Liberty London is an institution in its own right. I like to think of him as Harrods’ pragmatic great-aunt; full of the same high quality goods but much less glitzy, catering less to tourists and more to the eighteenth to the throne.
In any case, this is certainly not aimed at 21-year-old Métis journalists in their overdrafts, which I identify with. Nevertheless, I headed for the black and white Tudor-style beams, hoping to find a ten-euro treasure.
I tiptoed through the doors in the respectful silence of the shop, leaving the soft golden glow of the lighting on me. Taking a deep breath of expensive perfume, I paused for a moment as the silent whispers of the wealthy people around me momentarily took my mind off my money worries.
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I thought my mission would be accomplished when I spotted a display of pampas grass and fake flowers, but they were £20 a bunch. Not to be discouraged, I wandered into the jewelry section on the ground floor, plucking up the courage to take the store’s famous wooden stairs.
It’s true: there are no escalators to be seen at Liberty and the few elevators are permanently occupied by strollers. So I went up, making an endless loop through the steep, creaking wooden stairs, panting like an asthmatic pug. I paused on the third floor – it may have only been the second floor, these are very steep stairs – and was captivated by the pink glow that suddenly blinded me.
A lamp stood before me and it was the most glorious lamp I have ever had the pleasure of being enlightened with. Presented on a desk, its Edison-style bulb did not hold a classic filament inside its glass walls, but instead the word “glam” glowed in hot pink neon cursive, with a dimmable switch.
I knew in my heart it would be out of my budget, but I still wasn’t ready for the £55 price tag. Poundland may not stock anything so sexy, but I would always choose 55 mediocre lamps over just one good one every day. Grieving the loss of the lamp that would never be mine, I braved the stairs once more, heading for the only place my tenners would have a chance: the stationery department.
I headed for the paddocks as soon as I saw them. Surely there can’t be more than ten, I thought optimistically, marveling at the floral patterns Liberty is known to light up on every wall. I spotted a three-pack of pens from afar practically begging me to check their price tags, but to no avail – they were £16.99. Maybe a pack of pencils would be cheaper? Sure, but only a pound.
Maybe I could have just one pencil? No, each floral beauty was £15. With little hope I headed for birthday cards and lo and behold, there were cards for as little as £4.95 laying casually on the shelves, waiting for some poor jerk like me to spot them. I would have gladly caught two if I had known someone who had circled the sun again, but alas, my whole family is made up of winter babies.
Leaving Liberty empty-handed was bittersweet; I hadn’t spent ten hard-earned dollars, but I was also leaving without any unnecessary floral stuff. I would have liked a pencil or even a simple postcard but alas, Freedom remains inaccessible to me. I’ll have to settle for window-shopping and standing outside sniffing the fragrant air that emanates from its doors.
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