Famous Last Words

Yesterday was the day Debbie and I had been waiting for since we moved to Chelmsford in August 2005. We had worked out when both of our children would finally be full-time at school, and it would be January 2009. Hence, with Rebekah having been at school since September 2007, Mark would step up from mornings only (which he’d done for the Autumn Term) to a whole day this last week. We had promised ourselves lunch out together, just the two of us.

And so it came to pass that yesterday we found ourselves in the first place we had earmarked for a lunch date: the local branch of La Tasca. Yes, it’s a restaurant chain but rather nicer than any chains we ever had in Medway and neither of us had ever eaten Tapas. We arrived with a voucher for fifty per cent off our meal and discovered they had a better deal: lunch for two for ten pounds (drinks and gratuity excluded).

So it was that we enjoyed chorizo sausage, squid (well I did, Debbie doesn’t like seafood), vegetarian paella, Spanish omelette and a beautifully dressed salad. Hungry, anyone?

Afterwards, knowing that we needed a new salt and pepper set, we headed for Debenham’s, trying to score a bargain in their sale, if any were left. Our old salt mill fools everyone because it has a plastic cover on the bottom to avoid a mess. Many of our guests don’t notice this if we forget to tell them and then wonder why they aren’t getting any salt. The pepper mill had – shall we say, ground to a halt. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.)

Having taken the escalator from outside the back of the store to the first floor, we discovered that the ‘home’ section of the store was on the second floor. As we climbed a flight of stairs, we were assaulted by lurid (if they can be in monochrome) posters bragging about all the designer labels the shop sells. I expressed my disdain about people who pay out just to be seen with a particular name on their clothing, and on we went.

Then the inevitable happened. Debbie reminded me my dressing gown was tatty and I needed a new one. She saw some in the sale. Twelve pounds. Excellent. Except they were a designer label. John Rocha.

So much for eschewing designers. At that price I caved in and dragged it around the store while continuing to look for salt and pepper mills. My big anti-designer words went out of the window at the sight of the price. I guess Naomi Klein won’t be signing me up that quickly. At least I won’t be inviting you around to see me wearing the dressing gown. You wouldn’t want to see me first thing in the morning. So I’m not buying it to show off. And doubtless there are those who would consider it inappropriate for me to own such a garment: perhaps the church is paying me too much.

The cruet set? Well, there was nothing in the sale. We settled on a cheap (by Debenham’s standards) set for ten pounds, passing on the sets that retailed for twenty or even thirty-six. That’s more like it.

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