So here’s a picture of me having my big author moment on Friday. My book signing at Gatwick. OK, so it’s not me pulling up in a stetch limo outside Harrods in a white designer trouser suit, like I always fantasized it would be when I started writing novels, but it felt pretty rocking none-the-less.
For a whole day, I managed to cover up my pool painted toes and shutter scraping war-wounded knuckles to sign copies of my new book. The lovely Tina had tables of books ready for me to sign and it was a fabulous feeling seeing so many copies of Forbidden Pleasures and Platinum all stacked up.
The only thing that irked me was that I had no children with me, lots of time and all the family credit cards, but could I find anything I wanted to buy in Gatwick? Could I hell. Not a thing.
I’m usually dashing past Accesorize, running for the gate with kids in tow and screech to a halt as a lovely bikini has caught my eye, but there’s no time to buy anything and I’m dragged off, cursing that I never have time to shop.
But shopping is an illusive thing. It’s one of those girly life skills I seem to have completely missed out on, along with how to apply fake-tan and how to achieve a smoky-eye without looking like I’ve been in a fight.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that I’m slightly phobic about shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I love having new things, but not so much that I don’t look in my wardrobe and think that what I’ve got already will do.
So far, one of the highlights of my summer has been getting all my summer clothes down from the loft. I only ever bring hand-luggage on holiday, as I know I have loads of clothes already here, but it wasn’t until I got them out the other day, I realized how many there were. It was like Christmas. Loads and loads of old favourite summer dresses – all totally shabby, but wearable. I sat with them heaped around me, dewy-eyed with pleasure – the biggest part of which was the knowledge that I wouldn’t need to go anywhere near a shop for the whole summer.
Of course, in with the good stuff was a heap of market mistakes, which I keep purely for comic value. You know the thing when you’re on holiday and your basket is full of melons and peaches, but the lady on the next stall is selling cheap dresses and you convince yourself that the pretty fabric will look amazing on you? My favourite such travesty, is last years pink and black paisley one-piece with elasticated pantaloon legs and a boob tube top. Yikes. What was I thinking? The Little One put it on her head and pranced around like a clown to riotous applause.
But I wonder about how I should teach my girls to shop, because they don’t have a clue. My own mother failed to pass on any clarity. She only shops in M&S and buys endless outfits, only to take them straight back again the next day. She’s spent more time in the returns queue than anyone I know.
But we all shop differently, I’ve noticed. I have some mates who spend hours browsing the stores. They know instantly when the new stock is in at Zara, or when the sales start in Selfridges. They sniff out bargains and compare prices and stock like truffle pigs and they’ve often bought the Grazia recommendation even before it’s gone to print.
Then there’s the really skilled shoppers regularly schedule ‘shopping days’ with their other friends and lunch out for hours before coming back with whole outfits that they’ve somehow managed to co-ordinate. I envy those girls.
But I don’t envy the junk food shoppers. I know loads of them. They’re after a quick fix, but remain deeply unsatisfied and have wardrobes full of ill-fitting Gap trousers and un-washable New Look tops, but still can’t stop themselves buying something on their lunch break. They are Gok candidates through and through.
Personally, I’m of the smash-and-grab school of shoppers. Once in a blue moon, I’ll see something I like, run into the shop and buy it. I’m ashamed to say that price is rarely a factor in my purchasing decision and I only have a 70/30 impulse decision success rate.
So, after mooching round all the concessions at Gatwick, I consoled myself by parking myself at the Seafood Bar, where I decadently ordered myself a half bottle of champagne and a smoked salmon salad. I’m pleased to report that there are some life skills at which I do excel, after all.