Every year, I swear I'll start the Christmas shopping in November. Then November comes and I think, "It's too early! Go away!". Then I end up bouncing around the Christmas crowds like a pinball, entering shops only because I happened to be aimed that way.
A couple of years ago, I went to Bluewater about a week before Christmas and was amazed at how clear it was. Ever since, I've been going back there to get the majority of the Christmas presents.
So, in preparation for the long trip round the M25, I decided to fill up with petrol the night before. There was a fair queue at the garage, probably due to the weekend protests that were taking place, but I kind of expected that so switched the engine off and waited for the lady in front to fill her car.
Good job she wasn't the driver. After putting the nozzle back in its holster, she disappeared to the passenger door ... with the tank cap still hanging off the open cap door!
I figured she must be coming back to finish up.
As she walked away to pay for the fuel, the car started moving forwards. I immediately had visions of fire jetting from the tank (daft, I know, but my imagination knows no bounds!), and went to either flash my lights or honk my horn ... the trouble is, I couldn't decide which and couldn't remember how to do either. I ended up just staring at the steering wheel, gob a-gape, waving my hands in air like a newborn.
However, the best was yet to come. After telling the driver that his cap was hanging loose, and sorting out my own fuel, I came out of the shop to see the lady approach my car, try the passenger door and then peer in through the window and wonder where everyone had gone to!
Life must be a ton of fun in that household! Bless.
Well, it was a darned early start on the Saturday and I somehow managed to get up and out of the house by 7:40 ... I can't even do that on a weekday, so something of a miracle really. After arguing with TomTom about which route to take, I headed off and managed to get parked up outside Marks & Spencer at bang on nine o'clock - pretty good timing, if I do say so myself :-)
It all started off quite nicely, buying a book for my sister and a couple of bits from Hawkin's Bazaar for tree presents. Then I got stumped. As far as the kid's were concerned, there wasn't a single shop where I could buy the bits I had planned to buy. No Argos. No Toys R Us. It was only later that I realised John Lewis might have had what I was looking for.
Nine-and-a-half hours I was there for! Nine-and-a-half hours of wandering around in circles ... literally ... and the first seven of those were less productive than a Eunoch.
At some point, I seemed to change from a clockwise to a counter-clockwise route ... in fact, I might have done this several times, as I became more disoriented the later it got ... but I refused to leave until I had bought a reasonable number of presents off the list I had.
Somehow, I managed to get a few bits from around four o'clock and finally felt like I could leave without feeling it had been a wasted journey ... though this was probably aided by the banging headache I had developed.
Another argument with TomTom about my return journey and off I set, not allowing her to nag me into a different route off the motorway. It was like having my ex-girlfriend back in the car with me. Perhaps I should change the voice...
After all of that, and with a vague sense of achievement, I think the highlight of the day had to be when my cousin called me to ask if online finance agreements are usually backed up with paperwork.
It seems that, whilst attempting to find out the details of the credit agreements, he 'accidentally' placed an order for a brand new iMac and iPod Touch! I can just seem him explaining that to the wife now!!
I think there is only one way out of that one: "But I bought it for you, dear!"