One of my favourite Spanish clothes shops is Desigual. Well, I say “Spanish” but it was apparently started by a Swiss national. However it has its main headquarters in Barcelona so that sounds Spanish enough for me. Its trademark look is a kind of patchwork effect with lots of swirls of different colours and quite often with sleeves of different colours in one garment.
The name means “unequal” or “unbalanced”, which makes sense, and its logo is “No es lo mismo” – “It’s not the same”. It’s certainly different form other stuff, that’s for sure. Desigual has been in the news recently because, like almost every other shop, they have been having sales. What they have done in a number of Spanish towns is advertise that anyone turning up to shop in their underwear had a very good chance of getting a free outfit to leave the shop in. Now, their clothes are quite pricey, evening the sales, so loads of people turned up in their undies to try their luck.
They have what is called an “outlet” – isn’t that a ridiculous term? – in Kendall’s, the would-be very classy store on Deansgate in Manchester. When I feel nostalgic for my strolls up and down Principe, the main shopping street in Vigo, I pop in and have a look at the clothes. Nobody offered you free clothes in the Kendall’s “outlet” if you turned up in your underwear though. Too much English restraint, I expect.
There’s a bit of me that is trying to avoid the sales if possible, which practically means not going to the shops. It ends up really boring with rows of shoes lined up by size, racks of dresses, trousers, blouses all in a jumble, untidy piles of jumpers that have been pawed over by all and sundry. You’re lucky of you can see what anything looks like, let alone find a real bargain. But then, when you do find a bargain you feel quite pleased with yourself. And I suppose it gives people something to do in the gloomy grey of the North of England winter, now that the snow has gone.
My daughter and I are keeping ourselves busy on our get-fit-after-Christmas campaign. One of our activities is swimming, ploughing up and down the local pool as many times as possible in an hour, making me nostalgic for open air pools and sunny days. While we do this my husband earns his keep as babysitting grandad, inventing ingenious games of “who can throw the tennis ball in the kitchen bin?”
Someone else who seems to have been taking his grandfather role to heart is King Juan Carlos. It seems that his mobile telephone ringtone is a laughing baby! This has been reported because his phone rang in the middle of a reception for new ambassadors. He hastily switched his phone off and apologised to everyone. Now that’s the kind of king I like. I wonder of our queen has a mobile phone.
The future queen of Spain has also been getting in touch with the people. On a walkabout with Prince Felipe in Medina del Campo she came across two little girls crying and discovered that they had been having one of those little girl fights that often end on tears. So she sorted them out with a quick, “Who started it? Now, say you’re sorry!”