I would like to apologise to the Women’s Suffrage Movement and to the women who fought and died to win me the right to vote. For the first time in my adult life I have not voted in an General Election. I’m sorry, really sorry, that I did not go out in the wind and the rain in order to vote, but it would appear that my local candidate didn’t need my vote anyway.
So we’ll move on to more cheery things, Christmas.
Certain things have become a tradition in this house at Christmastime. We always place the tree in the same place because it stays cold in the conservatory and the tree lasts longer. I always visit Winchester Christmas Market because it’s a) a good chance to catch up with Mum & Dad and b) it’s Winchester and I love it! Husband in a Hurry and I always trek up to Bluewater and buy almost all of everyone’s presents from there, because they have such a wide choice of retail stores. We always visit Marks and Sparks in Shoreham. It’s a lovely store, not quite as big Hedge End, but it’s still M & S. When we first started making a Christmas trip to Shoreham it seemed exciting and we made a day of it, almost. It was always very Christmassy and 24 years ago we needed new decorations for the tree and the food was so enticing. It is possible that we spent a lot of money down there and we both bought new Christmas jumpers every year. Now we don’t need as much, the jumpers only get worn for 2 weeks of the year and although it is true that we have expanded a little, they still fit, just. Although we bought much festive fare it didn’t seem to get used up somehow with all the Waitrose festive fare and all the other Terry’s, Cadbury’s, Hôtel Chocolat offerings, they never were consumed. They never reached their ‘chocolate potential’.
On Wednesday, we jumped in the car (as much as I can jump) and made the annual pilgrimage to Shoreham. When we relocated to East Sussex in the olden days, back in the 1990’s last century, the journey on the A27 took us past the newly built Holmbush Centre, which housed and still does, M & S, MacDonalds & Tesco. We were approaching Christmas 1994 and we would often swing off of the A27 and into the centre. It was exciting for my daughters, even though the Hedge End M & S was bigger and in my eyes will always be better. It was always a treat to see something different.
This time, last week, this shopping expedition seemed to be a bit more of a chore. It might have been the weather, very wet, it might have been the impending election or it just might have been pre-Christmas fatigue, but it didn’t seem as exciting as usual.
Me: “You don’t have to go if you don’t want to”
HIAH: “No, it’s fine, we haven’t got any other time to do it.”
Me: “Yes, but there’s not anything we really need, is there?”
HIAH: ” We’ll just go down there, it’s fine. We’ll just have a look, we like going down to Shoreham”
Me: “Okay, if that’s what you want. Are you sure?”
So off we go in the car.
We arrive and in a freezing cold hailstorm disembark and rush inside, out of the chill wind.
HIAH: “I don’t need any clothes!”
Me: “Nor do I, although Helen did say I should look for more trousers” said reluctantly.
HIAH: “Why? Do you need new trousers?”
Me: “Well some of them are getting a bit old, but they probably won’t have any”
We’re wending our way through the clothes, aiming to eventually get to the Mecca that is the Food Hall. On the way Husband in a Hurry is distracted the glitz of the Christmas paraphernalia, he picks up items from displays and I say, before he says ‘do we want this?’
“NO! We don’t need more napkins, table runners or candleholders”
So onward we reach our destination, we look at chocolates in boxes and Husband in a Hurry says: “We don’t need any of these, remember we threw away loads last year. We don’t need any M & S biscuits.”
He picks up crisps, “Do we want these?”
I say: “Well you’d better get two packets, as you’ll eat one on the way home”
I don’t know if it’s me or if it’s M & S but the glitter has fallen away from my eyes. It’s slightly underwhelming and not quite as exciting as previous years.
I wish I felt the same way, but perhaps I’ve done this too often and we need to change the tradition.