It starts with just a quick look in Primark. I need a Christmas jumper for a number of Christmas commitments. I’ll just have a quick look in there and then get on the train at Moor Street. Walking a bit after work is good for me, anyway, and will prepare me for imminent longer work days.
No harm in popping into Lush and Waterstones on my way, I figure; books and baths are my favourite things, after all (preferably together).
Oh and why not go and look at the new Addict range of Dior lipsticks, as one of my friends wants to buy me one for Christmas, and dream about a time when a £20 lipstick won’t make my jaw drop?
I perch on a stool while a woman paints my lips a coral-y nude. I appraise myself in the mirror. I don’t suit nude lipsticks, and I look half dead. “Oh no,” I say. She proceeds to wipe off the lipstick from my lips, like I am a baby who’s got in a sticky mess. She then proffers a tissue, held flat, which I clamp my lips over, hoping that’s what she wanted me to do and that I haven’t just behaved in manner of naughty Rottweiler. My lips are painted with red, this time, and I am pleased with them. I swish off feeling like fancy rich person.
No harm in just peeking into Oasis, I think.
I drift to the back of the store, feeling the fluffy winter jumpers and waterfall cardigans, and that’s when I see it. It’s arresting. It is the perfect leather jacket.
I approach it cautiously, as if approaching a lion in the wild. My heart is pounding. The shopping adrenaline begins in my toes, delicious and warm, and starts sweeping up my body. It isn’t actually leather. But it is a good imitation. It is fawn-coloured and so soft and has biker details on the biceps. It would add contrast to a girly tea dress. it would look fantastic with my cream scarf that I bought in Paris. Oh God Yes, I think, holding it out in front of me as if greeting a very old friend, you must be mine.
I begin calculating how I can leave the shop with this coat. Despite being £2,000 overdrawn, I am on the verge of telephoning the people at Halifax Bank to release some money from my ISA when MadFather calls me.
“Free?” he says.
“Just finished work,” I say, trying not to add that I am, just minutes after leaving the office, having something of a nervous breakdown/epiphany about a coat.
“Do you have time to Christmas shop?”
“I am supposed to rest,” I say. Then I look at the coat again. MadFather could come and buy me the coat for Christmas.
“Come to the Bullring,” I say, and hang up abruptly. MadFather, used to somewhat erratic behaviour from me, merely texts me saying “OK.”
I try the coat on. It fits perfectly and I walk back to the mirror in the middle of the shop three times. I put the coat back on its hanger, then take it off again and try it on. By now I suspect I am beginning to attract some attention from Oasis’s employees, and remind myself that I must behave normally or I might not get my coat. I look behind me, out of the front of the shop, and into Mango, just opposite.
And there I see another leather jacket. Different, but equally beautiful. Darker leather, more subtle. Like two beautiful but completely different horses, I think dreamily.
I hold on to my Oasis jacket, fretting about what to do with it while I check out the competition. In the end I hide it behind a sweater dress, because I am absolutely insane.
The jacket in Mango is real leather, and therefore was three figures, but is 40% off down to £80. I feel all hot as I look at the 40% off sale sticker. I try that jacket on, too, and that jacket fits perfectly. It has a side zip and three pockets, one in the arm. I could keep my work pass in there! It would be so cool! Does the other jacket have pockets? Suddenly I can’t even remember.
I reluctantly leave the Mango jacket alone and decide the best course of action – to keep an eye on both jackets – would be to stage myself on a bench in between both shops. And that is where I sit for 28 minutes while I wait for my dad.
I go back into Oasis twice and try the jacket on again, feeling fretful about leaving it, as if it is a baby. The cashiers are definitely beginning to think I am crazy, coming in every five minutes and taking my jacket out of its hiding place and trying it on. I spend five minutes standing guard right next to the coat, until it becomes clear from the huffs of other shoppers that the staring girl at the coat rack is in the way.
MadFather arrives. I hope I don’t look crazed. “Good day?” he says mildly.
“Very stressful,” I say.
MadFather knows all about my well-documented weakness for coats.
“Let me meet them,” he says.
I introduce him to the pleather oasis jacket and the pricy-but-reduced leather Mango jacket.
I choose the pleather.
We walk out of the Bullring with one Oasis bag dangling off MadFather’s arm. He is completely baffled. “How did this happen?” he says.
“I feel beautific,” I say, absolutely high.
He drives me home, and he arranges to take the coat away and wrap it up for me for Christmas.
“Goodbye, coat!” I say as he leaves, and I blow it a kiss.