Today I have mostly been Christmas shopping. The thing is, when you are lucky enough to be on the very short list of people for whom I buy presents, you don't just get the gift, you get the gift of my thought and attention. This is particularly noticeable this year when my brother requested an MP3 player; I had to use all my skill and knowledge to seek out just the right combination of quality, options and battery life based on my deep insight into what my brother would want. I'm now trying to buy a digibox for my dad. It's a hard life.
My other brother was more helpful, inasmuch as he specified the exact catalogue number and colour options of the product he wanted from Ikea, so I jetted off to pick it up this afternoon. I had thought that no one in their right mind would have been in there on and it should be fairly quiet on a late sunday afternoon when you should be out Christmas shopping (I mean, what kind of crazy person would do their Christmas shopping at Ikea?); however, I was much mistaken, and the place was full of people standing in my way and generally cluttering the place up. Inspired by the example of the Offensive Mango, and act more like a twunt, albeit a polite one. That is, instead of stopping for people who were blocking the way and waiting for them to get out the way, I instead speeded up and walked towards them. This had surprising success in that people did start to get out of the way. I still had to stop short for a couple of small children sliding suddenly in front of me (I'm sure children didn't have wheels when I was that age).
I made use of the IKEA cages, where if you are shopping along you can lock up your purchases temporarily while you bring your car around to pick them up again. Which gave me the idea that this must be a good place to pick people up: just hang around there and offer to help, and you're sure to score. Or get picked up for acting suspiciously and accused of thieving flat pack bookcases.
I do enjoy Christmas shopping though, mostly because I seem to end up walking away with more stuff for myself than for other people. I went into a nearby branch of "We are toys", even though I don't have any friends under the age of 20. So I arrived at the checkout with some gifts solely for myself. I was again confronted with the request for my phone number. Emboldened this time (since when do you need a phoone to buy toys), I replied "Er... no?", which seemed an acceptable answer (the cashier typed in "999 999-9999" on her screen). So, I recommend this to everyone in future. Not only does it save your privacy, it's also a lot faster than dictating it and correcting them when they read it back to you wrongly three times.
Another purchase was the new Stefani album, based solely on the strength of the fantastic first single. How can you not like a bass-heavy song that samples extensively from The Lonely Goatherd by Scary Mary? It ends with the fantastic line "I know he thinks you're fun and stuff, but does he know how to wind you up?", suggesting that her ideal man is Jeremy Beadle. According to the liner notes, it's actually 'fine and stuff', but I much prefer my version. Following various people's advice, I bought the CD so I can rip it and listen to it at my pleasure, but much to my irritation, I discovered that it was the 'edited version' when I got it home. My mistake for not checking, I suppose, but still irksomely worrying, and I may have to recourse to the Internet to somehow recover a rendition of the product that I thought I had bought. Equally disappointing is that there don't seem to be any other tracks that are of equal quality to the first track; I'll listen again (possibly to the unedited version) to see if I can find any other stand out tracks, but they mostly seem to be on the more inisipid ballady end of things, rather than the electropoppy shouty stuff that I seem to prefer.