I am going to stand up for single and divorced men the world over here, and state that without a shadow of any doubt or a single grain of uncertainty, that Christmas shopping for teenage children and/or girlfriend/partner/lady friends (or whatever the fuck your are supposed to call them as a grown man) is about as stressful as you can get, especially if you are in Basingstoke, an utter hell-hole featuring sales staff that are preying on your desperation and attempting to sell you cheap jewellery and perfumes that will lead to the termination of your relationship quicker than you can say Happy Christmas. Even if your wife is obese, fiercely unattractive and so hideously evil in nature that you are considering packing your bags and going for good this time, think one last thing……does she do all the Christmas shopping including buying her own gift from a cash donation by you? If she does, it may be worth clinging on to your dull, sexless and repressed existence for a couple more years before you make your big break in to spending the next twenty years on dating websites and loitering around bars in Thailand.
My partner/girlfriend/lady friend always puts incredible amounts of effort and thought in to the gifts she buys for me which, understandably, puts me under huge pressure as I try to launch a counter attack that will have her swooning with delight and gratitude come the big day. Over the previous years I have had varying degrees of success, some lingerie (which is a huge gamble) and some fluffy slippers went down well, whilst a radio alarm clock and a picnic hamper were greeted with utter disdain. However, what I have always failed to do is give her a card by hand, I did send one in the post once but it said “Best wishes from all at CBS” and it did not go down at all well to be honest (nice cards they were too, Marks and Spencer if I remember correctly). So yesterday, I bought one which said something like “To my lovely girlfriend at Christmas” it had some fluffy bells on it and a nice message from me inside that I wont reveal. Oh my Goodness me, what an extraordinary reaction that got…….I am not sure I have made a woman so happy since I told my Mother I was leaving home. How can it be that something so simplistic can bring so much delight to the female of the species, she even claimed that it was better than any present I had ever bought. Well fuck my old boots, I must have spend hundreds of pounds on gifts in the past few years, yet all I needed to do is buy a card featuring fluffy bells for £3.99. How bizarre.
If I had known that before I had shuffled miserably around Basingstoke, I may have completed the tasks in a lighter mood, however, amongst many other mishaps there were two things annoyed me most about this latest ordeal. Firstly, the woman trying to sell me jewellery in Past Times. This is a shop that is based on nostalgia, selling things like model red phone boxes, union jack cushions and mocked up old pictures of Marmite jars or Colemans mustard………..and a job lot of tacky necklaces and bracelets ordered by mistake. I was greeted with “Ooh…she would love this necklace and bracelet.” This was amazing, by sheer coincidence it appeared that this woman, without actually meeting her, knew my girlfriend/partner/lady friend so well that she even knew she was a fan of shit jewellery…….well blow me, what a piece of good fortune! However, with aroused suspicion gained by years of experience, I concluded that this woman cared not a jot for my relationship or in fact my Christmas as a whole. I left empty the store handed, sensing that the only nostalgia I would gain from this shop would be in a few years time when I looked back on a relationship that end abruptly on Christmas day 2011. How about that? Nostalgic memories of a relationship ended by a nostalgia store, how ironic that would be (write that one down Alanis Morrisette, far better than “ten thousand spoons when you all you need is a knife” you daft cow).
I moved on to to the Debenhams department store, to the dreaded perfume department, and I think now is the right time to offer a top tip to the marketing department of the perfume/aftershave areas…..Please….can you do all us men a favour and tell us what the fuck is perfume and what the fuck is aftershave? The days of Hi Karate, Brute and Old Spice have gone, and as us men have gradually evolved in to bigger and bigger pansies, aftershave packaging has become almost identical to the the girlie stuff, featuring names such as “Ocean D’ Bleu” but not actually letting you know whether it is pour homme or pour femme. One assumes having half the French dictionary stamped all over the bottle is justification for the £45 price tag, but you dare not ask one of the assistants for their advice, as the simple fact is this, unless you have a girlfriend who can’t read and write and has an obsession with Jordan or Victoria Beckham, you are totally fucked my friends, because even if you purchase perfume for the right sex, you still have to purchase the right odour, you have more chance of finding a funny South African. One option is to go for the old red wine for a special occasion trick by purchasing for the most expensive one on the shelf and hoping that the quality matches the price, but it is just as likely that you are paying for some piece of shit that has been endorsed by some slapper from a third rate girl band or a reality show. For your own health, you might be better off doing what I did and getting the fuck out of there.
Unfortunately, in case Diane reads this, I can’t confirm what I actually bought, but ultimately, the moral of the story is this…….just do your best and as long as you avoid pop star/soap star/reality star perfume or low budget jewellery you will be fine…..and even better still, if you buy a personal card featuring fluffy balls rather than one emblazoned with your company name and logo, you will do even better.