John Lewis is one of the grand old dames of the British high street (Marks and Spencer is the other). The company’s enviable reputation for quality and service has enabled the group to weather the lashings of recession better than most. Not that you’d know that from our experience of the Norwich branch. There was a cute little corner of our kitchen crying out for a bijou table, a place for Liam to listen to Radio 4 and munch his early-morning muesli before a busy day at the doc’s fiddling the data. We found just the thing in a little corner of the local John Lewis. After the bruising press gang trials of Turkey, shopping in Blighty is an eternal joy (except at Christmas, when it’s every man for himself). But things are not always as they seem. There’s a Grand Canyon of difference between being bullied into submission by the pretty boys in skin-tight shirts and being ignored completely by the snotty partners who are too busy gossiping with their co-workers. It took a lifetime to get hold of our goods. And while I’m ranting, what’s with the take-the-ticket-to-the-collection-point business? It’s just an Argos but not nearly as fast or efficient. ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ boast the John Lewis adverts. ‘Never Knowingly Served,’ more like.
Post Script: I used to know a handsome young Spaniard called Juan Luis Salle, known about town as the ‘John Lewis Sale’ because he was never knowingly undersold.