Saturday, 30 March 2013

Marx & Spencers: From the Frontline

If you were in the largest Marks and Spencer's in the world today you may have seen a pair of panda eyes in corduroys shuffling around the place with a confused look on his face, as if he just woke up on the goose down pillows section after a hard night of drinking. You should have said hi, because I was having a miserable time.
The first thing I saw when I came in were mannequins dressed as if they were real people, and extremely middle class folk at that. They lounged around in striped linen shirts in soft pastel colours, cardigans slung with the sleeves over their shoulders, Panama hat grasped between two fingers, aviator sunglasses tucked into a chest pocket. I was not being sold clothes, I told myself: I was being sold a lifestyle. And a lifestyle in which it was summer, no less.
The people were not holding guns, so you would be forgiven for thinking there was no war going on. They were however, wearing their own kind of a uniform, and occasionally one of the wrinkling old men would lean and pause for such a while that I would have to make sure that they hadn't become a mannequin or suffered a stroke. Even the uniforms of the people working there were so tastefully arranged, customised to each sales assistant within a colour scheme of slate grey and lime green.

I stumbled around the womenswear section, disillusioned after seeing a custom built iPhone the size of my torso. A lady approached me and asked me if might try the menswear section, to which I replied that I had and it was so similar that the only way for me to get something new was to start wearing dresses. Then again, I was wearing corduroys so she was probably judging me as much as I was judging her.

The child's clothes section was so gender stereotyped and sponsored to pieces that I had to have a sit down, get my inhaler out and tell myself that in some countries it's illegal to advertise clothes for set genders. And on the matter of stripping innocence from children, I was in the food section when I saw a four month year old child be asked by his father if they should buy some mild cheddar, to which the child presumably replied 'No you cretin, get some of the Wensleydale with cranberries in it!'

I willed security to come and escort me out as I whispered loud enough for the nearest staff to hear that these plates are so expensive they should bounce if I dropped them and that these cotton ducks are so middle class I ought to spread them on some canap├ęs and serve them at a boat race note to self they would be very different events if you replaced the c in race with a v.

Content with the fact that my entire monetary wealth wouldn't suffice to buy a pair of trousers in Marks and Spencer's, I took my parents arm in arm and shuffled to Tesco, where relatively similar products are sold for affordable numbers. Mother handed me a stonewashed shirt with a ladies figure printed on it and said 'This is the sort of thing you wear' which is her way of saying 'I see seventeen year old boys wearing these on television why can't you be normal.'

I call it a class war but there's no real political lessons to be found here, just a plea: Don't give your money to Marks and Spencer's.


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