Category Archives: Marks And Spencer

The Traveller’s Guide to Cyprus

A very good evening to you all from Cyprus! Yes, the Lifestyle Support Guru has finally managed to get away on holiday – one can’t count recent visits to York, Huddersfield and Sheffield as ‘holidays’, since they are just classed as ‘moving around oop north for a day or two’, which are not really holidays at all.
This holiday started badly, I’m afraid – the alarm went off at 5.30am a couple of days ago! How can they even let that time exist? The day should always start at something like 8.30am and move sedately on to the evening, allowing for gentle pauses along the way for food and drink, or catching a plane. Nevertheless, younger siblings and I made it safely to the airport where next-sibling-down proceeded to consume a Belgian waffle with chocolate and cream at 7.30 in the morning. I managed a small cup of coffee. Youngest sibling went to the toilet.
But I am sure that you do not wish to read about such mundane happenings, even if they are part of the LSG’s fascinating life – I only tell you these things to make you realise that you, too, can be like the LSG: you may not have a sibling who will eat chocolate waffles at 7.30 in the morning, but you probably have a spouse, a better half, a rock, a soulmate, a child, a friend, a ‘hun, r u ok?’ – ANYONE! – who can fulfil this role. But I digress… having been here for three whole days, I am now an expert on how to blend seamlessly into Cypriot life so that you appear to be a native. So, here it is – the LSG’s Guide to Life as a Cypriot:
On the first morning, the siblings decide to walk down to the harbour but you decline because you have somehow forgotten to bring a small handbag for the evenings (those who know the LSG well will realise that this is an amazing oversight), so you say you will wander to a nearby shopping centre to see what they have to offer. The fact that the walk to the harbour would take up to an hour and the walk to the shops a mere ten minutes has NOTHING to do with this decision.
Imagine your surprise upon entering the shopping centre to find that the first shop is Marks and Spencer! (Actually, that’s a lie – the first shop was Holland and Barrett, but that isn’t classed as a SHOP as such, because how can one get pleasure out of buying vitamins?) You wander in (to M&S, of course, not H&B) – just out of curiosity, you understand – and ask an assistant if they have any small bags, at which point she looks sad and leads you to the ‘bag area’. She was right to look sad – there was a choice of TWO! In fact, two is not even a choice in my mind. She will try her best to sell you a beige bag, but your eye will have already been caught by a rather fetching lime green one. You can almost hear the assistant thinking, ‘We’ve been trying to sell those damn things all year.’ But the LSG is not one to follow the fashions and trends of ordinary people – oh no, if lime green takes her fancy, that is what she will get. AND a rather nice white t-shirt in the sale also happened to jump into the shopping bag – I will swear ON OATH that the same item wasn’t available in the Derby branch of M&S last week.
The next thing to do in your attempt to become a Greek Cypriot is to get a haircut – by a hairdresser from Bradford, of course. By now, no one will ever think you are anything other than a born-and-bred Cypriot, although you draw the line at joining the siblings in learning how to scuba dive…the LSG would not wish to cause any riots by appearing in public in a wetsuit.
A coach tour of the island is, of course, obligatory – especially one that mentions a visit to a winery. Unfortunately, we booked the wrong one and ended up on the tour that visited the church of the tomb of Saint Lazarus, he who was raised from the dead. I must admit to a little shiver down my spine when we went into the crypt and saw an open sarcophagus. I looked quickly around but could spot no obvious 2,000-year-old person loitering in the shadows looking like he’d just come back from the dead, although there are one or two at the hotel who could give a good impression of him.
We also passed the rock in the sea which is reputedly the birthplace of Aphrodite, the most beautiful woman ever known, although the LSG is giving her a good run for her money.
One good thing came out of the ‘raising the dead’ tour – a rather nice lemon hooded jacket jumped out at me in Larnaca (I like to think that Lazarus played a part here – I see him in lemon), just the thing for the evenings, which are still a little chilly – and a lovely contrast to the lime green bag. All that is needed now to make me look like a bowl of citrus fruit is a pair of orange trousers. There may have been some in Marks…
One final (sort of serious) point – Greek Cypriots are incredibly friendly and chatty, but if you say ‘kalimera/kalispera/efkharisto’ at some point, their faces light up with absolute joy!
The LSG is now fully immersed in Cypriot life and could be taken for a native.
The (Welsh) Brit Pack is here and living the dream! Kalenikta!

Stuff What I Have Learned Recently

The Strangest Question?

I always like to share my knowledge with you, as you know, so that you will always have a ready fund of useful hints and tips at your fingertips, ready for anything that life may throw at you, and I feel that I may have surpassed even myself this time.
1. Do not assume that Marks and Spencer will ever be fazed by anything that you may ask of them. Some of you will already know the bare outlines of this story if you have read next-sibling-down’s Facebook account, but it was a far more substantial experience in reality.
Next-sibling-down had explained to me that he needed to buy a small bra for a play in which he was appearing, but he didn’t like to ask his co-actor for one of hers, fearing being regarded as a minor Harvey Weinstein – heaven forbid! He knew I was going shopping (or, if he didn’t know, he guessed, since this is a favourite activity of mine, on a par with eating out) and asked if I would find a small, cheap bra. I had decided to do a major refurb of my underwear drawer(s), so this was no hardship. I strolled into M&S, spotting a few other items that might sneak into my bag (not in a shoplifting sort of way, I hasten to add!) as I headed for the underwear section. Having found enough underwear items for myself to satisfy (and even fit) a small Third World country, I went to the fitting rooms where there were two very nice assistants. The conversation went as follows:
LSG: I have a rather strange request which might surprise you.
Assistant: Nothing surprises us. We’ve had all sorts of requests over the years. (Other assistant nods in agreement.)
LSG: I need the smallest, cheapest bra you’ve got.
A: (With just the tiniest hint of surprise as she eyes my ample bosom.) Is it for you?
LSG: No, it’s for my brother. He needs to attach it to his shoe.

Still the eyebrows moved in only the tiniest acknowledgement of an unusual request.
I then explained the exact circumstances and the assistant couldn’t have been more helpful, and became thoroughly absorbed in the task, suggesting that an underwired, padded, colourful bra might be more visible on stage, especially if velcroed to a shoe.
We eventually settled on a special offer of two plain, white bras for a tenner (and I had an offer of 20% off as well), but the lovely assistant also suggested that I compare prices in Primark and bring the M&S ones back if I could get them cheaper at Primark. You do NOT get service like that in most places!
I mentioned Primark to next-sibling-down, but he had already taken the labels off and tried one of the bras on…
2. Dealing with past disappointments:
I read a quote recently which said, ‘No one remembers who comes second.’ and I thought, ‘I DO! I DO!’
I came second in a Miss Cilfynydd contest many years ago. There was a very good reason for this (to my mind, anyway!) – the girl who won was going out with the captain of the local football team, while I had ‘palled up’ (for want of a better phrase!) with the captain of the local rugby team. Since the competition was taking place in the local rugby club, one might have expected that the votes would have been overwhelmingly in favour of the rugby captain’s ‘squeeze’, but NOOO! The football captain had rounded up all his mates for the night and they greatly outnumbered the rugby captain’s mates – he hadn’t rounded them up because he hadn’t expected such a level of opposition – bit like Hillary Clinton, really.
But the best thing? Miss Cilfynydd decided she couldn’t be bothered to turn up and be crowned at the August Bank Holiday fete, so I got the crown and my photo in the paper! Second best is better than nothing, as Plato said (or was it Cicero? It may even have been the captain of the rugby club!)
3. This final piece of information is possibly the best you may ever come across and should be remembered for ever. It was passed on to me by youngest sibling, who knows everything about everything, especially if it’s scientific.
If you want to dispose of a body ENTIRELY, forget acid – use BLEACH. I have stocked up.

Sleep well! 😊

The Party’s Over

Camilo Ayala

Great Sadness

It is with great sadness and an aching heart (but an immense sense of relief) that I have to announce that I no longer regard myself as a PARTY ANIMAL. How has it come to this, you may ask yourself. How can the Lifestyle Support Guru have reached this sorry state? What momentous event can have caused this? Let me tell you…

DODO and I decided that we would venture into the city centre to sample the bright lights of a Saturday night, something we had not done for some time. THIS WAS A MISTAKE.

We started in a new ‘games pub’ where everyone was playing board games, which wasn’t so bad, although it’s not how I personally would have chosen to spend my Saturday nights when I was in my twenties (or thirties, or forties, or…).
Looking for something just a touch more lively, we moved on to a Latin-American-themed establishment. THIS WAS A MISTAKE.

At first we were ignored by the bar staff, who probably thought we were the cleaners and had arrived early. After getting served (we were the only ones not drinking cocktails), we managed to get a seat and gazed around at the clientele. I came to a number of conclusions:
i) Too many women were wearing dresses at least one size too small
ii) Too many women had failed to purchase ‘no VPL’ (no Visible Panty Line) underwear to go under their small dresses
iii) Too many women had not practised walking in stilettos before coming out for the night
iv) Too many women were too concerned about flicking their hair alluringly over their shoulder then looking round to see who’d seen them do it
v) Too many women were ‘shaking their booty’ – not a pretty sight in a dress two sizes too small, and quite unnerving for DODO because they were ‘shaking it’ in his face. He almost choked on his beer!

I am all for self-expression and not judging others, but there are limits… I doubt very much that the young woman with the VERY large bust and VERY narrow hips wearing a VERY short, tight dress with large flowers (possibly peonies or cabbage roses) on it had intended to look like a drag queen… THIS WAS A MISTAKE.

But there has been one final ‘event’ that has settled it in my mind that my PARTY ANIMAL days are finished. I was preparing a gourmet Sunday lunch (fish and chips – or ‘frites’, since they were from M&S) for myself and DODO. It was as I was lifting out the baking tray to turn the ‘frites’ over halfway through cooking, as per the instructions (is there a knack to this? They seem to end up on the floor or not turned over unless I use my fingers, which HURTS!) that a thought sprang unbidden into my mind – ‘Hmm, I could do with some new oven gloves.’ NEW OVEN GLOVES? NEW OVEN GLOVES? NEVER in the LSG’s long(ish) and illustrious life have oven gloves ever featured in any significant way. And certainly not on a Sunday afternoon with lunch and a glass of wine waiting.

And that, beloved believers, is when I realised that my PARTY ANIMAL days are finally over. One cannot allow PARTY ANIMAL and OVEN GLOVES to exist in the same mind. I am off to the Aga shop tomorrow…
THIS MAY BE A MISTAKE.

DOT calling LSG – Advice Please

I have received this heartfelt plea from DOT and, although I was going to post some sound advice about going oop north to Halifax, I felt this merited a more urgent response. Halifax can wait – we’ll always have Halifax, as Humphrey Bogart said so movingly in ‘Casablanca’ (or was that ‘Carry on, Casablanca’?).

“to: Lifestyle Support Guru

Tanzania

Tanzania

Message to LSG from DOT (Dai of Tanzania)
Dear LSG, I shall soon be making a brief (ha ha – you’ll get the joke later) visit to the UK, where I shall change from DOT (Dai of Tanzania) to DOT (Dai of Turkey). My letter is not about my change of name, but a necessary change in my circumstances.

Istanbul

Istanbul

I need a reputable place, recommended by you, to buy a complete new set of underwear. You may recall that on my last visit I also had a similar need and purchased 10 pairs from M&S. I can hear you wondering how I could have worked my way through 10 pairs of underwear in such a short time.
I didn’t.
The items in question were all several sizes too large and none of the assistants at the aforesaid shop pointed this out to me, or even raised an eyebrow.

men's underwear

boxer shorts

At first I found the extra room useful. I cut down enormously on my excess baggage to Tanzania by simply filling my underwear with towels, and other soft furnishings, such as pillows, a duvet, 2 waterbottles and 20 pairs of socks. They didn’t set off the alarm at the airport, and my body shape ensured that undesirables didn’t wish to seat themselves next to me. However, things haven’t gone as smoothly since.
I have had to learn to walk with a mincing step whilst in Tanzania: left hand firmly inside the back belt of my trousers holding on to the waistband of the undergarments to ensure they don’t end up around my knees. Occasional forgetfulness has me having to hunt, using my complete arm down inside the trousers, whilst smiling and nodding at alarmed passers-by. Shopping has become problematic as I often need both hands to carry the bags, and the faltering garments ensure the mincing steps become more exaggerated at these times, only able to move my lower limbs from the knees downwards, attracting unwanted attention.
I haven’t replaced them whilst here as I’m never sure that someone hasn’t worn said items previously.
So, all I want is a reputable place where the assistants will raise their eyebrows and ask suitable questions like, “Are these for your own use, sir?”, or “How many people are you expecting to get into each pair?”
Dear LSG. Please help. I can’t spend another 2 years like the last. And as you are a Support Guru, this seemed an appropriate plea.”

Oh, DOT, DOT, DOT … (Did you see what I did there? Ha ha!) What can I say? If only I had read this before I went to Netherthong in the Yorkshire Dales …
Firstly, I have to congratulate you on your highly inventive use of the extra luggage space created by your purchase of over-large undergarments. With careful marketing, you could branch out (so to speak) into the travel industry, offering Ryanair customers a foolproof means of packing all their holiday clothing without having to pay those pesky ‘hold luggage’ charges. (‘Hold luggage’ is not, I hasten to add, an order – that could lead to charges of a very different kind and at least one night’s stay in a local prison cell as you try to explain just what you were attempting to do with your arm buried down your trousers. I don’t think ‘Looking for my underpants’ will translate too well into Turkish.)

CHEESE

CHEESE

You could, of course, pop along to Derby’s Eagle Market, which still advertises itself as ‘Britain’s largest indoor market’ (even though it isn’t and, to my knowledge, never has been) to purchase more undergarments in a more appropriate size. Unfortunately, there is one immediate problem I can foresee – there’s only about one stall left in the market and that sells cheese. I do not recommend purchasing anything from this stall because a) you don’t eat cheese and b) using said cheese as a ‘filler’ for the previously-purchased garments could lead to even stranger looks from people and, probably, unwanted attention from dogs and other creatures with a strong sense of smell.
I can only see one solution and that is to ask a sibling (you have a choice of several) to accompany you next time you sally forth on a shopping trip and get him/her to read the labels on packs of undergarments BEFORE you purchase them. This could serve two purposes – i) hours of entertainment and amusement for passers-by as they watch you peering closely at labels, asking, ‘Does that say Large or Extra Large? I don’t want them round my knees again.’ and ii) a warm glow emanating from the sibling who was chosen because (s)he feels loved and wanted, although that warm glow could, equally, be emanating from sheer embarrassment.
Personally, I would recommend going to a town where you and/or glowing sibling aren’t known. Alfreton (see previous post) has some shops – and very few pubs, so you can wander round purchasing underpants in a variety of sizes without fear of being recognised or of going into a pub, drinking too much and ending up doing a Superman impression as you try on your new pants over your trousers.
I hope this helps. Do keep me informed.

Decisions And Choices

Decision, Choice of route

Which way?

A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru. Today, I want to talk to you about making DECISIONS and CHOICES, something that we all have to do at some point in life. DECISIONS can range from the mundane, such as ‘Do I want jam on my toast this morning?’ to the very IMPORTANT such as ‘Do I want this top in a yellow or a green stripe?’ (although I am trying to wean myself off stripes after realising that 6 out of 7 tops on my washing line the other day were striped).
I was recently faced with several (well, two, to be precise) situations which involved making DECISIONS, situations which I thought I would share with you, my dear followers, so that you know what you might encounter should you find yourself in similar positions.
You decide to go into town to purchase some new underwear and you visit a well-known supplier of such items – let’s use the initials M&S, just as an example, although other purveyors of such items are available, but these tend to be more ‘unreliable’ (for want of a better word) or well beyond one’s budget. And this is where the first DECISIONS have to be made. You find yourself presented with a bewildering array of CHOICES: ‘Balcony’, ‘Plunge’, ‘More Cleavage’, ‘Uplift’, ‘Padded’, ‘Wired’, ‘NonWired’, ‘Minimiser’, ‘Sport'(unlikely for the LSG) or a mixture – at this point you feel like shouting ‘I just want a BRA!’ Almost any combination is possible! There was one which was described as an ‘Uplift Runway’, which sounded more like something where you might expect to find a Boeing 747 rather than female appendages. (Boys, don’t think I am

aeroplane Boeing 747

aeroplane Boeing 747

excluding you – as you know, the LSG is fully inclusive, so feel free to learn from this experience, either personally or for a ‘significant other’.) Of course, having found a perfectly acceptable style which is not going to squeeze you into a shape resembling a cross between Katie Price and Kim Kardashian, you are now faced with a CHOICE of colours, but by this time you just want a coffee and you grab the nearest white one (because the flesh-coloured ones are slightly creepy) and pay.
And this is where the next DECISION comes in:
Where to have a coffee? The LSG is fond of independent cafes rather than the chains which don’t pay their taxes and are sometimes too pretentious for their own good, but your need for some refreshment overcomes your principles and you head for a nearby café which shall remain anonymous but whose name begins with C and ends in A. After reading the ‘menu’, you ask if they have ‘an ordinary decaff coffee’, which leads to the first set of raised eyebrows – ‘ORDINARY?’ is almost written in the pained expression on the barista’s face.
‘Medium or large?’
‘Do you do small?’
Again, the raised eyebrows, and the barista (he’s a bloody waiter when all’s said and done) pointedly searches for a small cup.
‘Full or skimmed milk?’

cup of coffee with milk being poured

coffee

Wearily) ‘Do you have semi-skimmed?’
More raised eyebrows, then, seeing the growing frustration on your face: ‘I can do half and half.’
You finally get your coffee – which costs almost as much as your newly-purchased bra – and seat yourself in the furthest reaches of this establishment, well away from the possibility of contact with any other human being. The LSG may wish to help others live a fuller and more enjoyable life, but there are times when even she feels the weight of this responsibility falling heavily on her shoulders and needs to withdraw from the hubbub of daily life. (I would have gone to the pub, but they weren’t open at that hour.)

Enjoy the long Bank Holiday weekend, dear devotees! May the rain fall elsewhere other than on you!