I don’t know what it is about the Trafford Centre but I always need to prepare myself. I needed fuelling. It baffles me that in a place as big as the Trafford Centre there isn’t one cafe, all large coffee chain shops. So I headed to good old M&S. Toasted tea cake and cappuccino was on the agenda, that would do the job. I’m a sucker for a scone though so once my eyes had spotted them the tea cake was out of the window.
Let’s just say the manager must have been off that day. No spoons, knives, trays, plates or clean tables. Mr Marks and Mr Spencer would not be happy. Anyone who knows me would know that my facial expression was saying that I was not happy either. That said the scone was nice and the coffee hit the spot.
As usual I ate with a slight uneasiness. This had nothing to do with the disarray of the place but the fact I am neurotic about the TC being a bomb magnet. I prefer to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Nothing will rid me of this fear due to me once having a fear of getting shot. ‘That won’t happen’ my mum used to say, until one day I was walking home from work and came face to face with a gun pointing at me (it was a swat team and it was London). O.k so I didn’t get shot but there was a gun. My point is…shit happens.
Now I don’t know about you but to me the Trafford Centre is a world of its own. It’s almost like a cool hangout for kids. Is it ever not busy? Check weekends for example. Girls are walking round dressed like they’re on a night out. Actually they could be there is the cinema etc. But even just for shopping. Not only is aging bad enough but do I really have to think about what I’m wearing just to nip to the TC? Erm yes if you don’t want to be mistaken for their mother! It only gets worse near christmas when Selfridges hires a dj and then it’s a night out. I’m partial to throwing on a pair of trainers and my tracky bottoms for ‘nipping’ places but you’d look like a bag lady in the TC. Well, habits die hard so I refuse to give in to the peer pressure.
The reason I was back there is because I can’t be bothered trying clothes on before I buy. I’ve usually not thought out my shopping attire and have something on that takes ages to get off eg have numerous layers on or knee socks over my jeans under my boots. Adding that to my neurosis and it culminates in too much time and hassle. The lesson I’ve not quite learnt yet is the fact it actually takes twice as long in the end as I have to go back as things don’t fit or look right.
The last time I was in the changing rooms I remember looking around only to notice everyone looked half my age. I remember having the thought -should I be shopping in here still? That put me off slightly. Also some fitting rooms have ridiculously bright lights that show up every flaw, lump, bump or grey hair. How could anyone possibly look good? Then there’s the mirrors. Is it me or do some mirrors actually make your figure change shape? And not for the best. What’s with tiny fitting rooms that you can’t swing a cat in? Hot flushes hardly enhance the experience. I’d also developed a bad habit when trying things on in shops. I don’t know why but I’d imagine myself (in the item I’m trying) doing something. It might have been out with friends having lunch, a night out or on holiday, I’d think ‘this would be nice for…’ and then I’d buy it. The reality is it would end up sat in the wardrobe (as I didn’t have the posh night out). So trying at home has its advantages. It’s real, you in your life.
I do know I am a creature of habit and still wear clothes I did when I was 18. I love my cardis (delighted knitwear is coming in the shops) and have a soft spot for sequins. But certain items I’m drawn to I have to ask myself the question ‘is this mutton as lamb?” My mutton bar is Jennifer Anniston. She looks great since turning 40 and her dresses have got shorter and neck lines lower. Proving it’s how you wear things and appreciate your best assets. So I then think- would Jennifer? If it’s a yes it’s mine, if it’s no then it goes back on the rail.
Currently I’ve joined my friend’s ‘uniform club’. Living in the same clothes -which consist of jeans, t shirt and blazer. It’s terrible really when I think of the clothes I have yet, I probably only wear a quarter of them regularly. That’s the bonus of being single, not having to sneak clothes bags in or lying about how much something cost. The fact that my recent purchases have been off my ‘need’ list has stopped any buyers remorse. One thing I did not regret buying was the slice of carrot cake.
Wrapped in cellophane, boxed and popped in a bag of its own. Treated with tender loving care. The same buzz as buying something new. And just as satisfying once home-buying remorse free!
I was merely passing through Selfridges food section when the cake counter shouted ‘over here!’ at me. And then I realised it continued around the back with cheese cakes and macaroons. Spoilt for choice was an understatement. I was good and opted for the carrot cake. Moist with small pieces of walnut. Delicious. This was one purchase I did not need to ask ‘would Jennifer?’