous amount of hours recently and it sounded like she’d been having a torrid time of it at work.
As much as I hate going shopping with her, she deserved a little treat, and if shopping was what she wanted, then I felt I could put up with it for a couple of hours.
“OK”, I said, “what if we pop into town later and then we can grab a bite to eat afterward?”
“I don’t want to go into “town”’ she cried, indignantly. “I want to go to Oxford Street!”
I explained, in a quiet and measured voice, how that probably wasn’t a good idea, what with the higher prices and the difficulty in parking and the overcrowded streets. And everything.
I explained that it would end up being a very long and tiring day and that it would be so much easier just to nip into town.
I explained that Harry and I could probably just about cope with a couple of hours in town, but that a full-on shopping trip with females would probably see us off.
And so it was, that a couple of hours later, we found ourselves in that London, squeezing into a parking space just off the Bayswater Road.
Mrs M and Amelia set off at a goodly pace, darting into every shop containing female apparel, whilst Harry and I followed dutifully behind, taking the opportunity to sit down at the entrance to the store, whenever the chance arose.
We walked from one end of Oxford Street to the other.
And then we walked back down the other side.
And then we walked back up again… to check out some shops that we had missed or that hadn’t yet opened when we passed them the first time round.
“Oh look”, she said, “they’ve got a Jessops. Do you want to go in and have a look?”
“No. I’ll just want to spend money. And I really don’t need anything anyway. I’ve got all the camera gear I need.”
“Well, it won’t hurt to take a look then, will it?” she said, walking through the door.
With a heavy sigh, I followed her in.
Twenty minutes later, I came out again.
With a new camera.
We walked some more and headed down Regent Street, where the kids forcibly dragged us into Hamley’s.
An hour and several shopping bags later, we managed to escape and continued our way down to Piccadilly Circus and onto Leicester Square, where the M&M store enticed the kids in, wide-eyed and trance-like, as if the Pied Piper himself were leading them in. Within about ten seconds, we’d lost them as they scattered every-which-way, excited by all the red and yellow chocolate wares that were on show. I don’t know if either of you have ever been to the M&M store, but it is a massive two (actually three, as it has a mezzanine) floor shop that is entirely devoted to the American M&M, candy-covered-chocolate-which-are-not-as-good-as-British-Smarties sweet.
Anyway, once we had extricated ourselves from there, we piled into Chiquitos – one of our favourite restaurants to visit. God, we just love Mexican food!
After that, it was a brisk two mile walk back to the car – despite my insistence that we should take the tube. Mrs M’s postie legs are obviously used to such exercise and she and Amelia set off at a quick pace, whilst Harry and I followed behind, trying to keep up and not lose sight of them in the crowds as they pulled further away from us. Curse my short legs!
The drive home was scary, as Mrs M put her foot down. Everything I complain about in other drivers – going too fast; driving too close; cutting in and out of lanes – is encapsulated in Mrs Masher’s driving style. I find it best just to close my eyes and keep my fingers crossed.
Last night, I slept like a dog.
A dog that had been walked to exhaustion and was full of burritos.