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Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Eleven Plus and Clothes

We have a remarkable shopping complex in Kent called Bluewater. When it first opened back in 1999 newspapers and television marvelled at the way in which women saw the shopping trips to Bluewater as a ritual. Women, apparently, used to dress up to shop. Sociologists observed that the visit to Bluewater reassured women of their high status.

Women arriving used to look chic and poised. They also dressed their children in smart clothes. (I am not sure how successful the women were in making sure their husbands were attired correctly – but I am sure the men did their best so as not to disappoint their wives and partners.)

We all know the story, or the variation on the story, of a woman who went shopping in a prestigious store only to be told that a garment was not for sale because she was not dressed well enough. The women returned the following day attired in her best. She was not recognised the same sales clerk – who proceeded to fawn over the customer – and expedited the purchase. (A variation on this story took place in a highly regarded film.)

Bluewater has a multitude of clothing shops. We know that clothing has been used for years and years to demonstrate wealth. We have been told that `old’ money does not follow fashions but the owners of `new money’ needs continual reassurance – and a constant stream of new clothes.

There is a saying that as you go up the class scale there are an increasing number of fat men – but the opposite is true of women. I wonder if any of our eleven plus children will go on one day to test the theory?

The eleven plus children I met yesterday were models of correct clothing. The colours were generally muted. The girls were invariably smartly dressed. The boys wore uniformly similar clothes.

Why such a preoccupation with clothes? In some verbal reasoning papers our poor children are posed some remarkably artificial questions.

Write the incomplete word from the sentence:

The woman wore smart new c . . t h . . when she went shopping.

Arrange these words in alphabetical order:

Chimney character clothes thank contract

Look at the following pair of words. If they have the same meaning select A. If they are opposite, choose B:

Clothes apparel.


A shopping paradise for men, women and children in Kent: E E T R W U L B.

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