The country might be plunging into a double dip recession, public sector cuts are swingeing and deep, and austerity Britain is ratcheting up the agony. Yes, there may be trouble ahead, but there’s still a shop in Liverpool where you can buy 25 types of glittery tray.
Oh yes, 25. I counted them. Some are golden mock-crocodile skin, some feathered and flowery, some regal and rococo. There is, in short, a tray for every occasion. And when the occasion for a golden mock-croc tray arises, do let us know, yeah?
Distressed picture frames, an artillery of hooks (the Yangton Hook, should you be in the market, can be combined with the Fiz Box: not a series of Zumba moves, just a set of ‘accessories to organise your life’) and their knob selection is 52 strong. That’s more than both sets of changing rooms at the Rugby World Cup.
Elizabeth Knob is encrusted with a crown (probably should get that seen to), Myriam Knob is red and glowing (too late for her, we fear) and Pahoa Saffron Tieback, when she’s not doubling as a columnist in Sunday Times Style magazine, is long and tassly.
Smelly candles, of course, are where Zara really comes into its own – there’s bulldog shaped ones, fish candles, owl candles, elephant candles…possibly even fork handles. Yes, should the end of days come, Zara customers will comfortably be able to sit it out in a vanilla-scented fug of burning animal effigies, wrapped up tightly in Lawrence Blanket (or any of Lawrence’s 54 other furry mohair friends).
The curious thing about home-porn shops like this is that they attempt to seduce us with the lure of organisation: in much the same way as Anthea Turner or cult leaders do. That your life will be better, smarter, more satisfied if only you had a matching set of magazine holders and desk tidiers. That happiness and chaos are equal and opposite forces – and all that stands between you and bliss is a quick declutter and some jasmine-sented sticks.
It is, of course, bollocks. Home-porn can be fun, sure, but no chintzy cake tin aint gonna save your soul, or stop your sobbing. Sorry. We’ve tried it. And no matter how many matching dinner services she had, Martha Stewart couldn’t plea bargain with a table runner: no matter how encrusted with real Moroccan gems. Yet still these shops (there’s a new one where the Sony shop tried and failed) salve us, somehow.
Of course, it’s all to do with the little luxuries theory. When times are tough, and the Range Rover Evoque order has to be put on hold, sometimes a glittery piece of crap is all it takes to lift the mood.
What’s curious is that, despite a demographic so intent on infusing their homes with incense, tealights and flaming pigs, Zara Home also finds shelf space for more ashtrays than the Beer Garden of Smokie Mo’s. Angela Ashtray – crystal with a metallic edge – can be combined with Belen Bookend, but somehow she’s not as fun when he’s around, we’ve seen the way he tries to box her in.
But she’s a party pooper compared to Bellena Ashtray: an open mouthed whale. Bellena the whale likes nothing better than you aiming your flaming Marlboro into her plankton-hungry maw. We bet this is a big seller in the Faroe Islands.
Who was it that said ‘you can never have enough napkin rings’? Oh, that’s right, no-one.
Still, should the day come when your current set of napkin rings have to be delicately cut off you in A&E after a night on the Bargain Booze Rosé, it’s good to know Zara Home has 35 rings for you to slip round your starchy napkin, to the delight of your assembled guests.
The Nervy Napkin Ring is festooned with jangling coins – what a cacophony of aural pleasure that will make when you’re ladling out your Heinz Big Soup.
But if, like us, you’re slaves to the whims of accessories fashion, you’ll know that this year’s faux zebra cushions will be lifestyle death come next spring. So where to put all this stuff? Fortunately, Zara is a complete ecosystem. It’s thought of everything. It’s got 36 different type of boxes. Tigre and Jirafra is an animal print drum that’s the perfect present for those friends of yours who went on safari in Kenya for their honeymoon and have now fallen in love with Africa (you know, the ones with the Paul Simon CD and tickets for The Lion King for their anniversary next year. Them.), while the Ludwig box is topped off with a gilded pineapple. For no obvious reason, unless it’s detachable fruit butt-plug/50-shades of grey tie in.
And in Zara world it might be.
Let’s face it, no normal house needs all those tie-backs…
South John Street