Written by Nicola Ranson


Horror on the high street

Nicola Ranson has had it with the high street shopping experience. For quite a few reasons.

busy street
The high street: a wretched, gum-flecked stretch of pavement, lined with naff shops and bland, tax-avoiding coffee chains. A filthy catwalk patrolled by popcorn-footed pigeons and the pedestrian equivalent of Sunday drivers.

A common myth is that women the world over love this place. We can’t get enough of it. In terms of hobbies, shopping comes second only to rollerblading while a thin blue liquid seeps from our ovaries.

I’m about to dropkick this myth into the abyss. Readers, high street shopping is my own kind of hell. Here’s why.

My hair

If the city was built on rock and roll, the high street was built on synth(etic fibres). Nylon, polyester and acrylic appear to be the favoured fabrics of high-street retailers. These materials absolutely excel in generating and then holding on to static electricity, which is brilliant news if you are a strand of my hair and always believed you can fly.

Struwwelpeter with big hair
It starts modestly. First it’s just one or two rogue strands; I might not even notice it happening. But before the day of shopping is out, my whole blessed mane is touching the sky.

The curtain

My god. You’ve collected a selection of polyester products and queued for the changing room for what feels like a quarter of your life. Finally, you are ushered into a cubicle. You clutch the curtain and attempt to draw it across… It. Just. Will. Not. Move.

You try again, a bit slower. Nothing.

You try and pull it very suddenly, as if the element of surprise will somehow outwit the curtain and trick it into moving. Nada.

You try a ‘run up’ by pulling the curtain all the way to the end of the rail and then going at it with speed. Nope.

After multiple attempts, you manage to shift the bloody thing by standing on your tiptoes, and jolting the curtain, bit by bit along the rail. Despite the effort there’s almost always a gap, through which the shop assistant can watch you get trapped in a dress.


dust bunny
For the love of Marks and Spencer, what is this thing? I can’t even begin to hazard a guess. All I know is that you get them in the corner of every changing room, they look like a small mouse and you can bet your life my cardigan will fall on it when all my stuff slips off the stool and onto the floor.

I’m assuming these things could either be swept up and disposed of or captured and released back into the wild. I don’t know and don’t care. Please H&M, do the right thing. Let them vanish.

Realising what you look like from behind

Unless you’re Kim Kardashian, you don’t normally get to see yourself from this angle. And correct me if I’m wrong here, but unless you’re Kim Kardashian, it is NOT enjoyable to see yourself from this angle.

Being asked if I want the receipt in the bag

Do I want the receipt in the bag… is this a trick question? What are the other options available to me? Where else are you thinking of putting the receipt?! More to the point, why in the world does it matter? If you put the receipt in the bag and I don’t want it in the bag I’ll just take it out of the bag. No problem! This part of the interaction does not need to happen. It’s futile, time-wasting conversational admin.

Dear blinking shop assistant, I could not care LESS about where you put the receipt. If I want to return the item, I will never be able to find the crummy little scrap anyway so you may as well instantly shred it and feed it to your rabbit. It makes no odds to me.

The high street itself

There’s something sinister about the high street. I’m not sure if it’s the row after row of identical mass-produced products. If you buy a nice dress, you’re likely to see someone else wearing it too. Or maybe it’s how detached the shopping experience is. You’re so far removed from the person making the garment, or the person who owns the shop, makes the decisions or designs the prints. The chances are somewhere along that chain, someone is getting screwed over.

Or it could just be the crushing knowledge that mass consumerism is destroying our planet. Either way, the experience reflects the reality. Shopping on the high street is like devouring a meal of junk food. It can be hard to resist but will leave you feeling shit and full of guilt.


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Written by Nicola Ranson

Nicola Ranson is a writer, amateur beekeeper and wonky crocheter who particularly enjoys ranting and puns. Sometimes at the same time.