Shopping for Blood

So it’s Winter, and that’s annoying. I don’t much like Winter; it’s cold, bleak, everyone’s miserable because it’s Christmas and everyone is spending money they don’t have on stockpiling food they don’t need for that horrific period where the shops are shut for nearly whole two days. I like to stay in during the Winter, far from the maddening crowds, but I was forced out on Saturday because I had to go shopping. For gloves.

I’m constantly falling for this; I find I have a need for some simple item of clothing — gloves, a coat, a pair of shoes — and think how I can just nip into town to pick something up. Then I get into town and spend two hours hunting the depths of every clothes shop in existence and discover that what I thought was simple is actually impossible.

Take gloves, for instance. It’s Winter, my hands get cold, so a pair of gloves seemed like a logical solution. I wanted a pair of black, woollen gloves. Ones that would go over my hands and keep them warm. Nothing more. Simple? No, apparently not. Evidently you can’t buy a pair of gloves made of wool unless you are a woman, in which case you have whole floors dedicated to gloves, made of every conceivable fabric and available in every colour of the rainbow. As a man, you have a shelf. This shelf will contain either half a dozen identical pairs of grey ski gloves with buckles around the wrists, containing enough bulk to double your hand’s weight and covered with highly-noticable logos for something called ‘Thinsulate™’, or slim leather gloves that come in a presentation box, cost Ā£50 per finger and make you look like Major Toht.

In both cases, the gloves will be arranged in such a way with plastic ties and bits of cardboard that make it impossible to try them on.

And this happens all the time. Take ankle-length coats, for instance. I wanted one for years and I was 20 before I found one. Then I wore that to death but had to continue wearing it in tatters because I couldn’t find a replacement for a whole year, and even when I did it was pure chance in a closing-down sale. Or boots — I used to wear black boots, and once a year I’d buy a crappy pair from Olivers, knowing they were rubbish and would fall apart in a couple of months because nowhere else sold what I was after. Goth boots, yes, that would have been easy. I could have found a nice pair of knee-length monstrosities covered in zips and buckles and with soles as big as my head, but, you know, I’d have looked like a tosser.

So I’ve reached the conclusion that it’s impossible. These items of clothing we all think are perfectly straightforward and then spend weeks searching for; they don’t actually exist. In fact, I don’t believe anybody even makes clothes anymore — I think many years ago, everyone responsible for these things just decided they’d had enough, and we’ve been buying up the backlog ever since.

I did buy a pair of gloves, incidentally, after nearly two hours of searching. They weren’t what I wanted, but eventually you just have to admit defeat. And the presentation box is lovely.