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Dr John Hawkins

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Retail Narcolepsy

Posted on 2004/01/03 22:56:03 (January 2004).

A term I invented today and want to immediately claim sole credit for. This is the syndrome suffered particularly in men when being dragged around shops by their other halves, especially prevalent in sales season. I actually want to be interested but it can be an amazingly hard task to ward off the sleepiness at times. Yes, today me and Chie went to London and had a tour of the department stores. Despite lots of things apparently being "on sale" with "huge reductions" it still seemed to be a load of fundamentally bland clothes that were hideously over priced. I found brief respite from this unbearable boredom by being immensely criticial - out loud - of everything I didn't like. It was an interesting experiment, and it seemed to genuinely offend shop assistants, which I actually found surprising. Some of the metaphors I particularly enjoyed myself were "it's like old unwashed net curtains", "it's ambitiously repugnant" and "it's really good because it's just a completely normal, dull and uninteresting skirt, but look, they want sixty quid for it". Still, even this modus operandi, which began as quite entertaining, did eventually lose it's charm, and by the end of the afternoon there I was - that small boy again, pleading with my mother to make this the last shoe shop, for god's sake.
The start of the day was a bit of a failure - we'd both wanted to go to Spitalfields Market, to visit Square Pie, only to find it's closed on Saturday (the entire market that is). Our plan B was actually pretty good - the dubiously titled "S & M" (Sausage and Mash, that is) just nearby Spitalifields. We ate exactly that - Sausage and Mash. I slightly regretted my choice of tomato gravy (my own fault, as I was too shy to ask if the other gravy choices were vegetarian), but the sausage and mash were both great. I particularly enjoyed the spinach and cheddar sausage.
After all shopping activity had (thankfully) ceased, we were in two minds as to whether to stay in the city for dinner, or just give up and go home. We fell into the none-too-promising activity of wandering the streets around Paddington station until, in what must have been divine intervention, we bumped into the guy from our old local Italian restaurant in Hampstead. After a brief chat where we established he's since left our former haunt, we asked him if he knew anywhere near Paddington that was good to eat at, and he pointed us in the direction of Brazas, where a friend of his worked. The food was good, and it was made all the more enjoyable by being able to chat to our waiter about a mutual friend. This was, all told, a very pleasing end result, having started off our search for food with utterly no planning whatsoever. Yet again, 2004 is boding well for what I'd previously thought to be the dying the art of randomness.

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