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Sales for well loaded

For most of December gloom pervaded on High streets with customers waiting for stores to slash prices, writes Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2005 20:12 IST

The snow came two days late for the white Christmas enthusiasts but when it did, almost whole of England was covered with icy blanket. Children enjoyed frolicking around but those driving back from holidays had problems. But then in London snow does not often disrupt normal life and it was no wonder that crowds of bargain hunters got up at 3am to queue up in chilling cold for doors of stores to open. They rushed in the moment Marks and Spencer, Next and other high street stores opened between 8am and 9am. The bargain hunting is as exciting for most as the game of treasure hunt.

For most of December gloom pervaded on the High streets with customers holding off waiting for stores to slash prices. But then stores succumbed and most are now offering discounts between 50 per cent and 70 per cent. I have over the years noticed the seasoned bargain hunters. They rush in and then elbow out others to reach the shelves first. There is nothing about their behaviour, which can be attributed to British politeness. They are like the American twisters, which uproot anything in their path. One the pick up what they want, they rush to another shelf and to another until they are bent under the weight of goods they have collected.

I had encountered one very experienced Sikh gentleman who said he had been coming to Harrods sales for over 10 years. He saw a suit in my hand and advised me not to pay for it until the closing time. It was the last day of the sale and I was anxious to pay for it and then see some shirts. But he told me I could carry the suit anywhere so far I was inside the store premises.

To cut the story short, I picked up tow designer shirts as well which with their discounted prices £30 each, slashed down from £100 and £110. I had no hope of any further reductions. The suit was for £550. Ten or 15 minutes before the closing time, all shirts were discounted to £10 each and £440 was announced as the price of the range of suits, one of which I had been carrying around for two hours. I have never been able to forget the helpful Sikh gentleman. He helped me save £150.

This year however, customers have been warned. A few small stores, it is alleged, have got cheap merchandise which one is hardly able to inspect because of three or four line of customers peeping over one's shoulders. There is another thing. Over the years prices have skyrocketed and even when discounted by 70 per cent at stores like Selfridges or Harrods, the items are beyond the means of average buyer. We prefer to remember bargains of yesteryears and feel happy. A Stephen brothers or Polo shirts or the likes of them normally cost between £100 and £80. When their prices are reduced, they sell for £60 or £50. The normal price of such shirts in 1997 was about £40. This tells it all. These days the sales are generally for the well loaded. Buyers like me enjoy window- shopping.

TV show that bespeaks of freedom of speech

I have never failed to wonder how the media here gets away literally murdering the reputation of anyone and everyone, including monarchy, using lewd and almost blasphemous words and depictions. The latest is the TV documentary Whatever Love Means. Throughout Britain television viewers have a full view of the relationship of Charles, Camilla and Diana. The Christmas drama was touted as an accurate account of Charles's and Camilla affair. Actors to portray real life effect play their parts.

The film has Camilla describing herself as a slut, paints her former husband Andrew Parker Bowles as a man with a huge appetite for extra-martial affairs. Prince Anne is portrayed as acid tongued and a regular visitor to Annabel's nightclub. This is the TV's latest royal onslaught, which a commentator said was disturbingly close to the truth. Whatever it is, I wonder how the media get away with such portrayals.

What's in a name?

The reported wish of Prince Charles to be called George when he becomes king has drawn some unasked for quips. One calls it a bizarre wish. The name Charles was decidedly unlucky. One King Charles lost his head (he was beheaded), the other spent 18 years in exile. But says this commentator the Georges, at least not most of them, have an unblemished record. The first never bothered to learn English, the second laughed gleefully when his son was struck dead by a cricket ball, the third went bonkers and the fourth locked his wife out of his own coronation. The suggestion by him to Charles is that if he wishes to ensure a successful and memorable reign he should call himself Victoria 11 or Elizabeth 11. How irritable this must be for the Prince! But it's all taken as British humour.

First Published: Dec 28, 2005 00:00 IST