I don’t know why I did it.
Am I a masochist? Only when it comes to self-induced sickness (‘wine-flu’ – true story).
Did I even want to do it? No. I needed to. I didn’t know how I could get through the next week without it. It wasn’t really ever a choice.
And you dare to ask me… why would I go to the mall on Boxing Day?
It was sheer madness. But I had a plan. Unfortunately I’d not been organised enough pre-Christmas, what with all that watching Dexter I had to do. And Morocco was just days away. This country presented packing challenges due to the different temperatures we’d be experiencing between the city during the day and the desert at night. Many of my summer clothes were out the window as they’d give away too much of ‘the goods’ and possibly get me in trubs with the locals. Plus, I’m prone to allergies, sunburn, and travel injuries, and was running low on bug spray, antihistamines, hydrocortisone cream, plasters, sunblock, painkillers, yadda yadda yadda.
So it had to be done. And on bloody Boxing Day. I took a gamble that early or late was best, and since I don’t get much done before noon unless I’m being paid for it, I looked up the closing time and went three hours before. I also had some ‘calm juice’ (don’t freak out, I’m talking about vino), and gave myself a pep talk. It would be fine. I had three hours. I had a relatively short list, or at least a lot of it lived in just two shops (Boots and Superdrug I love you so). I could just go with the swarm and not fight the tide. Move at a snail’s pace. If that snail’s doped up, has nowhere to be for three days, and has 16 pointy elbows.
As I crossed the bridge between the real world and the capitalist dreamland my heart lifted as I realised there seemed to be more people coming out than in. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad? Going through the doors into the light bright whiteness I saw the place was as full as you’d expect on Boxing day… in New Zealand! As I’ve told my mother a million times, every day here is like the holidays at home, except that the 47 people that bump into you won’t turn and say ‘sorry’ and there’s not a single shop assistant ready or willing to assist you.
So this was like a normal day. The flow pushed me along but I managed to break free into the desired shops. There was no one to help me find the damned bug spray but there also weren’t 24 people in front of the shelf and I could stand there for long enough to find it without being shoved along. I found everything I needed (except the forgotten torch) in four shops, in an hour.
It almost seemed like London was more behaved at this sale time than usual. Any time a mid-range women’s fashion store has a sale during the year it’s a pandemonium I’ve not seen outside of Pamplona. I don’t go near it, because I don’t understand the lack of all civility and humanity. It’s like the word ‘SALE’ triggers an animalistic urge in London women to tear the shop to pieces, throwing wrong sizes to the floor, crawling under racks for the left shoe, using coat-hangers as weapons both defensive and offensive.
Perhaps I just timed it right. Perhaps others fear the insanity of the sale as I do. Perhaps it’s because the tube was on strike. I have to say this did make the journey difficult, and the bus stop is where I saw the drama expected of the shops. One man grabbed another around the collar and shoved him out the bus door to make room for himself. Then when the doors closed around both of them he patted the other on the back, y’know, no hard feelings right? Two middle-aged women stared each other down over a seat with shopping bags on it, until the standing one just picked them up and plonked them on the other’s lap. The bus drivers closed doors on reaching arms, or didn’t stop, or stopped with what seemed intentional force, sending all the standers flying.
The girl beside me (once I finally got on the 5th bus that stopped) carried on a phone conversation with a Shawntelle or some-such, about her day serving the crazy customers who were SO rude. I’m pretty sure she was the same lime-green-taloned H&M girl who neither said hello, goodbye, how are you, or thank you (although I said all of the above to her), nor stopped her conversation or made eye contact with me. The door swings both way honey.
So all in all, my experience shopping in London on Boxing Day was exactly the same as I would usually expect – the poor behaviour just moved around a little.