Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Absolutely no rhyme or reason to this blogging away from home. I feel oddly naked without my desk and my photographs and my thesaurus and the picture of Mrs Woolf above my desk. Still, you all left such kind comments yesterday that I shall bash on.

Day Two; After the Train:

The lovely cousin and I go to John Lewis. In the old days, we used to run around Soho until all hours of the night, picking up men whose last names we did not always catch. (I admit this was more me than her, but still.) Now we trot sedately along to John Lewis. For some reason it makes me think of Uncle Matthew in The Pursuit of Love and his religious trips to the Army and Navy.

'It's not really that dowdy,' we say to each other, 'not any more.'

It's just it's the kind of place where one still remembers great aunts shopping for Lisle stockings. Thing is: I AM now a great aunt, and there were in fact some perfectly marvellous Lisle stockings which quite tempted me.

I need red earrings. The cousin, who has an eagle eye, finds the exact right pair; vintage in style, dangly but not too dangly, with stones the colour of carmine.

'Why don't I get them for you for your birthday?' the cousin says.

I duck my head. I am bit shy about being bought things.

'Well, you know, there's no need,' I mumble.

The sales lady, who turns out to be a no-nonsense Filipina called Angela, says: 'Yes, why not?'

'But,' I say, 'it's my dear cousin. She doesn't have to buy me a present.'

'Yes, yes,' says Angela. 'It's your cousin, she should buy you earrings. It's how things are supposed to be. After all,' she says, looking at me sternly, 'it's not your birthday every year.'

I decide this is the most gnomic, zennish thing I have ever heard. I let the lovely cousin buy the earrings.

'I've been here thirty years,' says Angela. 'I am an ANTIQUE.'

'You are a credit to the John Lewis Partnership,' says my cousin, staunchly.

'Oh do tell my manager that,' says Angela.

So we go and find her manager and tap her on the shoulder and say Angela is a credit to the store, and the manager asks if we can write it down, so my cousin writes a very elegant testimonial about how kind and helpful and funny Angela is and that John Lewis should be proud. And that is how we buy the red earrings.

Next time you are near Oxford Street and you need some jewellery, go to John Lewis and ask for Angela.

Then we went upstairs and bought some red parent wedge heels. I have never worn wedges before. (The cousin made me do it.) They also have peep toes. I am quite beside myself with raciness.

Then we went to Soho and ate bresaola as thin as paper and smoked mozzarella with rocket and squid with white polenta. We talked about life and death and families and marriage and red shoes. Also: the importance of the small things, which you know is my enduring theme.

Now I am going to a party. I am going to wear a flower in my hair. This is not a metaphor.

I am very sorry that I have no strong opinions on the burning issues of the day. This part of the trip seems to be long on frivolity. I shall return soon to strict hair shirts and grave contemplation. In the meantime, there are RED PATENT WEDGES.


  1. Had similar conversation with lovely Waitrose worker who had been there forever and told me that John Lewis gave a paid sabbatical (6 weeks??) when you had worked for 25 years which struck me as such good practice that it made me cheerful. Enjoy the party.

  2. You are living it up. I would like red patent wedges. It seems to me red shoes shore up the old confidence like nothing else. Mind you don't go home with anyone unsuitable or will you be spending tomorrow in Bar Italia in a pair of impossibly large sunglasses?

  3. It must be something about Tuesday evenings; I am post-work despondent and reading your posts always makes me laugh out loud. To the extent that Boo said 'Mummy why are you laughing at the computer?'. It was the comment about racy red shoes and then everything after. I worked at John Lewis when I was a sixth form student and the whole Partnership thing is quite bizarre (and lovely). Now when I go back to that Waitrose store to shop, I see ladies there with whom I stacked shelves some 18 years ago. And they are still there. They must love it. God bless John Lewis. Lou x

  4. I so enjoyed today's tale in JL and will be sure to make a special detour for Angela next time I am there.

    Your new red shoes sound just fantastic in a sort of sexy Dorothy way.

    Have an outrageously flirty night!!

  5. Dear Tania,I am so glad you have recovered;I was quite worried on your behalf.Yes John Lewis is incomparable.Sue

  6. Thank goodness you've bounced back from yesterday's demoralising journey. I hope the party is glorious.

  7. I worked in that John Lewis, in Oxford Street, in 1974-6 and have lovely memories...ah, happy days. Haven't been back for over 20 years but now you've tweaked my curiosity...

  8. What a gorgeous post. I LOVE that you wrote a note. I think that sums up your lovely self. Enjoy your red wedges and earrings and have fun.

    I miss your darling girls...

  9. I really think it is as important to write notes of praise as of complaint. In fact I think it is more important as very few people do that. The shoes sound fantastic. Red shoes are a bit special.

  10. Go the red patent wedges! They sound very racy.

    More importantly, perhaps, they also sound survivable 'til the wee, small hours.

    I hope you have a wonderful time.

  11. This brought such a huge smile to my face. Red shoes are an instant winner anyway, but Angela sounds just delightful.

    ps - never stop with the frivolous posts. I enjoy them just as much as the more serious ones.

  12. I'm very behind- happy happy happy birthday!

    John Lewis is wonderful- an oasis on Oxford Street- and it's so not cool that it is, if you see. also the food hall might be my favourite place to buy actual food (rather than look at food porn).

    Angela sounds super- now all I need is the cousin!

  13. Oh Tania, what a great post. Everyone needs a bit of frivolity and the red earrings and the red patent wedges sound fabulous.

    I laughed at "In the old days, we used to run around Soho until all hours of the night, picking up men whose last names we did not always catch." I could say the same although usually I ended up going out with them for two years afterwards! I'm glad you're having fun xx

    PS. and I'd forget about the great aunt thing!!


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