Did you notice that the lead story in UK television news this year, and every other year, is that of the Christmas sales and how that some people had stayed up all night to be at the front of the queue on Boxing Day morning. The cameras will pan across greedy, eager faces, as they scrambled into Harrods kicking and gouging their way to a massively overpriced handbag that was probably knocked-out for 50 rupees in a Bangladeshi sweat-shop by an eight year old child labourer. Anyway, as I’ve often said before, why is such a positive spin put on the fact that people are spending billions of pounds on shopping in the pre and post Christmas period? From the week or so that I have been here in the UK, most High Street stores of almost any description seem to have a permanent sale going on since August. Unlike Majorca, there doesn’t seem to be any regulation at all in terms of when, where, and how many sales - can take place at any given time. This leads me and others to the rather cynical conclusion as to when is a supposed sale, really a sale, and does - 50% Off - actually mean that, or was this ‘upper’ figure manipulated for the benefit of marginally dishonest, dramatic effect? Answers on a postcard!

Without whizzing on your two day old Christmas pudding, weren’t we all led to believe by politicians that a large part of the devastating recessions of a few short years ago was that millions of us were living beyond our means, sustained only by the dubious magic of plastic? Yesterday, I was dragged kicking and screaming to the Boxing Day sales - which to be totally honest the prices had remained exactly the same as pre Christmas. One thing I did notice though; Is it my imagination - but why do so many people, with apparently so little money, spend so much?

Today my friends, is the Saturday between Christmas and New Year and so we are in the middle of the festive twilight zone. The twilight zone is a very strange place to be - part forced jollity, part belly-ache; a listless interregnum between festivities, where it might be better if we all went to work as normal. I have a confession to make. When my kids were small I would sneak back into my office during the twilight zone to “sort out” an imaginary problem at work. There I would sit with my feet propped up on my desk, in total solitude, reading the newspapers and staring out of the window. I suspect that if I was ever caught ‘at it’ - it would have been worse for me than being caught trousers down, with intent, in the proximity of the complete set of Nolan Sisters (this was in the mid 80’s after all!)but happily my selfish little ploy was never rumbled and I think that I was a far better Dad for my occasional absences - so there. I looked in the fridge this morning (three times actually) - boredom is a terrible thing isn’t it? There is enough cold turkey and ham in there to sustain a medium sized military campaign and yet there is still talk of yet another visit to a supermarket for a few “extras,” as in, two more trolley loads. Personally, I thought that we would be better employed trying to sell some of the extra grub back to the store, because from what I can tell, we shouldn’t need to buy any more food at all until Easter at the earliest.

However, there is just one exception to the general glut in food available and that is Quality Street. I am now on my third tin and am showing no sign of slowing down. The word ‘moreish’ was invented to describe Quality Street, I have pockets full of its colourful wrappers, I cannot walk past a bowl with them in - and I am ashamed to say, I have taken to hiding them from other people, pretending that they have all gone when in fact they are hidden away in a tin under the bed. So then, just another example of selfishness on my behalf, along with hiding the television remote when it is time for the Eastenders Christmas Special to be screened and nobody can find the zapper. Hey, it’s up their alongside my last tin of Quality Street - and as they say in these parts - “Up their for thinking, down their for dancing!” And so, in a just a couple of days it will all be over bar the shouting won’t it? You will have become a functioning alcoholic, your weight will have spiralled out of control and you will crouch down, rocking gently to and fro, whilst sucking your thumb and sobbing when those nasty Yuletide bills plop through your letter box in mid January. On the plus side; you have gained three sets of pyjamas, as everyone realises that if you don’t know what to buy a woman - buy her a pair of jim-jams. If a bloke - a chunky sweater or hairy shirt are usually most acceptable, albeit one size too large, along with novelty footwear and cheap Japanese whisky - this always hits the spot I find. Mostly though, I like to promote the old adage - “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.”

I hope you received all the above and more, plus I wish you a Happy, Prosperous, and Peaceful New Year to you all.

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