Yesterday I took my eldest daughter to Toulouse for a bit of retail therapy. It was supposed to be just us two for a bit of mother/daughter bonding but, as they do, she invited a friend. Basically, I was tolerated for two reasons, because I was the driver and because I was paying for everything. I went with them into the first shop where they spent about two hours – I went off and came back again and they were still trying things on. I put an obscene amount of money on my credit card, gave her some cash and took myself off for my solitary mooch around the city but not before I bought us all an expensive lunch which my daughter toyed with and her friend, who could wear my wedding ring as a belt, moved a chicken leg from one side of the plate to the other and felt full.
Anyway, my youngest daughter is not interested in clothes or, at least, going shopping for them so if I want her to wear anything other than battered jeans and a t-shirt (which is, in any case, the uniform of the French student) I have to buy her clothes for her. This is fine by me. One of my dream jobs would be to wander round clothes shops or interior design shops and impose my taste on other people whilst they pay me handsomely for doing something I love doing anyway. However, shopping for a 15 year old, in her absence, is a bit tricky. We are about the same height and wear roughly the same size so, once I have sated my own desires in, say Zara, I go to the back where they have their section devoted to the ‘youth’. I try to ignore the sympathetic stares as I hold up little ra-ra skirts against myself to check the length, admire t-shirts with Betty Boop on them and check out jeans with more holes than denim. I want to say, ‘I’m shopping for my daughter’ but think that would probably mark me out as even more of a weirdo. I try to dress ultra-sophisticated (for me anyway) when I do this type of shopping so that it is totally obvious that it’s not for me.
As it turned out, she liked everything I bought her – though I took the precaution of checking with my other daughter first so that, if it didn’t fit the shopaphobe, the shopaholic could wear it instead. I don’t fancy going back to Toulouse just yet to change anything.