Went to a market town to meet a friend for coffee. The market town has one of those department stores which sell everything a middle-class woman could want, all of which is reportedly selected by the owner's wife. It has a smattering of top-name cosmetic brands, handbags, shoes, fashion and a home department. It is slightly odd thinking everything has been bought by the same person but then again, she does have good taste so fair do's. I pottered up to the lingerie department. I always found bra buying in London very stressful - there you are stripped down to nothing very much, looking at yourself in the mirror thinking "What the hell happened?" and squishing fleshy gobbets into a lacy bra cup that do not really belong in there when there is an urgent rap on the door that would not shame a debt collector. Even worse, are those shops where the assistant pokes her head through the curtain, catches a page three moment and then insists on doing you up as if you have lost the use of your thumbs. Luckily this is the sort of department store which is far too discreet for such an invasion of privacy.
Bras selected, I was at the till when my eye was snagged by a packet of "silicone petals" with a picture on the front of a woman in a bathing suit. You could see her right nipple above the word "Before" but on the left hand side, there was no nipple above the word "After". I was intrigued. I thought about whether they could be selling nipples to women who do not have any but the continuity seemed all wrong. I said to the woman behind the counter. "What are they?" She told me they were nipple protectors for women with large nipples and were designed to hide them. Apparently, according to the packet, they are "particularly useful when swimming or in colder climates." Well Northumberland can be chilly so it made sense to me. Naturally, I bought a pair. I resisted saying to the woman: "Well that's lucky because as it happens I myself have very large and shy nipples."
The petals are peach coloured with a wavy border and sticky. You stick them over your nipples and they do indeed hide them. From a distance in the mirror, this looks incredibly weird as if your top half has suddenly become that of a slightly raddled mannequin. I slipped a white tee-shirt over my head to admire my "natural contours". Frankly if these are supposed to reassure the faint-hearted that the world is not looking at their nipples, I suspect they may well have the opposite effect. The "natural countour" they give you is a breast with a large and on me at least, quite prominent, nippleless aureole. I would have thought any man would invest a considerable amount of time on playing "Spot the nipple" if you went out like that.