Any Old Iron(ing)?

Normally, this editorial gets written over the Friday "lunch hour" -- quotes used advisely since a) lunch occupies about five minutes, and b) it's usually possible to stretch it to two hours, since staring blankly at my screen and typing is about what I do during the rest of the day anyway, and besides, most people have headed off down the pub anyway. So make that "written over the Friday non-digestive extended break period". Or, on second thoughts, don't bother. Anyway, this week, I didn't get the chance, but that's no bad thing, since writing this allows me to put off, at least temporarily, one of the worst jobs of the year.

Yes, it's Christmas shopping time again. I've been putting it off long enough, in the hope that maybe they'll find the body, but even I have finally had to bite the bullet and admit that it's going to happen again this year, so I'm just going to have to deal with it. Unfortunately, neither of the standard human "dealing with it" options i.e. flight and fight, are applicable. You can run, but you can't hide from good tidings of comfort and joy. Even the final solution of incoholic altoxication is merely a reminder that there will be worse, far worse, to come. And while punching Father Christmas's lights out would certainly be an immensely satisfying experience, it wouldn't help in the long term, though being behind bars would certainly help you avoid Christmas shopping: "Oh, a mail bag -- just what I always wanted!".

I thought about getting on-line, and doing all my shopping over the Internet this year, but that never quite seemed to come off. Partly, the Amero-centric nature of the Web makes it less useful, and partly, the fact that I am really desperate for idea is a problem; if you know exactly what you want, it's great, but for casual browsing, it's even more slow and painful than pushing your way down Oxford Street, in conditions reminiscent of Schindler's List. In the end, I was reduced to typing 'Hello Kitty' into Ebay's search engine, and that was, I would have to admit, pushing the boundaries of Christmas presents further than they should really go, much as I feel sure my mother would appreciate a toaster that singes a picture of Hello Kitty onto each slice (as described in the last TC).

Thus, I now find myself desperately looking for ways to put off the ordeal of central London, three Saturdays before Christmas. I've tidied my room. I've been to the shops. I am now looking at the pile of shirts in the corner, and contemplating picking up an iron for the first time in years (hang 'em up when they're damp, after shaking them, and then your body heat takes care of the rest. No-one will mistake you for 007, but it does for work). But I guess I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get on that train, armed only with a razor-sharp credit card -- and elbows of steel for coping with the idiots who only come into London once a year, and haven't grasped the principles of escalator etiquette. Stand on the right, walk up on the left: it's not hard.

We'll take the "It is a far, far better thing I do..." speech as read. But if you see someone in a blue leather jacket and a fixed expression, somewhere in Central London this afternoon, best not approach them.

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