Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I suppose you might argue that if you voluntarily submit yourself to the hive of scum and villainy that is Matalan, you deserve everything you get. And, moreover, not one of the (relatively) upmarket regular Matalan stores either, but the Matalan Clearance outlet tucked away round the back of the Newport Cineworld like some shameful family secret.

Now I'm not knocking cheap goods, hell no, far from it - times are tight and we can't all be forking out for the latest teflon-lined kevlar-impregnated designer undercrackers at forty quid a leghole. But you need to know what you're getting into - obviously the upside is extreme cheapness of goods, but the downsides include the general random chaotic pile-it-high layout, the lack of any facilities for trying anything on, and of course most importantly the inherent dangers of spending lengthy periods hanging out with the lower orders, with their coarse features and their big sausagey fingers and their sketchy grasp of Proust. And, my dear! The smell!

I presume the reasons for not having fitting rooms are severalfold - obviously it frees up space that can then be used for flogging more stuff, plus of course it saves having to assign a member of staff to patrolling the area ensuring that none of their malodorous feral clientele have nipped in for a quick knee-trembler. The other advantage of making the customers work out what size they need essentially by guesswork is presumably relying on there being a percentage of people who get a £5 top home, find it doesn't fit, and then decide they can't face having to take it back and just stuff it in the back of a cupboard and forget about it.

A case in point: my last trip yielded a quite nice navy blue zip-up sweater-y top that turned out to be too small (but which I haven't taken back despite not really being able to wear it), a pair of corduroy jeans that fit quite nicely and I'm very pleased with, and a stripey shirt that appears to fit pretty well but which the semi-sentient creature who served me contrived to leave the anti-theft tag on. Clearly (unlike my adventure with the Talisker at Tesco) Matalan's budget doesn't stretch to installing the detectors on the exit doors that set off the klaxons when you do a runner, presumably because it's not really worth it, so it wasn't until I got it home that I realised. I suppose strictly it doesn't prevent me from wearing the shirt, but it necessitates a choice between leaving the security tag dangling out and proud and looking like a common criminal or tucking it into the trousers and enduring an unsightly bulge in the groin area, and I've already got one of those, thank you very much. Plus you'd never be quite sure going into a shop with similar security arrangements that you wouldn't set their system off and have your ass tased to within an inch of its life before you'd had a chance to explain.

So it had to go. Much information is available on the internet about getting these things off, most of it heavily caveated with some ass-covering words about only doing this if you've acquired the goods legitimately, and if you've just nicked them STOP READING NOW, etc., etc. Since I wasn't sure whether the tag attached to my shirt contained an ink pack that would splatter indelible blue stuff all over everything in the event of its getting broken I decided to go for method 3 on the first list, step one of which is to stick your garment in the freezer.

Give it 24 hours or so to be confident(ish) that it'll all be frozen, though I should note that there are those who say the ink is formulated not to be freezable in a household freezer. Bear in mind though that these people will also have got this information off the internet, so approach with caution. Note also that in theory INKMAGEDDON will only occur if you fracture the large tab (pictured), as long as you can get the small tab off the back without this happening you should be OK. Freezing everything is just a belt-and-braces approach in case of unexpected smashage.

Yes, fine, you'll be saying, but when do we get to the bit with the great big hammer and the hitting and the smashing? That time is now. Here's a video.

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