Marks & Spencer has been in Kettering for as long as I can remember, and it's never changed much. Apart from the knicker department, I usually walk on, on, on through the clothes part. The colours are over-bright, the styles look dire on the mannequins - and they're thin, so what on earth will they look like on me? - and nothing looks as if it much wants to be put with anything else.
However, last week, I was whizzing past Marks & Sparks after an unsuccessful quest to find running shoes (I decided I didn't want to wait for the assistants to finish their conversation) and I spotted a coral scoop neck top. Aha! I thought. I like that, and it's cheap. So, in I sailed, to be faced with a display of scoop neck tops. There they were: bright blue, bright green and sundry other colours, but not a single coral. Stopped in my tracks, I had a quick glance at the other side of the shop. Nope. Racks of A-line skirts, displayed in that fetching frontways-on method Marks & Sparks loves, which makes even the size 10s look as if they're made for elephants.
I went a bit further in. Lots of one-off Per Una, all frilled and furbelowed. The Classics department - wall to wall beige. No coral top. Nearly at the knicker part now, I thought, and looked round for an assistant to ask. Surely they can't be so popular they've sold out already? If so, what's the point of having them in the window? No assistant. Might as well have a look at the knicker department. And there, just to the left of the knickers: rank upon rank of coral tops. Reader, I bought one. I am wearing it now. I am very pleased with it, but if I hadn't decided I was long overdue for a rummage amongst the mix-and-match knickers, I'd never have found it and retired, money still in my wallet.
I do wonder if perhaps this is just one reason Marks & Sparks aren't doing so well just now.