Feeling: IN VENERATION, ADULATION & EXULTATION
I am still fizzing so much as I type I’m surprised the old lappy keyboard hasn’t carked it upon being drenched in Pepsi Max (that was a very far taken metaphor, but go with it).
This afternoon I was introduced to the Godsend that is Primark. Honestly, the rapture is almost on par with that experienced upon making my way around Harry Potter World last night (post to come; I promise).
You see, I’d said to Christina (post to come also; mate, I’m getting a bit dotty with my dates aren’t I?) that I wanted to acquire a cheap-ish pair of track pants; having not brought any over – up until this point I have been wearing all my “play pants” in instances where trackies would usually be the go (I.e., pretty much any time it is too chilly to don active wear) and of the last week had hustled a pair of PMS’ as my own. But I wanted some that actually fit me and Christina helpfully pointed me in the direction of Primark.
(Little insertation here: I went to Camden Town where Christina works to meet her for lunch, and HOLY FUCK. How amazing is it! We went to the markets – where Christina goes pretty much every day for her midday meal – and she had a halloumi falafel “bowl” thing while I had a plate of cabbage (YUM). She showed me around the winding ways of all the trinket stalls and vast array of edible options (I was in a rhapsody-like state starting here, it must be said) and when she trottled off back to the office I wandered around a wee while longer, purchasing a few items and pretty much just being in my element amongst the atmosphere. And there was a little café called “Miss Poppy’s Cakes”! (Got a little brown paper bag from here to take home – I’m a sucker for all things with my name on (you try growing up as “Anneke” and never having any options available to you. The one time I was gifted with a personalised item was when Deb – bless her soul – bought a “Note from Anne” pad and went through each and every page adding a swirly, curvy “ke” so it had my name. What a trooper). Honestly, Camden Town. And I thought the girls’ loco of their flat in Holloway was fab).
Anyway. To Primark.
So being the big fan of walking that I am, I decided to trot rather than tube to Oxford Street to see this so-called place of prudent and parsimonious purchases. “Like it is gigantic,” Christina said upon our parting of ways. “I wish I could be there to see your reaction.” Suffice to say, expectations were pretty high. And they were absolutely smashed to smithereens.
Mate, I frittered out over H&M the first time I went into one. And it is nothing on Primark. Nothing! This place was a niggardly nirvana.
Upon entrance I was spellbound. I had sort of been envisaging some sort of UK K-Mart, a bit cheap looking with lots of crappy clothes with penny-pinched price tags. (Which some say is exactly what it actually is. And ok, maybe to a degree. But just immerse yourself in the magic, all ‘ight?). But this was H&M two-point-oh (at half the price).
(Apologies about the somewhat fuzzy and blurred snaps. My hands were shaking in frenzied ferment).
I went within the packs of punters and didn’t know whether I should cry, vomit or hysterically laugh aloud. I was on the first floor and it was a wonder world of gloriously cheap and cheerful clothing, racks upon racks of ridiculously low priced attire. And this was the first section of the first floor; I wasn’t even onto denim shorts or dresses, let alone active wear. Or PJs. Fuck my life almighty, the PJs.
I can’t even word my awe. Like I’m actually fully vocabulary-less. When a place not only has plush fur (synthetic of course) Hogwarts robes as dressing gowns, but Reese Peanut Butter Cups, Pringles and – the perks! – Friends sleepwear sets, you know you’ve struck a winner.
And a bracket of pun-themed tees? Like did someone call ahead and tell them how best to impress me?
As I roamed I was enthralled, utterly transfixed and riveted with the miscellanies. Because it wasn’t just clothing on offer, oh no – pal, the assortments branched out like the most spreading of trees into swimwear, lingerie, bedroom, cushions, gifts, home accessories, kitchen, lifestyle, storage, throws, cosmetics… (yes, I did just go onto the website to have a look just then again). Think of anything you could want and it was attainable (well, not anything. But almost). At one point I even whispered out loud, “What even is this place?”. (The woman in front did gather her children into her “person” – I.e., herself – and shepherd them away, guarded eyes never once wavering from me). (I admit, even without speaking aloud to myself I must have looked quite the eccentric, what with my Nepalese pink crotchet headband, my static blonde do, my quirky mix of active wear and my purple back pack). (As well as the full on joyous crazy eyes at the magnificent milieus).
Once I had a good 57 or so items to try on I headed to the changing rooms where a line as long as the eye could see stretched out ahead. I’m not going to sugarcoat – I did feel a pang of disheartenment at the thought of the wait and very, very fleetingly flirted with the notion of not having a fit through. But my wordo, how that queue moved! Already in the 11 seconds I had been standing idle, three people had been perused and let through to try and test their chosen garments. It was like army order, just in line and on point and marching at pace.
Upon reaching the front I was informed that I was only allowed eight items to take with me behind the swishy black curtain. I had a brief panic – what eight to take! – but the lovely lady giving us the A-Ok to go beyond the screening asphyxiated my alarm; “Just take the ones you want to try first and leave the rest in this basket,” she said. “After your first batch bring back this call card and collect your next lot.” Supremely on point and straight forward service? Oh yes it was.
So I cavorted about the cubicle for a fair while in about three different goes, making yay-and-nay piles as I went. Only the ones you just cannot leave without, I told myself. You’re not taking any of the ones you’re unsure of or are just wanting because of the insanely low cost.
So after much ferreting and furrowing I was left with a much-rummaged pile of winners. Two bikinis, a red dress, a grey top (always grey) and the initially-only-needed pair of track pants. I nervously sat down as I calculated the sum total of all the items (on my phone of course; mate, I wasn’t doing the addition in my head). And the grand figure?
Thirty-three fucking pounds.(Like NZD$69 for all you’s without XE).
I quite literally swanned to the counter to pay for my soon-to-be-belongings. I’m surprised I didn’t whistle a merry tune or have a trail of cartoon animals following in my wake. Like, how glorious was life? How fucking fab was just being?
Upon reaching the front of the line and being beckoned to a pay station (the lengthy line did not get me in a fearful fluster this time, no sir) I pulled a full-on Carrie Bradshaw with it and spread the payment across three modes – £17.50 cash, £7 card and the rest hustled onto the Kiwibank CC (we shall worry about that at a later date). The lad on the till had a great old bellyaching chuckle as I informed him he worked in the greatest place in all the land and asked if his “I heart Primark” top was able to be purchased by us unworthy shoppers (alas, a no go; it was the uniform for staff only). (Whereupon I almost asked for an application form, it must be said).
As I passed through homeware on my out I literally had to put my palms flat spec across my cheeks to block out my peripherals so as to be oblivious to the shelves piled high with all sorts of necessities – USB chargers, Bio Oil, fake eyelashes, socks -and make my way from the store to the safety of outside. (Whereupon I saw in the window a white crotchet top that honestly screamed my name. I whimpered. Whimpered).
With not a single pound in my pocket (or bag, wallet nor card availability, it must be said) I managed to hustle wifi to suss the route home and strode out on my way (Maps reckoned 1hour 16mins; made it a must-do challenge to beat it out by a good 25mins. You know you’re mega Monica Gallagh on par competitive when you defy Google as a rival).
As I strode along swinging my brown paper Primark bag (because when I thought I couldn’t possibly love the place even a fragment more, they passed me a paper recyclable bag encasing my new clothes) I snaffled a Time Out mag from a stand along the way (don’t worry – when I say “snaffle” I don’t mean “steal” – mags and the Evening Standard are provided to passers-by at no cost). For the next 20 minutes of my throttle (eyes still firmly checking out how I was getting on against Google) I leafed through the pages and came across a fairly fabulous article by one Nell Frizell, titled, “Being alone doesn’t have to be lonely”.
I feel old Nell was right on point with how I see things. I love being alone. Don’t get me wrong, I am in my ultimate element when surrounded by a bundle of people (especially when a lot of attention is focused on me, I’ll admit it) but being purely Pop brings me great glee also.
It wasn’t always the case; before I moved to Cambridge and was at Baradene I only even went to the bathroom when with at least a couple of chums. Alone-lines was something I avoided as much as I possibly could. But now I’m in a place where I am content in my own company. No not just content, but jovial in it.
Nell’s piece was saying about how she is the same and was urging others to give it a go. She was evangelising how everyone should make unescorted plans and ditch the nonsense idea that you need to experience everything with at least one other person. “Throw off the fear that being lonely is a defeat,” she ended on. “And you can start to conquer the city.”
On point Nell, on point.
As I continued my walk I watched a young school girl trotting along ahead, her skirt flouncing about and backpack bouncing. I was just reminiscing about my days trottling home from school when I laughed out loud and cantered up to catch up to her – why, this wasn’t a parading pupil! It was none other than Christina waltzing home from work! (Ok, she wasn’t actually waltzing. But the alliteration was there, so go with it ok).
I proudly presented her my procurements and told her of my Primania purchasing (“Told you,” she said) as we wandered home. It really set off the notion in my head; sometimes its the simple things. Yeah, seeing the Champs Elysees and the Saint Mark’s Basilica and Palantine Hill blew my head off, but sometimes it’s just acquiring a six-pound bikini (fuck yes I did) and walking home with one of your best friends that brings that greatest euphoria.
Pleased with life? Mate, I’m triumphant. (And wearing my eight-pound sensationally snuggly Primark trackies. Primark ambassador as a future role? Yes, I think so).