EAT a bowl of Jade Goody’s toenails. Sit through every series of Sex and the City. Snog Brian Cowen (with lots of tongue). Strangle a puppy dog. Eat my own pancreas. Just a selection of tasks that I would gladly choose over doing one more minute of Christmas shopping this festive feckin’ season.
This really has to be one of the most tortorous tasks known to man. And when I say man, I don’t mean mankind, I speak of my fellow males because as far as I can make out gents, the women really seem to have taken to this shopping lark.
They don’t seem to mind piling into stuffy shops with hordes of other bloodthirsty shoppers and useless assistants where ‘Driving home for Christmas’, ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ and ‘The fairytale of New York’ are played ad nauseum. On the contrary, the ladies seem to enjoy this sickening environment.
I, on the other hand, start to sweat profusely and become short of breath the instant I set foot inside these cesspits shopping centres.
Being the only brother to two younger girls means I have not only had to endure a lifetime of “Your sister’s a bird” taunts from friends, but I also have to do my Christmas shopping in the horrific confines of the ladies’ shops.
Looking for all the world like a bunny rabbit that’s wandered into a Home for Demented and Rabid Rottweilers, I wander around the clothes shops, exchanging a knowing grunt or nod with the other male shoppers who are also on their annual trip to this particular corner of hell.
With no small amount of difficulty, I try to catch a glimpse of what other girls are buying while at the same time trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) not to look like at any minute I’m going to run off with them in a sack over my shoulder.
When the clothes shops fail, there’s always the perfume option. But of course this proves to be just as difficult an excursion seen as all of the available fragrances just smell like plain old woman to me.
At first, I presumed I’d be fairly safe buying one of those new celebrity perfumes that are so popular now. If they look pretty they must spell nice, right?
Wrong. An acquaintance of the female variety subsequently informed me that while a few of the celeb smells are nice, you may as well be buying bottled fart with some of the others. Apparently Beyonce has a pleasant odour but Britney stinks to high heaven, an example of fragrance imitating life if ever one was needed.
The Christmas shopping cannot be done in one trip but in several half hour, “in-and-out” bursts instead. Too long spent in those hellish environs would undoubtedly result in a complete breakdown of my mental - and possibly physical - functions.
Despite a few close calls, however, I have yet to collapse into the foetal position and wail for my mother while in the middle of trying to choose what kind of shoes 18-year-old girls are wearing these days.
Then once the shopping is finally complete, I can get down to the lovely business of looking forward to Christmas. But while most cite the anniversary of the birth of Santa as their reason for celebrating at this time of year, I’ll drink to the fact that it’s another whole year before I have to go shopping for bloody presents.
To my dear friends
AS THE year draws to a close, there are some housekeeping matters that need attending before I disappear into 2009.
While I do attempt to peeve the overly-sensitive members of each and every group, creed, gender, county, province, profession and persuasion equally, inevitably I will always miss out one or two. For this I apologise.
In a perfect world, I’d have the time, talent and round-the-clock security team to toy with the sensibilities of each and every one of the easily-offended but alas in a perfect world we are not.
The best I can offer the hilariously indignant for now is the promise that I will try and get round to making the blood boil in the veins underneath your impossibly thin skin as soon as possible in the new year.