I know it is the duty of every patriotic citizen to try and spend our way out of recession but the stores don’t make it easy for you. The theory goes that only through massive consumer spending can we rescue our sad, broken economies, free the world of greedy bankers, repair the Euro and ensure world peace.
So I put on my mental Santa hat and went shopping in John Lewis in Southampton. The ground floor contains what I think of as LAMPS
(LAst Minute Panic Selection). These are beautifully packaged and massively overpriced presents that say I know your gender but I don’t know what to buy you. For women tea lights in pretty box sets, for men port in small bottles with extra nibbles. The words Belgian, luxury and collection are spayed over the packaging like an Uzi at a gang fight. The great joy is you can spend about £200 without taking more than two steps.
Worse was Marks and Spencers who had a massive vat filled with stocking fillers, so vile,tasteless and insane, I couldn’t resist a browse. I believe that there is a pecking order of jobs for mentally dysfunctional comedy script writers or marketing people. On first diagnosis you are sent to Hallmark to write puns in Valentines cards. If that fails and you are a level two threat to society you are offered a job writing the jokes in Christmas crackers. At level three you join Franklin Mint to devise commemorative Star Wars singing plates and finally you are promoted to designing stocking stuffers at M&S.
Have a look at Dancing Dad. A plastic figure onto which you clip a picture of your father and then let it dance around the Christmas lunch table while everyone laughs and your old Dad starts changing his will to permanently disinherit you. Or equally appalling the plastic gramophone iPhone charger and speaker. That’s correct, do think that someone who has shelled out £400 on an iPhone really really wants 3 ounces of Chinese plastic to play their music through. Seriously, what would you say to some one who bought you that and just how quickly would it be hitting the land fill.
So on balance it was fun braving bricks and mortar but Mr Amazon and his army of cheerful delivery elves got 90% of my money this year.