Sunday, 30 December 2007

An account of Christmas, and what I did during that dull week between Christmas and New Year

Well hello. I hope we all had a nice Christmas, full of festive cheer and good things. I had a lovely time at my parents' house, eating too much chocolate and catching up with Mama and Papa and little sis. This turned out to finally be the momentous year when my dad had more presents under the tree than I did - a sure sign I'm getting old (and also that I had opened some before Christmas, and also that one didn't arrive on time, and in fact, still hasn't come). However, he and Mama have an advantage in that they both work in places where they deal with members of the public and therefore get given lots of presents; most of them are tins of biscuits, which don't really count as proper presents, not in my book.

So I got a nice new ring, and a bird feeder, and new jammies, and a jigsaw, amongst other things.

But the best thing was, I made myself mittens. These are not just any mittens, nay, these are convertible mittens; they convert into fingerless gloves, and back again. They are green and white and fawn, and nice and warm, yet adaptable so that one can use one's fingers without taking them off. I am very pleased with my new mittens, and will wear them a lot.

So now I am back in Belfast, and enjoying not having to go to work. On the last day of work before Christmas, incidentally, I was delighted to be voted most trustworthy member of staff by everyone else (the reason given, 'because you have your Methodist religious thing...') and am certain that it was nothing to do with being told 5 seconds later that I had been nominated to go and ask if we could have a half day. I was firmly of the opinion that it would be more successful if we just walked out at lunchtime, as in previous years, but for some reason this year people were angling for Permission. Anyway, we didn't get the half day, which was annoying (as I hadn't brough lunch), but I made up for it by just leaving at 3. Well, I was bored.

Yesterday I 'hit the sales', which I do every year, so I can tell Mama Smile that I tried. I am hopeless at shopping at the best of times, and sales are the worst - thousands of people, rails of things in stupid sizes, thousands of people, nothing I like, and thousands of people. So it ended as all my shopping trips end: in Waterstones. Books I can shop for, although at sale time even that loses some of its usual pleasures, but clothes: no. Buying clothes is one of those things that I can only really do when I'm desperate, putting it in the same category as, I don't know, drinking my own pee, say, or phoning Q&B customer services.

I need to really need clothes in order to be bothered (as you can generally tell); I like receiving clothes (a good thing, for Mama has banned me from receiving books as presents, on the grounds that I own more books than Amazon - I pointed out that this last bit wasn't true, but it didn't help), and every now and then I take a notion and go and buy lots of new things, but generally I think there are better things to do with my time and money than buy clothes. Plus, I see lots of clothes I like in catalogues and magazines and on other people, but they never seem to actually sell them in shops, which disconcerts me a bit. I like to tell myself that this is because my tastes are more sophisticated than those on the High Street, but that still doesn't really get me anywhere.

Anyway, I was reading in the paper yesterday, that the new thing is to not buy any clothes at all, on account of the planet and child labourers. Now this, I think is a Good Thing. If I may be serious for a moment, I believe (along with many others) that one of the worst afflictions to have befallen the West in recent times is the need to continually consume, and clothes are at the forefront of this; too few questions are asked about how clothes are produced and by whom; quantity far outdoes quality (hence the labourers working in appalling conditions to meet deadlines and increase production, for miniscule wages) and we dump thousands of tonnes of old but perfectly wearable clothes in landfill every year. So now, what used to be called 'tight as two coats of paint' is called 'saving the planet' and being 'ethically aware', and I quite like this, although I will not stop buying clothes entirely.

So anyway, that's what I've been up to, and very pleasant it has been.

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