Taking Stock - December 22, 2014

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The chestnuts are roasting, the tinsel is starting to look ragged and the vacuum cleaner is clogged with pine needles.

That means the big day is almost here.

And for once, I’m organised.

Well, almost.

Normally I’d be one of those chaps looking flustered in the queue at two minutes to five on Christmas Eve.

But not this year.

I’ve made sure Santa is sorted when it comes to presents for the brood, even if that has meant dealing with the best and worst of British customer service. To be honest I’m not sure what I prefer.

There’s something comforting about being grunted at by a teenager rather than being given the full, toothy Hollywood hello. I can’t be doing with false pleasantries during a transaction which, when it comes down to it involves a major corporation putting a major hole in my bank balance.

“Have you just started or are you nearly done?” I’m asked, while under their breath the cashier mutters something about charging me for a carrier bag.

“No,” I want to reply.

“I’ll be back in a couple of days with a look of forlorn desperation on my face, how about you?”

There is at least some degree of camaraderie in being one of those blokes (and come on gents, it is mainly us) who choose to leave everything to the last minute.

It’s all banter as we line up to pay, right up to the moment someone spots the last ice skating Elsa and Anna and then it’s every man for himself.

At least I didn’t get involved in the Black Friday nonsense – an American import as pointless as halloween cards, Valentine’s Day and Homeland (once someone at Gazette Towers has given away the ending).

To be scrapping in a supermarket over cut price tellys, well it’s barely human never mind British – I thought we were all brought up to queue politely and shrug our shoulders when the last flat screen is whisked away when within our grasp.

Before you think I’m being smug there are a few last minute things I need to grab - not least a gift for Mother Dearest and He with the Bobby Charlton Combover.

In truth I haven’t figured out what to buy them yet – the choice will be so much easier when there’s only one item left in the shop (sized extra, extra, extra large).

I’m sure they’ll be sorted by closing time on Christmas Eve when we’re given 24 hours grace by the merciless retail monster.

The respite, sadly, is short lived.

See you at the sales!