Category: Marks And Spencer
The Cost Of Being Single
A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru.
I decided to write this after reading an article in that esteemed, if just the teensiest bit left-wing, newspaper, The Grauniad (not to be confused with its sister paper, The Guardian), about the TRUE cost of being single.
‘Aha!’ I thought, ‘someone else who has wondered why M&S doesn’t do a ‘Dine in for One for £5 with free bottle of wine’, instead of assuming that everyone has someone with whom they wish to share their Gastropub Fish Pie or Gastropub Steak Lasagne with a side of Wild Rocket (that’s a SIDE dish?? That’s just a few pieces of grass which stick in your teeth and tickle your throat, making you cough and choke!)
He Doesn’t Like Vegetables!
In fact, come to think of it, there are probably people who are NOT single who would not wish to share their Gastropub Fish Pie or Gastropub Steak Lasagne, but they are called ‘greedy’ (and they’d probably go for the side dish of Chunky Chips rather than the Wild Rocket, and the other person in their life wouldn’t even get a look in at the Profiterole Stack).
But I digress. How disappointed I was when I read the article in full and found that it was just a whiney piece by some woman who was bemoaning the fact that she hadn’t found her rock, her soulmate, her ‘yang’ to her ‘yin’, her Andy Pandy to her Looby Loo, her Simon to her Garfunkel, her Thelma to her Louise (I’m being fully inclusive here), and how the government is bleeding her dry because of that. She came up with one or two interesting facts, I have to say – there are more unmarried women alive today than at any point in history, apparently, although I’m not sure if this will still be the same tomorrow or the day after…
However, on the plus side, I find I’ve saved money because she says, on average, women spend £1,280 a year on dates. The obvious answer is – just don’t go on dates, you stupid woman!
Hah! Bet some of you thought I was going to make some obvious, sexist remark about how women shouldn’t pay on dates anyway – believe me, I learned my lesson on that a long time ago in Redditch (where I was working at the time) when my date paid for the meal but said I could choose the wine since I spoke French (logic?) then said he only drank Liebfraumilch (not my favourite tipple, as Beloved Believers will know). Not only that, when he drove me back to my flat and I politely asked him if he wanted a coffee – hoping he’d say no – he produced a LITRE bottle of Liebfraumilch from the back seat and said we could drink that instead. He got coffee.
To compound matters, as he was leaving shortly after (I made him drink his coffee very quickly), he gave me a goodnight kiss and said I was a very sweet person. SWEET? SWEET?? SWEET??? The LSG may be many things – all-seeing, all-knowing, all over the place, but SWEET??? Reader, I did not marry him…
But I have strayed from the subject again. There are times when I feel aggrieved because I have to pay a supplement for being single (hotels, holidays, that sort of thing) but they have not yet started charging a premium on single women drinking wine, and that is something for which I am eternally grateful… unless someone from the government reads this and thinks, ‘What a jolly wheeze! Let’s start a new tax for all those people drinking on their own, even if they’re happy doing that. In fact, let’s tax them even more simply because they’re happy being on their own!’ They’d make a fortune from at least three people in my family!
Have a good weekend, dear LSG followers. I shall spend it avoiding anywhere and anyone that offers me a glass of Liebfraumilch…
… and paying for my own meal.
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
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.