Child’s play

Tell children yesterday that am going to local cathedral city to Make A Start On Christmas Shopping; foolishly ask whether there is anything I can get for them while I’m there, and spend much of morning in Boots staring in some bewilderment at men’s haircare products.  Get rather flustered trying to stuff various apparently essential items of school uniform into own carrier bags in Marks and Spencer under watchful eye of otherwise idle shop assistant at till; she says she is very glad that she doesn’t have to touch Some People’s Bags (which, she tells me, look as though they have been Used For Carrying Potatoes).

City not yet particularly Christmassy,  and while the dreaded Christmas Soundtrack is blaring out in some shops, buskers outside are still sticking to slightly out-of-tune versions of “Let Her Go“. Manage to find quite a few things that I would like, buy one small item for my daughter, and can only hope that retailers are not mistaken in their clear belief that colouring books for adults  are the answer to everything.

Happy evening watching candidates on The Apprentice produce terrible children’s birthday parties on a budget of £2000 apiece.


Winning and losing

Set off yesterday in search of Sale Bargains in effort to extend summer wardrobe (existing three pieces proving no match for surprisingly extended period of properly hot weather). Soon discover that everyone else has already had exactly the same idea, and spend some time rifling through sparse and untempting clothes rails in shop after shop with increasing despondency until finally arrive, hot, red and flustered, in small boutique down side street, where I ask kind owner if she has anything which will make me look like a carefree and effortlessly stylish Italian signora out on an evening stroll. Am so delighted by the outfit which she eventually manages to create that I decide to overlook fact that it does not actually  contain a single Sale item.

Wear new outfit to cricket field in evening. Hopes that village under-15s might repeat their unexpected (and quite possibly unprecedented) victory last week soon fade at sight of opposing team, all uniformly twice the height of Our Boys and accompanied by very expensive equipment and serious-looking fathers. After scoring more runs than seems quite decent, they proceed to bowl with a determined ruthlessness that quickly reduces home team to its final two batsmen. Support from the pavilion now becomes increasingly vociferous, and when batsman number 10 (previous career best 1) somehow manages to hit a four, home supporters erupt in a frenzy of applause and cheering that clearly leaves opposition completely bemused; even though the inevitable defeat follows shortly afterwards, and we hear one opposition father remarking to his friend that Well, That Wasn’t Too Difficult, boys walk home with their Heads Held High and a happy sense of Team Spirit.

Catch end of Wimbledon highlights at home, and are soon completely gripped by match between Serena Williams and Heather Watson; disappointment at final result softened by noticeable graciousness of victor. Agree that That is how real winners behave.

Time present and time past

Receive message from Department for Work and Pensions wishing me Happy International Older People’s Day; remember that need to buy present for brother’s 50th birthday,  and set off to local town in search of Classic Gentleman’s Watch. A traditional Jewellers somehow still survives amongst barbers and charity shops of High Street, and spend happy half-hour discussing options with charming young manager about thirty years younger than self. Find whole process much easier, quicker and more fun than trawling through product reviews on internet, though do feel even more like matronly 1950s housewife than usual.

Decide not to think too much about The Passage Of Time (brother himself admirably relaxed about forthcoming milestone), and concentrate instead on enjoying Conference Mash-Up with children.

Careless rapture

Convince myself that son’s request for Linseed Oil necessitates a proper Shopping Expedition, and set off for cathedral city through countryside suddenly bursting with lush greenness; reflect on all the joys of May (horse chestnuts, wedding anniversary, general elections).

Dash in and out of Sports Direct as quickly as possible, then wander along ancient streets through milling crowds of students and tourists. Decide that Really Do Need some new trousers, and venture into Jigsaw. Find friendly assistant and emerge Some Time Later with rather more than trousers, and an undeniable feeling of Pure Happiness.