Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Paper. Well and truly Chased.
I'm a very good shopper. I've been shopping my whole life. Honed my craft, perfected my skills. I know how to navigate every aisle so as to avoid unfortunate doublings up or worse, missing a potential buy. I can even hold conversations while I shop - although my ears are listening to whoever is speaking at me, my eyes are elsewhere, darting left, darting right, never missing a trick.
Problem is, most shopping trips cost me money too, so I've also had to acquire the skill of restraint. I'm not particularly good at this, but it's got to be done when you're saving for a wedding, or just generally more steadfast things than H&M's latest garments. Like a house. Still, no point having a house if you don't have a pretty table runner for your kitchen table. I know how to make a house a home. I just don't own a house. But I own a lot of crap for the one I'll never be able to afford because I bought too much crap instead of saving for a deposit.
So usually I have to practise self restraint. But then along came Amy. Amy's birthday present to me was a voucher for Paperchase, our mutual spiritual home, filled to busting as it is with greeting cards, birthday cards, fancy pens and luxury notebooks. Amy and I share a love of stationery. Any excuse, we'll be using snail mail to communicate, just so we can send each other a little card with an owl on it. Nothing says 'I saw this and thought of you,' quite like seeing something and posting it to someone. Royal Mail got that slogan damn right.
The voucher present was mega, involve as it did not only Paperchase, my favourite shop, but shopping, my favourite past time. We thought it only right to take an actual day off in order to go to Paperchase, the mecca, the flagship, the church of Kim and Amy. And go voucher crazy.
I've never been to this Paperchase before, the best I've got is a pokey one-floor number in Bath. It was a mecca, housing everything you could ever want from your stationer. A heady concoction of wrapping paper, cards, pens, notebooks, albums, frames, umbrellas, and things you don't really need but really really want, like 76 different styles of card holder for your Oyster card, your passport, your credit cards, your business cards.
Amy and I arrived and quickly started taking things slowly. We were in no rush. We secured a basket each and started snaking our way around the ground floor - if conversation or excitement accidentally had us miss out a section, one eagle eyed swerve later and we were back, chucking things in our baskets like there was no recession. (Which there wouldn't be, if we all just carried on shopping, by the way. I do my bit.)
By the time we got to the sale items at the back of the third floor, our baskets were weighing us down so we hid them under a table while we wandered off, fawning fancy wrapping paper and taking photos of each other holding up pictures of owls.
Busy enjoying ourselves, we didn't see the shop assistant come over and start tidying up after us. Amy, suddenly pulled from our flight of fancy and fearful that all our hard work on floors one and two was for nothing, shot him a look of despair. 'Have you put our baskets back?' she demanded, with what can only be described as a war cry, as if rallying me to rugby tackle him while she poked him in the face with a pink biro. He held his hands up to protest his innocence. 'What baskets?' he stammered, his voice trembling as he backed away, suddenly remembering he had a pressing engagement in the store room.
Well, we had spent over two hours chasing paper already, it would have been a calamity to have to start again. Although it was a calamity I'd have secretly enjoyed.
Till bound, Amy tells me that she's found out we're the only culture on this Earth who don't haggle the price down. So as they start bagging up our goods, Amy lays on the charm. She wants 10% off, for no other reason than the fact we were stood there, buying stuff.
She tried telling Steven, the cashier, that we were journalists. Nothing. She tried telling him he could have a free pen if he used his staff discount on our purchases. Nothing. Our culture isn't ready for this.
Or so I thought.
Next stop, Habitat, where I acquire the aforementioned table runner. For the table I don't own in the house I don't own.
Undeterred, Amy tries again. 'Can we get 10% off that?' she asks.
This time - boom! That's right, for no good reason at all, we got 10% off. No frayed edges, no stains, no rhyme, no reason. We just asked and we just got.
We took our massive savings of about £1.07 and exchanged it for an absinthe cocktail later in the evening. A story for another time, my friends, but suffice to say, my 'I'm not drinking again' mantra enforced after my birthday two weeks ago, rang out in my head over and over again as I threw up my absinthe cocktail in Amy's sink later that night. I almost wiped my sorry brow on my new table runner, but luckily for me, I passed out before I had the chance.
Bottoms up! Absinthe cocktail and a sambuca chaser.
Fear evident on my sorry little face.