Epic fail in Liverpool – married couple in retail meltdown

Today Lovely Hub and I have failed miserably at retail therapy.

We had to go to Liverpool to swear an oath for probate – which was a different experience to say the least.  We were slightly delayed because I was being Mrs Angry about some goods that I bought online that turned out to be total rubbish when they arrived.  They were mini stress balls that were advertised as being perfect party bag items for children and adults alike.  I only wanted one to use in a photo but you had to buy twenty.  When they arrived they smelled of chemical death and were horribly greasy – not at all like the friendly stress pig that sits on my PC base at work.  Imagine how stressed you would feel if you went to squeeze a stress ball and discovered that you had greasy and chemically polluted hands?

Uni Boy has cast his scientific eye over them and pronounced that they have obviously been exposed to heat and have started to degrade – well that hasn’t happened over the past couple of weeks in England has it?

I contacted the seller of the stress balls and told them I would like my money back  and we arranged for a courier to collect the box when both boys would be home and able to lurch out of bed to answer the door. As usual, the courier played his usual game of knock the door and run – so the parcel wasn’t collected.  The seller claims that it is up to us to take a whole day off and wait patiently by the front door ready to pounce on the courier before he can get back to the van.  I don’t think so.

This made me annoyed.  So I phoned the Trading Standards number and a very nice woman gave me advice about the Sale of Goods Act 1979, goods being of satisfactory quality and the cooling-off period when you buy online.  She also asked me to extract one of the balls and put it to one side so they could check the barcode and possible carry out a chemical analysis (very CSI).

We were running a bit late for going to Liverpool as a consequence.  I thought we had to be there for 1045 hrs and I may have dawdled a tad.  Hub however, knew that we had to be there for 1030 and actually moved up a few gears from his usual laid back loucheness.  We parked in L1, my trusty Sat Nav got us to the Crown Court and we were a bit surprised to see dozens of policemen clustered around Derby Square outside the court.  There were even two mounted policemen but more of them later.

When we got inside the building we had to undergo a security check – no cameras allowed (or Stanley knives).  It had never occurred to me when I grabbed my bulging  bag and shoved the probate documents inside it as we were rushing out of the front door that a strange woman would be rummaging through the contents.  The very nice security woman looked askance into the depths of my capacious bag and the smaller bag that sat inside it.

“What have you got in there?”

“My whole world?”

She performed a cursory exploration, looked me up and down, decided that I didn’t look as if I posed a risk, and ushered us through.  We ran to the lift, squeezed in with some very nice men who were headed for court and had to walk (asthma-inspired wheezing on my part) fast.  We made it with seconds to spare.

The whole probate thing took ten minutes.  We signed things and swore on a copy of the New Testament (possibly because there are things in the Old Testament that might cause offence), it didn’t explode into flames,  and then we were free!

Waved goodbye to the nice security guards who were very pleased that we got to our appointment in time, and went back out to the square which still had a high police presence.  Derby Square is lovely but hazardous.  It seems to be a designated spot for people wanting to spit up greeny-yellow mucous.  So we had to play hopscotch a bit to get back onto the pavement.

I needed a caffeine fix after all the excitement so we went up the road a bit and found a Starbucks, deciding to drink al fresco as it was cloudy but dry.  After all the rushing around it was good to just admire the architecture as we strolled past; some very beautiful buildings in that part of Liverpool, with statues in places that you wouldn’t usually look.

Hub very kindly allowed me to sit and drink my coffee in a spot that was less gob-ridden and had a good vantage point for ogling the extremely tight jodhpurs of the mounted policemen. I was just looking.  Then it started raining.

We had already agreed (Hub with reluctance) that after we’d see the probate people we would buy Hub some new clothes in the bustling mecca that is L1.  He doesn’t like clothes shopping (for himself) and will make his clothes last for years rather than have to buy new ones.  Nothing lasts for ever though and he needed new jeans and replacement polo shirts.

The last time we bought polo shirts (I surprised him and dragged him into a clothes shop when we were out supposedly doing something else) he went in for stripey ones.  He doesn’t like rough pique material but prefers cotton jersey (me too – we have a tendency towards the tactile).  He didn’t want stripey anymore though – so we were looking for medium cotton jersey polo shirts in solid colours (red and yellow are okay, I’ve been weaning him off blue for years and he won’t touch green or anything pastel).

Stripey cotton jersey – yes, solid colour pique – yes.  We very nearly bought two nice dark red polo shirts but then he realised that they were Jasper Conran and Hub doesn’t do designers.  We did Debenhams, Primark, BHS, Burtons, Topman, Next, TK Maxx and had reached the point where we were both whimpering about our sore ankles.

I bought a purse in TK Maxx.  It cost FIFTEEN whole pounds (well fourteen ninety-nine) and I’ve never paid that much for a purse before.  According to the label it should have cost SEVENTY FIVE pounds – yeah right.  Hub told me to get on and buy it  because he was hungry (so hungry that he bought it for me in the end) and we decided to make one last stop in M and S before getting some lunch.

No polo shirts that met specifications but Hub usually buys his jeans from M and S so I was hopeful.  Hopes were dashed.  Hub is a skinny whippet with a 29inch waist and 31inch inside leg – so apparently are most of the people who buy black denim jeans from M and S.    We gave up and went for lunch.

There’s a restaurant on the roof of L1 where you can stuff your face with a fusion of world foods.  Fine dining it ain’t and the people next to us had some very strange food combinations.  I’ve never seen one man eat so many spare ribs and his daughter was hell-bent on following his example.  You can fill up a plate with whatever you like and go back as many times as you want.  Hub and I tried to stay within limits, the only difference being I had a starter plate and he didn’t.  The joy of the place is that when you are shopping-knackered and want food NOW!  you can get it and carrying on munching until you are replete.  They do really cute deserts as well.

After lunch we tried one last assault on John Lewis – which was another epic fail – and then unanimously decided that we wanted to go home.  Big cities are nice for small visits but Hub and I have become far too provincial and like the quiet backwaters now.  No offence meant to my Liverpudlian chums but walking through the perfume section of John Lewis was like being in an episode of Thelma’s Gypsy Girls – pocking Hell!

The fashion plate that is Uni Boy was gravely disappointed in our failure to shop.  We didn’t even go into H and M for heaven’s sake!  College Boy was just hacked off that we went ALL the way to Liverpool and didn’t bring him anything back.

I went online to Cotton Traders and found two polo shirts that met Hub’s exacting standards – then discovered that they have an outlet in the garden centre just down the road from us. Then we both crashed out – getting too old for this malarky.

Back to work tomorrow for me, Uni Boy is off to Spain with his chums and Hub has drawn the short straw again because he has to take Uni Boy to the sports shop to buy an American football.  He might even buy some jeans whilst he’s there. In my dreams.



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