Posts Tagged ‘bag’

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community.

July 5, 2010

When I am on my driving lessons, my driving instructor (who lives around the corner from me and has done for the whole of my lifetime and probably many years prior to that) often points out people who he knows, chats about the various people who have lived and continue to live in certain houses and streets, and talks about life in Kingswood in general.  Most of the time, I can only nod my assent because I have no idea whom or what he is talking about; I only know the names and faces of the people who live within 3 doors of our house and across the road from it.  On the odd occasion that I am walking around the local area, I could quite happily walk past people who live on my street without recognising them.  This street is not and has never been a community to me; my town is just a place I live, and although it’s adequate (I like the fact that unlike other, more wealthy areas of the city, it doesn’t have a ‘grey’ atmosphere and I can see the sky – I’m not a total urbanite then!), I don’t feel any sense of community with the other people who live there; in fact, I feel like more of an alien (and with my dress sense, I look like one too).  I must add that I will stick up for where I come from, despite its chavvy, slightly dangerous reputation; I did get slightly offended by a comment made by one of the people on my careers guidance course at UWE; being a graduate of Spanish and French, I was asked “But in Kingswood, you don’t get an opportunity to practise your languages, do you?” This comment was accompanied by a smirk; I took slight offence because although it’s true that where I live is not a cultural hub and I don’t meet many people who are multi-lingual there, Kingswood is not formative of who I am.  Moreover, it’s not a bad place, and given that the area of Bristol that this person comes from is more renowned for crime and poverty than mine, it’s somewhat hypocritical and condescending.

Anyway, I went to Peterborough to spend the weekend with Toby last weekend, and I had a wonderful time, but I noticed that for him, life and his sense of community is different: he knows all of the people who live in his close and a lot of those who live in his village.  He went to school up the road from his house; he can point out many people in the photographs included in the local Parish News (I am unaware of Kingswood having a Parish News leaflet, or any kind of worthwhile community publication). It is interesting that I cannot do this.  I always went to school on the other side of the city, because my parents paid for my education and decided to send me to those schools (and based on my subsequent track record and academic success, I can’t quibble with their decision – it was pretty wise and with hindsight I would now have done the exact same thing).  When I went through a brief phase of playing with the family of girls who were my age and lived across the road from me, they had a group of kids who lived in the neighbouring streets as their friends: I knew none of these people because they all went to the same school down the road from our house; I went to a private school across the city.  We had different school holidays, different teachers, different friendship groups, different subjects.  In retrospect, that was most definitely for the best but at the time it felt like I had to work extra hard to fit in with them.  Despite living across the street, it was like I was visiting another world, their world, every time we would play together, and after a couple of years the visit wouldn’t be worth it, and we would just say hi without animosity as we occasionally passed each other on the street.

However, whereas Toby can name all of his neighbours and various people who live in his village (and I also understand that part of this is the difference between city / country-ish mentalities), I enjoy my popularity when I wander round the Bristol city centre – Mike commented once on a shopping excursion that it seemed as if I knew at least one person in every single shop (and there are a lot of shops).  This is an exaggeration of course, but not a massive one; I like shopping and I used to work in retail in that area, therefore my face is recognised in the area and I can recognise acquaintances who work there too. An amusing story is the Guess Boutique – whenever I go in the staff are extra-happy to see me because they still remember the time Toby & I went in and I fell in love with a bag that I could not afford; Toby & I left and I spent the whole of that Friday night babbling about the bag. Saturday lunchtime we returned to the store and I bought not only that bag that I had originally claimed was “too expensive” but also a hoodie to boot (it was on sale, there was only one and it was in my size, it was black and gold which are my colours – it was obviously fate so who am I to stand against destiny?). I don’t know if the staff there work on commission but I think that that day, they were very happy!  So I make friends in shops.  My friends who live in Bristol may have gone to school or university with me, but we came from all different parts of Bristol (and their experiences of commuting to find a community may be quite similar to mine) so urban centres, shopping districts, cafés and cinemas are our meeting points.

My point is, I have my own community of people whom I call my friends; friends are the family you can choose, as they say.  However, my friends are all dotted about the city (and beyond that, the country); the way we keep in touch is via telephone, email and internet most of the time; and when we want to meet in person, it’s got to be an arranged thing rather than a spontaneous wander down the road.  Although it can feel slightly isolating living where you have no real connection to anyone else in the immediate vicinity, it’s made irrelevant by the fact that I can speak to and arrange to see a lot of my friends within very little time; and that my friends are so, so good to me.  I think that having my own space is something that I value too; at the end of the day, I can retreat to my home and have a little time for me, safe in the knowledge that I’m not going to bump into or be harassed by anyone who knows me.  I can be anonymous, think independently, live as I choose without any fear of anyone whom I care about judging me. I know that in Kingswood, I dress differently, I wear different clothes, I speak and think differently to the majority.  I would never change that; I like being my own person and I won’t ever change to conform (a hard lesson that built my character during my school years). But it’s made easier when I’m surrounded by people with whom I have absolutely no desire to fit in. My community, the people whom I love and value, are my friends; my community is not local but instead city-wide, national, and one day I hope it will be global.

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shopaholic.

February 13, 2010

“She got a Fendi fetish / She got a shopping problem
That girl’s a shopaholic / She only mess with ballers
She got a Gucci fetish / She got a Louis problem
She got a shopping problem / That girl’s a shopaholic”

— “Shopaholic”, Nicki Minaj f/ Gucci Mane.

Listening to the above song from Nicki Minaj’s stellar Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape, I can’t help but relate.  I have never been very good at resisting shops, but today I went into Guess with Toby and promptly dropped £136 on a bag (it matches my wallet! And I’ve been keeping an eye out for a new bag) and a hoodie (it was in the sale, the last one and my size.  Therefore, it was destiny and there was nothing I could do but fulfil it).  Note that I have my excuses rationale ready 😉 I felt a little guilty because Toby has a little bit of cashflow difficulty, and I didn’t work last week when I went to get my new tattoo done (which cost £100 in itself!).  I think I might have to take on some extra shifts at the hospital.  I am not one to flash cash, especially when that cash comes largely from funding to do my course, and I am also spending a significant amount of money on getting my driving licence (wish me luck for my theory test on Tuesday morning!), which is a pretty necessary measure.  I’ve never been rich.  But sometimes the allure of beautiful designer things is just too much to resist.

I spoke in a recent entry about the fact that I wasn’t always like this.  Designer names used to be something out of reach, irrelevant.  I was younger, those were things that would come in time.  Well, I’m not younger anymore; that time is now. Life is too short to be wanting forever; I don’t spend crazy amounts on irrelevant things, so why shouldn’t I treat myself?  Generally, I am a shopaholic because I love spending money, be it on myself or on other people, and I’m just as happy to buy other people things because I find the look on their faces when they open a well-chosen gift something to treasure; that’s my favourite part of holidays like Christmas.  But sometimes I feel a little guilty because perhaps I should be a little more responsible with money – you never know what is going to happen tomorrow.  I should appreciate more the plight of people who might never be able to have even one beautiful thing in their life.

I think about my grandmother when I have crises of confidence like this.  She’s actually quite wealthy, but she’s never been one to treat herself; she would much rather give everything she has to other people.  She will be  77 years old next month, and in April it will be 2 years since my grandfather died.  I love her to pieces, but it’s hard to get through to her the philosophy that she’s earned the right to spend a little on herself and treat herself to a nice little something every now and then.  Hell, I’m 24 and I’m feeling that life is too short! But since she’s never bought herself designer things, precious jewellery, something special, preferring instead to shop at pound stores and discounters (even though their wares often fall apart in a matter of weeks, necessitating a repeat purchase and costing you more in the long run – I’m a believer that generally you get what you pay for, and if you don’t then you take it back and you take your money elsewhere).  I wish that she would recognise that she is worth a little bit of luxury.  I think that she is a good person; I think that I am at the heart of it a good person, and a good person doesn’t declare themselves all the time.  But nor should a good person go totally unsung or unrecognised.  That’s why I love to treat my friends, my family, those close to me – they are good people and they deserve a little luxury.  The same goes for myself.  And I wouldn’t spend it if I really couldn’t afford it, so why should I feel bad about it?  The only thing I hate is to be spending like this around people who honestly can’t afford it, because the last thing I am is a snob.  After all, this ability to buy something nice is fairly new to me – I wasn’t always like this, and I’ll never forget that there was a time (and there might be a time again soon – who knows?) when I couldn’t afford it myself.  I know what it’s like to have to really budget, and I truly hope that nobody close to me thinks that I’m buying things just for the name.  Shopping is about achieving the person I always aimed to be, about externally realising the man I am inside.  I hope that nobody close to me ever thinks that I don’t appreciate what I have, or that I take for granted my current finances.  Because I do, and I don’t (respectively).  And as for what the rest of the world thinks, I couldn’t give a fuck.

I have found my own sense of style, and a look in which I feel comfortable.  Unfortunately, that look is expensive 😛 (What do you expect? I have Italian blood 😉 ) Sometimes I have to ask Toby / Hannah / Nick / Davina / Deena / Karina to drag or steer me away from certain shops, because I know that I shouldn’t spend the money – it’s not necessary.  But from time to time, I give in to the devil on my right shoulder and buy myself something nice because I want it, I need it, I earned it.  Maybe I’m a little bit devilish, maybe I’m a shopaholic.  But if so, that’s who I am and on the whole, I like it 😉

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xx.

September 10, 2009

Bear with me, hold on tight, make yourself comfortable and spark up or pour yourself a drink or grab a Haagen Daaz or whatever your preferred method of relaxation is. This might take a while.

Last Wednesday I bumped into my friend Ebony, whom I hadn’t seen in a quite a while, and whom various colleagues of mine while I worked at the Perfume Shop had tried to contact only to no avail.  I had realised that she must have changed her number or had some kind of phone dilemma, because she isn’t the kind of person just to suddenly blank you.  So when I bumped into her, she explained that her bag (containing her phone, among other things) had been stolen a few months ago, and she had a new phone with a new number, but had lost her old numbers.  We swapped digits, discussed the shop, what she’d been up to since finishing uni and what I’d been up to since leaving TPS and starting my new job at the hospital.  I mentioned that one of my colleagues at the shop had been upset that Ebony hadn’t been in touch, so she promised that she would go in.

Today she visited, and apparently they had some interesting things to say about me.  I found this out via a text Ebony sent me this afternoon, asking me whether “certain things she had heard” were true.  I asked what “things” they had said. Apparently, I had “left under a cloud”, and once I had left, I had returned a couple of times to visit, and had “admitted to taking from the shop”.

Apart from a big “LOL WTF?”, I replied that none of this was true.  The only thing I had “taken from the shop” was a free Armani bag, which was a year-old Gift With Purchase (i.e. a free gift you get when you buy a Giorgio Armani men’s fragrance, that has no monetary value and once the offer expires, is free to be given away with any purchase at the sales assistant’s discretion, in order to drive sales).  I had originally got this Armani bag as a GWP myself, buying a limited edition bottle of Emporio Armani He in the summer of 2008.  Eventually, the faux-leather front flap of the bag started to peel, and it looked quite shabby.  After being overworked and underpaid by the shop, and with there being a fair amount of tension between myself and the manager (due to changing rules to specifically prevent me from attending interviews, among other things), I felt that the least the shop owed me was a free bag to replace the one I had which was falling apart.  So I took it.  A free bag.  And back in July, I popped into the shop and my ‘friend’ H who still works there asked me where I got the bag from.  I didn’t see the point in lying (after all, these freebies were and are given away to staff all the time as incentives / rewards) so I said it was from downstairs – in retrospect, more fool me.  Despite the fact that the bag is not worth anything, despite the fact that these gifts get given to staff all the time, and despite the fact I had given various colleagues similar expired GWPs as rewards, this was “scandalous”.  I didn’t understand why it was a big deal, and I was shocked at the reaction, so I asked H not to say anything.  However, H was there with S, who is (to be blunt) all mouth and no brain.

So today, receiving the news that the shop thought I had stolen things (stock had been going missing both before and since I left, and the people who still work there are being investigated – I guess I was an easy person to blame, despite the fact I never stole ANYTHING – I did the majority of stockchecks so why would I put so much effort into counting endless boxes of perfume if I were the thief?) was a surprise.  Not because I didn’t think that this could happen – I know people better than that, and having a mini nervous breakdown at the start of this week was largely caused by losing faith in people’s perception of me.  But because I didn’t think that it would.  After how hard I worked at that shop, after managing it for 3 months by myself, after giving S’s daughter a Christmas present and being such a good friend to them all – they honestly think that I could be such a thief?  It’s disappointing.  And it’s hilarious that I took the bag in March. I told them in July.  It’s now September, and they’re still talking about it?  News must be slow and life must be dull for them.

I explained this to Ebony (who thought the whole thing was ridiculous and kinda dumb), along with a similar story where after Kulthum (another nice colleague of mine from the shop, who left last autumn for a new job) left the shop after not being able to work her full notice, my manager told me that Kulthum had “admitted to stealing money from the shop”.  In light of the false accusations that have been levelled at me, I doubt very much that this is true.  My manager told me not to tell anyone, and the difference is that unlike H and S who have seen fit to escalate the fact that I took a freebie into suspicion that I stole full bottles of fragrance and maybe even more, I never told anyone what she had told me about Kulthum.  Ebony made a very good point that if you steal money or stock from a shop and you are found out (whether you confess or otherwise), it’s gross misconduct and you are sacked that day; nobody lets you serve out half of your notice first.  I feel a little silly for even entertaining the rumour, although part of me never believed it and I kept up my friendship with Kulthum nevertheless – after all, she was never nasty to me and it was none of my business whether she took anything from the shop or not – the shop isn’t my baby, my family nor my be all and end all.  Rumours about other past employees have come and gone, but I never really broke contact with anyone I got on with because of these rumours – I am able to keep my mouth shut and I prefer to judge people on their own merits.  It’s just sad that not everybody does that.

I enjoy gossip like everyone else. But the sad thing is gossiping at someone’s expense, accusing them of things that are totally untrue. I am quite confident Kulthum never took the money – regardless, I never told anyone that she had been accused of it.  I never took anything from the shop other than that free bag. If they want to say that they think I did, because it’s easier to backstab me and accuse me now that I’m gone and can’t defend myself rather than face the fact that whoever the thief is, she’s still in the store. I’m no liar, I’m no gossiper, and I’m no thief.  I know that.  I have no intention of going in there and clearing things up – they should know me better from the year and a half I worked my butt off there and was a friend to every one of them.  They don’t.  Let them talk about me and perpetuate untruths if that’s what it takes to make their days more interesting.  It’s sad, and disappointing.

Hannah and my mother (who has been in a very similar situation herself) both said that this is one of the dangers of working with girls.  I don’t necessarily agree, as I get on with a lot of women, and everyone has the facility to be bitchy.  But a group of xx chromosomes can definitely be dangerous, and they can double cross (“x x” – see what I did there? Not just a pretty face!)… it’s whatever to me.  I have a new job, a better job (more money, more responsibility & more professionalism with less silly rules!), working with adults (men & women) rather than gossipy young kids who take 1 + 1 and get 1000.  If I see them in the street, I will rise above it and say hello with a smile on my face, as if nothing were wrong.  Because I have done nothing wrong.  But they’ll never be my friends again – the person they seem to think I am or want to portray me as is nothing like who I actually am.  They should have known better. And I should have known better than to trust that they wouldn’t double cross me once I was out the door.  Not a lesson learned, but a lesson reiterated… And we rise above!  Kisses to the haters… xx again. 😉