Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Trip to Harrods

When I took my mother to Harrods today, I thought the unavailability of everything would depress me (I wanted to buy an umbrella, but the cheapest I could find was 15 quid). Instead, something happened that was rather unexpected. I was wandering confusedly from room to room, becoming more and more exhilarated by the sights and sounds, when suddenly I realised I was moved. Perhaps it was the music thudding from the walls. The thick mist of scent carried on the air. Or the crowds of people pressing around me. Whatever it was, it was powerful. As if I was breathing the consumerist fumes.
By the time we reached the Food Court I'd become like a child, pointing at everything in awe. An old lady sipping pink champagne at the fish bar was the most elegant thing I'd ever seen. I practically worshipped the green-slippered feet of an incredibly beautiful Japanese girl eating sushi in the corner. Even a group of Americans pointing at the plastic pig carcasses on the butcher's ceiling seemed so innocently happy I couldn't help sharing their amusement.
At the top of a pair of gold escalators we stood looking up at the glitzy, gold-plated walls, when suddenly, as if from nowhere, the tinkling strains of Gounod's 'Ave Maria' filled the air. By far my favourite piece of music, here, at the top of the escalators in Harrods, it was as if I'd never heard it before. These celestial notes, at once so familiar and so strange - almost too beautiful, in fact, to be made by human hands - were somehow perfectly suited to the glamour that surrounded us. I clutched my mother's arm. She was listening too. Not quite knowing what we'd just experienced, we walked happily down the escalator together.
Breathe the consumerist fumes yourself at