3 December The weather is still atrocious and I am having to totter about the icy pavements in little tiny steps, like a ponderous elderly geisha, so that I don’t slip over and break something. Our A&E department has moved from its convenient location across the road to a brand spanking new hospital three miles away, so the wounded are now presumably having to rely on public transport to have their ailments treated; the logistics of manoeuvring myself onto a bus with a broken leg make me feel quite faint.
But today, fortunately, I can forget all about that; me and my sister Rachel are heading off to London for a Grand Day Out! The purpose of the trip is to go to Rigby and Peller for a bra fitting. R&P supply the Queen’s underwear and is the sort of establishment where the assistants merely have to glance at your bosom to know exactly what size and style of bra you should be wearing and with a genteel version of Shazaam! Kapow! you leave the shop with an enviably perky chest that could take out a shorter person’s eye if you were to turn round too quickly.
We are quickly assessed and fitted with wonderful underwear that looks expensive, feels expensive and is, well, expensive. I long to ask what sort of bra the Queen usually goes for – balconette? full cup? Surely not a plunge? – but can’t quite pluck up the courage.
Invigorated by our newly buoyant physiques, we then head off to Harvey Nichols to nudge each other and laugh at the ridiculously priced clothes (“£1,200 for that?! £650 for those?! £3,765 for this?!” and so on) before going up to the top floor for a glass of chilled Prosecco at the Champagne Bar.
Yes…I can tell you are impressed by our sophistication. You could not fail to be impressed. Even I’m impressed, and I was there.
Still buoyed, and slightly tipsy, we move on to Harrods and – in the spirit of doing things we wouldn’t normally do – try a Krispy Kreme Donut. Unfortunately, these are the only disappointment of the day. They turn out not to be Krispy at all; they do have Kreme and they are Donuts, admittedly, but there is no discernible Krispiness. Perhaps, we reason, they were invented by someone actually called Mr or Mrs Krispy Kreme. (To be fair, we had, by this stage, had a second glass of Prosecco which had been forced upon us by a handsome young man in Harrods cosmetics department. You might think he was trying to entice us to buy his new Christmas colognes; I like to think he was impressed by our jauntily-upholstered bustlines.)
4 December I have been doing most of my Christmas shopping online, which is a good thing. Over the past few years, Mr Young and I have been getting increasingly curmudgeonly about the crowds milling about the city centre and supermarkets. We mutter and complain to each other about the headaches we are getting and how rude all the assistants are and return home having bought none of the things we originally set out to buy and have to lie on our sofas with restorative glasses of wine like swooning Victorian ladies suffering from the vapours.
But this year, Amazon, Ebay and Ocado are my new best friends. They are so helpful, and efficient. They don’t barge into you with their red faces and their Boots carrier bags containing sharp-cornered gift sets. And you don’t have to queue for hours so that a sullen-faced sales assistant with badly bitten nails and a pierced lip can sneer at your choice of purchases before shoving them into a plastic bag.
I’ve already bought most of Mr Young’s presents. I tell him so over lunch. “I might have already bought you something too,” he says, trying to arch his eyebrows enigmatically. “I’ve got you….four, no, five presents,” I say. “Oh,” he says and his eyebrows plummet. “I’ve got you…two. So far.” We do this every year. I always win the Amount Of Presents I’ve Bought You competition. I am much better at buying presents than he is. Although it would be a far more satisfying achievement if it wasn’t the one thing I would rather he excelled at. If you see what I mean.
5 December A note has been put through my door by DHL. They have tried – no, they have! They really have! You can tell how upset they were not to have found me at home by the grief-stricken biro-written scrawl on the postcard – to deliver one of my parcels. Which parcel it is, I do not know. In order to find out, I can either go online to ask them to redeliver, or visit their depot to collect it. Otherwise, they will have no choice – no, we have no choice! so terribly sorry, but, you see, our hands are tied! – than to return it to the sender if it isn’t collected within 7 days.
I begin to see a flaw in my so far flawless online shopping plan. I have many more parcels still to be delivered. There are likely to be many more postcards.
6 December It is still very very cold. I now have fallen over three times. Each time, fortunately, in a sort of modified version of the splits which has been (I like to think) fairly graceful under the circumstances. At least no damage has been done and I managed to stagger to my feet again with no great loss of dignity and only a couple of sniggers from passers-by.
Perhaps I should propel myself forwards next time I slip.
Perhaps falling directly onto my newly pneumatic chest will enable me to rebound to an upright position with barely a break in my stride.
I bet the Queen would give it a go.