“What’re you doing?!” MindReader says to me, as I sink my teeth into my sandwich behind a display of Body Shop lip balms.
“Eating!” I say, through a homemade mouthful of tuna, mayonnaise and rocket. “Thanks for coming.”
MindReader and I are lucky enough to work a stone’s throw away from one another. We used to meet for lovely lunches, but… well. The Notebook says no.
I begrudingly put my sandwich back in my re-useable bag. I am on a MAJOR budget. And, like everything I do (walking a dog lead every day, caffeine, gluten, glandular fever…), I am not doing it by halves. I wrote down everything I spent last month (in a notebook I bought just for that reason, and was thus the first item in the notebook itself, like some meta-budgeting), and now I write down everything I don’t buy in The Notebook and oh my! Suddenly it is quite easy to save a quite a lot (though I am only a week in to this).
“What’re you doing anyway?” MindReader says. “I thought you weren’t shopping.”
I wave my hand. “I wanted to leave the office and come and write things down that I would’ve bought,” I say, taking my notebook out and writing down a reduced-price coconut body butter. MindReader rolls his eyes, then gives me a kiss on the forehead.
“Let’s go to Muji,” he says, taking my hand with a smile.
I have never really been to Muji. I have been aware of its presence along New Street, but I am usually in Lush fervour by the time I get that far and don’t see anything except a mist of jasmine-scented bathbombs.
“Ooh look,” MindReader says in Muji, showing me a scent diffuser that appears to be releasing dry ice. I sniff it tentatively, then sneeze, while MindReader smiles his lopsided, indulgent smirk at me.
“Oh we need these,” MindReader says, looking at a display of bathroom storage. He picks up a plastic box with teeny little sections, all different sizes and shapes for soaps and cleansers and toners and oh…
“Look at that,” I say, taking it from him.
“And you could have one for your make up, here,” MindReader says, leading me to a set of stackable drawers.
I tilt my head. “This would almost be an investment, wouldn’t it?”
“How would it?”
“Well…” I think for a minute, putting my lawyer mind to the task. “If I could see all my make up I would use it all and therefore spend less,” I say triumphantly.
MindReader shakes his head and I go off to do one of my very favourite things: smelling poncy scented candles in tins.
Mooching around the shop, I see a section of shiny, sparkly glassware. I spy a carafe and pick it up. God I’d love a carafe, I think. I’d rise early, drink a pint of fresh, clear water before even getting out of bed. I’d do yoga and make my own perfume out of rosebuds. Then I’d grind tonka beans in a wooden bowl and “log on” to the internet as opposed to being perpetually online, and I’d have “downtime” in a quiet room with only a yoga mat and a meditation CD, and I’d write self-help books and…
“Billygean?” MindReader says.
“I want this,” I say, thrusting the carafe at him.
“I need it.”
“Notebook says no. Besides,” he says, picking up the over-priced and slightly stunted carafe from me, “it’s ugly.”
I come to my senses. “I am obviously not rational,” I say, “if I want to buy glassware. Do not let me justify anything to you.”
I think MindReader and I see the slippers at the same time. Except, they are not called slippers. They are called Room Shoes (or, slippers for tossers, if you will). But they are beautiful: fawn-coloured little booties with pom-poms and no intrusive rubber sole. Like thick, shaped socks, lined with soft, fluffy white wool.
“Oh MindReader,” I say, fingering one of the booties.
“ROOM SHOES,” he says.
“Oh look.” I put my hand in one of them, and instantly feel safe and warm. I’ll cook hearty stews and wear gingham and sew samplers and the cat will sit on me while I knit jumpers for nieces and nephews and…
We leave. Minus the room shoes.