Tuesday, 20 November 2007


It’s a double edged sword not going out to work. I don’t earn any money and yet I am at liberty to go out during the day to spend the money that I do not have. With the build up to Christmas and a pathological hatred of shopping on a Saturday, this has meant that I have been shopping three times this week already, parking the bloody car twice, unfolding the pushchair twice and jostling, and boy do I hate to be jostled.
It all started off so well this week too. My uncle Dave, a dear old sort who lives alone and yet shops at the Cash and Carry - when will he ever get through a 10kilo box of Daz, an industrial sized amount of loo roll and gigantic jars of mayonnaise? - offered me a day out to Cribbs Causeway shopping mall. He has no ulterior motive, by that I mean he didn’t need to do any shopping, he just wanted a bit of company and he loves driving, so at eight am on Monday the horn was sounded outside my house; my mother in law, who had stayed over the night before to be in situ for breakfast, was given a list of instructions regarding various child pickups then I kissed them all farewell and jumped in the car.
Apart from the appalling music, unless you are partial to early Queen, a bit of Lynnyrd Skynnyrd and the odd Moody Blues track, we had a pleasant drive. Uncle Dave was at pains to show me all the gadgets and gizmos in his car and we were almost by Ashburton before he’d stopped demonstrating the various buttons on my seat.
“Are you comfortable?”, he asked for the hundredth time as my seat went forward then back, then up then down, then reclined then sat up again. I was beginning to feel a little queasy.
“It’s ok, Uncle Dave”, I finally said, firmly, “I’m just right”.
Suddenly I felt a bulge in my lower back and almost shot out of my chair.
“Bloody hell what was that?” I asked, somewhat alarmed.
“Lumber support Alice love. Good for you, especially with your back problems”. I settled back and he was quite right, after the initial shock of thinking my sacral region was imploding I relaxed and it was very comfortable. After another twenty minutes though, I felt very hot and my back and bottom were steaming. Initially I was a little too embarrassed to mention it until finally, I could stand it no more.
“Uncle Dave, please pull over into the next service station. I’m going to have to take my tights off. It must be my time of life or something but I’m seriously overheating. I can’t regulate it; my bum is just getting hotter and hotter”.
Uncle Dave guffawed and flicked a switch, “Sorry, Alice love”, he chortled, “That’s the seat heater. Thought you might appreciate it on a cold day like this”.
I was so relieved that my internal organs weren’t self combusting that I laughed too. We opened the window for a few miles for me to cool down and before you knew it, we’d arrived. Now whether it is because he has never had children and is thus never truly, hair-pullingly, stressed out or whether maybe he has just found his inner Zen but the man is a saint to shop with and, where I was getting terribly hot and bothered and flustered and agitated in various shops he just stood calmly by, holding my bags without so much as a bored sigh.
All was going fairly well until we entered H&M. After an hour of deliberating as I mustered together an ensemble of an outfit for my eldest daughter for Christmas, we went upstairs to find shoes to match. I left the clothes that I had already chosen on the shop counter with the request to the staff to keep an eye on them whilst I chose shoes. In the minute that it took me to put my hand on a pair the correct size and turn around again, the skirt that I had selected and of which there was only one size 10 had been snatched away, never to be seen again. I was demented and like a crazy stalker waited outside the dressing room in case I could apprehend the thief. Ten minutes passed to no avail and after giving every woman with a carrier bag a very dodgy, evil and accusatory stare I finally had to admit defeat. So, with a histrionic sigh I dramatically plonked my basket of assorted knitwear on the counter, threw my scarf around me and, with Diva-esque aplomb, left the building.
The following day I strapped the Red Head into her push-chair and visited H&M Plymouth. This time I plucked the same skirt from the rails even though they only had a size 8, gathered together various matching items and took them home. When my daughter arrived from school I blindfolded her so that she wouldn’t see the skirt and demanded she keep her arms in the air so that she wouldn’t feel it either then, with optimistic anticipation, hoiked the skirt up over her hips. Of course, it goes without saying that it didn’t fit and the realisation that I would have to make a return visit with a wilful three year old in tow was disheartening indeed. The third trip at least resulted in the manager of H&M realising my exasperation and the elusive skirt was finally found, elsewhere, but will be sent to me. I foolishly mentioned my frustration to Hubby who, instead of soothingly saying, “Darling you are so thoughtful. You make Christmas such a magical time”, immediately barked, “Where do you think all this money comes from Alice? Do you think I’m on flying pay?” When he launched into his ‘it doesn’t grow on trees lecture’, I too attempted my inner Zen. I think it takes practice.


Lisa said...

First, let me just say, when I visit you and see a new post, I must swallow all food and not attempt to eat again until I'm done.
Second, wow, I kind of like that music, and it must have been nice going shopping with a man who wasn't having a hissy fit about the time, the money, the temperature, the way the wind is blowing....
As for the money talk, even though I work, I hear it all the time. My brain tends to shut itself off and all I hear is "blah,blah,blah."
He seems to think if I start shopping early in the season I will spend more, not lesson my own stress! (Which, really, doesn't happen anyway!)

Mary Alice said...

I was laughing out loud at the vision of you tugging at the skirt of your blindfolded daughter with her arms in the air.

I adore seat warmers. My bottom is generally so cold, Military Man says it could suck the heat right out of a cat.

Alice Band said...

Mary Alice - And realy that all the cat is for...

Mopsa said...

Oh no, those awful electric car seat thingies. I don't care HOW cold it is, I don't want the sensation, whilst sitting in the passenger seat, that I have just placed my bum on a loo seat that some stranger has just vacated. Yuckety yuckety yuck.

Domestically Challenged said...

Dear Alice,
You're brave! I can't shop there, it gives me hives!

I have finished the Christmas shop - I have two top tips!
1 Shop early to avoid the panic buyers.

2 Shop gradually - this way the Husband finds it harder to assimilate how much you have actually spent!

Oh, I forgot, there's a third ..... only shop in expensive shops (just buy smaller prezzies), they have lovely shop assistants who wrap whilst feeding you with cake and coffee!

As for the car seat - the Husband is attempting to re-create his lost youth (spent driving a fast car) and has just bought shiny car which appears to be missing the roof. I have to say I'm in favour of the warm seats - with no roof, it's jolly nice to have a warm bot - I fell asleep as a result...it can't have looked very glam...there I was with my head lolling to one side, dribbling and snoring!

By the way you looked fabulous on Sat!


Roads said...

Financial independence. That's what you need.

And delegating the Christmas present buying sounds like a very soft option to me. Believe me, I'd pay serious money to avoid shopping in December.

Alice Band said...

Roads - you've touched on a touchy subject! Financial independence is most definitely something I strive for but it eludes me!

Sally Lomax said...


I'd have loved to have seen the Diva flaunt out of the shop!

And..... next time you are coming to Cribbs, tell me!! I am only a hop and a skip from there.

Roads said...

That's easily solved - a thousand a month should do it.

That's nearly enough to cover shoes, and still leave something to save up for a girls' escape weekend, now and then.

Mrs. G. said...

Men and their cars...what is it with all the gizmos? I do like the idea of heated bum warmers though.

And I have to tell you I am partial to early Queen.

Thanks for commenting. I can't wait to come back.

Alice Band said...

Mrs G - Welcome,as you can see I only have a paltry though much loved selection of 'postees' so every new visitor is very wlecome!