I'm not a keen clothes shopper - at least, not for myself

Torbay Weekly

I am enjoying the relaxation of Covid restrictions as much as the next person, I imagine.

There are naturally some amendments I welcome to a greater degree than others; I certainly enjoy meeting up with friends for al fresco coffees in a more civilised setting than can be provided by a brief wall perch or a perpetual motion gulp.

Similarly, relaxing in beer gardens as the sunshine of a spring day mellows into a velvety twilight, in the midst of pleasant company, stimulating conversation, and deepening affection for all present, is an agreeable way to expend one's time.

It is, of course, at the whim of our inclement climate that we are permitted this pastime - although, like me, you may have witnessed the brave and stoical souls who doggedly maintained their outdoor imbibing despite torrential rain and chilly temperatures; I salute their stiff upper lips - stiff with frostbite, one suspects.

I have been enthused to a lesser extent about the reopening of non-essential shops.

Before 'Lockdown 1: The Original' was foisted upon us last March, my family and I would frequently spend Saturday afternoons in town or city, visiting stores, partaking in coffees, and delighting in the ambience of a hustling, bustling shopping centre.

When that freedom was swiftly and unexpectedly curtailed 14 months ago, I suppose I must have mourned it.

I must have wondered how I would fill my Saturdays, what diversion would have been meet substitute for the weekly sojourn to the shops.

No longer. When the first restrictions were eased coming out of 'Lockdown 3: The Lockdown Returns (Again)', my husband suggested a trip to town to celebrate the indulgence of renewed liberties.

He was fired up with the notion of reacquainting ourselves with pre-March 2020 habits, and I could empathise - life seemed sweeter in those halcyon days of unfettered travel, contact and socialising.

Nevertheless, I was less than keen to head to town. The permanent closure of certain shops and the sustained enforcement of pandemic observations rendered the prospect of sallying forth rather a bleak undertaking.

As it happened, my husband was called into work and we didn't make the journey that weekend - with little regret on my part.

A couple of weekends later, the suggestion was raised again.

This time, there was an aspect of urgency to the visit: my daughter had several purchases to make, and our youngest, who has grown quite alarmingly, was sorely in need of new clothes lest people worry we were neglecting to notice and cover his ever-elongating limbs.

The foray was brief, in the end; my daughter didn't finish work until 2pm, and evening church service timings limited the hours at our disposal.

We entered a couple of shops with little fanfare, fulfilled our required tasks, and left, without even stopping for a coffee - an unprecedented move.

If nothing else, the trip reminded me that I am not a keen clothes shopper - at least, not for myself.

I enjoy perusing the rails for my nearest and dearest, and am always eager that when the children return from independent shopping trips or receive parcels through the post they show off their new acquisitions to me.

And it's not that I dislike clothes, or fashion - some, looking at me, may find that last statement somewhat bold.

It's a more personalised problem than that. Traipsing through department stores, frequently heading for the café that is inconveniently situated at the farthest aspect of the premises, my eye may be caught by the latest pretty frippery or gorgeous gown, and my mind filled with dazzling visions featuring me swathed swooningly in said outfit, turning heads where'er I go and eliciting gasps of envy and admiration throughout the land.

The teensy weensy problem is that the 6ft tall, willowy, long-legged me that exists in my head only, and the clothes that I have draped so beguilingly on this figment of my imagination do not lend themselves as envisaged to my shorter, stouter, stockier - especially post-lockdown - frame.

I am all too aware I would benefit from a reconciliation between fantasy and fact to ensure my future shopping satisfaction, but until that happy day, I shall staunchly avoid personal clothes purchases.

Last year's wardrobe - and the year before: you've got a friend in me.