The Joy of Christmas Shopping…

Posted on December 23, 2015

I completed my Christmas shopping yesterday with one trip to Basingstoke (complete with its cunning temporary re-branding of ‘Festival Place’ to ‘Festive Place’) doing the trick in tough circumstances on an ugly, but once again, ludicrously mild day.

Sadly, getting into Basingstoke was hampered by a perfect storm of driving rain and a spectacular set of roadworks on the Black Dam roundabout that provided the stunning backdrop for some of the finest scenes of gridlock I have witnessed since the rush hour snowstorm of 2009.

However, I am made of stern stuff and I somehow managed to find a place on the top floor of the multi-storey, a place that is totally alien to me as Basingstoke, despite its multi-million pound revamp a decade or so ago, is hardly a tourist attraction. As a consequence parking places are generally aplenty.

As I made my way to the shopping centre, the fun started when a chap, noting the driving rain from his car, kindly offered up his hand and waved me across his path, to which I responded with a vintage 48 year-old, half run, half jog.

As a result, I slipped backwards, momentarily regaining balance before staggering forwards and collapsing under his car as if I was falling to pray. The knee of my jeans was instantly shredded as was my humility, with the guy in the car looking genuinely alarmed at my well-being.

I am not quite sure what his girlfriend was doing though, as she had slipped down her seat and her head had turned the other way, shaking vigorously. Some might assume she was pissing herself laughing and I would have no reason to doubt their judgement.

I limped towards the rest of my audience who were waiting for the lift and tried to make light of the fact that my masculinity lay in tatters, failing miserably.

Fortunately for me, the lift opened out just a few yards from the ladies underwear department which featured a plethora of garments that appeared to be something in line with what my girlfriend had made subtle hints at when I desperately requested some clues towards something useful she may need.

It is in lingerie departments where my sexual repression comes to the fore and the more nervous I become about my choices, the more surreptitious I look. I am only 48, so I have plenty of time to grow up.

This self-fulfilling prophecy was exaggerated by fact that I have recently had a heavy cold, making my breathing a little unstable and with a bead of sweat building on my forehead as I admired a black basque, I carried the hallmarks of a cast iron pervert, so I got out empty handed before I was escorted out.

“Look darling, it’s the man who fell under your car…should have ran him over, sick bastard.”

I then decided to focus on some clothing for my children but ended up buying stuff I would wear but they wouldn’t, so, as a consequence, I had to do a series of exchanges which, as you would imagine, was greeted with festive joy by staff and customers alike.

I did get it all done, ensuring I had gift vouchers for the inevitable Boxing Day exchanges before exiting to the car park to play a game of ‘where’s my car?’ Enhanced by the driving rain, this calamitous action of pressing my key and hoping to see the hazard lights, ended in timely pantomime fashion when I discovered “it was behind me”.

Damp, if not soaked, I then joined the proletarian mass of misery in stationery traffic as, with bitter irony, Driving Home for Christmas emanated gleefully from the car stereo. Somehow, I had to get to Sainsbury’s before closing time to get the booze for clients and my own personal abuse. 

It was packed. A mass of ravenous gluttony featuring men with strained faces and scowling women doing emergency stops mid-aisle, a bit like the scavengers who slam on their brakes at junctions in the hope someone will skid into the back of them to kick-off a whiplash claim.

“Ever been Christmas shopping when it wasn’t your fault?”

When I got back to the car, the rain, after pausing for breath, had gained new momentum, penetrating my mild weather clothing with ease as I contemplated returning to the store to buy a can opener to for my door, such was the parking skill of the cretin next to me.

It was as I hurried, I dropped a bottle of Châteauneuf Du Pape, watching it spin in slow motion towards obliteration before I instinctively volleyed it in an attempt to rescue what in my world of moderate means, is an expensive wine and a treat for Christmas.

Remarkably, the said volley worked but it was painful and I have to admit that the word ‘CUNT’ was soon echoing through the bleak suburban car park, temporarily alarming the masses dashing through the monsoon to their vehicles and back home to count the cost of one day that has been promoted for eight weeks or more.

I guess that personally, the best spirit of Christmas I have witnessed was saved for tonight, when I popped out to buy some milk from the little convenience shop just around the corner from where I live.

When I left, the lady gave me a plastic bag and said, “There, a little Xmas pressie.”

The contents featured a loaf of weight watchers bread, a pizza and a bottle of Moroccan almond extract, which was about the most perplexing Christmas gift I have received since my ex-wife purchased me a ticket to see Texas, a pop band I had never shown an inkling of ever liking.

I guess Moroccan almond extract is my 2015 version of Texas, in fact, if I formed a band, that’s what I would call it.

Happy Christmas.

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