You might have guessed from my last post that I’m becoming increasingly keen to put sandpaper and paintbrushes away and start dressing the place instead with the lovely stuff…pictures, vases, flowers, curtains…..lights. So after a sodden trip to the park where O and I lapped our way around a damply vacant tennis court…me chasing him for most of it with my attempts to encourage him back to the dry lost against the vacuumous sound of the misty rain…I decided a shopping trip was in order. So, under the premise of buying little shoes (which in a actual fact I forgot…) and miniature bedding (we are preparing ourselves for the cot-to-bed transformation) we made our well-trodden way to the triangular halls of Bluewater. After an eye watering purchase in John Lewis…..duvet sets for a two year old costing almost as much as their adult equivalent despite being a third of the size …and a belated lunch we made our way to M&S in search of a wicker light shade, spotted in a brochure at my mother in laws, which I had figured once introduced to a can of dark spray paint might …with its woven pattern made then to look like iron fretwork ….complement the geometric wallpaper of the lounge. The store, however, seemed to have no lighting department so it was with a sinking sense of disappointment that I sought out an assistant.
“Excuse me” I coughed.
Two blue kohl rimmed eyes looked up from where they had been studying a screen.
“Do you have this light in stock?” and flipping open the brochure I pointed.
“Oh. No. We don’t do lighting really.” she said stepping away from the screen to peer across at the open page.. “I mean….we don’t really stock it. It’s a Conran isn’t it?”
“Um…no…I don’t think…”
She carried on unhearing, lifting the glasses hanging unhelpfully at her bosom to her eyes “No. We don’t have it.”
“Oh.” I shrugged. “Ok.” And swirling the pushchair round to face the door I started to make my exit.
“Do you want me to check?” she called after me.
“Welll…if you think there is a chance…”
“It’s big” she said, her blue eyes eyeing me warningly from above the specs now lowered teacher-style to the end of her nose. “We haven’t had them in for a long time….but I remember it was big.”
“That’s good..” I reassured.
“Ok.” And with that she turned on her heel and disappeared amongst the room sets. Returning a few minutes later she shook her head. “No sorry. We don’t really have lighting.”
“Ah. Ok. Well. Thank you” and I turned to go.
Standing at the lift wondering how a store can sell lighting without ‘doing’ it I caught sight of my face in the mirrored steel. Dark sunbursts sat like dead black caterpillars on the pillows of my cheeks…crispy mascara imprinted in half moons as if a pair of falsies had slipped. Pulling a wet wipe from the nappy bag I rubbed at the tender skin furiously whilst replaying our movements since leaving the park. I realised with horror I’d been looking like Pierrot for over an hour and a half…through two purchasing exchanges and one fruitless enquiry. I slunk, shamefaced, out of the shop.
Clean of face I made House of Fraser the next stop, again in search of lighting. I’d seen a stag based tabletop lamp in a magazine…its destination potentially our lounge sideboard. After a sweep around the ground floor I stood unhopefully next to the miniature patch of what some might optimistically call a lighting department waiting for a member of staff, engaged in animated conversation with another customer, to come free.
“Can I help?” she asked eventually.
“I’ve seen a lamp in a magazine and wondered if you had it in store.” I began. “It’s a stag and its by a designer though I forget the name….Christine something?”
She stared blankly back at me. I rubbed self consciously at my eyes.
“Wait.” she said finally with a sigh. “I’ll get someone who knows about lighting.’
As I browsed the small selection of glittering chandeliers and pendants I watched her criss cross the department floor, striding purposely past me without a second glance as she went in search of a lighting expert to help out in the lighting department. Eventually she caught sight of a black shirted colleague.
“Can you help this lady?” She appealed “she’s seen some kind of light….”
He stepped forward pleasantly as I repeated my vague description.
“You mean the Living range?” he asked.
“Oh. Maybe.” I nodded.
He signalled towards a pile of brochures. “Is it in there?”
“Oh. I…don’t know” I said and reached out for the brochure which he proffered but never fully relinquished. An episode of uncoordinated page turning followed as each of us attempted to flip through in search of the elusive lamp, fingers tripping eachothers…until eventually a somewhat overenthusiastic cry of excitement from me signalled the search was over.
“There!” I stabbed triumphantly at the picture as if in finding it on paper I had accomplished something far greater than finding a product a store sells within its marketing material. “That’s the one!”
“Let me see….” and with a gentle tug he regained brochure control and peering at it sauntered thoughtfully towards a nearby computer.
“Have we got this?” he asked a colleague who shrugged his indifference
“Let me see if its in stock…”
“We’ve got one.” he said finally as I allowed a disproportionately large smile to light up my face, the lamp having gained, in this time, a significance it probably didn’t warrant.
“It will be at the entrance.”
Like a child following the Pied Piper I followed him obediently but my excitement was to be quashed. A search around the shelves of glittering vases and sequinned cushions produced nothing.
“It must have been sold. I’m sorry. I can order you one online?” he suggested.
I shook my head. That, I figured, I could do myself.
Having at this point joined O in his exasperation at being anywhere other than the park we returned to John Lewis through which the car park is accessed.
I took an intake of breath.
There, in the window, was a grotesquely beautiful mock antler chandelier. I wondered if it might be a somewhat bonkers but fun answer to the ongoing dilemma of what to hang centrally in the lounge. Hurriedly I made my way to the lighting department. No such chandelier was on display. Weaving my way back to the doorway I looked again before making my way to a cash desk nearby.
“Excuse me” I began, “you’ve some antler chandeliers in the window there….do you have those for sale?”
Before I’d finished the assistant was shaking her blondly coiffed head.
“No. Sorry. When they came in I went straight to the lighting department and was told they were just display….”
“What are?” asked a fellow assistant ringing items busily through the till.
“Those stag chandeliers….” she replied, turning away from me and my query.
“What chandeliers? I’ve never seen them….” and leaving the two to discover what noone can buy we left for home.
That night after a search for antler chandeliers threw up an example sold by the humble Next I turned to S, iPad in hand.
“What do you think to this?” I asked.
An incredulous silence.