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The Mystery of ‘The Sales’ Uncovered

Bobber Riot

"Quick, there's an extra 2% off all beige socks!"

Shocking news has reached me here at PFPT Towers that at this very moment, hordes of normally sane people are flocking out of their safe and cosy homes and willingly entering into a bizarre behaviour known as “hitting the sales”. Sadly, after years of extensive testing, it has become apparent that I was born without the shopping gene and so I decided to hit the streets to investigate what all the fuss is about.

Having fought my way through a hysterical melee outside an electrical goods purveyor’s, I approached a Mrs Woosterford of Kensington and asked why she felt the need to venture out onto the streets today. “Well dearie, it’s a tradition that goes back as far as I can remember. We all come out into the streets as soon as we’ve eaten all the cold turkey and Quality Streets, not the strawberry or the coffee ones of course, and see who can survive the most ‘sale rail rumbles’. I’ve made it to round 7 this morning and am about to encounter my 8th challenger in that knitwear shop behind us. Apparently there’s only one pink cable-knit sweater in a size not designed for a toddler or a tank so it’s going to be quite the fight. I’ve come tooled-up with my sharpest umbrella and a I’ve sewn bricks into the elbow pads of my mackintosh. Must dash.”

I stopped another passer-by, a Mr Fairfield of Twickenham, and asked him if he had arrived early today. “Silly woman. I’ve been here since 03:00am as everyone knows that the shops open at 06:00 and only have enough produce in their stock rooms to last until 06:02. After that you have to fight to the death over a broken garlic press, half a meter of garden hose and a solitary Hello Kitty mitten.” Judging by the demented look on his blood-spattered face, I thought it best not to keep him any longer and left him to carry on wrestling a schoolgirl for possession of a Crossroads DVD. 

I decided, for my own safety, to talk to someone who was less involved in a shop floor brawl and spoke to a young lady waiting in a static queue outside a shoe shop on Oxford Street. I asked her what shoes she was hoping to buy. “Shoes? I’m not queueing for shoes. This queue is for the hat department of Harrods. Only 2.4 miles to go! I’m a massive fan of queuing, it is, after all, the national sport of Great Britain. Do you know if there’s a loo at the end of this? I’ve been stood here since Christmas Eve.”

Further down the line I met a Mr Giles St Chalfont who told me that his good lady wife loves coming to the clothes shops right after Christmas to kick start her New Year diet. Apparently just 3 minutes under the harsh cellulite-enhancing glare of a cramped fitting room cubicle light, with just half a bedraggled curtain to protect your festively plump modesty from the critical eyes of the whippet-thin teen model shop assistants really puts you off eating for a good 3 months. A sobbing sound could be heard from behind Mr St Chalfont but no further comment was issued.

A black-eyed Miss Newham of Tottenham said that she liked to “play as a team”. Apparently this enhances the whole experience. “Me and my mates take it in turns to pick a shop, drag the others round it, asking for opinions that we totally ignore and then we all have to stand around outside the fitting rooms while someone goes in and tries on 20-30 items. It’s such a laugh. If my friends aren’t available, it becomes a romantic day out for me and my boyfriend. He gets to carry all my bags and boxes and then I let him sit outside the fitting room with all the other lads. They look so sweet all sat there in a row, pretending to be really bored and brow-beaten. You should see what face he pulls when I make him sit outside the fitting room of the lingerie shop; it’s a really good impression of an embarrassed serial killer. You can’t put a price on that kind of quality time spent together.”

Miss Newham then added that she couldn’t wait to have children, as a fully loaded bratmobile and flock of tantruming toddlers is one of the best ways to clear your path through the crowded stores and trip up grannies with their brick-lined rain coats, thus ensuring you get to at least level 10 in the sale rail rumbles. Apparently buggies make great aisle blockades, giving you enough time to grab 16 half price novelty egg poachers while maintaining your coveted place as 164th in the queue for the check-out.

Having discovered what great fun everyone seemed to be having and how determined everyone is to keep the tradition of “hitting the sales” alive, I thought I would speak to one more person and find out exactly what sort of awesome essentials are being procured and just how much money people are saving.

Mr Piddleton of Birmingham was only too glad to regale me with victory tales through what he had left of his broken teeth. “I managed to get a new set of car tyres for only £40.00. They were originally £120.00 so I’m really chuffed with that. I don’t own a car but did you hear me? £120.00 down to £40.00! I’d have been mad not to! I also got a size 6 ladies dress for £15.00. No, I don’t have a wife but seriously, £15.00!!! I bought this thingy here that seems to have something to do with horses or armpits or… whatever. It was reduced from £500.00 to just £100.00, how can you say no to bargains like that? It’s like I’ve actually made money today!”

Clearly my genetic predisposition is putting me at a great disadvantage here. I seem to have missed out on so much fun and so many impromptu ‘bargains’ that I didn’t even know I needed. If only there were some other way for me to make well researched, cost-compared purchases all year round, avoiding queues, elbows and screaming infants. If only I could try clothes on in the comfort of my own well-lit boudoir and if only I could buy really bulky items without having to drag them all the way home through legions of masonry-clad seniors… Oh look, The Internet!

About prettyfeetpoptoe

I live in London and have both my own legs so I am fortunate enough to get out and about on occasion. I form many views on the things that I see and do and love nothing better than a session of linguistic gymnastics in order to share these views.

24 responses »

  1. Enjoyed your report. Thankfully my curiosity about sales seems to have evaporated along with this week’s ration of testosterone.

  2. First class news report!

  3. I thought Miss Newham from Tottenaaaam would’ve just rioted and procured stuff for free, or was that in August only?!

  4. Of course, there’s something to be said about the herd mentality and shops in the high streets of London. One only has to cast one’s mind back to the August riots and there was a similar fever pitch need to access consumer goods at cut-down prices. Well, so cheap they were free. Okay, a fair bit of law breaking ensued but if it was good enough for Tottenham, then it was fine for Clapham Junction, Lewisham, Ealing Broadway etc. As Kayleigh stated at 9.48pm, Miss Newham may have been better behaved this time round but I bet she was casting a wistful eye back on those hot August nights as against schlepping in the cold of December…

  5. And I thought we Yanks were out of our minds the day after Christmas! But you have to admit, the sales are outstanding!

  6. My daughter was crazy enough to go out shopping on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the report was that her and her friend were able to acquire all the items on their wish lists, the problem arose when the went to get in line to pay. It was much like the young lady you spoke to on Oxford Street. My daughter and friend decided they didn’t need to stand in line over 2 hours and left everything in their cart and exited the store.

  7. Ha! 🙂

    This reminds me of the best sale I’ve ever heard of; 100% off the useless crap you don’t buy… amazing.

    It’s good to see another person in the “I don’t give a crap about sales” camp.

  8. I marvel at these shoppers. God love them all for being that determined. As for me, while I do love to Christmas shop, I’m happy to pass up that particular madness (and the rush in the States on Black Friday). I mean, someone was stabbed at Oxford Street on Boxing Day. I had to presume it was over a pair of jeans. Good for you, staying in PFPT Towers. With wine, I hope. Or some other warming potion.

    • The stabbing is indeed true and it was for trainers. Trainers?! Now, a nice pair of stilettos I would understand.

      I am indeed holed up in PFPT Towers with wine. Wine that was ordered on Tinterweb and delivered to my door. I’m no fool.

  9. Clever writing, never had the urge to go shopping,have no idea why anyone like it ,great to read I haven’t missed anything although London sounds rather exotic from where I sit being holed up in my gumtree bush shack [ps I love selling ]

    • I’ve thought of London being many things before but never exotic. I shall keep my eyes peeled for parrots and palm trees when I next get on the tube train.

      Don’t ever let shopping pique your interest, it’s tedious at best and lethal at worst – literally!

  10. You make me treasure my internet shopping even more now.

  11. “Oh look, The Internet.” I believe those words were first uttered by Lewis and Clark when, searching for the Northwest Passage, ended up in the state of Washington…where they discovered a much better route – the information superhighway.

    And nice bit about the sales too.

    • They would have saved themselves a lot of time if they had just headed there first. The Information Super Highway is by far most convenient way to travel, whether you’re heading to Shoppington or Pornville.

      What was the funny name of their native guide? Google, wasn’t it.

  12. Missy Amber

    I went away for a couple of days after Boxing Day, and on my first shopping venture out was shocked to discover that the shops appeared to have been attacked by a swarm of plastic & polyester-eating locusts. Father Christmas rather likes to pick up some knock-down stocking fillers 11 months in advance, but it seems he’d left it too late. A novelty Dr Who sound effect key ring and some reindeer toddler pyjamas were all he went home with. Still, he didn’t have to queue for them.

    • The shops played a cruel trick on the January sales hunters (and Father Christmas) this year as they started the price slashing chaos BEFORE Christmas. I think you were lucky to leave with your life, let alone a keyring and PJs.


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