I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Why are you shopping for windows, Andrea? And why are you after little ones especially?”. To which I’d reply: I don’t mean shopping for windows, silly, I mean browsing items I can’t possibly afford in the shops of London’s glittering Covent Garden area. Yes, I may be over 40, but I still can’t keep myself in the style to which I’d like to become accustomed. Why, just this week I ate not one but two packed lunches. It’s like the internet boom never happened.
Window shopping, therefore, gives me all the satisfaction of shopping (looking at sparkly things) without any of the pain (spending money, looking at a sparkly things in one’s wardrobe and lamenting ‘what was I thinking?!’ and falling into a spiral of disappointment, debt and self-loathing). Although, come to think of it, I get the same satisfaction when doing normal shopping, too – because what tends to happen is that I try on said sparkly things and instantly think they look terrible on me. And thus no money is parted with and no self-loathing or debt ensues. Win-win!
Anyway, on this particular recent post-work evening, I took my normal window-shopping route: from Tottenham Court Road to Charing Cross station via Covent Garden and the Strand. The Strand may not be on everyone’s radar as a must-do shopping destination, but lying, as it does, between Covent Garden and Charing Cross station, and containing, as it does, both a TopShop AND a Superdrug (where I can get my shopping fix, if all else has failed, by buying some paracetamol), I can highly recommend it.
I was laden down with bags as I entered TopShop. Not because I’d been buying anything (see above), but because I was carrying overnight clothes and shoes – at least two of them – as a result of staying over at my boyfriend’s the night before. I was also carrying my very large handbag, and a can of 7-Up. Yes, being a woman, I can multi-task.
Except that I can’t multi-task – if the ability to multi-task means the ability to carry a few bags, drink out of a can of 7-Up and walk without falling over.
Because after perusing the items TopShop had to offer on the ground floor, I decided to head down to its basement. This involved, as you might suspect, stairs. So I walked down the stairs, lugging my big handbag and my big carrier bag and drinking out of my can of 7-Up and…
A bomb went off.
Not really! I fell over. Smack onto my arse. So: an Andrea Bomb went off.
Now, falling over in public isn’t a completely remarkable thing. We’ve all done it. Especially women in romcoms. They do it all the time!
But what was remarkable was this:
I stayed down.
I stayed down for just that little bit too long.
I stayed down while the young, under-40 staff fussed around me and asked me if I was alright and started mopping up the 7-Up – which was quickly becoming even more of a health and safety hazard than 7-Up usually is – and I genuinely didn’t care what they, or any of my fellow window-shoppers, thought of me.
I stayed there, having a little sit-down, when I could actually choose to get up. When in the past, indeed, I would have got up immediately, swiftly, in the hope that no one had seen me fall.
In short: I stayed down like a little old lady stays down when she’s had a fall.
(Which is an important distinction, I hasten to add. You know you’re over 40 when you fall down and stay down. You know you’re over 70 when you ‘have a fall’.)
When I eventually picked myself up – a good few minutes later – I confess I felt that I’d behaved more like an elderly woman in an Alan Bennett play than a beautiful, yet klutzy, Hollywood romcom heroine. Also, it wasn’t just my pride that was dented. My can of 7-Up was a write-off.
But I consoled myself slightly with the fact that I had fallen down and stayed down in a branch of TopShop – as opposed to, say, a branch of John Lewis. The latter would surely be an even more worrying sign of ageing. Although it would mean that I’m finally living in the style to which I’d like to become accustomed.