Wednesday 7th September
I used to really enjoy window shopping, especially as a young woman. I worked for several years just a few streets to the north of Oxford Street, the Marble Arch end, and only a stone’s throw from Beauchamp Place and Bond Street itself. There were far fewer tourists around in those days, and quite often even Oxford Street would be almost deserted mid-week, an impossible scenario today. I only had an hour’s lunch-break, and would rush my meal, and dash out for thirty minutes of sheer indulgence. I used to imagine I was one of those wealthy ladies who could just drop in to Fenwicks or one of the smaller boutiques and buy anything in the shop, just on a whim. I used to dream that I didn’t have to work for a living, that I hadn’t only ten minutes left of my lunch break, that I didn’t live with Grandma and my mother in our tawdry monstrosity of a house in Putney.
And then when I became one of those ladies, or almost, I did occasionally shop there again. But I was never profligate, I still looked for value, and can remember being appalled (and still am) at the prices of some of the clothes featured in the Sunday Times Magazine, or in the fashion pages of the Telegraph. Five hundred pounds for a quite ordinary looking blouse, just because it happens to be designed by a top name, though you would never know just from looking at it. And shoes nowadays start at over two hundred, and there seems to be no upper limit for a pair of “Jimmy Choos“. The worst, by far are handbags; what is it with handbags that the uglier they are, the more chunky metal, the more messed about the leatherwork, the higher the price tag. And so, nowadays, even though I could actually afford to buy almost anything in the whole shop, I am quite contented to idle away an hour or two at a time, simply window shopping.