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“All it does is sell a load of overpriced shite, but that’s what overdressed tossers seem to want.”
“Harrods is where Mummy goes to shop when I'm at boarding school, yah.”
“What the fuck!?!? £100 for a bloody pencil?!”
Harrods is owned by an offshore consortium of Arabic desert princes, who bought it in 2009 from an absentee landlord of impeccable Arabian descent, who bought it in 1989 from a mysterious offshore holding company owned by a silhouetted stranger in the Netherlands Antilles, who bought it from… But you get the general idea. When you buy stuff here, the cash goes straight into the fat cats’ pockets. Did you know that?
If you like arguing, you could argue that there has always been a Harrods. Even before the world was created in all that palaver of fire and brimstone we see in the movies, people with too much money would go and spend cash on things they didn’t really want and make the rich bastards even richer.
But the shop was originally called Horrids, and it sold nasty things you wouldn’t want to be seen dead with, like fossilized Aztec bogies and Ancient Greek wank apparatus. It was set up in 1923 by the perverse transsexual Cuban entrepreneur Stacey Carmichael in a tiny shack on a bridge over the River Thames that could only be used legally by knights, which later came to be called Knightsbridge. Nobody came to Horrids, or if they did they gagged, vomited and walked out again. It wasn’t the prices – not in those days. It was the shit they sold.
Carmichael presently twigged, and messed around with a few names, such as Herod’s, Hurrieds, and Come In My Bloody Shop – names that survive today in gaudy signs visible on rare postcards that nobody wants. Then he settled on Harrods, after having a dream in which seven naked virgins emerged from a lake and spent the whole of Tuesday having sex with him. No, nobody else understands why he called it Harrods, either. I’m just repeating the story until someone manages to explain it to me.
Anyway, to cut a long story dead, people seemed to dislike the name less and started going in the shop, and then someone actually bought something. It was a reversible Egyptian nipple ring, it cost £357 5s 6d (that’s old money, if any ignorant children are reading this) and the buyer was Mr Stanley Baldwin, who was prime minister of Britain at the time and I’ll bet he’s embarrassed to read his name here now.
As soon as Carmichael had sold three more nipple rings, a Venezuelan chastity belt and a Tasmanian cock-chopper, he had enough capital to expand his shop. He shoved another floor on top and called it the ladies’ underwear department. This stocked all the latest undergarment and lingerie fashions of the day, including bras and panties and corselets and kinky bodices, which most men had never laid eyes on, because people fucked in the dark in those days. Maybe things were better that way. It also sold whips to Jimmy Page.
Business was brisk, and soon Harrods gained a second and a third floor. Every time it gained a new floor, this was called the Penthouse, partly because it was the top floor and partly in honour of Bob Guccione, who was just starting out with an idea for a magazine full of naked tits and ass. People would always go the Penthouse for porn, anyway, so they decided they might as well stock some of it and flog it for high prices. You may find it interesting that research carried out at the time by perverts in Stockholm, Sweden, showed that men would have bigger erections if they had paid more money for the smutty pictures, proving that eroticism and sperm are tightly linked to the bloody class system in Britain, which nobody can get away from. Or you might not. Take your pick.
Pretty soon the posh staff were right up themselves, and started bragging to anyone who would listen that Harrods sold “everything”. So people stopped going to grocers and newsagents and blacksmiths and cheesemakers and fashion boutiques, because they could buy everything they wanted in one place.
Unfortunately, the last time I went in, they didn’t have any of my personal earwax or belly-button fluff for sale, not to mention any shit straight out of Liz Hurley’s ass, so I ticked them off right and proper, then popped round the corner to Parliament and got them under trades-descriptions legislation. If you want that stuff now, they probably stock quite a lot of it.
Bolshie Brits are always pressing for Harrods to be abolished, with all its staff hung, drawn and quartered for good measure. But the posh argument always comes back that it does “enormously good things for tourism” and so should remain.
It is true: in a good year, 367 million foreign people shuffle through its doors and over its various carpets, which then have to be fumigated to get all the foreign grease and shit out of them. Each foreign person spends an average of 630 shekels in the shop.
edit Teaching English to an American
It’s not a “store”. All right? A store is a place where you store things, like gypsum or cement or lemons, and the general public is usually not admitted to such a storage area. Harrods is a “shop”. Okay? Stop pushing your dumb Americanisms in this noble direction. Learn your own language properly, asswipes.
edit The best thing to do
The best thing to do in Harrods is go in the public lavatories the night after you’ve had a monstrously hot curry, and shit it all out without flushing anything. Then leave the door open and make sure it stays open for hours. Better still, shit your curry out on the floor of the Penthouse, where wealthy prats look at priceless kitsch and useless gewgaws while drinking champagne and getting their private parts massaged. Hopefully, everyone will leave the shop as quickly as when the Irish bombed the place.