Wednesday, January 05, 2005

the secret life of, er, whale music cds

Alley went back to school today so we took Snicket and Boo to the 'garden centre'. Oh we know how to treat them. Now, when I say 'garden centre' I use the phrase in its loosest sense. In the last two years it has transformed itself into a sort of lifestyle emporium masquerading as a garden centre. It used to sell house plants.. all sorts of house plants including those great venus fly traps which you can drop bits of crisps into. Now, guess how many plants there are in the new extended store? None. Zero. None at all. It's a garden centre. Of course this doesn't include the artificial sprays of flowers that you can get and the dried place settings that are all over the place for a small fortune. Alright, outside there are a few shrubs and one or two terracotta pots. Inside, however, it's a completely different story.

I say it's a lifestyle emporium... but it's a strange type of lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, everything is really dear. But they don't sell the sort of lifestyle that you can get from, say, Selfridges or Harvey Nics. Instead you get expensive wellies and wax jackets and those funny green quilted sleeveless numbers. Plus there's a rack of panpipe, whale music and other relaxing CD muzak. They have funny pre-packed quarters of sweets that are neither 'ye olde' or modern. They have the sort of cookery, travel and kids books that you can pick up for 75p in Booksale, except here they are £11.99 each.

They have some fish and a few hamsters. They have a new upmarket cafe. It cost £8 for a pot of tea for two, a scone with jam (no cream mind) and a piece of choccy cake. They have all sorts of linen baskets, leather placemats and, my favourite, LP size sheets of plastic with false pebbles stuck to them... so they look like a neat square of pebbles, except that you can pick them up and move them around en mass. Why? Don't know. £10.99 each.

What does it all mean? Who makes up the flashmobs that descend on these places every weekend and make the owners rich. Why don't they sell plants any more?