Oh dear. I know I don’t need a beach bag. I really do. But yet, I must have it.
Hmmmnn, whats my excuse? The kids? Well, they're certainly a reason I shop online, considering how they cramp my style in shops. They get into the middle of those circular racks of cardigans and disappear. They sit on display stands and companionably hold the hand of the model, who wobbles and sways and everyone in the place looks around for the mother of the child who is about to knock over the whole thing.
Here I am! Tis I, the sweaty lady who badly needs her eyebrows waxed. Who is frantically rifling through a pile of t shirts fruitlessly looking for something that drapes in a disguising way over the tummy area in a youthful but not too youthful way. Who is trying to do the type of shopping that really needs time and attention and at the same time watch a toddler who is in the process of successfully wriggling out of his buggy straps. And two little boys who cannot not fiddle with everything and anything. And one tween who stands sentry at the door of Zara hissing;
“How much longer!”
“No, no! You promised ! You said no trying on!”
Other shoppers look at me sidelong. Luxuriating in their solo browsing, their: “hmmmnn, is this really me? Why don’t I try it on and see? Why not? I’m in no rush.”
The parents among them mutter thankful prayers that their kids would never knock over a display model; the non-parents make a mental note to never forget to take their pill while at the same time looking for a second gold wedge in a 37.
So now I shop online. Whilst ignoring my kids in a slightly safer setting, I browse through the online shops that deliver to Ireland and then the postman brings me stuff. It’s awesome and joyful and amazing and I love it. I love the Boden bags and the Zara boxes and the tissue paper and the return slips. I love ringing the Gap people who tell me that they will make a “goodwill gesture” by not charging me shipping a second time if I want a different size. And most of all I love that there are no tyrannical changing room mirrors involved.
Actually, there are very few mirrors involved at all. Our full length had to migrate to the shed to make room for a cot so now I make do with standing on various steps of the stairs to see myself in sections in a wall mirror in the downstairs hall. Or, look in the bathroom one where I can see a perfectly clear image of myself from the hips up. To look at shoes I just need to bend one knee up. Then I know how they look if I am Morris dancing but am never quite sure how they look otherwise. So are my new clogs nice or awful? I’ll never know.
The only thing is that the buzz one feels after clicking confirm payment is a little bit addictive. As is the euphoric feeling when I hear the postman ringing the doorbell because the parcel he has is too big to fit in the letterbox.
Which brings me back to the beach bag. It’s been a few years since I’ve purchased summer clothes (there really isn’t a lot of call for them during Irish Summers) so this year there was a good excuse to get the shorts, and the t shirts, and the skirt and the dress. They’ll be worn and they were in the sales. That’s all fine. The only thing is after that that the doorbell fell silent, the parcels and boxes were unpacked, folded and recycled and I felt a bit empty. (Nicely dressed, but empty).
Which is why I started lusting after “accessories.” And decided I “needed” a beach bag, or a tote or a shopper or something that was bound to be laden with buyer’s remorse. Resistance was easy at first. Banana Republic was never going to reduce that bag. Day after day I checked but no, it was always, always €64.95. And Boden! Boden with their selective sales and their empty clearance sections. That oilcloth shopper was £54! No way!
So I kept myself happy (and the postman laden down) with a few little purchases from The Book Depository. And practiced my ever growing cache of excuses. Summer was cheaper than a bottle of wine, The Trumpet of the Swan was a little more than the parking fee in Dundrum and the Mary Blair Treasury? Well, that was a treat. I would have been a bad mother if we didn’t have a copy.