Thursday 16th December (9 sodding sleeps ’til Christmas)

I feel like I’ve been violated. And not in a good way.

I woke up this morning in a relatively cheerful mood and decided that today was the day to get my ‘shop’ on.

Once I had got the car to start and deposited the children at their respective respite care centres, I set off in the direction of my nearest high street in search of the traditional festive light displaying, chestnut roasting, shopping experience.

I opted to forgo the malevolent convenience of the homicidal out of town shoppin’ centre in favour of the little-guy, the underdog, not to mention the alluring possibility of achieving legendary levels of individuality in my gift-giving this year.

The high street, it has widely been reported, is dying and so I, for one, wanted to put my overdraft where my mouth is and throw some much needed dosh downtown.

I can now report that it could well be true that a few months ago, the high street was still in the process of dying but if my local market town is anything to go by, it is now wearing a blindfold and smoking a cigarette.

A sea of football-kit-wearing, stroller-pushing, pony tails greeted me as I stepped out of the urine fragranced car-park lift but, as it had taken me around three quarters of an hour locate a pay and display machine whose grafitti didn’t entirely obliterate the payment instructions, I was not prepared to cave just yet.

The football-kits all seemed to be swarming in and out of shops that either claimed to sell brand spanking new things for just 99p or that were representing some sort of charity and were thusly unlikely to be able to satisfy my elitist desire to give my family Christmas cards from which I didn’t have to tippex out last year’s recipient’s name.

Wondering if maybe, inadvertently, I had stumbled upon the wrong end of town, I decided to go in search of the road where all the underdogs were concealing their charming craft shops. Admittedly my progress was hampered slightly by the road-encrusted-chewing-gum that kept sticking to my shoes but thankfully the fag-butts that were also stuck to it allowed for a certain amount of traction.

Having wandered around aimlessly for an hour, I had to accept that if I wanted to spend my expedition budget of £30 that I was going to be leaving with 30 items. By that time however, it had also dawned on me that the menacing men-folk, shuffling around with their hands rammed into the pockets of their grey track suit bottoms and hoods holding their baseball caps in place, were unlikely to let me out of there alive if they saw me carrying anything resembling a shopping bag.

Unlike my pony-tailed, Manchester United supporting, female brethren, I hadn’t had the foresight to bring a stroller with me to beat off any advances made on any of the synthetic or polyester purchases that I could have made.

I was also treated to a fascinating, if rather loud, religious rant by a short, angry lady who was clearly labouring under the misapprehension that I had had something to do with the invasion of Afghanistan which I would like to clarify, I did not.

I stopped at Sainsburys on my way home and picked up some Nurofen, some hand-wipes and an application for an in house loyalty card.

‘Nuff said.