Coats and Bags

Last Tuesday I went to Ocean Terminal, looking for a coat. My Mother and my Sister had clubbed together at Christmas and given me some money to buy a new coat with.

“Take a photo of you wearing the coat” had been my Sister’s parting shot, perhaps fearing that no money would be spent on said coat, and that her generous gift might instead be frittered away on Empire Biscuits and perhaps some nice new audio gear.

As an aside, I’m not sure investing money in Empire Biscuits could ever be considered “frittering”. However.

Last Tuesday was the day. I must confess, gents, that I somewhat let the side down in the shopping department. Instead of employing the classic “enter shop – buy thing – leave shop pronto” male shopping technique, I wandered round aimlessly, not only around one store, but in and out of several, no less. I even tried multiple things on.

I found the coat. It was perfect. Just a fraction on the “neat” side. I looked at the label. XL. Not a good feeling – finding an XL garment a little on the neat side. I enquired of the youthful sales assistant, who, in a flurry of touchscreening, confirmed that larger sizes were available. I said I’d think about it.

I retreated to a coffee shop to lick my wounds and consider the options. Texted Mother and Sister with pictures of me in various coats. They agreed with me that the slightly neat XL coat was the One. I returned to the store, where there was no sign of the youthful sales assistant. Probably away on an attention-span break, checking Twitter. I attempted the touchscreening, but couldn’t find the XXL version to order.

Dismayed, I switched tack and moved on to the Superdry store to find a replacement bag. My much-loved bag’s zip had recently given up the ghost, taking the ironic non-waterproofness of a Superdry bag to a whole new level. My much-loved bag was a courier bag, I discovered. Courier bags, it seems, have gone heavily out of fashion since I was last bag-shopping. All the kids, it seems, are using backpacks these days. Couple of messenger bags also available, but almost all backpacks. I briefly entertained the messenger bag notion, but decided they were overpriced. Eventually found a like-for-like courier bag replacement, but decided it was overpriced too, and went away to think about it.

(It would be fair and reasonable to question the rationality of my behaviour in entering a Superdry store and leaving it empty-handed because things were expensive…)

Considered looking for a new pair of shoes, but having already tried on coats and nearly purchased a bag, decided I had probably already exceeded my Ladies’ Items Allowance for the day.

Having later found an XXL version of the coat online, and arranged for it to be delivered to the Livingston outlet, I duly appeared there Friday morning, walking steadfastly past the nearby Krispy Kreme outlet. Picked up coat. Buoyed by this unusual shopping success, nipped in to the Superdry store there, having decided to get over myself and my poverty mindset. Nary a courier bag in sight. Wall-to-wall backpacks. Plus a few messenger bags. Consoled myself by not walking past the Krispy Kreme outlet on the way back.

Cue a return to the Ocean Terminal Superdry store. The courier bags had disappeared, behind a sea of backpacks and one or two messenger bags, but a friendly youthful sales assistant found them for me, hiding behind a raft of trendy jackets.

Five minutes later I walked out of the store clutching my brand new messenger bag. Obviously.

The last few days have been mercifully free of shopping expeditions and the associated confusion and distress. After a week’s hiatus I made it back to the gym yesterday morning, in an attempt to regain XL sizing. In the middle of 3 sets of sweaty ab-crunching I looked up to see an older lady, pedalling away on a cross-trainer. Wearing a fur-lined coat.

I must be doing something wrong…

Krispy Kreme and the Superbowl


It was the Superbowl a few weeks ago. Ravens against the 49ers. A seminal American experience. In years gone by I have been invited to UK Superbowl parties, running through the night, fuelled mainly by beer and popcorn. I never went to any of these, valuing my sleep, my job, and my digestive system too much. And besides, I’ve never really ‘got’ American Football.

But I’ve been living in the American South for nearly five months then, and been exposed to ‘football’ on TV screens wherever I go. And I was in the same timezone, and had an offer to watch the Superbowl with Brett Ratliff, who’s a top bloke and an actual NFL quarterback.

But it didn’t happen. Here’s what happened. I was sitting in Krispy Kreme, in the middle of losing another board game with my good friends Ryan, Katie and Charlene, and the ‘HOT NOW’ sign came on. We were sitting at the table right beside the sign, and were immediately bathed in bright orange light. The bright light did something to my brain, and I got up and bought a doughnut and coffee. Not the action of a rationally-thinking man. I had already put away a Krispy Kreme “doughnut shake” (think puréed doughnut).

What was that about valuing my digestive system?

As I understand it, Krispy Kreme have just opened up their first Scottish outlet, in Edinburgh, this week. And there was a mile-long queue in the snow for the drive-thru. I can only imagine the travel chaos caused by the combination of snow and a Krispy Kreme opening.

For those still to sample Krispy Kreme’s undoubted delights, can I suggest steering clear of the doughnut shakes. In combination with an actual doughnut and a “coffee”, I was unable to move for another hour, and missed the Superbowl.

But back to valuing my digestive system. Readers in the UK will be unfamiliar with the fast food chain/cultural icon/house of worship that is Chick-Fil-A. Think KFC, but good. Really good. I have become increasingly familiar with Chick-Fil-A. And so, when Ryan and Katie suggested camping out for 24 hours in their parking lot in freezing temperatures, it seemed like a great idea.

And so it came to pass that we drove 1.5 hours to Tullahoma, TN, put up a tent in a concrete parking lot along with 97 other people of questionable sanity, and waited. Played games, shivered, ate breakfast (chicken “biscuit”), napped, ate lunch (chicken strips), shivered, played games, ate dinner (chicken sandwich), played party games, danced (a little), had a cookie, went to bed, shivered, got up, collected a year’s supply of free meal vouchers. Boom!

Thirty-six hours after returning to Nashville, having thawed out, caught up on sleep, got most of the chicken out of my system (details can be supplied on request), I read the vouchers.

Redeemable at Chick-Fil-A Tullahoma.

I was mildly upset.

Mercifully a quick text to Ryan confirmed that their policy is to honour the vouchers at any Chick-Fil-A. So I now have 52 vouchers to use, and three months left in the USA. That’s three per week.

Mmmm. Chicken.