Today I went into Guildford for some last minute Christmas shopping. I needn’t have bothered. I bought nothing except a Breakfast Bratwurst and spent a lot of time on buses.
You’d think that the county town would be buzzing and merry and all that jazz but, sadly, it wasn’t. There were a few stalls dotted up the High Street but not enough for it to be closed to traffic. You had the very odd half-n-half world of trucks and cars driving slalom like up the cobbled street while glum Christmas shoppers dodged out of the way, grasping the hands of impervious children.
Mind you, what it lacked in jollity, the street made up for in blue sky. It certainly looked pretty enough. So, if nothing else, I picked the right day to venture out given it’s been overcast for quite a while now.
I wandered up then wandered back down again, feeling like the Grand old Duke of York without the excessive retinue, stopping off at the Whisky Shop for, I thought, some Fettercairn. That’s an experience I don’t want to repeat in a hurry.
Firstly the staff were a bit pushy which put me off from the moment I walked in. Secondly they didn’t have the Fettercairn that I wanted which is annoying because they usually do. Thirdly, and most importantly, the girl who served me had the foulest breath I’ve ever accidentally been drenched in.
Seriously, it was bad. I was actually on the verge of confiding to her that she could do with a super-dooper peppermint explosion in her mouth or at the very least a slug of whisky. The thing was, I couldn’t get close enough owing to the evil force field permeating from her face.
I’m not exaggerating. It was very, very bad. It was like she’d kept a small piece of every meal she’d ever eaten tucked safely in between her teeth just to share with any unwitting person who came too close – like within 30 feet.
Anyway, I left the Whisky Shop a good deal faster than I entered it. Had I been able to run, I would have beaten Usain Bolt to the door.
Having found no joy in the High Street I decided to try the mysterious Pop-Up Village opposite the Friary.
What should have been a very good idea was rendered completely pointless because most of the shops were closed and the carousel wasn’t operating.
I can’t believe that three shopping days before Christmas this wasn’t full of shoppers splashing the cash around. But no, out of about 20 shipping containers, each with a different shop in them, three were open and one of them was a cafe. What a ridiculous waste of someone’s time and efforts.
And so I left Guildford, boarding the third of my four buses, overhearing extraordinary conversations…
OLD GUY: Hey, Stan! How are you?
OLD GUY: (louder) How are you?
STAN: (after a pause) What?
OLD GUY: (very loud) How are you, Stan?
STAN: Good, good. You?
OLD GUY: Good. Did you hear about Val?
OLD GUY: Val.
OLD GUY: Val. You know. From the Con Club.
OLD GUY: Yes, from the Con Club.
STAN: (after a pause) Who?
OLD GUY: VAL!
STAN: Oh, yeah, Val. What about her?
OLD GUY: She’s not well. Gone to the hospital.
STAN: But she’s not very old. Why?
OLD GUY: Well, she’s at least 80.
OLD GUY: Yes. Val from the Con Club . She’s at least 80.
OLD GUY: VAL!
…until reaching Farnham and the bliss of my home town. Much happier, much more festive.