The Little Willowford Mission (9)

Report Nine

Most wise and merciful Commander, I was overwhelmed with delight on receiving your communication. I will surely comply with all your stipulations and I fully expect to begin the process of gathering ‘hard evidence rather than aimless waffle’ as you were so perspicacious as to describe my previous reports. With this in mind, my report begins with an example of my ability to turn a problem into an opportunity for research.

Commander, you will be aware that the dwelling is furnished with a number of machines designed to release me from domestic drudgery, thus providing the maximum amount of time for the collection of evidence. One of these machines is for the purpose of laundering garments. Whilst relatively primitive in comparison to our own devices, it functioned in an acceptable fashion to begin with, although I could have wished for a more efficient method of drying.

Recently, I have identified a malfunction.  Many of the garments you so generously provided are now too now small for the body, so I can only assume that there is a difficulty with the temperature settings. I will investigate that presently.

Faced with the unavoidable fact that many of the methods of fastening the garments were no longer operational, I foresaw a situation whereby I would be unable to dress at all and would thus find myself confined to the dwelling. With no further delay, I retrieved a quantity of currency from its hiding place and made the now familiar journey into Town, where I had observed a number of establishments for the selling of garments.

Commander, I have to report that the purchase of garments is considerably more complicated than I could have imagined and I regret deeply that I carried out little research in advance of my trip.

The first establishment I entered was called Topshop. This must be the best shop in town, I thought, as I remembered reading that the word ‘top’ can indicate relative merit in addition to location. There were many garments arranged on rails in the shop and I was certain all my requirements would be met in a short time.

Commander, I was wrong. I examined the garments in great detail, but there were none that appeared similar to those in my dwelling. Many of them were so small that I deduced they were designed for children. Two young humans, one male and one female, stood to one side of the shop but it was otherwise empty. They were much engaged in looking at a screen, but I assumed one would approach me to offer assistance as soon as their task was complete. Unfortunately, their task was of such significant duration that I was forced to abandon Topshop and seek an alternative establishment, having made not a single purchase.

It was not long before I came across another establishment. It was named Street Cred and it was a good deal smaller than Top Shop. At first sight, it did not seem promising. The plastic figures in the window did not display garments of the kind I sought. However, I was cheered by the appearance in the doorway of a young woman who smiled at me in a most friendly manner and invited me to ‘come and have a browse.’

Commander, my experience in this shop was so unlike Topshop that it is hard to believe these establishments are in such close proximity. The young woman was excessively attentive and encouraged me to examine a multitude of different garments. She was not at all perturbed by my repeated assertion that I was seeking only replacements for the garments I was wearing.

‘What size are you looking for?’ she cried, leaping towards me as I examined items which I believe are known as jeans. This seemed like a strange question to be certain.

‘Why, my own size,’ I replied. ‘I would not consider buying for another person as I fear I am ill-equipped to buy for myself.’

Commander, she was truly the most patient shop-keeper. She explained that garments are manufactured in different sizes and that these sizes are denoted numerically. She measured the dimensions of the body and declared that I should be looking for garments of size 16.

‘But you might get into a generous 14,’ she added, ‘or you might find you need to slip up to an 18 with some brands.”

I have yet to discover the benefits of a numerical sizing system with this degree of flexibility. Indeed, you may not think it is important, so I will delay researching this until I have word from you on this matter.

Commander, I regret to say that I have wasted some of the currency. The young woman persuaded me to purchase a garment for which I will have no use. It was impossible to leave empty-handed after such kindness and consideration, but many of the garments in her shop were unsuitable for the body as they were defined as skinny.

At last, when currency had been exchanged, she placed the colourful silk jacket with tasselled sleeves (part of the new beachware range), in a shiny bag which she handed to me with a smile.

‘Have you tried ASDA?’ said she. ‘I believe they have quite a good range, in all sizes.’

You will be delighted and proud to hear that my second visit to ASDA was excessively successful in comparison to the first. There were, indeed, many garments of size 16 to meet all my needs. Unfortunately, I was unable to hold both the garments and the food items I had identified, but I am pleased to say there were sufficient biscuits in the dwelling to sustain the body for one more day.

I remain your most devoted minion,

Jane Brown (Mrs)


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