Tuesday, June 20, 2006

When Looking For A Deerstalker, It Pays To Know The Difference Between A Stoat And A Weasel

For many years now I have been in the habit of travelling into Edinburgh to do my shopping; for vests, mostly. It has been a matter of habit, rather than convenience, and has continued against the growing realisation that something terrible has happened to the shops in the capital. Without wishing to betray my age by waxing nostalgic for Binns, Patrick Thomson's, and the C&A carrier bag that resembled a Rorschach blot, I am surely not the only person to have noticed that Princes Street has become a tacky arcade selling only cheap shoes and remaindered books.
In days of yore, I could have spent a day in Woolworth's at the East End, contemplating the Pick'n'mix, before relaxing with a game of putting in Princes Street Gardens, emboldened by the skirl from the bagpiping minister, who was - if memory serves - a high heid yin in the Orange Lodge. Now there is no respite from hideous commerce, and the only note of curiosity on the street is the man holding the sign which reads "Golf Sale". At one time, Princes Street was patrolled by sallow-faced individuals prophesying the end of the universe; now it tempts the damned with checked trousers and lemon v-necks.
I have written before about the decline of Jenners. The rot set in with the establishment of a fashion boutique at the back of the shop, run by the feckless for the effete, with a spectators' gallery serving "cappcuccino" and overpriced biscuits. Since Frasers took over, things have not improved. A man could die looking for ordinary unmentionables in 100% cotton.
Why, though, did I bother? In the Men's Dept of Veitch's, Peebles has all the modern styles a gentleman of substance could ever want. Most of them are hardwearing, and the majority will give off an odd odour in the rain. But the man who shops at Veitch's will never go in, or out, of fashion.
Also, as this photograph from Mr Hershey shows, it is one of the few shops to utilise woodlands creatures in its window displays.

9 comments:

The Locum said...

I bet they don't have plastic "art" cows in Peebles, though!

HW said...

Marks & Spencer in Princes Street have perfectly acceptable cotton vests.

D'Catur said...

the stoat (is is it merely a manlourished local. I hesitate to guess) looked peeved: possibly because the deerstalker is a tad too large. I bet Jenners would have made the small fellow one to measure. And a tweed cape to suit.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more about Veitch's. A fine establishment that reeks of quality and moth balls.

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

Difference between a Stoat and Weasel?

Very simple:
A Weasel is weasily recognised, but a stoat istoatally different.

Sorry. I doubt that will get through comment moderation. Lowers the tone somewhat....

Learson said...

Worry not. Fraser's is the subject of a takeover bid by a company whose Icelandic provenance should ensure a proper interest in the sale of high-quality body-insulating garments. I suggest Magnus Magnusson as brand ambassador cum geopolitical pundit in a Jenners-sponsored cable TV production of 'The Decline of the Vest'.

dearieme said...

Dear God, PG, I haven't heard that one since we shared a classroom with 14-year-old girls.

Arthur said...

Jenners has indeed declined. In days gone by I would always stop there en route to my highland summer holidays for essential supplies to help me blend in and not be identified as a tourist but this year will be the last. When an assistant asked if he could be of any assistance I asked if I could please try the deerstalker, at which point he popped a Robert DeNiro movie into the departments DVD player. The vest, as they say, is history

wee eck said...

Kirk Elder
I apologise for the delay in commenting on this article, but I have been away. As far as Peebles actually, where I roamed aboot the High Street looking for an individual matching your blog photo, in order that I could pat you on the bunnet, give you a pandrop, and tell you that things are actually going to be fine.
As far as Princes Street goes, that is a matter for the perennial luckess denizens of Edinburry, I care not a fig. But the mention of Veitch's shop pushed my nostalgia button, hence this post. I used to be a delivery boy for Veitch's when I was but a ragged schoolboy in Peebles, and still have the calf muscles to prove it, their delivery bike being of an indeterminate vintage, malevolent dispostion and heavier than a Sherman tank.
When I metamorphosed from ragged schoolboy to teenage sex god, Dougie Veitch (now sadly deceased), measured me up for the very first Italian Bumfreezer suit to ever grace the streets of Peebles, and he didn't even burst into hysterical laughter once, God bless 'im, although my body shape was such that if he'd thrown a coal sack over me with the word "Torino" printed on it, it would have had much the same aesthetic effect.