Well, my dears, last weekend I finally decided my babies were grown up enough for Abercrombie and Fitch. A sensitive moment in any mother’s life, this – a passing of the baton, if you will. Though of course I didn’t take the treasures to the shop. Oh no, after the stories I’ve heard, I thought I’d better check it out myself first.
Off I went, and by the time I’d finished searching for other essentials (all right, I admit, the odd little nugget of choc might have slipped into my bag from nearby Fortnum and Mason …) the skies were inky black and the shoppers were getting restive. There may be a crunch on, but tell that to 4,000 disgruntled shoppers, none of whom have factored in the 3,999 other shoppers getting right in their way.
I veered off Piccadilly in search of Burlington Gardens, and trawled along past various swanky stores, noticing vaguely that there seemed to be a commotion ahead. Gradually, it dawned on me that the commotion was the Abercrombie and Fitch shop. The road seemed to be blocked off by great swarms of teenagers. Outside the premises was a red rope barrier, like those guarding swanky nightclubs, complete with menacing looking bouncers, all dressed in black with strange bluetooth headsets clamped to their shaved craniums. In front of the shop and snaking all the way back onto Piccadilly was a queue of sighing girl teens, a cloud of Impulse and hairspray destroying the ozone all around them. Meanwhile, posturing before the doors themselves was a half-naked teenage boy. Yes, with his shirt off, displaying – I’m afraid I did notice – a perfectly toned, evenly browned, slightly sheeny carcass. Yes, more than a bit like the turkey we Mummies fantasise about yanking out of the oven on Christmas day.
A very strange business indeed. This half-clad lad, it turns out, is a sort of human billboard for Abercrombie and Fitch. Buy the hoodie, get the body, as it were. See the logic? No, me neither. But at least the nation’s teens will be wearing nice warm sweatshirts as they slump in front of their tellies, convinced they now have washboard tums, if A and F have their way.
Back to the shop, where I was still puzzled. Were the girls queueing to meet the half-naked boy? Or to get into the shop? If it was the latter, there was no way I was going to join in the wait. I pushed past the bouncers and stomped into the premises, already annoyed. Once inside, I looked around, blinking in the half-light, wondering what on earth was going on. Either A and F are incredibly energy conscious, using even lower wattage bulbs than Ikea, or they are purposefully trying to extend the nightclub conceit even inside. Of course, as soon as I started trying to locate Christmas gifts for the treasures, I saw the problem with this. Apart from being irritating, it also renders it virtually impossible to choose a ridiculously over-priced sweatshirt, as you just can’t see the colours. But, by this time, I was almost past caring, and determined not to come back. Ever. Did I mention the thumping pop music? Or the great gaggles of dimwitted teens clogging the place up so you can barely move? It was now or never. I grabbed two hoodies and asked a perfectly toned and turned-out assistant where the till was. ‘Turn right at the naked man and join the queue,’ the child smirked. ‘Would you like your photo taken with the naked man?’ he asked. ‘Not even, ‘ I said, with all the dignity I had left, ‘if he begged me.’
With that, I pushed and shoved my way to the till queue, obediently turning left at another perfectly basted specimen of muscled boyhood, waiting ten minutes in pulsatingly loud semi-darkness, for the privilege of being ripped off to the tune of £70 each for the hoodies! My God, I’ve made some sacrifices for my children – my body and my career spring to mind – but this may be the ultimate. I just hope they’re happy on Christmas Day. Sniff.