True, all the best things in life are free. Manners, salvation, smiles, whatever. But lots of good things are not. Steak and Cheese subs, clothes, crockery, electronic gizmos and so forth. All of these things require us to pay money, which one would always rather not do, but we consider it worth it in exchange for ownership of these bits and bobs. However, there is always what one might call, a hidden cost which we have to pay; an astronomical, extortionate, vast cost. If we want new stuff, we have to go shopping.
Case in point: Me. Today I became the proud new owner of a T-Shirt. I like it; it's nice. I parted with 5 English pounds (well its 4.99 really, but they're not fooling me!) which I considered to be excellent value. But let me tell you a bit about the day which unfolded either side of the purchase.
I was woken up despite it being the holidays, so as we could 'beat the rush'. I then spent the best part of an hour in a car driving through a fairly uneventful part of southern England, guided by a Satnav which was completely oblivious to the presence of any satellites in the sky, and behaved like a sulking child all the way from the New Forest to Portsmouth. We arrived at a shopping centre in Portsmouth which will remain unnamed for legal reasons (we shall call it Bunwharf Quays), where gazillions of other people were intent on bumping into us and saying 'Sorry mate'. This is a message to all of those who bumped into me: I am not your mate, and I do not forgive you. Anyway, I then had to walk into very expensive shops, which will also remain unnamed (Superfly and Jock Wills) to look at clothes I couldn't afford.
Having extricated myself from these particular overpriced dens of iniquity, I had to spend hour after hour laden like a Bedouin camel with the purchases of my mother, younger brother, granny, two aunties, cousin, other cousin, along with my solitary T-Shirt. Their justification for treating me like this? I was the only man. Where the heck is feminism when you need it?!
But even having taken this weight away from them, it remains incredible how far women are able to walk when promised that Primark lies just beyond the horizon. I reckon, being conservative here, that we walked for one thousand miles. It occurred to me that maybe when the Proclaimers sang that they would walk 500 miles in order to fall down at her (whoever she is) door, it was because they were carrying her shopping, and falling down would be only thing of which they were capable. Just a thought.
I also had to visit the epicentre of universal evil. Rarely have I felt such contempt for a place as Cith Kadston (more legal proceedings there). It is the epitome of all it is to be a middle class, middle aged woman, or her daughter. Along with badly driven people carriers, fruit tea, and sporadic recycling obsessions, it is the ultimate hallmark of Middle England, and the ultimate folly of class mobility. Whoever this woman is, she has gained enormous quantities of money by taking an everyday household object, such as tea towels or teapots, and adorned them with nauseating combinations of spots and flowers, and sold them to her adoring ladies-that-do-lunch for wildly inflated prices, who are in the process of busily constructing a life which looks like this: