Under the counter with Lindsay Calder

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Last week I needed big-time retail therapy; so big that only Harrods could do the job, and with the sale on, there was the added bonus of bargain therapy to boot. At times when you are feeling particularly emotional or just plain pre-menstrual, it is not advisable to enter a shop, as it can result in reckless purchases, only to be regretted and unworn later - I have a pair of funny leopard-skin trousers and a Kookai pussy-pelmet to prove it. So I decided that fantasy retail therapy might be the safer cathartic option.

How much did I have to spend to feel a bit better? Well, about pounds 150,000 for starters - I may have to return for another session. So, on Monday, I fought my way through the dazed and confused tourists on my self-help mission. Always guaranteed to bring a smile to a girl's face is a new handbag, especially an expensive one, so before I did anything else, I had to secure one of those: I found a Fendi snakeskin bag with black and white polka dots reduced from pounds 949 to pounds 664. This gave some immediate comfort, but still wasn't quite extravagant enough. What I really needed was something special, exorbitant, and then I saw it, behind a counter in a glass case, just waiting for me, "The Royal Fountain Pen" by Mont Blanc, diamond-studded and pounds 87,500 (was pounds 97,500). I'm sure it must be damned uncomfortable to write with, but what the hell, I'd just look at it and think of the pounds 10,000 I had saved.

On my ascent to the first floor, I took stock of my bargains. What I'd bought was all rather bijou: tiny handbag, little pen, uno bottle of vino (pounds 3,500) - far too discreet. If I was going to come through this therapy at all, I decided I would have to start making some statements, big bold ones; I wanted to be able to point to something enormous and say, "Send that round." And so, in the furniture department, past whole tribes of Arab families camped out on oversized sofas, and tweedy retired couples agonising over a new "his chair", I eventually found a bed, the sort of huge raft of a bed that you could live in - you know eat chocolates in it, read piles of magazines in it, and scatter it with tissues when you are having a good cry. I nearly got into the "Westminster" by Ralph Lauren then and there - a great solid mahogany edifice, covered with wonderful throws. It was a snip at pounds 4,949 (was pounds 5,549). "Send it round."

The bed was big, but the bed was also practical. The piece de resistance of any RT trip has got to be something you don't need and can't use. Like a grand piano - a Bechstein "B" in polished ebony at pounds 32,499 (was pounds 35,499). I can't play a note, but I could lie on it like Michelle Pfeiffer in The Fabulous Baker Boys. And to wear while I am draped over my piano? A red Herve Leger "bandage" dress, pounds 2,029 (was pounds 2,899) and gold Prada sandals, pounds 145 (were pounds 225).

After a few hours in the highly perfumed halls of Harrods, I found myself jolted back to reality in Knightsbridge tube station. I have to admit, I couldn't resist actually buying something - a vinyl leopard-skin Harrods apron, pounds 4.95 (was pounds 9.95). Well, I suppose it will go with my furry trousers.

Harrods' sale finishes today at 7pm.