I took a trip to the Camberwell branch of Woolies today... a moribund, joyless experience if ever there was one – like a wet weekend in an off-season British coastal resort, except without the fun. There was however a faint air of the feeding frenzy, lent to proceedings by the crowds of eager bargain hunters, come to dine at the carcass of the mortally wounded high street giant like crows in the aftermath of some bleak mercantile war. All it needed were the mournful strains of 'The Last Post' being played by a sole, bloodied bugler to make the scene of mournful defeat utterly complete.
By then the flesh had been stripped down to the bones of the fixtures and fittings, with pretty much only the Pic n Mix left (and a few Girls Aloud CDs knocking about at half price). So little more to tempt me than usual, then. A spot of light entertainment was provided by a loud, possibly drunk, Scottish woman, screeching at the tills, but she was escorted out after a while by a security guard.
Woolworths, I wish I could say I'll miss you, but the truth is, I hardly noticed you when you were there. As they say in Birmingham, "Tararabit".
So, Christmas 08 came and and is all but gone. And it was pretty fun, though as ever, when the time came to return, I was almost relieved.
I caught the train back on the 27th, which took five-and-a-bit hours due to the West Coast Line being rebuilt from scratch or something. My travelling companions for this journey were two slabs of the funkiest cheese since that Lipps Inc. tune – a wobbling disc of ripe Camembert, and a smaller, but scarcely less potent, roundel of goat's cheese named 'Petit Billy'. These were a gift from my brother Dan, brought back from the Alps, and though double-wrapped in tupperware boxes and a carrier bag, the aroma from the overhead luggage compartment was still just about noticable if you were looking out for it.
Also along for the ride was perhaps my favourite present ever – a wooden chough carved by my dad, 'Big Al'. You don't believe me? well here he is. Ladies and gentlemen may I present... Oreb
I've named him Oreb after the bird of the same name in Gene Wolfe's bizarre religious/science fiction epic The Book of the Long Sun. The bird in that was a red beaked 'night chough', an intelligent, crow like bird with the ability to utter short, two word phrases (fish heads? bird good? etc). I think this is a fictitious breed invented by Wolfe, and having dug around t'internet, I find that Oreb is actually the Hebrew name for a raven, so it might be a misnomer, but what the heck. A great gift, anyway, credit crunch or no.
Back in London, now. It's very cold, and very quiet. When I first arrived back, the house was freezing, due to one of the fellow inmates having left his bedroom window open. It felt like the derelict spacecraft in Sunshine. I can hardly believe it's going to be New Year's Eve in two days time, though no-one seems to be hugely fussed this year. I think I might be spending it in The Scolt's Head in DeBeauvoir Town, anyway, where Sam's DJing.
So if I don't blog before then, Happy New Year, to one and all.
I actually wrote quite a long post the other day, but failed to stick it up there, so the moment seems to have passed, somewhat. In it I detailed how a section of one of my teeth shored off like a chunk of melting glacier two Sundays back – which I imagined heralded the opening of a sort of Pandora's box of dental woes in my mouth, but was actually not too bad, I just need to floss.
Up in Stockport again, this Christmas Eve. Arrived yesterday on the train, which in spite of traditional festive travel chaos at Euston, seemed oddly undersubcribed. Caught up with some old colleagues for drinks in the city centre.
Writing on my brother's Mac, while I wait for my phone to charge, and then to head out for traditional Christmas lager (Stella, natch) which I'll imbibe at the Crown on Heaton Moor Road. Wales tomorrow; should be festive.