Thomas Merton I think it was who wrote positively about the ordinary things in life and viewed with circumspection the wish to be different or unusual. Even so with life changing events taking place in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, a blog post about ordinary things in SW London of a Saturday at first thought seemed a little tame. Events in Egypt are still unfolding but may still result in that country's people experiencing as the French put it so well; "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose", so my amateur comment would be premature until events pan out more.
On to the ordinary which today included buying a new suit. The daily commute takes its toll on my day job suit but trying to find clothes to fit a 9 stone frame proved very difficult. Ubiquitous High Street chain stores like John Lewis or M&S of course sell men's suits aplenty but mainly for what might be termed "real men", namely those who need large beefier sizes. A size 36 jacket for instance seems as rare as gold dust (and as expensive) but size 40s and larger, are two a penny. Another Wimbledon couple we came across in the Kingston M&S men's suit dept. however, made much the same point about finding outsizes so maybe the chain stores stock mostly mean sizes.
Wimbledon's shopping centre boasts a couple of department stores, one part of a large national chain and the other a local single branch department store. The one off department store always has a slightly idiosyncratic feel to it a little like Pratts the old John Lewis branch in Streatham which closed down years ago for not being in keeping with John Lewis's desired corporate image. The Wimbledon one off is somewhat quirky in the corporate image department but thankfully this quirkiness is reflected in some of its stock. I found a suit of exactly the right size - almost a treat in itself. I was assisted by a young Polish student shop assistant, who told me that he was studying at a nearby university and who has worked as a shop assistant during week ends for the last couple of years, to help finance his stay and education in England. His views on English people were interesting - it takes ten years in his view to become sufficiently acquainted with the locals before they or should I say 'we' become friendly. that I surmise is true. Accommodation costs are so high that it is cheaper to take time out in the Summer from his part time job as well as uni, and travel back to stay with family in Warsaw than to carry on working and pay rent locally during that time. That too I surmise is true. Unfortunately I did not have the presence of mind to inquire about local SW London positives which presumably attract him and his girl friend to continue to live work and study here.
There is much debate at present especially in the news papers about how shop assistants are becoming less helpful. If my experience today is any fair yardstick, such comment is tosh although the jury is still out on whether shoppers are becoming ruder.