out, who’s hip and who isn’t, and if I do buy something by someone I’ve heard of it never has the desired effect because they are usually
by the time I have heard of them. Anyway, I’m sure you have to be under a size twelve at least to wear anything that has ‘S’ or ‘M’ listed as the size, or ‘One’ or ‘Two’ for that matter, and I haven’t been under a twelve since 1996 so I just buy clothes in places with proper size labels and roomy trousers. But at least I’m on safe ground with a pair of boots – as long as they aren’t knee length, we all know knee-length boots are designed for women who don’t have calves. But I’m not going to get started on that with only fifteen minutes to spare.
I see a shiny ruby stiletto ankle boot with a crocodile-skin look and a zip. I pick it up and march over to the assistant.
‘How much is this?’
‘£139.99, madam.’ She is arranging the evening party-wear mules.
‘Mmm … got anything around the eighty quid mark?’
I finally get her attention and she briefly looks me up and down. Without speaking she picks up a pair of patent-leather granny boots with a pointy toe and laces and a clumpy heel. Like I say, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t cool and anyway I don’t like them.
It’s time to rationalise. I have ten minutes until I meet the eighteen-year-old I want to look nice for, so that after I chuck him he can look back and yearn for a glamorous elusive older woman and what might have been. In order to achieve this I am considering spending £80 on a pair of boots I don’t like and will not be able to walk in after ten minutes. So, really, what is another fifty quid for a pair of boots I could love sincerely and won’t be able to walk in after ten minutes? In fact, it’s an economy to get a pair I at least like. I hand her the crocodile-skin-looking ones hoping they aren’t real but deciding not to check just in case.
‘I’ll take these in a size seven. I’ll wear them now, I don’t need a box, here is my card,’ I blurt out before I can change my mind. Five minutes later I’m approaching the escalator with some wobbly trepidation.
Cosmetics next, Clarins counter. Genius plan on the verge of implementation.
‘Hello, I’m not sure if I’m using the right foundation and I’d like a makeover please?’ I smile brightly at a lady called Denise.
‘I’m sorry, Madam, but our makeover technician has gone home now. She will be available tomorrow though, if you would like to book?’ she informs me as she busily refills the lipstick dispenser.
‘Gone home? Well, can’t you do it?’ I plead.
‘I’m sorry, madam, I’m not qualified yet. I’ve only done blusher and lips. I’ve not even started on eyes.’
‘Oh well, can you just give me some stuff and I’ll do it?’ I find myself saying with more than an edge of desperation.
She leans back and looks at me. ‘You’ve got an unexpected date, haven’t you,’ she says, crossing her arms and pursing her perfectly drawn lips into a thin line.
‘Well. OK. Yes. In less than ten minutes … does this happen a lot?’ I am shocked, but only because I thought it was the best idea I’d had in ages and I was planning to boast about it later.
‘All the time. You’d be surprised, they come queuing up in here on a Saturday, don’t know which foundation to use, can’t do blusher, ya de ya de ya. Any excuse. We usually get at least two purchases, though.’ And she eyes me meaningfully. Oh well, what’s another fifty quid?
‘OK, I’ll buy the mascara and the lipstick but please please please lend me some foundation!’ I beg her, clasping my hands together in quite a pathetic display of neediness. It seems to work though, as she smiles at me with a pitiful look and relents.
‘OK, it’s a deal. Do you want me to do your blusher?’ Seven minutes later I’m done.
‘Thanks, Denise, you’re a brick.’ I am about to make my way to Hosiery when she calls
Paul Stewart, Chris Riddell