Wendy Cope

The problem with Marks & Spencer

The palaver about who should be the next Poet Laureate has begun. I hate the way that the serious art of poetry is turned into something like a horse race, with odds at William Hill. In 1998 the press began speculating about the next one before Ted Hughes was buried. I still haven’t forgiven them for that. It’s not as if the matter is urgent. If the Prime Minister dies, we need a new one quickly. But the country could struggle on without a Poet Laureate for quite a while. If any journalists are thinking of asking me who I think it should be, don’t waste your time. I won’t comment, except to confirm that I don’t want the job.

A position that I would like is womenswear consultant to Marks & Spencer. They are not doing well these days and I know what the problem is: they have gone too far downmarket. They should stock more good-quality basics and fewer cheap fabrics and horrible prints. I’ve talked to several other women who believe that they, too, could offer the company some useful advice. My husband suggests that we are the female equivalent of all the men who think they could make a better job of managing the England football team.

This is an extract from Wendy Cope’s Spectator Notebook

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