I loathe shopping. I find my eyes rolling into the back of my head everytime I even consider the possibility of going to a venue with more than one shop; a town centre, for example. My heart condition goes mad, and it feels like my heart is beating more rapidly than when I visit Forbidden Planet in London (a shop dedicated to science-fiction and fantasy, in case your minds were going off in an entirely different direction, you filthy lot).
Food shopping is a particular dullness which never seems to go away; it’s a repetitive task which is never ending, and I’m not particularly good at those repetitive tasks – I get bored easily, and find my mind wandering onto other tasks; anything, in fact, fo prevent me from doing the necessary things, or even to distract me from them.
The problem with distracting myself – by listening to music / podcasts / the random conversations of strangers – is that I then realise I’ve got half-way round the shop and completely ignored the aisles which actually have the things I need. I’ve occasionally even found things in there that I have memory of picking off the shelf. My memory is bad, but surely not that bad.
The one exception to the rule are charity shops; I’m rather fond of them. I wish I could entirely describe why, but I can’t – perhaps it’s to do with finding bargains, and never knowing precisely what you might dig up in the far corners. Once, alarmingly, my friend Alex picked up an item in total innocence and called across the shop to me so that I could tell him what it was. All well and good except that it was an implement designed to give pleasure to individuals via internal means, and we were in the middle of a shop inhabited by ladies of a certain generation.
I’m no prude, certainly, but I didn’t fancy responding at the top of my voice to describe it. There seemed to be a natural hush falling over this particular charity shop, which told me at least that at least some of the ladies were acquainted with the name – and perhaps use – of this particular implement. Alex seemed to pick up on the sudden silence, and I was well aware that a few pairs of eyes were on me.
“It’s … Well, you can stick it to the wall and hang a dishcloth from it,” I suggested.
Alex, looking relieved, delicately put it back where he found it. As he walked away, one of the staff members – beetroot red – swiftly took it away, I assume to ensure that no-one else had the same delicate conversation we’d just endured.
But you really can find almost anything in a charity shop, if you look hard enough and cast your net around. Sometimes, you don’t know what it is you’re looking for, but when you see it sitting on the shelf somewhere, you realise that it was precisely the thing you need.
I love the challenge of charity shopping, and I’ll set anyone the task of coming with me so I can introduce you to the hunt.