Oxford Street is the big shopping street in London. On any given day, when seen from the upper deck of the bus, the tops of the heads of the tightly packed pedestrians look like the undulating surface of a greying and slow moving sea, the surface broken by the occasional rock, with lots of eddies and pools, a few brightly coloured fish leaping about, and a relentless sense of dampened motion.
Not being much of a shopper, I typically only see Oxford Street from the bus but today was different. Had to shop, had to walk, had to jump into that ocean and try to swim.
Don’t expect me to tell you what was in the shops. Everything. Perfume. Clothes. More clothes. A lot of sparkly stuff, and many very pretty Christmas decorations. They had sugar mice, cricket whites, fountain pens, gingerbread men, dresses with spangles, earrings, bangles, and a partridge in a pear tree.
I saw this lovely building where I think they sell watches.
Update: I went back a few days later. No watches, though that was once the case. Now it looks more like upscale clothing.
We checked out Selfridges, the original London department store, famous already but made even more so by the TV show Mr. Selfridge. Selfridge was a real person, Harry Gordon Selfridge, born in the USA in about 1857. He worked for Marshall Field at the original American department store in Chicago for 25 years. Selfridge then put this experience and fortune to use in London to create his own store, Selfridges, in the same Oxford Street location as it’s in today.
Selfridges opened in 1909. The plaque on the ground at the entrance to the grand building is a tribute to him from 1930, though he continued as chairman until 1941. His personal life and fortunes went downhill but the store endures, albeit under different ownership.
Another big Oxford Street store belongs to the John Lewis chain. They have a great TV commercial running for this Christmas season starring Buster the Boxer, a dog with an unusual Christmas wish. The store’s display windows show Buster and friends in some imaginative layouts.
I don’t want to spoil the ad – if you’re in the UK you’ve probably seen it a lot of times already, but if not, please go have a look. The Internet connection I have now won’t let me get through to YouTube but here is another link where you should be able to see Buster the Boxer’s video.
We saw some other fun windows on our stroll. These penguins, for example.
And what would Christmas be without gnomes in shiny hats?
And then it was time to go home.
Good night, Oxford Street.