Instead of a croissant and a Givenchy gown, I belch over a can of Fanta in ill-fitting trackpants, but it has the same soothing effect. Shopping in Princes Street always fills me with an irrational rage. The baffling multi-level shops, the dawdling tourists stopping every five metres to take another photo of Edinburgh Castle, the old folk and prams and beggars cluttering up the pavement like abandoned cars; all conspiring to piss me off.
So I take refuge in M&S. For those unfamiliar with Simply Food, they describe it as a "meals solution store for busy people". They have all manner of ready meals and pre-packaged products so you can pay maximum price for the minimal effort dinner. There's something so relaxing about being there, bathed in fluorescent light, watching wee old ladies select their individual Steak & Kidney pies and singletons frowning at nutrition information panels.
M&S are truly the masters of the ready-meal universe. While their meals are of superior quality to your Iceland Chili Con Carne, they're still trying to flog pre-packaged processed preservative-laden stuff. But they make you want it bad by giving their products the most beautifully overblown names and descriptions. I spend ages wandering up and down the aisles, dreamy and content, just reading the labels. They plump up nouns and roll them in succulent verbs so skillfully that they could make a plate of gravel sound like Michelin-star dining.
Witness how they sex up a humble BLT: Combining the spirit of America and Italy; maple cured bacon with gorgonzola cheese dressing, sliced tomatoes, lettuce leaves, mayonnaise and red onions on pumpkin seed bread.
Let's wash that down with some lemon cordial, your basic nasty cocktail of glucose and E numbers. But no! M&S call it Mediterranean Lemon and Mexican Lime High Juice. Now that's what I call fusion cookin'.
You could spend an hour looking at the yogurts alone. How to decide? The Greek-Style English Strawberry and Cornish Clotted Cream Yogurt made with Channel Island Milk? Or the Champagne Rhubarb and Madagascan Vanilla? I swear I'm not making that up.
(But how I wish I could. Where does one apply to become a copywriter for M&S?)
The produce section drives me wild, because it's really just like any other produce section, but they make me question my fundamental beliefs about fruit. When is an orange not an orange? I stood there one afternoon, frowning at the orange cupped in my hand, thinking it must surely be worth 70p and taste better than every other orange that had previously passed my lips because it had been Bathed In The Florida Sun.
I'm sure we're all being watched. There must be men in white coats behind a two-way mirror, watching the shoppers and making frantic notes. Can the shoppers resist the Irresistible Choc Caramel Mini Bites Oozing With Buttercream? Are they unwrapping the Hoisin Duck wraps with their eyes? Is anyone getting a boner over the Boneless Pork Loin Joints Decorated With Bramley Apple Puree?
Then perhaps the Head of Marketing barges in and screams, "We're not shifting the Scottish Cod Loin Fillets! Not good enough! I want the aisles puddled with drool! I want to get out the DANGER WET FLOOR signs!". The hapless copywriters are handed a thesaurus and a stack of Barbara Cartland novels then chained to their desks until they come up with something sexier.
Meanwhile, back in the shop, after half an hour of label-reading you tend to get whipped up into quite a state. The mind swirls with bloated adjectives and tantalising verbs and your fingers ache to open your wallet. Must buy something, something… but what?
A few months back I found the mother of all magniloquent products: a cereal called Deliciously Nutty Crunch:
Go nuts! A sumptuously sweet blend of delicious toffee-flavoured crunch with almonds, brazils and tasty pecans!
So I spent the equivalent of AU $10 on Deliciously Nutty Crunch, a cereal so lacking in nutritional value I'd be better off eating a tub of lard. But what fun to eat something so ridiculously titled. Remind me to put that on my epitaph:
Here lies Miss Shauny
Deliciously Nutty To The End