Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Bit of a Let Down

'Well, really, Sheila, What did you expect?'

This from a man who practically skids to a halt at any sign saying '75% Off!' when he's no idea what the goods are.

In 1959 I'd queued overnight outside the then fairly new Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford -On-Avon to get tickets for Coriolanus. It was a school trip and the drama teacher hadn't managed to get enough tickets so we took it in turns to camp outside the theatre overnight to be first in the queue for the day ones. I still remember the warm August night and the excitement.

I hadn't really expected R to agree to overnight camping to get M&S products for one penny - the price they were when the store first started up. Besides, I wasn't sure what the loo arrangements would be. I had expected he'd be there with me at 9am and that the goods would be the usual ones. Maybe not cashmere sweaters, but at least ordinary underwear and handbags. But no - when I joined the queue, R to follow when he'd finished his porridge, I was handed a leaflet with illustrations of about 15 items. They included a tea-towel, a wallet and a mug with a logo. You had to choose five different items - no grabbing five leather passport holders thinking you could give the spares as Christmas presents.

By ten o'clock the doors still hadn't opened and I was so far from the front I was in the delivery area. I lost my place every time we were marshalled aside so a lorry could get in. The reason for the hold-up was Twiggy signing copies of a history of the store, priced at £9.99, news that was relayed by a man in a straw boater who had been 'entertaining' the queue with a length of rope and a metal ring.

I'd had two text messages from R - one to say he'd joined the queue, and another five minutes later to say he'd left. At a quarter past ten, still no movement so I walked as well.

I was feeling quite let down, and even crosser when, clutching my free pennant and badge, I joined R and found out he'd been drinking coffee, given away in Oxford Street to people at the front of the queue.

There's a lesson there somewhere.

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