Tuesday 21st December 2004

Sitting down into my friend’s Mazda 6, I smiled with glee at the creature comforts, leather seats, satellite navigation and Bose in car audio system. I noticed a CD case, in the door storage panel, to my left and picked it up. The front of the case came off in my hand, coming to my attention that is had been broken previously. It was then that I finally turned the case around to see the cover. Pleasantly surprised to discover that this was not any old run of the mill. Although our friendship spans over ten years now, we rarely discuss music. To find the greatest and most popular album in his car was surprise to say the least. The previous evening had been spent perfecting a Christmas album for the ride and if you know me well, the shopping trip is a time I really get into the festive mood. Yet, I was holding a piece of musical history. This was the original 1982 release and although looked somewhat dated, hid well its twenty two year history. Maybe I would drop it into the CD player for a quick listen on the way home. Holding back my excitement in being able to hear the original masterpiece, I headed to Milton Keynes in near silence, with my mind drifted as much as the winding roads of Oxfordshire and North Buckinghamshire, on this bright winter evening. We stopped for fuel, seizing the opportunity, I inserted the disc but decided against listening to it there and then, quickly switching back to the seasonal bootleg I had created. Believe me, the crooner, Andy Williams grows on you, even with Christmas songs.

To those of you, whom have just rushed in that final coursework assignment before the Christmas holidays, you will spare thought for our lonely student. Searching my memory banks, I find it hard to discover a more ruthless example of the strange love/hate relationship between the student and their lecturer. Thank God those days are behind me. I am sure our University academic, will not find it difficult to produce a scenario which betters this one.

Last year I went Christmas shopping on a Sunday in Oxford. This was a example of my poor judgment, berating myself that such an lapse shall never occur again. The original plan had been, like the rest of the of the population to leave it as late as possible. This had meant, Wednesday 22nd December (always tomorrow) was the original designated shopping day. Then, when news came that I would not been joining the dole queue but had secured a job. Plans, as they often do, had to be changed. Sunday was chosen, because it was the only available date, knowing there would be a few awkward purchases, it would be best to have some company, particular as he had several final purchases to make himself. Where as I, hadn’t even started. This is the only time, I actually spend a day shopping in the real world and actually attempt to make a ‘day of it’. The rest of the time, I shop online, from the comfort of my own bedroom. Even things such as clothes can be purchased online these days, why bother with the hustle and bustle of the high street? Since my final few years at school, I have had a strong anti-city feeling, towards shopping districts. This may have been bedded in my less than normal social nature in my early to mid teenage years. To stop short of a full history lesson, I avoided as much as possible town or city centres on a Saturday purely because of the hell they used to impose on me. This rule still exists, even if slightly cloaked form. Yes, ever December, like clockwork, this barrier disappears and I am once more able to enter society and shop like the next man. Although, of course I do not shop like anyone else. I know what I want (already) make some quick initial judgments, perhaps even slight changes on brand or final product and make that purchase. I do not have time to fussy around, like some other members of the human species. This does save some time, when you do all your planning and homework before you venture out. Even someone as well organised as me still finds it difficult to find gifts for some of the more, now how to do I put this, more ‘elusive’ members of my small family (small by Asian standards) No wonder it has become the sixth most stressful life event. Whatever, “life event” means is anyone guess. I survived and got 85% of my shopping done that day, just a few small problems that firstly need some more thought and a quick purchase. I intend to go down to Uxbridge in the next few days to complete the haul. Thursday, can’t come too soon.

On the way back to my friend’s house, we did listen to that most complete of albums, but I had no time for the early tracks. Criminal of me, I agree, but there is some method in my madness. The song that needed to be heard was to summarize how I felt this Sunday afternoon, with Christmas drawing ever so closer. The facts should speak for themselves. Sometimes a song is bigger than the moment, rarely is the artist great than the song and rarely even still does the album mean more to the world than (regrettably) than the artist. Sometimes, pure lyrics do little to capture the moment.

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