Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Men just aren't designed for Christmas shopping

Hello all – as you can clearly tell I am alive, this is a bigger deal than you may expect, because this weekend I faced a deadly and dark peril.

This weekend we went Christmas shopping.

Ah yes I can hear the collective sigh as you tut, “but it’s the middle of November Glen, what are you going on about?” Yes indeed it is, but my wife has learned well over the years. Jo knows exactly how to work me.

We men do have a completely different outlook on the whole shopping experience to those of the female persuasion. My wife knows full well that if she wants my help and support when it comes to the Christmas shop, if she wants me there holding bags, making suggestions and decisions for her to overrule, then she has to think hard and use her most cunning tricks on me.
Firstly I absolutely refuse to go anywhere near a British Mall or High Street after 25th November. It just isn’t worth it. The crowds jostling for 5p off an Arran Jumper just get out of control and I can’t stand it. Therefore Jo has to accept that Christmas shopping happens early if I am to be present.

Next, Jo will arrange for the boys to be taken into care. It may sound harsh but it is for the best. Happily, in our case the care home chosen is where the boy’s Grandparents live, so it wasn’t too bad for them. With the boys taken care of for the night we were able to book a room and make a weekend of it. Jo knows full well that I can’t resist the idea of a romantic night away in a hotel, so she will hint and wink that that she will be packing her best underwear. I fall for it every time.
With a room booked and the boys in care, we headed off to Bath.

It wasn’t long at all before we arrived in Bristol.

It was a last minute change of plan forced on us by the appalling weather. At Bristol we could go to Cribbs Causeway, which is inside. When we got there, Jo told me that if I was good and stayed with her for two shops I could have a hot chocolate, and so we hit House of Fraser. I had been conned. House of Fraser may be technically one actual shop if you look at it objectively, but I always think that Department stores are a cheat and should count as at least five shops. We were in there for hours. Every now and again I’d get a knowing nod from another bedraggled husband as he was dragged along by his wife. I saw one man having a tantrum by the changing rooms, he refused to try a jumper on until he was told that if he didn’t try it on, he wouldn’t be allowed to stay up and watch Match of the Day that night.

Time stood still, literally. I asked Jo how long it would be until we could have hot chocolate every 5 minutes for an hour, and the answer was always 10 minutes. I had strayed into ‘Shopping Time’ which uses different rules and runs at different speeds depending on what sex you are. When we finished shopping I was 8 years 6 months, 4 weeks, 3 days, 2 hours, 7 minutes and 25 seconds older than before we started. Jo had only aged three hours.

Eventually, Jo released us form the store, only to dive straight into a shop that had absolutely NOTHING useful in it whatsoever. You have never seen anything like it. Every inch of every shelf was taken up by something utterly useless but pretty. I heard Jo mumbling about how this or that would look good in OUR kitchen, I figured I was supposed to be noting this down, but I couldn’t work out what it was that Jo was actually looking at. For sure it wasn’t a George Forman Grill, which I happen to think WOULD look good in our kitchen. Apparently it was something that you dangle from the door knob and look at from time to time, strictly on the grounds that it is the same colour as the walls – I really do not understand women.

True to her word, I was allowed a hot chocolate, and Jo even produced a packet of wine gums from her pocket as an extra reward. I think that may have been a mistake though, because I soon wound up in trouble for running around Costa Coffee giggling with the sugar rush.
The day continued in little chunks of two shops followed by a treat. Two shops, treat, telling off. Two shops, no treat, punishment and then back to the start. Eventually we made it to the hotel absolutely knackered and frazzled and cold. It wasn’t very romantic. Jo’s best underwear, also turned out to be her most comfortable.

The next day we hit Bath. Bath is lovely. In Bath there are (I counted) exactly four million shops. As the day slowly wore on, my will to live evaporated. We even somehow wound up in a couple of shoe shops. I thought to myself that Jo was being particularly generous to her friends this year, and tried to work out which one of them had exactly the same size feet as my wife.
Eventually Jo took pity on me. My wife is not heartless after all, so she gave me a smile and said “come on”. I was led into Bath’s one and only ‘Man Creche’ cunningly called ‘The Sony Centre’. I was led into the centre of this glorious haven and told not to leave until Jo came back to get me. Jo picked up a ticket from the lady at the door and left a small bag behind containing some spare pants – just in case.

I browsed about in a daze, looking at the beautiful systems on display. I listened to the sounds coming from the crystal clear speakers and marvelled at the 44 inch Televisions. A few of the other men were huddled around a 48 incher showing Star Trek and I happily joined them. We all shared a nod and a smile.

Slowly all my new little friends were picked up by their wives and headed away back to shopping servitude. I was left all alone, Jo was nowhere to be seen. The man who sells the i-pods, noted my growing concern and came over with a beaker of Ribena and a biscuit. It was a beautiful moment.

At last Jo returned and with a hug took me across the road to Debenhams. Apparently there were some baubles I needed to see.

The shopping continued until at last, we were done. Before I knew it we were back home and the kids were excitedly telling us what they had done at Grandma’s.

Job done for another year.

Happy bloody Christmas.

Glen Staples - also posted at www.Glenslife.com