When I was in school, the acme of cool in Cork was Benetton. There was one tiny Benetton outlet on Patrick Street and that was where all the cool girls went to get their cool scarves.
I never went in there myself because I was too scared of its stacked neat shelves and the trendy girls looking through them. Also, I think my mother would have been reluctant to fork out a fortune for a Benetton scarf when I could have got a perfectly nice one much more cheaply in Dunne’s.
The summer of first year in college, I went to Italy to work as an au pair and I was horrified to discover that all the shops in Italy boasted rows and rows of folded tops and t-shirts. I had to overcome my nervousness of this layout or not shop at all. The mother of the child I was minding was, to my complete astonishment, dismissive of Benetton – “I suppose it’s alright if you want something cheap and cheerful,” she said. Cheap? Obviously, she had never been to Dunne’s.
But the years passed and, now, increasingly, I find myself picking up things in Benetton – you know, it’s handy and, if not cheap, not exactly expensive either, and cheerful. Next year, I will be out of school 25 years. There may be some sort of reunion, I feel. I suppose all the cool girls are shopping in Prada now though.