16th December 2013
As we looked around us and took in the atmosphere only associated with bookshops – one of peace, tranquillity, learning and fun – we split up and started to wander. I picked up a book and started to read the back of it and then stopped for a minute and took a second to try and visualise all of my relations that were planning on spending Christmas with us. I then (again through the power of my mind) attempted to place the book in the hand of one of them.
It didn’t work so I placed the book back on the shelf and picked up another – almost immediately I had this strong sense of “SUCCESS – this is perfect for Auntie Sue. At this point I tried to decide whether or not I should go back to the entrance to pick up a basket, but like any normal (stubborn) male, I figured I could manage carrying a few books in my hands. Thirty minutes later, while staggering under a pile of books that were almost as tall as me, I finally spotted Dave – equally encumbered by his choices – and we stopped to compare what we were carrying to the list.
Not surprisingly we had a few duplicates, also not surprisingly we had most of them chosen for the same people but there were a few that we couldn’t agree for whom they were best suited and we obviously couldn’t buy two copies of the same book. After some discussion we finally agreed on teh books and their recipients and placed a tick next to everyones name. Obviously paying for the books was quite a painful experience, but worthwhile.
The whole process had taken us just under one hour, and we were now entering in to the dangerous stage of the day. Lunch – with the prerequisite pint was quickly approaching and if we weren’t careful all o four well laid plans could soon be sunk. We decided to press on and as we left the bookshop – despite the streets being even more crowded and crazier, the felling of calm that we had encountered upon first entering the book shop stayed with us.
The pressure had been lifted because we now had a wrap-able present for everyone regardless of whether we succeeded in finding them the “perfect” gift from our list. They would never be the wiser and at worst could only be miffed at the fact that Uncle Richie got a book and another present from us while they only rated a book. In order to forearm ourselves against the chance of us starting (yet another) long standing family feud, we had in fact purchased a few extra books, just in case we need to bulk up someone’s gift. The worst case scenario mean that we would have an extra book for ourselves, and as we all know there is no such thing as too many books, just not enough bookshelves.
An amazing thing happened. When we first met up that morning we were in a mild to extreme state of panic, unsure whether we would find any suitable gifts and whether the family would ever talk to us again. But now, laden down with books we realised that a huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders. We were at peace with ourselves our god and hopefully our family. With inner feeling of joy we were able to go out in to the world of crazed consumers, panicking purchasers and screaming shoppers happy in the knowledge that we could do no wrong.
The next two hours passed in a sort of blur as we wandered the shops serenely picking up items, checking the list and deciding yea or nay. Unlike the hordes surrounding us, we knew that there was no need for us to buy the wrong gift just to have something. So because we were relaxed we managed to complete the list and ensure that we had something (and a book) for everyone. At that point we felt that it was time to stop back in to the Duke for another well earned pint.
If you happen to be in the Duke next Saturday – we’re the two calm people sitting back while all around us stress and mayhem occur. Drop over and say hi.