There is a shop that is more dangerous to me than Harvey Nichols and Harrods put together at sale time. It is more dangerous because it is unassuming, everyday and familiar, so much so that the loss of income when stepping through its doors is neither as feared nor as thought about as any of the aforementioned. This is because thinking of Marks and Spencer as one of the gigantic retail sharks out there, poised to attack one’s own purse, is about as imaginable as your own grandama in Agent Provocateur undies, dragging on a fag and talking to her toyboy in a hushed tone.
Still, at least in my case, Marks has a lot to answer for insofar as mindless spending goes. They beat over and over Saint Laurent and Vuitton and Dior, despite their four-figure bags, of which I own five. Yes, because the last important bag I purchased dates back to 2003 (Yves’s Anja bag, if you must know), while Marks has seen the inside of my purse at least once a week since then. While at the uni these sprees amounted to no more than a tenner at a time (but, again, how often did we use to stop by for a ‘couple of cookies’ in those days when Twinings tea and indeed a Marks biscuit meant the height of sophistication among our flatmates?), these days I spend more than a tenner. A lot more. And a lot more often.
I have two probs with Marks. One, they are both in vogue and in Vogue which means that I am effectively trailing their floors to see whether the clothes look as good live as they do in print. This often prompts me to try something on, just to check the drape you understand, and you can imagine what happens afterwards, even though I know perfectly well that I will bin the dress/skirt/top before the season is out. They just do not look good for long.
Two, their Christmas tack is utterly irresistible and I really mean irresistible, especially when it hits the stores adorned with those ubiquitous red cardboard strips of 3 for 2. Thinking of which, I don’t think I ever saw the stuff sold on anything other than 3 for 2 which, I presume, really means it is naturally singly overpriced. Oh well, never mind. Today I left with an armful of lovely little things, including these adorable tins. Or are they actually biscuits? Or sweeties? Well, I wouldn’t know, for in all important matters, it is style, not substance that is the vital thing.