I thought I had seen it all when it came to men’s dress, but on Monday I was proved incredibly wrong. I spent the afternoon filming with my colleague Diana Mather in Tarporley, Cheshire, for an Australian television programme called ‘Caravan of Courage’. It’s fronted by a popular antipodean double-act called Hamish and Andy, who host the most listened to radio programme in Australia (UK readers, think Ant and Dec meet Chris Evans). They had come to the UK to do a road trip and one of their many stops included an etiquette lesson with Diana and myself. The boys, who were really very charming when the cameras weren’t rolling, were wearing what they called ‘onezies’ which is something similar to what a racing car driver may wear, although these ones had uneven sleeve and leg lengths, and Hamish’s was particularly grubby. Someone commented that it looked like they had cleaned the windows with them. Anyway, after getting over the bafflement of their sartorial choices, we progressed with the filming. The boys were trying to out-smart everything that Diana and I said, which made it hard work, but I think we managed to leave them with a good impression of why manners matter.
On Tuesday I drove down to Bristol to stay with family for the week. When I got back to Bristol that afternoon I went to the Apple shop and bought a laptop, which I am very pleased with (and on which I write this blog). However, I think I should express my feelings on the Apple shop here and now. Despite their high-quality products and sleek design of both shop and stock, they really wind me up.
How so? The staff look like they’ve just jumped out of bed; for the men, I really do think it is a company policy that you must have facial hair (and straggly, wispy, unkempt facial hair, at that). The gentleman that served me on Tuesday had the biggest, straggliest and unattractive beard I had ever seen; one to rival the Roald Dahl character of Mr. Twit. The shop assistants address you as if they’ve known you for years, usually suffixing everything with ‘mate’ or ‘buddy’ and lean against the display tables as they tell you about the history of their own Apple products. Then, when you want to pay, there are no till points and so one wanders around holding whatever one has picked up looking for an assistant (if you haven’t already been seen by one) to let you make a purchase. Call me old fashioned, but I like knowing where one has to pay, and who to see if I have a question when I am shopping. But in the Apple shops (or ‘stores’ as they insist on calling them – everything is a store nowadays) the normal conventions are lacking. This is probably a deliberate ploy by the company, but I got an email two days after my Tuesday trip asking me for my thoughts on my shopping ‘experience’ and so I gave them a piece of my mind, for what it’s worth.
Other than spending some time in the gym under the eyes of my trainer, this week has been mainly catching up with family. I did an interview for BBC Three Counties (@jvsshow) about the World Cup: I hasten to add that I was saying how I am dreading it, I was not there talking about the line-up or tactics of the England squad!
I return to Manchester tomorrow, back into the swing of things. Bristol is a fairly nice city, but I always feel it’s far too retrospective. Every day in Manchester feels like a Monday morning – people are going places, businesses are relocating to Manchester, there are always cranes in the skyline, building the future.