What to wear?

I am not your usual girlie shopper. I dread spending all day at the shops, browsing, though there is nothing I like more than yummy clothes and shoes. Because my days seem to pass so quickly, I find that I go clothes shopping about once every two years, so getting time for that is a big deal.

Yet on my day out being daring, nothing I try on is the right size, shape or colour. I seem to have missed the more generous, subtle mulberries and rich, dark blues that were the hallmarks of last season, according to a sales assistant who looks young enough to be my daughter and who struggles to be heard above the sound system. I lose myself in the chaos of a noisy disco, where all the latest trends are eye-wateringly pink or purple, and several sizes too small or too large. I have discovered – why me? – I am a size thirteen; or a size fifteen, which are nice and easy, in-the-middle nothing quite fits sizes. Ladies march confidently past with armfuls of delicious dresses, trousers and tops, while I content myself with a six pack of undies and a new jumper from the menswear section.

I do have my favourite shops which stock my favourite styles, where the chances of success are much higher, though my visits to them have to be carefully planned for when I have some real cash to spend. For a spontaneous day out “doing” the shops, I am most definitely not your girl. The odds are that I will find nothing that fits, “give” five pounds to a threatening, “Big Issue” seller who “forgets” to give me change and then have to pay for a taxi to take me home empty-handed because, after three hours of conspicuous non-expenditure I am simply too sore, tired and dispirited to wait forty minutes for the next bus. I’ve just seen one pulling away from the kerb about ten yards away, but there’s no chance of my running to catch it.

For a trip to one of the out-of-town shopping centres, we spend forty minutes in the car negotiating heavy traffic, with our daughter in the back seat asking, “Are we there yet” every minute or so; we cannot work out which cul-de-sac on this industrial estate will lead us to the one way system where there may be a junction that takes you to M & S….When we arrive, I remember I am wearing my reading glasses. I have to watch out for Seline – who moves as fast as a whippet through the crowds of coat hangers and slippery off-the-shoulder evening gowns and racks of clothes that cover the vast expanse of shop floor. My chance to acquire a new top or dress whizzes past me so fast that, before I have checked which isle I’m in, it has vanished. The world looks fuzzy and is moving too fast. Did someone turn up the speed of life and forget to tell me?

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