THERE’S JUST ONE essential purchase I have to make on the way to the press conference – and
That’s the Financial Times. The FT is by far the best accessory a girl can have. Its major advantages
1. It’s a nice color.
2. It only costs eighty-five pence.
3. If you walk into a room with it tucked under your arm, people take you seriously. With an FT
Under your arm, you can talk about the most frivolous things in the world, and instead of thinking
You’re an airhead, people think you’re a heavyweight intellectual who has broader interests, too.
At my interview for Successful Saving, I went in holding copies of the Financial Times and the
Investor’s Chronicle – and I didn’t get asked about finance once. As I remember it, we spent the
Whole time talking about holiday villas and gossiping about other edi-tors.
So I stop at a newsstand and buy a copy of the FT. There’s some huge headline about Rutland Bank
On the front page, andI’m thinking maybe I should at least skim it, when I catch my reflection in the
Window of Denny and George.
I don’t look bad, I think. I’m wearing my black skirt from French Connection, and a plain white T-shirt
From Knickerbox, and a little angora cardigan which I got from M & S but looks like it might be Agnès b.
And my new square-toed shoes from Hobbs. Even better, although no one can see them, I know that
Under-neath I’m wearing my gorgeous new matching knickers and bra with embroidered yellow
Rosebuds. They’re the best bit of my en-tire outfit. In fact, I almost wish I could be run over so that the
World would see them.
It’s a habit of mine, itemizing all the clothes I’m wearing, as though for a fashion page. I’ve been doing it
For years – ever since I used to read Just Seventeen. Every issue,
they’d stop a girl on the street, take a
Picture of her, and list all her clothes. “T-Shirt: Chelsea Girl, Jeans: Top Shop, Shoes: borrowed from
Friend.” I used to read those lists avidly, and to this day, if I buy something from a shop that’s a bit
Uncool, I cut the label out. So that if I’m ever stopped in the street, I can pretend I don’t know where it’s
So anyway. There I am, with the FT tucked under my arm, thinking I look pretty good, and half wishing
Someone from Just Seventeen would pop up with a camera – when suddenly my eyes focus and snap to
Attention, and my heart stops. In the window of Denny and George is a discreet sign. It’s dark green with
Cream lettering, and it says: SALE.
I stare at it, and my skin’s all prickly. It can’t be true. Denny and George can’t be having a sale. They
Never have a sale. Their scarves and pashminas are so coveted, they could probably sell them at twice
The price. Everyone I know in the entire world aspires to owning a Denny and George scarf. (Except my
Mum and dad, obviously. My mum thinks if you can’t buy it at Bentalls of Kingston, you don’t need it.)
I swallow, take a couple of steps forward, then push open thedoor of the tiny shop. The door pings, and
The nice blond girl who works there looks up. I don’t know her name but I’ve always liked her. Unlike
Some snotty cows in clothes shops, she doesn’t mind if you stand for ages staring at clothes you really
Can’t afford to buy. Usually what happens is, I spend half an hour lusting after scarves in Denny and
George, then go off to Accessorize and buy something to cheer myself up. I’ve got a whole drawerful of
Denny and George substitutes.
“Hi,” I say, trying to stay calm.