Doing the retail roomba

Bank Holiday Monday, no campaigning for once, so a chance for a bit of shopping.

We got the bus nearly to Victoria, then a stroll through Belgravia. Islington has some very rich people, but the borough feels real. Belgravia feels unreal. Perfect window boxes and improbably symmetrical shrubs flanking immaculate doors; and nobody on the streets but us.

Belgrave Square is embassy land: where else would you find Turkey next to Malaysia? Then we walked up Wilton Crescent, past the Berkeley (complete with bowler-hatted doorman) and out onto Knightsbridge.

First stop Harrods. I am not a Harrods fan, plus it was absolutely packed with people practising for Slow London Week, so I went for another stroll outside while Rich went hunting for jackets. Scanning estate agents’ windows in Beauchamp Place is a glimpse of another world – £500k for a studio, anyone? – so imagine my surprise when there was an ad for an Islington boozer: the Lord Nelson on Holloway Road, its lease for sale at £120k. A bargain!
Rich & I then met as agreed in Harrods’ basement pub, the Green Man. Half a pint for £3. Not a bargain…

After our drink, we cut past the rising towers of One Hyde Park. Then into the park, and we strolled past the Serpentine towards Oxford Street. Quick lunch in St Christopher’s Place, then having gazed in the window at Paddy Campbell, I was on my way to Debenhams. Himself headed for HMV, another pub rendezvous agreed. An hour later and I was flushed with success – suit and two tops all in the sale – when a text arrived: “we have a roomba”. And there in the pub was Richard looking sheepish with a big John Lewis bag.

The Roomba is a robot carpet cleaner. It looks like a grounded flying saucer, and zooms around at the touch of a button. And it has long had a fatal attraction for Richard. The first time he saw one, he couldn’t resist testing it. That Roomba was last seen heading for the designer duvets. Anyway John Lewis have now lifted the ban, so he went back and got one of his own.

I was a bit sceptical. After all we have a perfectly good Dyson. But we do have the constant battle with cat hair, and the moulting season is just beginning. Was the Roomba just another boy’s toy? It does run off rechargeable batteries, themselves charged from our green electricity, so not too extravagant. Yesterday I left it pootling around the living room while I was working. It’s virtually silent, apart from the occasional chirrup. It did pick up an impressive amount of cat hair. And the carpet is looking much better.


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