Merry bloody Christmas, folks. Ho ho ho, you hoes.
So, you’ve bought yourself the Radio Times double issue, you’ve got yourself a multipack of capri-sun* pouches that you’re steadfastly refusing to open until the big day, and your Christmas tree is upright for the fourth time since the cat/kids/poor structural engineering of your house knocked it down.
*booze for you non-teetotallers.
So, I guess it’s Christmas. A few days off work, should be nice and relaxing, watching your playing Candy Crush Soda Saga on the toilet, while hiding from the kids.
Then the missus comes in the room, in her low cut top which means she wants to get her own way.
“We need to go Christmas shopping.” She says.
“You did all the Christmas shopping in November, because you were saying how efficient and awesome you were.” You reply.
“I bought shoes.” She says. “And a cheesecake.”
You mumble all the swear words and kick the cat, who squeals angrily and pulls down the Christmas tree.
Now apparently shopping in your own home town of Huddersfield is frowned upon, for some reason. No, I don’t know either, there’s some perfectly valid reason and I’m in no mood to argue with her. Just nod quietly, hold in the confusion and the rage, just go with it. It’s probably because they don’t have a Starbucks. Or she might see someone she knows and I’ll embarrass her by existing.
The big shopping malls, are out of the question obviously. The combination of parking Oompa Loompas, glacial crowds full of diagonal walkers, feral children screaming randomly when you accidentally stamp on their neck, and a general lack of interesting non-clothes shops make them a no-go zone.
Much better to avoid the traffic jams, save yourself the court case after running down a parking Oompa Loompa (because apparently manslaughter is a crime) and catching the train into Leeds. (Or Manchester. Or York. Or Scarborough. Or Liverpool. If you know where all the shops are. Which I don’t. Not Hull though.)
“Catch da train?” I hear you scream in the urban slang dialect I imagine you use. “You flippin nutter, iz you off yo nut catchin a train to does yo shoppering? Innit Pashmina Carrot.”
Well, Mr Naysayer, or Ms Giggleswick-Naysayer, let’s look at the figures and then laugh as you cry into your limited edition egg nog flavoured Müllerice.
If you drove in, you’ve got to pay petrol (and buy her a bottle of Diet Coke that she won’t drink) and parking, your journey back passes the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, it’s all a crazy activity in expenditure.
Catching the Old ChuffaChoo, the Transpennine Express, at less than £15 for a couple of return tickets, means you avoid all that extra hidden nonsense. You also don’t have to search the city looking for a parking space that doesn’t cost £8.70 a minute, dealing with people who don’t know which lane they need to be, or going down a one-way-road and getting eaten by the giant flesh eating mutant of Krishnan Guru-Murthy (that last one might just have been a dream I had after eating cheese).
Anyway. Get the train.
So, you arrive in Leeds station and find yourself receiving free dairy free chocolate mousses from some students in bright coloured tabbards. They taste ok, but they have that slightly plastic consistency that reminds you of that time you tasted PVA glue because it said ‘Non-Toxic’ on the label. You decide that you’re not going to die today, but you mentally schedule some toilet time later just in case your innards have issues.
Rushing away from Leeds Station as fast as you can (one of the beefy transport policemen looked at you funny) the first stop on your shopping trip is obviously not your decision. She plucks a number of storecards from your wallet, along with a good wedge of your cash (“Don’t you want me to have a good time? Do you hate me? Do you want me to slit your throat as you sleep, then stick a large toilet rim block in the hole in your neck so you look like a Pez dispenser?”) and drags you into Next, at which point you instantly lose sight of her in a crowd of people pondering overpriced clothes that are slightly different to last year’s.
You open your mouth to ask a number of questions, who are we buying gifts for, why couldn’t we just buy this stuff in Huddersfield or online, can you go and look in the Lego shop, and so on, but you realise you’re standing in the lingerie section screaming at a Chinese woman who is cowering in terror behind a poorly organised rack of sequined Rudolph bras.
Instead you panic and find somewhere to sit, finding the shoe area, and the gigantic rectangular pouffe.
Next to you is a like-minded, and similarly curmudgeonly man, playing Candy Crush Soda Saga with trembling fingers, the haunted look of someone who has already seen too much. You nod politely in his direction when he runs out of lives and the you see his bottom lip tremble the words “…I’ve been here two hours…”
You consider asking if he wants to add you on Facebook so you can send him a life for his game but you find a shadow has fallen upon you. Two shadows, in fact.
A towering beast of a woman stands before you, her snivelling, hyperactive snot child gyrating by her side, perhaps performing some happy hardcore version of the Macarena inside his sugar-addled mind. She stands there silently for a moment, glaring at you with her laser vision. You shyly look at your feet, then at your kindred spirit next to you. He now has his face in his hands, you suspect he is either asleep, crying or doing that thing where you press on your eyes really hard to make it look like the opening credits from 1970s Doctor Who.
The terrifying woman lets out the loudest tut humanly possible, and you feel your skin start to burn from her stare. She holds up a pair of shoes, tuts again and nods toward the pouffe you are sitting on.
There is a long moment of silence, interrupted briefly by yet another loud tutting. You make eye contact with the woman, and realising you’ve just stared into the abyss, move from your seat and retreat back into the relative safety of the lingerie section.
Looking back, you see the woman sitting her child down on the pouffe to try shoes on her child. Before your view is obstructed by some nonsense with Hello Kitty printed on it, you notice that all the other seating spaces, bar the one with the Candy Crush guy, are empty.
“Why are you looking at children’s lingerie?” Asks the missus when she sneaks up behind you carrying all of the shop’s stock. You mumble something about hamsters and then find a Minecraft baseball cap designed for a 10 year old child. It fits your head perfectly but the missus says “Hm.” and you know to put it back on the shelf.
“I have to try all these on.” She says, and before you open your mouth to mention presents she interrupts “I need a new wardrobe for Christmas. Obviously.”
It isn’t obvious but before you can say a word, the pile of clothes is forced into your hands and you are dragged to a new set of pouffes next to the changing room.
Which is where we leave our brave adventurer for the time being, as I’ve rambled on more than I should and I’ve probably exceeded any sane reader’s attention span. So come back soon for Episode 2, which will no doubt be about as good or as bad as Episode 1, depending on how good or bad you thought this was.