I laughed at a recent comment on Twitter, about how Christmas shopping inspires murderous thoughts. I forged through the crowds in Leeds yesterday and, in the process, discovered a few candidates for murder myself: there was the woman at Debenham’s who stood opposite the queue at the counter and pushed her way in by pleading ignorance of the system (the rest of us were too polite to protest); another in the Ladies’ there, who dried her hands on a strip of toilet roll and tossed it to the floor before sashaying out of the swing door and bouncing it back in my face; and, rather incredibly, the man who appeared to be a sales representative, who was hogging both the sofa and the staff on the first floor of Maturi’s, my favourite kitchen shop, with the result that customers could neither sit down nor get served.
However, overall, my spirits were more lightened than lowered, as I also stumbled upon some scenes to savour: There was the greying middle-aged man in Costa Coffee, consoling a beautiful but emotional young Indian woman with whom he was clearly more than a little in love; the portly man, also in Costa, surreptitiously eating what appeared to be pickled onion sandwiches from a lunch box when he thought that the staff weren’t looking; the fierce female official at the information kiosk at Leeds station who, when asked when the next train to Huddersfield would be leaving, triumphantly announced that it had ‘just gone’ (Think about it!).
Before I sign off, I should like to pay a tribute to all the many salespeople that I encountered or saw at work during my somewhat frenzied tour of the shops. Without exception, they were friendly, good-humoured, smiling and efficient. If their customers, many of us vague, boorish, noisy, impatient or simply inept, were exasperating them and they were longing for closing time and a cuppa (or something stronger), not one of them showed it.