Tuesday, January 13, 2004

A dedicated follower of fashion (Impressions of Singapore 2)
(Trip photos are still over here … )

Despite normally having the fiscal discipline of a first-term Tory Chancellor, I have poor-impulse control in high-bargain-density environments.

It’s like an inverse law. My iron-clad budgetary self-control (or my basically tight-wad nature) dissipates in a sales season. Add a sales season in Singapore and I get nearly as vicious as the grandmother you only let out for the Christmas shopping so as to hone her killer instinct.

Yup, that bad. And with my sister riding shot-gun to encourage me, well, things get messy.

Still, I went to Singapore with objectives. As a student whose cuffs and hands are now constantly smeared in bicycle grease (Singapore was the first time in ages my nails were grease-free) my top priorities were clear: another pair of jeans, and another pair of black cord trousers. Some new good black shoes, preferably boots (the kind you can wear to interviews or a black tie function) and a blue shirt would also be handy.

So, the attempted to go to the sales at Robinsons. On New Year’s Day.

In retrospect, going to Singapore’s oldest local department store on day one of the sales was not necessarily a good idea. It’s up there with inspecting ground zero at a nuclear test facility immediately after a detonation, and just in time for Godzilla. If the radiation doesn’t get you, the giant lizard will.

Anyway, the sales. Don’t get me wrong, no-one was pushy or baying for blood or fighting over the deals. It was Singapore - everyone was far too polite. But man, it was a tight squeeze around the sales tables. I might as well have worn a “clueless, clumsy westerner, please keep a safe distance” sign - I couldn’t seem to turn round without elbowing someone or swatting them with my bag.

Somehow I emerged unbloodied and unbowed with the blue shirt and black cords (English winter weight no less, in Singapore‘s climate). Tick, tick - items off the list. On track, on budget.

Somehow, somewhere between Orchard Road, Raffles City and Chinatown markets my sense of financial responsibility lost its oxygen supply, shrivelled up and died discreetly. I left Singapore with new jeans, funky blue shoes, a big green satchel bag, a heap of new t-shirts (including some cool Bathing Ape cartoon types), and some terribly comfy tan trousers from British India. In some weird colonial legacy the trousers have a button-in detachable lining, which can be taken out and washed separately to save wear and tear.

But sweetest gift of all - I miscalculated the exchange rate, and so got a 25% discount on currency value, rather than the 12.5% I was expecting. Yay. Now, as for the sales in Cambridge where I was spending pounds … well, I found the shoes I needed in M&S and a Gap jumper, both for under half price.

But I resisted the wonderful 20% off last sales-price brown boots I just don’t need. (But want, want so bad! Ahem.)

So, fiscal order has been restored to the financial force Chez Doug.

How was your sales season looting and pillaging?

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