Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Gateway to hell

A most disagreeable and terrifying thing happened to me in the early afternoon today. I was taken to Primark on Oxford Street. I’m not even sure why we went there. I think Nathan wanted to buy some ridiculously cheap, gay vests for his show...

It took hours to get there. Primark is situated in the horrible part of Oxford Street; the bit that’s full of shuffling tourists, nowhere near Soho, or anywhere else you'd want to visit unless you're heading to Hyde Park. By the time we got there, I’d committed several gruesome murders in my head. How slowly do people in that awful part of town want to move?

Primark on Oxford Street is huge; so huge, in fact, that once you go inside you immediately lose your bearings and can’t find the door again! The men’s floor – as always in these shops – is found in the most inaccessible part of the building. The escalators that take you up there are hidden somewhere in the middle. The up escallator is nowhere near the down. Escape is almost impossible. The only route back down to the ground floor takes you on a tour of every bleeding aisle. Rail after rail of cheap fabric. Just think how many chemicals died to make those leatherette jackets!

The place smells like a Chinese sweat shop. I know this, because all the “clothes” on sale in the place were made in one, by thousands of pairs of underpaid, underage hands.

It’s like a jumble sale. The sort of jumble sale you imagine in your worst nightmares. Clothes are strewn all over the floor; thrown there by hundreds of over-excited, fat bargain-hunting fingers. The search for the right size is obviously like some kind of war. Things get ripped and pulled into different shapes. It's impossible to know what the clothes were meant to look like before they were mauled, stained and abused by hundreds of people smelling of chip fat, biscuits and wee wee.

You can’t move for people. The queues for the tills are miles long, and snake around the aisles. Fat, slow people block the remaining space, hauling hideous baskets around with them, that look more like the sorts of things you store children’s toys inside. Periodically, you trip over someone who's simply given up; the heat and unbearable claustrophobia and lack of anything nice to buy, coupled with an inability to escape, proving far too much to bear. I saw at least 4 people who were just sitting on the floor, propped up against a clothing rail, melting into a pool of their own sweat and helpless tears.

Surely shopping, at least for women, has to be an enjoyable experience? But Primark on Oxford Street, is plainly the gateway to hell. Avoid it like the plague...

Speaking of which, 350 years ago, Pepys ordered a takeaway dinner in the shape of a piece of meat from a cookshop, which he ate in his house, surrounded by workmen. A little bit of work in the afternoon concluded a very quiet day. Obviously the excitement of the Coronation had proven too much for him, and he’d gone into hibernation.

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