The lines on Neil's face were like the furrows being ploughed into the fields, as farmers prepare the ground for a season that could yet witness our liberation from lockdown, as Michelle tried to explain to him what 'clickbait' means.
"It's a phrase or sentence designed to attract attention and persuade readers to click through, or read on."
"Cock!" Neil shouted.
"Well, yes, that's an examp..."
"No, seventeen across; 'a male lobster strutting like a leader' - four letters." Neil typed in the word. "I was stuck for ages on that. What were you saying?"
"Like, 'Edinburgh Woollen Mill buys Jaeger'", explained Michelle, "readers will click on the article to see what on Earth is going on."
"Hmm, we're not going to use that," said Neil. The fact is that there has been activity on the high street today, even though there is no activity on the high street. FRP have revealed a whole woman, after she had quite clearly been sawn in half, whilst simultaneously producing two rabbits out of a hat. They have done the very unlikely, as Edinburgh Woollen Mill has been bought out of Administration in a deal that saves 1,453 jobs and 246 stores. The rubbish side of the deal, that definitely has to be seen as a glass of prosecco half full, is that whilst a number of stores under that brand are saved, 119 have been put to the sword at the cost of 485 staff.
Also saved as part of the deal that sees Purepay Retail, a secured creditor to the business, acquiring all the remaining stock as well as its head office site in Carlisle, is Ponden Stores. The latter sells the kind of bedding, linen and cushions that you have to go to student digs in Halifax to see, but there is obviously a market in things that wouldn't be sold on a market. A happy ending at the close of a Philip Day.
At the other end of the scale it was announced today that Marks & Spencer have bought Jaeger, in a deal that has been predicted far and wide. Richard (the) Price (is right), boss of M&S's clothing and home division, said: "We have set out our plans to sell complementary third-party brands as part of our 'Never The Same Again' programme to accelerate our transformation and turbocharge online growth."
"Is this 'Never The Same Again' in the same way as a badger that is hit by a tractor, Mr Price?" What an odd name for a clothing range.
There is no confirmation of the price for Jaeger, but people who hold fingers to their noses muttered something about '£5 million'. The news is that no staff will keep their jobs and no Jaeger stores will remain open, so it is both a 'Deal' and 'No Deal' for employees of Philip latter-Day's vanity project.
Steve Rowe, the M&S chief executive said: "We've got no intention of turning M&S into a department store at all. This is about finding and partnering with adjacent brands." That is just as well, as department stores were hardly the 'Retail Phrase of 2020'; but aren't M&S already a department store? This is the latest arrow from M&S's appalling clothing quiver in the past decade and it looks like every bit as much of a winner as their last attempt, when they dressed Twiggy in a pencil skirt and tried to sell her as a Christmas canape.