There is an elf with a sweet and welcoming smile sitting at a table just outside the Customer Service desk at Marks and Spencers. She takes my name and confirms that I have turned up in the half-hour slot allotted to me
to collect my Christmas food order then directs me to a small queue where other people when have opted for the 11.30 - 12 noon slot are waiting (mostly) patiently.
fellow wearing a Bah-Humbug Christmas jumper checks our papers again. I wonder if anyone in authority has questioned his choice of festive woolly, given that he is an important part of the Customer Service team and might be expected to be a little more, well,
jolly. If only to stop us from moaning and groaning as we wait our turn to collect our festive fare. Apparently his jumper plays a tune - he demonstrates this to a couple ahead of me in the queue but I am too far away to hear what tune it plays. I try to imagine
a Christmas song which would go with the general Bah - Humbug theme: “All I want for Christmas is to forget all about it” or “Don’t they know that Christmas will be over in just a couple of days?”
Mr Bah - Humbug keeps calling people up to the main Customer Service desk to collect their orders. For some unknown reason, we are not being called up in the order in which we are queueing. Several
people who have joined the queue after us receive an Early Summons. Those of us still queuing have a bit of a moan - nothing too confrontational, you understand, because we are all imbued with a dose of Christmas spirit and we don’t want to spoil the
cheery atmosphere. From my position at number 4 in the queue (not, of course, that this means anything) I can see the rows of baby clothes which remind me that I have a very special baby to buy for. This will be a Christmas like no other for Kirsty and Matt
- not to mention proud grandmother Alison - having welcomed young William Leslie to the world. There’s nothing like a new born baby to remind you of the Meaning of Christmas.
My name is called and I venture forth, apologising to the three people ahead of me in the queue. They wave my apology aside saying, quite rightly, that it’s not my fault. At the Customer Service desk, the elves working behind the scenes produce
my food. “No meat?” asks the shop assistant, then, without waiting for an answer as she clocks the Christmas pudding, the brandy butter and the rather special Reindeer Dessert: “Oh, all the sweet stuff…” Followed by a qualification
when she sees I have also ordered a prawn cocktail starter. I find myself embarking on a lengthy explanation - we have an amazing local butcher from whom I have ordered our meat - then I wonder why I feel it necessary to explain myself to shop assistant
wearing reindeer antlers…
You may be thinking that I am doing really well on the Christmas Shopping Front - except that I have had an Epic Fail on my on-line
shopping by somehow managing not to press the “Place Order” button on the Ocado website. I didn’t realise what I had failed to do until nobody turned up on Thursday evening in the Raspberry van, the Onion van or a van decorated with any other
fruit or vegetable you care to mention. I am trying to appear all nonchalant in front of Mr B, as if this was in my Great Christmas Shopping Plan all along. He is stressed enough watching me clambering up the step ladders to fix the garlands over the windows
- he doesn’t need any more aggravation.
Many years ago, before there was such a thing as on-line shopping, before I held a driving licence, when the Foursome
were but littl’uns, Christmas Shopping was, literally, huge. We used to order a whole sack of potatoes to last us over the Christmas period and we had the equivalent of a cow tucked away in the fridge.
I keep reminding myself of those long-ago days - even with Mr Bah-Humbug and my Epic Ocado-Related Fail, life is very, very much easier today.