The Anonymous Widower

Getting The Interface Between Real and Internet Shopping Right!

I recently bought some towels from John Lewis, as most of mine are rather tatty and frayed.  I also wanted all of them to be the same dark blue colour. C had bought numerous ones over the years and we had purples, reds, green and yellows to name but four colours.

I needed to buy some more to match my new ones, but they don’t have any serial number on the tag, so that I can order the right ones. The only way to do it, is to keep the packaging or take the towel back to the store.  I can’t even login to my John Lewis account and get the details that way.

In this instance it isn’t that serious, but it does mean I’ll have to take one of my towels back, so that I can get the same colour. If it was properly tagged with a stock number or this was available on-line from my account, it would mean that all I would need to do is repeat the order on-line.

Other shops like IKEA and I think a few others have a consistent internet and real shopping numbering system that works. Surely getting it right would mean they got more repeat sales.  I know ranges change, but I suspect that a lot of the stuff stocked in John Lewis hasn’t changed at all in years.

July 3, 2011 Posted by | World | , | 3 Comments

Crossrailed Again!

I have a feeling London is going to have to learn to live with CrossRail. Not content with causing chaos in Oxford Street, the construction work has now effectively removed Hanover Square from being a useful thoroughfare between Fenwick and John Lewis.

An Unfriendly Hanover Square

But it still doesn’t stop idiots driving through to make matters worse for buses, taxis and pedestrians.

Traffic Jams Towards John Lewis

I  must say that I might miss driving at times, but not in Central London.

I should say that I walked to John Lewis, a couple of minutes quicker than the Ferrari! But perhaps the driver was a learner, as this driver was.

July 3, 2011 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Every Picture Tells a Story

I mentioned in the post on house-husbands that I have various skills and strangely one of them is dressmaking. Or it used to be, as I haven’t made anything in years.

But look at this picture of Celia, who in this blog I usually refer to as C, taken at a New Year’s Party in Venice probably in 2002 or 2003.

C at New Year in Venice

It looks like a strapless evening dress or a full skirt with a strapless top.  It is neither.

The skirt was luxurious and there was an equally luxurious top to go with it. But when C bought the skirt from Beatrice von Tresckow, the top in her size was sold out, so they said they’d make one for her. Something went wrong and it didn’t fit.

So there we were in a five star hotel in Venice, an hour before the dinner and one of us had nothing to wear! And it wasn’t one of those parties, where she could have gone topless.  I hasten to add that she never did outside of the confines of our bedroom.

Depending on where I tell this story, there are various versions. In some she’s in tears and in others she wants to go home, but the truth is probably that although she was upset, she trusted me to have an idea that would work. Her versions of the story used to have a lot of emotional actions, as aren’t most barristers frustrated actors?

She thought I was joking when I asked her for some safety pins. I found two in the dinner suit I was wearing and one in a good pair of trousers.  All had been used to attach dry cleaning tickets and after that day, she never ever removed one. But she still referred to it as one of my lazy habits.

I then told her to remove the strapless bra she was wearing and replace it with a basque I knew she’d brought with her to wear under another dress, that was a bit tight and needed a bit of an extra squeeze to get into. She’d also brought it because it was New Year and she knew the extra layer added warmth. She also took the opportunity to change from tights to some stockings as a reward to me, which she said she’d remove, if I couldn’t make her respectable.

I then took the shawl that she had brought to wear with the top and skirt and wound it round her securing it with the safety pins.  The hotel was warm, so the lack of a shawl wasn’t a problem.

The result is shown in the picture, which was actually taken after the dancing.  So it held together without any problems.

I hasten to add, that wrapping the shawl round wasn’t my original idea, but was borrowed from a very old 1950s, TV Series, called Dick and the Duchess. In one episode, Hazel Court, who played the Duchess, got into a scrape as she often did, lost her clothes and ends up in a boiler suit. She then takes a taxi to her couturier, who was played by a very camp, Michael Medwin. To preserve her decency, he wraps her in expensive silk, tucks it all in and sends her home. He orders the boiler suit to be burnt.  I never saw the errant top again.

If there is a moral to this story it is to never travel without safety pins! And steal ideas from out of context and old television shows.

July 3, 2011 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , | 10 Comments

Do London Underground Use a Different Calendar to Everyone Else?

I thought thw 2nd and 3rd of July was a weekend this year until I saw  this!

2nd/3rd of July Is Not a Weekday

But who knows?

July 3, 2011 Posted by | Transport/Travel | | Leave a comment

Do Successful Women Have a House Husband?

A news item in the Sunday Times today is headed Top women need ‘him indoors’

It goes on to discuss how quite a few of the top women in the City have husbands who are at home.

I will not answer my question directly, but talk about my relationship of forty years with C. Or more particularly our careers.

For the first few years, we were very typical although, some would say that your early twenties are too young to have children. We had three before I was 25 and C was 24. I worked hard to get on and by that time I was starting my first business. I was working at least 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we were living in a fouuth floor walk up flat in St. John’s Wood.  So if you have to live in crap housing make sure it’s in a good location.  Just north of Regent’s Park can’t really be better.

When I sold my first business, we moved to the Barbican and C went to UCL to do a law degree, as Politics from Liverpool, where your tutor was Robert Kilroy-Silk, doesn’t really prepare you for the world of real work.

For the next fifteen years or so, I was part of the team creating Artemis, whilst C was getting her career together as a barrister. We were both working hard and I got the financial rewards when the company was sold.  C meanwhile gained a reputation as one of East Anglia’s foremost family barristers.

When we moved to Newmarket to start the stud, we started to evolve a new way of working together. We still had our individual careers and interests, but I would spend more time on other things, as C was now very much the major wage owner.  It allowed me to develop ideas, some of which worked and some didn’t. And then when she moved to Chambers in Cambridge, which was very much Internet based, I became much more of her support at home.

As we didn’t have young children anymore, I couldn’t be described as anything more than home support.

So in some ways we’d almost come full circle.

I suspect our model has not been untypical and I’d recommend it.  As the major wage-earner changes over the years, does it really demean the man to be the one who oooks after the house, when his wife can earn three or four times he can.

But we also did a lot of things together.

Shopping for instance.  Some of my friends are incredulous, that for most of our life together we did the general shopping together too. When we were in the Barbican, we’d push the children up to Chapel Market next to the Waitrose I now use.  So life has now come full circle in more ways than one. 

Clothes shopping was often together too. C was better at choosing clothes for me and in many cases the reverse was true. I remember the year she died being in Zara and C was looking at a sun dress on a hanger.  She said that it was awful and I then picked it up, realising that it would be just her size and style. She bought it and wore it all the summer. Remember that I am a designer and also an unusual man, who was taught to make clothes by his mother.

If I have any regrets about our relationship, it was that I dodn’t do more cooking.  I taught myself in a few days after she died and like doing it.

So I would suspect that although house-husband is too strong a word for it, most successful women and successful men for that matter have a strong partner at home, who can help or even take charge of the mundane and suggest other ways in the serious part of their career. As an example in the latter, I helped in a few of C’s cases, by using my knowledge and experience to improve her arguments and in some other cases, I have suggested ways of improving her returns from the work.

And then there’s the need for a cuddle and more, that we all need!

Living alone is not a choice we would make for ourselves.

July 3, 2011 Posted by | Business, World | , , | 9 Comments

Fourth of July Tomorrow

Remember it’s Darrell’s Day tomorrow.

If Nathanial Darrell and his brave band of Marines hadn’t repelled the UK’s last attempted invasion, we’d all now be wearing clogs!

July 3, 2011 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment