Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shopping With Personality

Wrote this for the Edinburgh Herald & Post last month... See me? See shopping? I love it, so I do.

Jo Caulfield - 'Shopping With Personality'

Are you a) a shopaholic b) quite like shopping c) shop only when necessary?

I’m a “shopaholic-in-denial” - basically if I could join a weekly support group I would. I’d also buy their t-shirt. And anything else they had on sale.

What type of shopping most turns you on a) shopping for clothes b) household and furnishings c) food d) other...and what is it?

Clothing. That’s the beauty of Princes Street - its all there: start at House of Frasier, then Urban Outfitters and Mango, down to H&M and Top Shop, Warehouse, River Island, Zara, into Jenners, right down to John Lewis, and finally all the way back up to House of Frasier to buy the first top I originally tried on.

I’m really enjoying Edinburgh’s Department Stores. Lunch at John Lewis then cocktails at Harvey Nichols - what’s not to like? Seriously if they put a bar in Top Shop I’d spend my whole weekend there.

Your best buy in the last year and why?

I bought a pair of True Religion jeans in New York for £250 that were marked down from £375, so in my head I saved £125. Then I spent that £125 on a new cowboy shirt, so the way I look at it I saved £125 on a pair of jeans and got a cowboy shirt for free. I realise half the people reading this (the male half) won’t see the logic to that, but the other half will know exactly where I’m coming from.

Your worst buy in the last year, and why?

A sandwich maker. It looked great in the advert but they’re so finicky and difficult to clean I’ve only used it twice. I feel sorry for the person I’m going to give it to this Christmas.

Your most expensive buy in the last year (excluding house or car)?

17” MacBook Pro laptop. (That’s the one thing missing from Edinburgh - there’s no Apple Shop. I know there’s one in Glasgow and I think there’s one in Aberdeen. Why don’t Edinburgh have one?)

Which all time best buy could you now not do without and why?

Its a toss up between my Tom Tom SatNav and my Mac laptop. They’ve both made my job/life so much easier. Most weekends I’m driving to comedy clubs all over Britain, I used to spend hours printing out maps and directions - now I just type in the postcode. And the laptop lets me run my own website, record my CD, edit short comedy films, record a podcast, I wrote my last radio series on it - all the artistic things I do without having a ‘comedy producer’ (who are usually the least funny people you will ever meet) standing over me, telling me how THEY think it should be done.

What’s the earliest thing you bought in your life – and still have?

When I was 8 I bought 3 little toy mice in ball gowns at a craft fair in Norfolk. I’d earned the money strawberry picking. I’ve no idea why I bought them. I don’t particularly like mice. And I’m not a ‘ball gown’ person. But I can’t bring myself to throw them out.

Have you ever binned or given away something – and then regretted doing so? What and why?

The week before we moved to Edinburgh I de-cluttered the house. Boxes of books & records went to the Oxfam shop, clothes went to Cancer Research and I left my Zanussi Jetsystem washing machine for the new occupier (I figured it would be too much hassle to un-plumb in London, transport to Edinburgh, and have plumbed in all over again).

And now? I’m regretting it all! I want my old clothes and my tattered books and my scratched punk records and my washing machine. Everything! I want it all back! I didn’t realise how comforting it is to be surrounded by your own junk.

What interesting/difficult to find item is top of your shopping list now?

Because of the move we’re buying a lot of household furniture. Finding a new couch is turning into a real nightmare. They’ll be the right length but won’t support the back enough. Or it’ll be nice and firm but not long enough to lie on.

I’d also like wallpaper that looks like worn brickwork to give the kitchen a ‘lower east side New York bistro’ feel. It must exist?

Where do you do most of your supermarket shopping in Edinburgh? Why there and what products do you recommend?

Sainsbury’s at Cameron Toll. From the car park you get a fantastic view of Arthurs Seat. That’s a big difference between Edinburgh and London: you can’t see a mountain when you’re buying your toilet roll in London.

I’d recommend the tubs of Olives and Manchego cheese with chillies.

BTW what’s with all the pies? I didn’t know there were so many different varieties. Do Scottish people live on mutton and pastry? The emblem of Scotland should be a Stag - going into Greggs the Baker.

Your favourite non-supermarket shop in Edinburgh and why?

The Edinburgh Bargain Store on Clerk Street. I’ve never seen anything like it: egg slicers, wallpaper, novelty hats, shampoo, boxes of chocolates, fireworks, crisps & dog collars all on shelves next to each other. It’s as though the head stock-buyer had a nervous breakdown.

I’ve spent a small fortune in there. So remember, if you desperately need a Lady Diana Teapot, a small bag of oven chips and a large poster of Bob Marley, look no further than the Edinburgh Bargain Store.

Your best ever Christmas present (an item rather than an experience) and why?

Wow. Christmas can be stressful. Its the time of the year when the whole family comes together and they realise - they don’t know anything about each other.

One year my dad got me a suitcase and a set of knives! Another year I got a soup maker and a Homer Simpson shower radio.

Luckily my husband buys great presents. Three Christmas’s ago he got me an iPod and I use it every days. I like having music on when I’m writing and I download a lot of podcasts - I’m especially interested in American politics. And this week I’ve just sussed out how to download the BBC iplayer onto it so I never miss my favourite show, The Apprentice.

I can’t wait to see his face this Christmas when he unwraps his sandwich maker.

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