There is nothing of a professional nature in this post. It's simply one of my attempts at humour. Read or ignore as it pleases you. :) It's something that I wrote a while ago and people seemed to like it, so here it is again.
Well, I celebrated Xmas today in time honored fashion; I went shopping. Not once, I hasten to add, not even twice, but three (count 'em) three times. I have to admit, I thought this was slightly over zealous, given that I think shopping once a fortnight for a loaf of bread and pint of milk is pushing the boat out a bit. Six weeks worth of shopping in one day – well, it must be Xmas I suppose.
I should point out right at the start, so that there's no mistake, I don't like Xmas. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement – I dislike Xmas in the same way that a dog hates postmen – there's no rational thought behind it – it's just 'man carrying sack – kill, maim or disfigure – preferably all three if possible'. I'm the kind of person that likes to leave Xmas until the last possible moment, which is usually about 4.55pm on Xmas Eve, when I'll wander down to the shops to see what is occurring. All this fuss is a bit much; I'm sure that less thought and planning went into organizing D-Day than the average Xmas day lunch.
Having said that, a certain amount of fun can be gained at this ah… festive season. Well, it can if you have a strange sense of humour. I have. My first stop today was the county town for some 'last minute' shopping. This is a singularly stupid comment to make, since it only has one possibly outcome, which is me working out exactly how many 'last minutes' there are between now and Xmas day, and beginning to count them down in the car journey to Consumer heaven. Anyway, I digress. Car parking is always fun at this time of year. Admittedly, it can be a bit of a pain actually getting a spot in the first place, but when you have, that's when the fun begins. Swoop into the car parking space and sit there for a couple of minutes to recover from the shock of getting the space initially. Next you have to back out again – ostensibly to line the car up correctly, but that's not the real reason, oh no. The real reason is entirely different – you start to back out just as another car is going around and around the car park desperately looking for a space. The driver of the other car, poor bastard that he is, thinks that you're actually leaving, instead of arriving. So he stops for you, thinking that his luck has changed, and he can nip into your spot. At this point it's important to take your time. Edge back slowly, slowly slowly. If you're really clever, you can do it so badly that he gets out of his car to help you. After about 5 minutes of this, simply slide back into your space nice and neatly and turn off the engine. If possible, catch his eye and smile cheerily at him as the awful truth dawns on him. Your cheerful wave to him as he revs his engine and scoots off looking for somewhere else is only matched by his single one fingered wave backwards.
Next stop is the shop. Well, one of many actually, it doesn't matter which one or where it is, because what you're interested in at this point is not going in. The point of this game is to try and stop other people going in, for as long as possible. Hold the door and have a conversation with your partner about the present that you're purchasing for Great grandmother Smegly and see how many people you can get to queue up politely behind you. This can actually work very well, since the people behind the person behind you will simply think that they're queuing to get into the store, and given that people will queue for anything you can actually build up a sizeable (indeed riot sized) group of people. When the smile on the face of the person behind you becomes fixed in a skeletal type grin you know that it's almost time to open the door. Of course ideally by stopping people from going in, you're also stopping people from coming out again. Ever wondered how Moses must have felt, parting the waves of the Dead Sea? It's your chance to find out. Well, not exactly, because you're not going to be doing the parting, you're doing the bit at the end, when the waves all crash down again, because you open the door and stand back. The people inside are now keen to get out since they're being driven mad by the third rendition that day of Shakin' Stevens 'Merry Christmas Everybody' plus the fact that the heaters are full on (especially by the door), and the crowd waiting to get in is not going to stop them exiting the shop at a fair pace. Of course, the people at the back of the queue to get into the shop are now quite keen, so they push forward. Much hilarity then ensues, and if you're very lucky a minor fight or two.
Anyway, you step over the bodies and walk into the store, picking up a basket as you do. Not because you want to buy something, but because it has another much more interesting purpose. Actually two – firstly it's a really good weapon; just get a couple of heavy objects in there, swing it about a bit and it's the festive equivalent of a ball and chain – it can take the head off a wailing infant at three feet, I know, because I've done it. The second purpose is disguise. You haven't actually gone into the shop to purchase anything at all. Your sole reason for entering is to cause confusion to all and sundry. First you have to wander around for a while until you can find your gift partners. Ideally they should be as opposite as possible – a Neanderthal rugby player and a little old lady for example. Now, they're engaged in the serious purpose of shopping, and what's interesting here is that they don't tend to take too much notice of what they've got in their trolleys or baskets; after all, it's not as though anyone is going to steal anything out of them is it? Oh, how wrong they are. Wait until your gift partners are grabbing at stuff on the shelves and merely lean over and take an item out of one trolley and put it in the other. Preferably something that is the last in the shop (although more on this later), or which is quite distinguishable, such as the two foot high penguin with a Santa hat, or the yard of Toblerone. Catch the eye of the person whose item you have misappropriated and just nod in the direction of their gift partners trolley. You don't have to actually say anything at all – just looking meaningfully at them, their trolley and the trolley of the other person is usually all that is needed. Wander away slowly and enjoy the confusion of the moment.
Next on your list of 'Things to keep you sane at Xmas' is to find the item that is going fast. This of course depends on the type of shop that you're in. If it's a supermarket it's going to be the last tin of Roses chocolates, or a tub of coleslaw for example. Simply stand around and wait until there is only one left of whatever it is. Inch a little closer and wait, like a spider in its web. When a hand reaches out to get it, make your move – leap in first and grab it, then put it into your basket. Smile in a festive fashion at the person whose Christmas you've just ruined, for the cherry on top say 'I don't think I'll really need this, but it's Christmas isn't it'. An alternative ploy which does actually work better in toy shops, since parents get desperate very easily is to say 'Well, if you're really desperate I'll sell it to you'. Of course at this point you don't actually own it, but as they say in the courts 'Possession is 9 points of the law'. The 10th point, and the one that you're banking on, is the parents thought of 5 year old Wayne screaming his head off at 5am on Christmas morning because he's opened all his presents and realized that he hasn't got the Super Deluxe Mighty Macro Fighting Xbox Wrestling Battling game. Believe me, it's a winner every time, and you can make a small fortune by selling things that you don't own, all perfectly legally.
About time to move on now I think. If you're not already there in your mind, it's time to take a visit to the local supermarket. I don't like supermarkets – too many memories of plastic bag humiliations and Jill riding around them like a banshee on speed in a wheelchair. However, Christmas is the time that you get your revenge. Oh yes. First stop, which should be a natural, is the cookery section. It's usually quite small, but you will always find that you can buy egg timers. Quite why one would want to buy an egg timer I'm not entirely sure, but it's Christmas, so all sense goes out of the window. The great thing about these egg timers is that they are almost always the twist and wait ones – the minor time bombs of the kitchen, which when they have ticked down to zero will ring out or given the time of year will festively screech 'Oi, your egg is overcooked, ho fucking ho' or some such. Simply wind them all to go off in about 10 minutes. If you're quick enough at doing this anyone close will think that it's a fire alarm, and will drop all their purchases and head for the doors like a minicab driver with the Inland Revenue following him. Alternatively, set them to go off at intervals of 2 minutes each, which leads to a pleasing cacophony for an entire hour. Or, if you're particularly mean, take a handful, wind them up and drop them liberally into the trolleys of people going past who you don't like the look of.
In actual fact, that's quite fun anyway – just take some random item, like a family sized economy pack of condoms (make up your own jokes on that one) and drop it into a passing trolley. Follow at a discreet distance and see what happens when they get to the checkouts. The condom one is particularly effective if you've taken against a couple for some reason since the husband will smile as he sees them, thinking his luck is in, and his wife will see the smile, check out the condoms and glare with that look that only harassed wives and mothers can do at Xmas and mumble under their breath 'I'm spending all day stuffing and cooking a turkey, and believe me, that's the only stuffing you're getting on Xmas day you ungrateful thoughtless bastard'.
Next we must move onto towards the deli counter. These are great places to entertain yourself. First of all, take several of those numbered tickets and give one to your partner in crime. When your number comes up, do nothing. Wait until a number that your partner has comes up, then shout 'I'm next' and watch the confusion on Sharon's face (she's the student assistant behind the counter by the way) as she tries to work out what to do, since 'Dealing with irate customers on the day before Xmas Eve' wasn't included in the 5 minute training talk she was given by old Mrs Maginty in Accounts. Once it is your turn, you want to order a large number of items – the more the better. However, always ask for them in ounces, rather than metric. Insist on exactly 2.34 ounces of smoke cured ham off the bone, no more, no less. Choose olives individually, and ask to taste as many different kinds of cheese as humanly possible. Take your time over this, since the entertainment is waiting for the tannoy announcement saying 'Would someone from tills please go to the deli counter where a queue is building up'. At that point you've won that particular game, and you smile sweetly at Sharon, look at your watch and say 'My God! Is that the time?' and walk away, leaving small plastic wrapped packages behind you.
Now, another one to do is to move across to the perishables, such as the double cream. Wait until there are a few people milling around, trying to decide if they want single cream, whipping cream, extra thick single cream, double cream, soured cream – all of which is pointless, because it's Christmas, and they'll stuff their trolleys with a couple of cartons of each. Time it just right and say in a loud voice 'I'm astonished they've still got these out after the threat yesterday from some terrorists to inject poison into the pots of cream'. Watch while they move away quickly, leaving little trails of cream cartons in among the packets of biscuits.
Oh yes, before I forget, you have to have a game of 'tin can jenga'. Jenga, for those of you who don't know, is the game where you have a pile of little wooden pieces that you remove and stack on top of each other until the pile falls over. Somewhere in every supermarket, some halfwit has carefully put a pile of cans of some sort in a display. This one takes some time to do properly, so allow a good half hour for this. Take a can from the bottom of the pile and put it on the top. Go away, cause havoc elsewhere, return and repeat several times. By now your pile of cans should be getting dangerously high and unstable, hopefully assisted by the gannets known as 'Christmas shoppers' grabbing cans as they go past. They don't actually need tins of corned beef, but it's Christmas, and of course you have to get everything at Christmas. Ideally some small child will be wandering along, treating the supermarket like the local playground. Just push it slightly into the display, then stand back and admire the chaos. If you've chosen round cans, they roll for several yards, creating a small assault course for other shoppers.
It's probably time to leave the store at this point, but it would be unfair on the supermarket to have all this fun at its expense, so buy something. Half a dozen cans of their own brand peas should do it. Move onto supermarket number two, and get a trolley, putting your cans of peas into your trolley before you go in. Security people are only interested in what you leave with, not what you go in with, and no-one will notice. Place four cans of the peas on the shelf with the new supermarkets brand of peas. Summon a member of staff over and point to them and ask why they are selling Tescos own brand peas in Sainsbury's or vice versa. It's fun watching their confusion, and when the manager gets called over (and he will be, trust me on this), simply say 'Well, it's not just peas… I saw Tesco own brand chicken pies and jaffa cakes as well, which I thought was a bit odd'. Wander off to the chicken pie section and watch staff descend on it on mass to weed out the non existent interlopers. For extra points grab a member of staff as they go past and mutter 'You ought to know that there's a code 105 over in aisle 17'. I have no idea what a code 105 is, and you probably don't either. Neither will the assistant, but believe me, they'll trot off to find out.
Anyway, do some more shopping and queue up. Don't forget that you still have two cans of another supermarket's own brand peas in your trolley. Enjoy the look of utter confusion on the face of the checkout person, and despite what they say, insist that this is the brand of peas that you want to buy, since they're nicer than the ones their store sells. You may have to end up paying for the peas twice, but it's worth it; I know. Alternatively wait until your purchases have mostly been scanned through and engage the checkout person in idle chat, and slip in 'I don't know why it's so busy, Christmas is still a week away'. They will look bemused and say 'Err, actually sir, it's tomorrow'. Look horrified, go weak at the knees if you like (but don't overdo it) and say slowly 'Oh. My. God.' Then rush out the store, leaving purchases and someone else's own brand of peas behind.
People tend to talk to each other more at Christmas, have you noticed? I think it's the Blitz spirit, we're all in this thing together kind of thing. This can also be a source of amusement. At some point in your shopping expedition some poor fool is going to smile at you and say 'Looking forward to Christmas?' This is a sign that they are mentally incompetent. No-one in their right mind looks forward to Christmas for God's sake. It's something that we suffer through, and their comment merely highlights the fact that they need to be reminded of this. Simply look at them and say something along the lines of 'My wife just left me and my five children, all under three; what do you think?' It's a surefire winner in the fuck 'em up stakes. Alternatively, if you're in a small shop smile and take out your own wallet or purse and smile saying 'It sure is, I just found this, and it's got £250 quid in it – that's going to ruin someone's Christmas and make mine' and see what they do. Do they do nothing, remonstrate with you, or tell a shop assistant? Ideally they'll inform a shop assistant, and you can say in a loud voice 'Rubbish! This is my wallet and I can prove it'. That'll teach the bastards to be unseasonally festive.
On which note, I had better take my leave of you. I've got decorations to do. I bought one of those Santa creatures that morons are putting up outside their houses – you know the ones, hanging onto a rope, climbing down a window. I've fixed up a gallows, wrapped the rope around Santa's neck and made a sign saying 'Christmas cancelled due to unforeseen hanging'. I'm creeping out to set it up in the garden of a close neighbour who has far too many decorations up already. First thing in the morning I'm ringing the local paper to complain.