I had some time this morning so I decided to grit my teeth and go and do something about my iPad. I’ve also discovered that my iPod is nearly full after having it for 6 years or so. I went to the one at the Trafford Centre as it was closer than the city centre one. I have discovered that if you just turn up you can’t get an appointment so, to avoid disappointment, I went online to book one. There were 3 openings. I tried for 10 50. Computer said it wasn’t available in spite of it saying it was. Tried again. Same result. Tried 10 40 and that worked. They wanted to know my request so I started typing. The site decided it had had enough time with me and closed down! I wasn’t sure I was booked in but, prepared for disappointment, I went anyway.

It turned out that I had booked but they had no idea why. I was parked on a bench and waited for some tech guy to come and talk to me. I think they choose them to be a much like the guy from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ who is borderline Asperger’s, lots of knowledge and very little empathy for anyone who knows less than he does. I explained about the music loading problem, he said something techy and we moved on. I explained about not being able to move pictures from my iPad to this blog without having to email them from the iPad, one by one, to the house computer. That’s how you do it he said! Stupid me thought there might be an easier way! How stupid am I? Well that’s how I felt after 10 minutes with him. He then decided he had something better to do and was up and off to some class he was running leaving me sat there wondering what had happened. Shopping in APPLE is a very depressing experience. And I read somewhere that they want a bigger presence in the city!

Americans used to be very good at customer service in stores. When we were in California it was a pleasure to shop rather than the chore that it can be in the UK. So I went to Hollister & Co to look at the clothes. This is always difficult in there because the light level is so low you can’t see much at all. And, if you are very unlucky, you might have to run the gauntlet of some bare chested faux-Californian guys who can barely disguise the contempt they have for anyone less buff than they are, which is most of the guys who go in there. Could they please remember that I’m not the one wearing sunscreen indoors and I don’t have to flaunt my body in public to earn a crust. Well today things were looking up. There were no guys to make me feel inferior and the lights were on and I could see right to the back of the store! The music was still louder than an Ibiza disco and the stench of whatever fragrance they were trying to sell today was set at overpowering. The one in central Manchester is worse, kept in a permanent state of Stygian gloom, it must be a shop lifter’s paradise! I got to the back and found a jacket I liked. It was a dark blue canvas jacket that would be perfect for the cooler months like September and October if they turn out to be dry. It was in the sale and was my size. I took it to the checkout. One of the girls, picked for their Hollister look rather than their abilities at dealing with customers, informed me I couldn’t buy it. Maybe they like their customers to have the Hollister look as well and I wasn’t thought to be buff enough or good looking enough to wear it? She pointed out a little label stuck to the price tag saying ‘NOT FOR SALE.’ It seems that the clothes at the front of any rail of clothes are for show. You are supposed to pick the one you want from behind them and leave that one in situ. There is probably a sign somewhere telling you that but you can’t see it because of the twilight they like to keep the store in. I don’t go into the twilight areas of the store for fear of being bitten by vampires and becoming one of the living dead. Needless to say I left without it. I hear Hollister & Co and Abercrombie & Fitch are in trouble. With attitudes like this I’m not surprised. You don’t get this nonsense in Marks & Spencer’s.

I was in a foul mood by now and moved down to ALL SAINT’S. I like to go in here occasionally but not to buy. It fascinates me that the colours of the clothes never change from season to season, being mostly washed out muddy greys and blues. They never seem to change except I went in once and everything in the shop looked like it had just come out of the washing machine, had been left to dry and needed a good iron. Then there is the look of the shop it self. A great wall of old sewing machines across the windows so you have to go in and look at the clothes, rails made out of old scaffolding poles or something and the walls are covered is dirty, paint splashed tiles and bricks. It’s like shopping in a sewer! I’ve been in more attractive charity shops.

I needed envelopes so I headed to WH Smith. They used to have a huge store, bright and open with space to move. I got there and assumed that they were in a temporary store while there other was done up. They seemed to have squashed all the stuff from the big store into a store 1/4 the size of their old one. And it wasn’t temporary, it’s their new one. I squeezed down the cramped aisles, eventually found the envelopes and left.

WH SMITH are next to their old store which has been transformed into something called ‘Forever 21.’ It’s another women’s clothes shop (Manchester being very short of these of course) presumably targetted at women who are 21 or want to be thought of as that. I went in. Looking at the women who were in there all I can say is they wish……

I needed to go somewhere positive so I went to the FOSSIL Store where my bag was greeted like an old friend. I looked at a black one that might look good with my winter cashmere coat. I didn’t get it because I like the people in the Manchester centre store and I would feel guilty if I bought one from somewhere else….

Last I went into the Nespresso Coffee store. We needed some descaler for the coffee machine and some more coffee capsules. The store was quiet, light, beautiful. The staff were pleasant, efficient, knowledgeable and I was looked after by one called ‘Trainee’ who had obviously learned well. I made my purchases and then was given a cup of freshly brewed coffee. This is how shopping should be. Nespresso is the way forward.

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