Saturday, December 1, 2007

Christmastime is Here

Today I braved the crowds on Oxford Street. On your marks, get set, GO!!!
Apparently London department stores seek to humiliate their employees by making them dress up in imaginative, humiliating costumes as these. My question about these were, were they presents or elves? Or elves wrapped up as presents? Why were they wrapped as presents? Does Santa get rid of some of his elves like this by leaving them behind? Whose idea was this?
Ah, Selfridges, the monumental department store. It takes up an entire city block. The men's department alone is the size of most normal department stores, so you can imagine how big the women's department is. Three times that size. I didn't dare look, but the shoe department alone must be the size of an mid sized airport. Of course everything was twice as expensive as it would be at Macy's or even Bloomingdale's but people were pushing and shoving one another to pay twice retail and more. Harry Gordon Selfridge's story is quite interesting. He was an American magnate, born in Wisconsin, originally with the similarly opulent Marshall Fields Department Store of Chicago. He dated both Dolly Sisters, the famous Vaudeville act, apparently at the same time, and died broke (but apparently after a full life) in Putney, a London suburb within walking distance of my flat. Despite his ending in poverty, the store remains a monument to the wealthy, exactly as he would have wanted. Even Selfridges, however, can't compare to the grandest of all department stores, the one, the only

Harrod's! Yes, there it is, lit up and sending artificial snow out over its eaves to shoppers below, which seemed like half the city. The tube entrances and exits were blocked with the crush of people pushing in and out of this massive, famous store. I hoped to buy something in the famous food court, with one large room dedicated to the finest chocolates in the world, but gave up trying. It was simply too crowded for me. If one could barely get in and out on December 1st, what is it like on Christmas Eve? God help anyone who ventures forth to find out.

4 comments:

Will Finn said...

these are pretty vivid. you'll have to elaborate on the selfridge story sometime and how you learned so much about the nine old men of retail.

mikewolf said...

So how are you managing living in the most expensive city in the world?

Jenny said...

There was a sad story in the paper the other day about the INSANE COL for expat americans...I've gotta find the link--you'd get a kick out of it.

perkypickle said...

scott, my dear boy....

so nice to see you saunter among the commom-folk at x-mastyme.

now, that i have a bloodshot eye on yer blog, i'll try to keep up on your adventures.

cheers,

jordan