I love giving gifts. But I hate Christmas shopping. I mean hate with a vengeance.
In truth, I suppose I dislike shopping in general. Whenever I'm in town for a shop, it's very much a military operation:
11:02 Arrive Marks and Spencer's
11:03 Commence Operation Shopping List One
11:07 Shove Past Old Lady to Check Out
Yet Ann, my other half, loves shopping. She, along with her sister, can plan entire days wandering here and there looking at stuff they spent entire days just the weekend before wandering here and there looking at in the same shops.
And she takes on this sinister personality when shopping. Ordinarily, Ann's this mild-mannered, courteous person who wouldn't say boo to a goose, as the saying goes. But when in the shopping theatre, she'll mud-wrestle her own grandma to get to that elusive bit of stuff that wasn't there when wandering last weekend.
But worst, of course, are those marital, "let's go shopping together days; we can have lunch.". Is there any worse torture for husband-kind? Because we can't say "No thanks," as there lies madness, and we really don't want to be dragged around looking at stuff on hangers in shops that smell like an explosion in a perfume factory.
The shops are full of us victims. We nod almost imperceptibly, and share a moment's masculine misery. I think there should be little man-crèches in shops where we can all gather while the women ponder of size 12 or 14 and does their bum look big today.
But I have a plan. Last time, there was this three-year-old, and he was playing up, and his mother said: "If you don't behave, I'm not bringing you again." It was one of those Eureka moments.
If you're in town today, and you see a grown man misbehaving, do come and say hello, now, won't you?
The Ballad of Robinson Clyde - Alex's latest story *The Ballad of Robinson Clyde* is out now at Emerging Worlds. Its a lyrical kind of a story that put me in mind of J.G. Ballard.
3 days ago