Well, we’re all checked into the Hyatt I’m still feeling that first large star burst of energy that only the thought of discovering new and exciting places can do – despite being terribly jet lagged, I hoof it down onto Oxford Street. I’m in need or a jumper or two, both of which I neglected to pack.
So, I find myself standing at Primark department store the main window shows a collection of garish, and outlandish array of Christmas jumpers, leggings and gloves proudly on display. Here I can choose between Zippy the Snowman with his pom, pom red nose and fluffy flying scarf, maybe I prefer Santa with a large big red felt nose, with a dozen bells suspended mid-air, or perhaps I prefer being a rain-deer and adorning myself with a brightly chiseled mustard yellow nose. By now of course I’m moving onto the bottom department, leggings. Do I wish to display myself as a Christmas Tree or imagine that I’m suffering hallucinations whilst finding a thousand Santa Claus crawling up from my ankles to waist!
Yes, there is entire city of women displaying themselves in these tasteless and outlandish garments that would have even Bridget Jones raising her eyebrows in sheer embarrassment.
I doubt that any of these jumpers can be displayed on my person while I’m at the Hyatt, so I resist the urge to be like the rest of the pack and pick out a plain cross stitch red pink jumper, another in a classic grey silver, along with a deep lilac flecked with golden black strands. I take my 3 items to the change room to be met by crowd of wild elephants, walking, carts full to the brim, with as much clothing, and bits of clutter that they have been able to knock from the shelves. I spend a lot of time studying the colour of the white walls while patiently waiting for my turn. I finally make it the entrance of the change room. A bright sign proudly announces, “Only 8 items to be taken to change room – For more than 8 items, please re- join the queue.” All I can do is snort, muttering all the while that I won’t be re-joining this queue again if my life depends on it!!! None of the jumpers quite fit, and my patience is wearing thin. I pick the next size up off the rack, crossing my fingers hoping they will fit, while I fight my way to the checkout!
Waiting to pay, reminds me of a herding pen, cows waiting, with looks of utter boredom and long-suffering on their faces while they spend tedious hours waiting to be milked! There is always a pusher in every crowd, Martha, trying to get in at start of the queue. “Is this the line dear”, she asks. I’m getting a bit exasperated by this stage, so my response is “on, on, move on that way, about 1 mile down the corridor.” “Are you sure”, she says! My response is, a very terse, “yes! Now hoof it”.” I must have said something right, the couple behind me, gave a very satisfied smug smile! At least someone’s day has been brightened.
I’m still jet lagged, very excited on my very first day in London, but I’m now dressed in my new smart grey jumper, map in hand for a stroll to ‘The Wallace Collection”. I then spend the next hour walking up and down the same main street only to have found that had I taken a little left turn I would have found The Wallace Collection, so much more quickly. And what a collection it is. All those years of Art History and books poured and studied over at school finally come to life. Frans Hals, ‘The Laughing Cavalier’. Rembrandt’s, Rubens, all just inches away. I am truly salivating at the array of paintings, the paneled rooms encased in their silk rich wallpapers with the most elegant Emeralds, lilacs, and blues, colour coordinated to match the perfectly wide paneled halls with their marbled floors, high ceilings and mahogany lined stair cases. The scene perfect, gracious. And, so I conclude, it is absolutely true, money cannot buy happiness, but it can buy you extraordinary beauty in which to be miserable in!
I leave this beautiful mansion, stone columns and wide drive, only to find myself a block later pushing, shoving and wondering if some extraordinary emergency is taking place because there is no space before me, next to, in front of or behind me. I consider that maybe it’s a mass migration of birds, but even my dulled and tired brain realises that it’s humans out for a day of fun! I’m not sure it’s fun, because no one wants to move they just stare at window display after window display. Even the Boots Store on Oxford Street has the look of a wild pack of wolves ravaging the shelves.
Finally, I find myself back at The Hyatt sipping Martinis in lovely crystal stemmed, Art Deco fashioned glasses, bobbing with their speared jade green plump olives. Excuse me please, waiter………