It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid.
Well, it isn’t quite (and no-one knows quite what the f- kind of Christmas it will be this year) but the John Lewis advert has been released and that – in some households – would be seen as a cause for celebration.
It always comes with a ‘must-have’ toy where – just like a task on The Apprentice where the advert production team doesn’t share any information about the look of the product with the toy design team – it looks very different from the creature on the advert.
The toy is so must-have that last year I made a mental note to buy some so I could sell them on Ebay once they had sold out in shops.
Obviously a mental note isn’t the same as a real note because I forgot until they had sold out, then ended up helping some friends procure one by buying from the aforementioned auction site.
After seeing it for the first time I thought it was so nice that a big company realised we are all just trying to help others while being worried for our futures. Well, that was until I looked at the John Lewis & Partners website.
You can’t buy a toy but other tat is available. You can ‘shop the Give a Little Love gifts’ including tote bags, a candle, a mug, t-shirts, a heart-shaped umbrella, and – for children – some pyjamas.
All profits go to charity so that’s better than nothing, I suppose.
I wonder if one of the heart-shaped umbrellas will be winging its way to John Lewis in Blacksburg, Virginia, some day soon, and a mug for when he fancies a cup of British tea.
For those of you who aren’t aware, I truly know Christmas is coming when John Lewis the person receives thousands (maybe even millions) of tweets from people who just assume @JohnLewis will be the Twitter account for a British department store.
His patient and often very amusing responses to people where he explains he too is looking forward (kind of) to the advert being on the television but how he cannot help with returning some candlesticks to the Watford store is a joy to behold (the Watford store part is a bit of poetic licence but read down a bit and you will find out why).
With everything else going on in the world, spending a few moments reading through his Twitter replies is definitely the best way to start the holiday season (and we’re not even at Thanksgiving yet!).
But what John Lewis the person may not know is that no-one can help people to return candlesticks to the Watford store because the pandemic has led to its permanent closure. There was a petition – and apparently John Lewis did not pay any rent for the shop – but nothing could be done to change the minds of the bean counters.
A psychiatrist (or maybe it should be psychologist) would say it’s my childhood memories of that store have shaped the way I feel about it now, and its Christmas advertising campaigns.
I remember having to spend hours in the carpet department and even more hours in the lino flooring section and then even more hours looking at furniture. I remember the cakes being good at The Place to Eat but being puzzled by the name because there are other places to eat. I remember when it was called Trewins and didn’t have all the John Lewis branding everywhere.
Most recently I remember going in to the shop in Watford specifically to buy a black winter coat.
It was a non-busy weekday in November and I had £100 cash in my pocket (so I believe it was in my call centre days when I felt a bit more flush) but the shop assistant did the thing John Lewis staff like to do of not asking if I needed any help nor seeming to acknowledge me at all.
I ended up buying the coat but instead of being lauded by the salesperson (who was being paid to tell people they look good) I had to get reassurance from my mum and her friend while I tried the coat on in a car park.
Fingers crossed this doesn’t happen because after the year we’ve had I hope 2021 is much brighter and isn’t summed up by a dissatisfied man trying on a black coat in a car park (in real life it was a small car park next to a Citzens Advice office but artistic licence would change the location to a dank multi-storey).
Stay safe for another week!