A few years ago a friend of mine gave me some vouchers for my birthday. Very kind of her, only they were for an establishment I don’t often frequent – namely (without mentioning the name) a high street sex shop.
(Why she thought I was having sex is beyond me – I was married at the time).
(Actually, not married now, still not having sex. Go figure).
(That’s enough brackets).
Luckily for me, there was one of these stores in the very town in which I was living! (SHE WRITES THROUGH GRITTED TEETH).
[Look, I might work in the media, and have appeared countless times on live radio making jokes off the top of my head about breaking news to a million plus listeners at a time, I might have been filmed by Channel 4 News making a ground-breaking political satire programme in time of war, I might tour with my one-woman show – in which I play the woman, autographs at the end of this post – I might be experienced in standup (actually, might be an idea to rephrase that, given the circumstances), but that doesn’t mean I’m Jordan, now does it??? (Hint: mine are all my own. Think of the money I saved). Plus, I’m double Taurus with Virgo Rising, so away with your unreasonable expectations of my nice little Jewish girl personality, OK???]
Anyway, I got on the bus, telling myself that thousands of people go into these places every day, it’s healthy to live in a society where the purchasing of sexual accessories is an accepted part of mainstream life, nobody cares who you are, everyone’s incognito just as in every other shop, so there was absolutely no good reason why I shouldn’t remove the paper bag from my head right there and then. (Not a good look. Especially when it’s raining).
Bus arrived in town. I disembarked. My feet took me to a spot within 10 yards of the doorway, at which point they performed an abrupt U-turn before crossing the road, whereupon I found myself in a well-known chemist’s store. (Don’t look at me like that, I was just as surprised as you are). Wandered around for a bit, before giving my feet a good talking-to, and persuading them – nay, forcing them – back across the street and into my friend’s chosen destination. (It was her fault, she made me do it).
So far, so good. But I was just adjusting myself to the unfamiliar surroundings when the middle-aged portly male standing by the door turned to me and said Hello! My god, he was a middle-aged portly male meeter-and-greeter! (For once I actually missed extraordinarily rude French shop assistants, whom you have to chase around the place with a big net in order to get them to talk to you). How dare he say hello to me!!! In a sex shop, FFS!!!
Ever felt desperately sad because you’re not invisible?
Hmm. Just me, then.
But there was something else odd about my experience…there was no mighty explosion (I suppose you have to wait ’til you get home for the Earth to move), the police didn’t arrive in cars with lights flashing to storm the building, and I was even starting to feel some good vibrations (amazing how they let you try out the products before you buy). And there were an awful lot of peculiar items for sale that I sincerely hoped came with comprehensive instructions (if only to explain what they were).
I was beginning to relax. Time passed, and after 1.3 seconds I’d chosen my goods (at least, I hoped they’d be good) and I joined the queue to pay. All was going extremely well. Until I got to the till point, when the man behind the counter said And what’s your postcode?
“Why do you need my postcode?” I asked, in an embarrassed why-do-you-need-my-postcode kind of a way.
We’re doing a survey to see where our customers live, he replied, as if he was using words I could understand.
Dear Reader, I gave him a false postcode. (Stop laughing, it might have been yours).
I once bought a pair of curtains (yes, yes, it’s curtains for me) in another store in Brighton. The assistant there asked for my address. I declined to give it. He was very insistent. I was very desistent. I told him I saw no reason why I should give out personal information just because I was buying a pair of curtains. We argued for a bit and I won. I left the shop with my address still intact, but with an A4 piece of (thick) copy paper as my receipt.
The. World’s. Gone. Mad. (Arrange these words into a popular, and true, phrase).
In these recessionary days of course, businesses have to think up ever more alluring ways to get you onto their premises. I’ve experienced three notable efforts in the past week alone:-
1. There’s a new Ikea-like cheap home store in the town where I now live. I’ve been into it twice, and both times the song playing to the browsing customers was Paul Anka’s ‘Diana’. (Though it’s not half as good as his less well-known hit, ‘NotNiceEtoile’).
2. I booked a haircut last week, and as I entered the salon my stylist, the owner, came forward to greet me, neatly performing a Norman Wisdom trip as he smiled hello. (I congratulated him on his thoughtful welcome to a comedy writer. Refrained from asking him how he’d greet Jordan).
3. Yesterday, I went to a famous Fruit Store, famous for its electronic devices, curiously, for a workshop on something I’ve just acquired. (Can’t say what it is, but I’ll keep taking the tablets). The tutor was explaining how the calendar function works, and by way of demonstration, picked a date at random, which turned out to be my birthday! (Every iCloud…)
Have to admit though, it’s all a little spooky, like the targeted ads you get on your email account. (I got one for Spam Casserole last month. Can I sue?)
Is there now any way to remain anonymous in this world? (Or do we all have to become the leader of the Lib Dems?) Answers on a postcard, please. (And don’t forget to put your telephone number and inside leg measurement).