Yesterday – 30th December 2016 – I went to Exeter – to the Sales. Not to buy anything cut price – rather – a pair of expensive moss-green trainers for Tom – that predictably were not reduced! They were my Christmas present to him which he’d been patiently waiting for since Christmas Day. Buying post-christmas presents – is just something that we traditionally do now – like putting up the Christmas Tree – or taking down the decorations on Twelfth Night – it takes all the pressure off – and lets us enjoy the said simpler pleasures. His challenge was to buy me something for one pound or less but it mustn’t be something to eat – his gift to me is still outstanding! Something else to look forward to in 2017!
By the time – we arrived in Exeter – the light had faded fast – and the illuminations were shining brilliantly in the gloom. Our first port of call was the big John Lewis emporium – where I instantly fell for a completely ‘useless’ item that was dumped on a sale stand with some other leftovers from the sale. All of them soiled or broken in some way. The item that caught my eye was a bronzed armadillo candle with a broken tail. He may as well of had a broken wick too because my intention is to never light him. To me – he stood out because he was broken – other than that I don’t know why I wanted him – I just did!
He could almost be the star of a John Lewis Christmas advert – he was so cute and woebegone. After some further negotiation at the till point – I managed to get him for the knock down price of just two pounds! He is really an Armadillo – but to me, because I can – he is a Gold Pangolin – I just like the sound of the word!
Moving out of John Lewis to Next – I bought another adorable creature in the form of a cushion. If there is one ‘vice’ I need to give up in 2017 – it is my cushion habit. At least I’ve acknowledged my addiction here – so that’s a start.
Our next stop was the sports shop! All I can say is – mission accomplished; Tom got his desired trainers.
What an unfamiliar world the sports shop was! The young woman that served me must have been one of the most unanimated individuals that I’ve come across – my purchase from her must have been such an effort. I’m looking forward to the time when Tom has grown out of the ‘brand stage’ – and I won’t have to hang-out in these places!
Further on – I made eye contact with a quiet, homeless man – I ‘met’ him down a gloomy alley near the cathedral. He was sitting in a dark doorway – huddled among his belongings.
I had gloves on – my wallet was in my bag – and it was all too much effort. I – and the moment passed – I didn’t give him anything.
Further on again – there were some other homeless people dossed outside the BHS entrance. What a sorry sight on a bitterly cold night between Christmas and New Year. An indictment on our society if ever I’ve seen one.
I just followed my two sons – and thought my thoughts. Tom led the way – and we enjoyed one last tour under the Christmas Lights before they’re packed away ‘under the stairs’ for another year. Tom led us up and down one side-street after another – then suddenly I noticed those soulful eyes again; unexpectedly I was back in the gloomy alley. This time – I didn’t walk passed. I just quickly handed him a crisp new fiver and left without wishing him a ‘Happy New Year’ – that would have been crass. The quiet man said ‘Thank you’.
Well this year has nearly come to its end – and I find myself thinking about what resolutions I’m going to make. Perhaps – I should stop buying cushions for starters! I’m going to try to get my priorities right too – like the example of ‘The Gold Pangolin’ and ‘The Homeless Man’ – one cost me just two pounds – an impulse buy that I don’t need even though he’s undeniably cute – where as my crisp five pound note went to someone that needed it more. With any luck it was one of those special ‘Jane Austen’ notes – I wouldn’t begrudge him a penny off it whoever he was. I’ll never forget those eyes.
One of the most notable things about 2016 – are the number of famous people that have died this year. I’ll miss the stars that made me laugh out loud. I say miss – I won’t truly miss any of them because I didn’t know them personally. In one shape, form or another they are still here – on cd, vhs and dvd – and Dear Terry is even on a mug! The exception is a favourite singer who died on Christmas Day. I keep my George Michael collection in the car – because I like listening to him when I’m in my bubble – driving to and from work. It’s George and me only time.
I have called my imperfect ‘Gold Pangolin’ – ‘George’ in his honour. It is symbolic of a man that I think was perhaps too vain – too sensitive for this cruel world. One only need look at the newspapers that used the least flattering image of him – to announce his passing. So unnecessary. If only ‘Big George’ had had a suit of gold armour like ‘Little George’ – he may still be here in person.
Never too funky – always absolutely ‘flawless’ – forever handsome, eternal white light – George Michael.
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One thing I know I’ll not be giving up in 2017 – is going outside. My favourite track…