Perfect Day

Perfect Day

Christmas comes but once a year, thank the Lord. You can almost taste the stress in the high street from the world-weary shoppers to the fixed-grin workers with tired old tinsel in their hair. I shop early to avoid the hurly-burly. We do, though, always look forward to the John Lewis festive TV ad, and this year’s offering featuring Elton John is a cracker. But then, I’ve always had a soft spot for Captain Fantastic. Predictably, a few scrooges got all bah humbug about the extravagance in these austere times; the moral high ground can be a joyless place. Besides, it’s our job to fix the ills of society, not a shop.

This year, Liam and I are having a quiet one in the microloft. The calorific grub will come courtesy of Mr Marks and Mr Spencer and the quality of the vino will go up a notch or two. Then we’ll drop onto the sofa to foot-tap our way through Mama Mia – Here We Go Again! Out on DVD just in time for Christmas. A perfect day.

Seasons Greetings

Seasons greetings to one and all. Whatever Christmas means to you, may your day be peaceful.

So This is Christmas and What Have You Done?

So This is Christmas and What Have You Done?

We all know Christmas is big for business so Christmas ads must be big too. John Lewis, that bellwether of the British high street, usually leads the pack. Its lavish TV offerings rarely fail to tug at the heart strings or loosen the purse, and this year is no different with a theme centred round the loneliness of old age. Like I need reminding that, childless as we are, our incontinent years might be a little bit crap. John Lewis has been criticised for spending so much on a TV campaign when they could have donated to charity instead. I’m all for bashing the corporate world for not paying their dues and not doing their bit. But in this case, the reproach is a tad misplaced. The campaign is supported by Age UK and has resulted in thousands of extra volunteers for the festive period. Besides, it’s our collective responsibility to care for the vulnerable, not a shop’s.

We also know Christmas is all about over-excited kids brainwashed into wanting bigger and better, faster and flashier. It’s all down to cynical marketing and playground peer pressure: pester-power is the biggest bang in the advertiser’s armoury.  Or is it? Grab a tissue and watch this clever message from IKEA Spain. It had me in floods.

The moral of my story? Spend more time with your kids and spare a thought for the two old fairies at the bottom of the garden.

With thanks to John Lennon for the title of this post.

Never Knowingly Undersold

Yes, I know it’s a garden table

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 like 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.

Other posts on a shopping theme include:

Nick It!

Retail Therapy