Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pretty in pink isn't she?

I’m enjoying the little bit of Essex glamour the new Nail Bar has brought to the High Street. It’s a shame the vibrant neon sign’s been removed, but I still get a frisson of old Romford Town whenever I walk past. I’ve walked past rather a lot, puzzling over the services on offer. ‘Pink and white?’ What is that? I can’t decide if it sounds charming, like marshmallows, or dodgy, an optional extra at a Hugh Hefner party (before he becomes married and respectable, obviously). But despite my vigilance I’ve not seen any Nail Bar customers yet. Probably the staff are rushed off their feet when I’m not looking, but whenever I peek in hoping to see Lorraine Chase having a French polish, there’s just the young man and woman who work there, desultorily doing each others’ nails.

I couldn’t help but wonder: if I’m not really a nail bar person, with my white stiletto pedigree, then who is? Is Lewes a nail bar sort of town? This is not to say that the women here don’t have fancy manicures, for they clearly do. Just look at their hands! No, not mine; mine look like they belong to a ninety-year-old fishwife. But look at the hands of those nicely groomed women over there. Clearly they’ve been tended to with more than a half-hearted scrub from a nailbrush shaped like a turtle. The well turned-out of Lewes get their nails done at the Still Room or one of the other beauty salons, while officially there for some other, less Chigwell treatment. Even Viva’s editor has had his nails done, though he pretended it was for journalistic purposes.

The Nail Bar joins the list of Shops I Haven’t Been In. Without naming any more names, there are certain places selling clothes, knick-knacks, antiques and books that have never emitted a loud enough siren call to entice me over the threshold. Some shops have a very explicit siren call incidentally, such as that one with the sign that says rather sweetly, ‘Have you been in here? It’s very interesting.’ I always want to reply, well, letme be the judge of that.

Everyone has their own set of shops that they use, and another set of shops they don’t, and often the reasons behind the not-going-in list are rather spurious. There’s an antique shop I don’t go in, for instance, not because I don’t need any more antiques (though I don’t – I can barely type this for all the Chippendale), but because there was once a scary tiger statue in its window. It’s long gone but I still think of it as the scary tiger shop. Hmm. Now I’ve written this down I realise I sound about six, but that’s the thing about shop allegiance. It’s kind of primal. I’m determined to fight these basic instincts though, and will shortly push open the Nail Bar door and demand a pink and white. What happens after that is anyone’s guess.

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