Shopping? Nah, it’s my hormones…


You know the way you feel braver when you’re not alone? This principle applied at the weekend when I had a friend staying and was coming up with suggestions for things to do. The day’s junketings needed to end somewhere near Hammersmith because we had tickets for the Lyric (the best theatre ever ever ever).

So it was a case of a) join the PPF protest in Hyde Park and then mooch further west until we hit Hammersmith, or b) check out Portobello Market and then, time permitting, Westfield. As black clouds rolled in and the wind sharpened its knives, we decided to go to the market. I’m not proud of this cop-out, but when your friend turns blue it really stretches the rules of hospitality to drag her to a cold, large field miles from a cup of tea.

Anyway, we were vomited out of a packed tube at Notting Hill and jostled off to Portobello. Along we browsed and, after a long break and massive hailstorm in Notting Hill, we went on to Westfield. I’ve never quite had the oomph/courage to go on my own, so this was my chance.

Yuk, yuk, yuk. It was horrible. There’s something about the air in shopping centres, department stores and art galleries that bludgeons me. I get very tired and heavy limbed and start feeling sick. We wandered along boulevards lined with silly handbags, past people drinking champagne from elegant (which is to say disgracefully parsimonious) flutes. As my mother said loudly in my head, Fancy wanting to drink champagne on the concourse of a shopping centre. She was right. Fact is, it’s only a few quid away from drinking Special Brew in the Old George Mall in Salisbury (a much nicer place, btw), so you can slap that silly smirk off your overmade-up face right now.

I’ve read so many articles by journalists in the quality press saying how much they hated the idea of Westfield but in the event found themselves seduced. Why? What spirit-crushing pheromones are pumped through the air-con that would make anyone like the place, let alone someone who’d gone in determined to hate it? I went along pretty neutrally, thinking that that many previously reasonable-sounding people can’t be wrong. Yes, actually, they can. But still I lacked faith, I turned to my friend to wonder if this was indeed, total crap. Yes, she said. Let’s just pee and leave.

But then I saw this SpurioStory today and realised that my timings were out of whack. It’s all in the cycle. Westfield is a giant temple to female fertility and if I’d just picked a different weekend, I would have been in clover. Plus I have been able to warn my male colleagues that if I ever come in looking like a Christmas tree, they’d better nip out pronto for some chocolate. NOW, I SAID, AND NOT A STUPID MILKY WAY, EITHER…


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