Tuesday, December 19, 2006


All shopped out

I have achieved something momentous today. Inform the Prime Minister. Fire a cannon of some kind. Declare a national day of thanksgiving. Today… I have finished my Christmas shopping!


And I achieved it without descending into the midsts of Christmas madness and having to join the thirty million other shoppers journeying to the crowd-ridden retail-tastic madhouse that is The Trafford Centre, the venue of my most frenzied last minute purchases for much of the last decade.

The reason for my calmer and more rational purchasings this year has been the internet. I’ve bought the odd thing on-line before – a book here, a CD there, some DVDs, maybe a concert ticket or two. But this year I decided to leap head-first into the digital abyss and buy my biggest items on ebay.

Admittedly, this had less to do with world-wide-web exploration, and more to do with the fact that it’s cheaper to get something from a dodgy trader on an auction site than it is to buy stuff from Curry’s. But all the same, the results are that I am now a seasoned ebayer.

My major purchase this year, and the one that I suspect Santa may have most trouble fitting down our chimney (due in part to the rigid rectangular shape of the gift, but mainly because the chimney was bricked up in the 80’s), is a DVD recorder, manufactured by Sony but sold “as new” by some guy from Bedford on ebay.

Buying from ebay is cheaper, yes. But unfortunately, whereas buying from the high street enables the purchaser to carry the gift home in a carrier bag that remains on the verge of catastrophic disintegration throughout the journey, the e-buyer has to rely on other forms of delivery. And so it was with my DVD recorder.

My gift was shipped to me by a firm of couriers who, like all parcel delivery professionals, attempt to deliver to people’s houses in the middle of a weekday when the vast majority of recipients aren’t there. This has happened to me on a number of occasions this year, including once when the bright spark delivery driver dumped my package in some overgrown shrubs in the rain, forcing me to go out in the dark armed with a torch, search for a good few minutes and then finally dig out the sodden present from underneath a pile of leaves.

This gift was taken back to the depot, which I found lurking in the depths of Eccles. The man from Bedford had packaged my DVD recorder in a box comfortably big enough to accommodate a baby elephant, so that it needed to be dragged out from amongst about two tons of shredded paper. And then I discovered that “nearly new” refers to products that appear to work perfectly well, but are housed in packaging that looks as though it’s gone ten rounds with a rabid bear. Still, it was a bargain at under a hundred quid…

So I’m all done now. A trip to Manchester Fort to top up the pile under the tree with books and DVDs means that, for a few days at least, my Switch card can retreat from the near melting-point temperature that it has been operating at of late.

And now all that remains is for me to perfect my stomach-expansion exercises and prepare for the copious and frankly shameful gluttony that the next couple of weeks will bring.

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