Today was my last day off at the summer school, so I decided to ‘treat’ myself to a little shopping spree in Birmingham. After around thirty minutes of noise, filth, fatty-fighting and chav-dodging, I began to see the error of my ways.
Call my vision rose-coloured if you will, but I remember shops in England being good. Not so anymore. If I wanted dresses with holes in them, I’d wear my ‘porno’ shoes out, fall over and make them myself. If I wanted leopard print, lace and leather in one outfit, I’d go back to Latvia.
Ah, Latvia! After around an hour in central Birmingham, I was practically aching with the desire to return to the relative sanity and peace of Riga – even a nice, long walk in the forest seemed tempting at that stage…
But of course, I soldiered on, determined to buy even one item so the day didn’t seem like such a total loss. Finally finding one top that didn’t look like a dog had got to it first, and that wasn’t in a size 18-20, I made my way to the H&M changing rooms.
I’d barely taken my top off when a child hurricane started roaring up and down the passageway outside the changing rooms. About to start muttering to myself about how badly-behaved British kids are in comparison to Latvian ones, I was stunned into silence when the voice that reprimanded him spoke in Latvian.
Poor Daddy was fighting a losing battle though. ‘Janis, stop it… Janis, put that down… Janis, we have to wait for Mummy… NO, Janis, that’s NOT Mummy’s room!’
I chuckled to myself, imagining some poor woman with this tiny terror barging in on her in her smalls. My chuckles stopped when I realised that I was that poor woman, and now had a maniacal three-year old at navel level – with his dad close behind, doing his best not to look at my (thankfully bra-covered) boobs.
He muttered a quick ‘sorry’ in English as he dragged the kid out and I swiftly shut the door behind them. The tot tornado resumed until the rather-too-polite-under-the-circumstances attendant asked the dad to take the kid outside.
Deciding to buy the top, more as a souvenir than anything else, I joined the queue. Naturally, Janis Senior soon appeared, a few people back. In a forgiving mood, I gave him a ‘Oh well, you’ve seen my in my bra – how embarrassing’ sort of smile. I got a good old Latvian glare in return, which I found oddly comforting.
It’s nice to see that even when Latvians move to the supposed Promised Land that is England, they manage to maintain the misery. But, then again, if I’d ended up in Birmingham, I’m pretty sure I’d be miserable too.