On Not Being Able to Shop

I’ve been a little bored today (I know!! Shock, horror, right?!) because everyone I know was at the Diane Von Furstenberg talk for Singapore Fashion Week, and I couldn’t go because I had to take Milly for an urgent dental appointment. Kids! The bane of my existence.

The appointment lasted just long enough to miss half of the DVF, but not long enough to take up the rest of my morning. There weren’t even any Mega Threads on Facebook : (. As I was at a loose end, I took myself off down Orchard Road, and was hit by a dreadful new insight (I wish I wasn’t so keenly self-aware; it truly is a curse, not a blessing). I wandered through the shops from Orchard Central to the Paragon to Taka, then on to the Ion and Tang’s and Wheelock and the Forum and the Palais Renaissance, and it was just as I was getting my third coffee of the morning at Tanglin Mall that I realised that there was absolutely nothing I needed to buy. Not even vaguely needed, and I am running out of places to put things at home. The helper has, for some reason known only to herself, stopped tidying away my stuff in the bedroom and in my dressing room. Instead she just leaves things pretty much where I’ve dumped them, and puts them into piles that get higher and higher. One of the piles fell over yesterday and Froo Froo got taken out by a Tampax box and a v heavy pair of socks. She nearly lost an eye! I need to have strong words with the help about this hazardous issue. Maybe I’ll send her a text later.

So it felt really depressing that there’s a ton of nice stuff out there to buy, and I couldn’t buy any of it!! I don’t think this has ever happened to me before, and it was quite upsetting. While I was waiting in the coffee queue at Brunetti’s, guess who appeared, to brighten my day (noooooot!!)… Mrs Doom and Gloom Expat Wifey. Ugh. I didn’t want to risk getting into conversation about the last time we met (when I happened to mention that her hus engages in intimate relations with his male PA), and she gave no indication of recalling it, so I asked her if she was going to any of the Fashion Week events. I told her I’m going to an awesome party this Friday night at H & M, and I’m struggling to get an invite to Victoria Beckham’s thingie on the last day. Annoying!

“Oh hell no”, she said, “I’m not going to any of that nonsense! A celebration of vanity!! An Emperor’s New Clothes charade of telling fools they need more stuff, stuff that’ll end up in landfill! Better to send money to Nepal than spend it on lining corporate pockets! What a complete waste of human endeavour. It disgusts me how much these brands are making. The margins are obscene! And I don’t know if this is true, but I heard that the so-called high-end shops – god what a stupid term – don’t even pay rent here… Can you believe that?! Because their presence alone is so valuable to the big malls. Madness. I hope it’s not true.”

“Uh yeah, I heard that too, but it’s defo not truesome”, I said when I could get a word in, “Because someone in the um… high-end retailing business told me it’s not, and why would they lie?”

D & G stared at me, like she thought I was making a joke, and I decided to just keep on talking.

“And I don’t think it’s that fair to say that because something is expensive it’s a complete waste of human endeavication. Most of this stuff is amazebobs, and super well made and lovely, so designer items will be a credit to anyone’s wardrobe for years to come. Investment pieces, you know?”

“Ha, ‘investment pieces’! Lol!! You really buy that idea? That’s what they say when they’re trying to persuade people to part with ridiculously huge sums of money for things that no one actually needs! And you say ‘for years to come’, but this time next year, or even in a few months’ time, there’ll be another range of Chanel espadrilles that makes the last ones look dated.”

I noticed that I hadn’t inhaled or blinked for ages, such was my dismay at the anti-capitalist ranting to which I was bearing witness.

I grabbed my skinny decaf latte from the counter, and said, “Babes, I gotta run! Great, as always, chatting to you. You have such interesting thoughts. Ok byeeee!!”

I didn’t wait to hear her reply, and dashed downstairs to Cold Storage. At least I always need food! And it was lucky I did because they had a fab offer on for Marlborough Sauv Blanc (must tell thousands of expat wives about that via the FB groups… Wait, actually no must not because then they’ll sell out). After sorting out the delivery order for 60 bottles, I made my way back down Orchard, stopping at Chanel to get a new and improved pair of espadrilles. I realised I’d been salivating when D & G mentioned them, so it was indeedy fortuitous that she reminded me! The shoe cupboards, at least, have apparently remained within the helper’s self-assigned remit, and there is ample space for more footwear. Thank goodness for that!!

SO EXCITED ABOUT FASHION WEEK!!!! Can't wait to get some investment pieces (as soon as I've made some space in the wardrobe).

SO EXCITED ABOUT FASHION WEEK!!!! Can’t wait to get some investment pieces (as soon as I’ve made a bit of space in the wardrobe).

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Expats Can Be Such Totes A-Holes!

Most of us are awesome and lovely, but I have to say that some expats are incredibly rude, self-centred, and self-important. If locals ever develop a negative opinion of us, perhaps sometimes it is entirely justified. Today I witnessed an appalling example of this, while in a lift at the Ion, and I would like to share the incident with you, dear readers (wow, I definitely no longer have to say reader, single! Thanks, Mummy, for telling your scrabble group!), so that you can join me in my expression of outrage.

Ok. So. There are a ton of malls in Singapore, and generally they have a lotta lifts (elevators, lovely Americans, elevators. But your word is cooler : D), serving a lotta floors. Often the lifts can get crowded, and might take a while in transit between floors. Today I got the lift down from the PS Café (who knew they had a terrace? Well, my gorgeous NYC friend who I met for lunch knew! Yay! She asked not to be named) to B2, and then back up again to exit. I was too stuffed after over-indulging in the truffle fries (love love LOVE those fries) to get the escalator.

When the doors slid open at B1, there were these two blonde women standing there, and the one with a gigantic pushchair (the kind that there’s plenty of room for on the wild plains of Hampstead Heath, but here, darling?? I don’t think so), looked quite unattractively frazzled. The one without the pushchair forced her way into the lift – where honestly there was absolutely zero space – and began imploring the existing liftees to make room for her friend. Ex-kuse me?? We were here first, honey. Entonces mi amores, myself and the rest of the liftees had to squash together (lucky for her we were all completely unimpaired, unencumbered people! I mean, what if we had been wheelchair-users or we had had pushchairs too??).

During this cringe-worthy unfoldment, Pushchair Bird said, “I’m really sorry, but I have been waiting for 15 minutes to go up one level because I don’t feel comfortable taking the pushchair on the escalator with a small baby, and all the lifts have been full. I’m sorry to squash you, but if anyone is able to take the escalators, I’d be really grateful.”

She looked like she was about to cry, but thankfully we were all able to avoid eye contact, ignore her pleas, and be-grudgingly make enough room for the silly woman and her stupid baby. A guy at the back said, “There’s really no room!”, and I thought, “Ha, you tell her, sunshine!”

OMG. In those moments, I was truly ashamed to be the only other non-local present. How abso toteso embarrassing. I just wanted to curl up and die right there in the basement of the Ion. Yowzer. Who did that Pushchair Bird think she was?? Disgraceful behaviour. And that’s why it is no wonder if sometimes our hosts view us with negativity. The minority spoil it for the majority.

Now, my cousin Clara says that this kind of thing is an illustration of what happens when Caucasians move to certain countries, notably those with a colonial history, where they are easily physically identifiable as being foreigners. The specific words she used when we spoke today (I didn’t tell her about this exact incident, but this is what she said in general about the expaterati) were “inflation”, “narcissism”, and “being a big fish in a small pond” (um thanks, Clara, for that patronising use of metaphor, but you’ve completes missed the mark there because Don was a big fish at home; so you may need to check back in with your textbooks, sweets).

Anyhoo. After the Ion, I stopped off at Marketplace at the Paragon to get sushi for Max’s dinner, a Waitrose ready-meal for Milly (she loves those and the helper is busy washing the car and cleaning the shoes tonight, so I thought I’d give her a break), and the next stock of organic f and v for my green smoothie tomoz. Incidentally, Don’s out tonight, so I won’t be eating. Not after all those fries.

I get to the till and the check-out minion starts putting my purchases into plastic bags, as per usuo. Then I notice from my peripheral vision that the (obv expat) woman behind me has produced her re-usable bags, and is giving me the full-on evil eye! (the “hairy eyeball”, as Kath & Kim would say, so much LOLOLOL). So, I’m like, “What, now, now, now??”

Not being one to avoid conflict (bottling it in is not good for my chi), I turned right around to face that B – while flashing my Passion Card across the reader – and said, “Sorry, do we have a problem here?”

And you will not believe what that hoity-toity B-face said…

She said: “Do you know how long it takes for those bags to degrade? It takes from 20 to 1,000 years for every single bag, and a lot of bad things happen to marine wildlife along the way. I totally understand if today you’re just in a hurry, or you forgot to bring a bag, but you can have one of mine if you like.”

For the second time in one day, dear readers, I was just dumb-founded. The arrogance of these people! As a Brit, and therefore a Servant and an Ambassador of Her Majesty, I am always polite, even in extremely tense situations like this one (given my astounding composure, I should become a hostage negotiator. I would be amazo at that, and I could defo turn those ISIS peeps around. Tweet me, Barack and Dave). So I said to the B, “Thank you, that is really immensely kind of you, but the checkout girl has already packed my things, and it would be an insult and a burden for her to have to re-pack them. But thank you. Really.”

As I spoke, I gave her my very pretty Kate Middleton smile.

Ha! That told her!! Her high-horse clearly wouldn’t let her waste the time of a lower worker. Haha!! Own-goal there, dearie. Hahahahahaha : )

The fact remains, though, that non-expats can also in addition as well be total a-holes, too. Take, for example, my cousin Clara.

[Abso no offence Clara, but during our conversation today you were a complete C to me, and you really had no right to talk to me like that.]

When we were skyping earlier, I was telling Clara that I thought my helper’s bras were a little risqué (I see them on the washing line if I am ever in that part of the house), so I am thinking of ordering her to dispose of said items and buy more conservative breast support-wear. Clara responded that I have “no right to dictate what she wears under her clothes” (wtf?), and even when I expressed my concern that she may have a hot skype paypal business (why else would she need these garments? Surely she doesn’t have a boyfriend… that’s not allowed here), Clara took the help’s side against mine! She said that my helper “is an adult and can wear whatever she chooses, if it doesn’t affect her employment with me”.

Oh, Clara. You seem so knowledgable/ know-it-all, but I am beginning to wonder if you have any clue what the real world is like. No offence. Mwa Mwa, cuz xox

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P.S. Clara, your page about On the Skype Couch has only had a couple hundred hits in the last few weeks, so I decided to remove you from the page name. It’s much more impressive with just my name, and I’ve already noticed a surge in hits since I cut you out.