Christmas shopping in Edinburgh or a colonoscopy? Which one is more fun? – Susan Morrison

Some people, usually men, seem to find roadworks fascinating on being dragged down the town for the Christmas shopping, writes Susan Morrison.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 6:00 am
rampant consumerism: Christmas shopping is an annual event that delights some, while others may prefer a colonoscopy (Picture: John Devlin)

It’s here, innit? That Christmas thing. I can tell, because Princes Street Gardens looks like we’re trying to send distress signals to a distant alien planet through the medium of flashing lights and a big wheel.

Another clue is the crowd in John Lewis. There are actually two John Lewis crowds, especially at the weekend. There’s the one inside the building. The escalators are just a mass of people clinging onto wrapping paper and gift boxes with a weird rictus grin on their faces and the air of mild panic about them. They are not having a great the retail experience.

I’ve witnessed people having a colonoscopy who looked like they were having more fun. And by people, I mean me, and by fun, I mean sedation. Given John Lewis’s amazing reputation for looking after its customers, I’m surprised they don’t have a numb-and-go service at the door for the foot soldiers of Christmas shopping.

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Do you find roadworks strangely fascinating at this time of year? (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

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The second crowd is outside the door and is overwhelmingly male. These men have taken a sudden and deep interest in the roadworks outside.

Well, let’s be honest, we all have. Particularly if you are stuck on the Number 10 and the child sitting opposite has a runny nose and mum is on her mobile phone talking very loudly to Natasha who, apparently, has contracted an infection that requires a visit to a very specific clinic.

Scarves and goatees

The men who are outside are usually partners of at least one woman inside. They tend to look rather similar. They are in sensible jackets and favour wearing polo shirts with cosy jumpers. Scarves are sported and goatees are much in evidence. This is not their first rodeo when it comes to Christmas shopping. I’ve got one of these models, the bus pass-toting traffic watcher.

Quite why we, the shoppers, think that they, the roadwork assessors, would even want to join us on the Christmas shopping is a mystery, even to me, and trust me, I’ve been doing this so long I can remember answering the front door to what I thought was the postie only to find three wise men outside asking for directions to Bethlehem. Wise men, my bahookie. I sent them to Bathgate. Well, starts with a B.

In our heads, this Christmas expedition is a bonding experience. We imagine choosing delightful items for family and friends or laughing over inappropriate gift choices, then topping the day off with mulled wine or hot chocolate in the Christmas Market.

The reality, of course, is a miserable man staring at the 300th gift you thought his mum would like whilst you scream “you bought her a corn remover last year!”, then having mulled wine spilled all over you by Darren and Kylie from the HR office Christmas party, staggering about liplocked like they’ve been superglued at the mouth by Extinction Rebellion to stop them ever talking at a workshop about health and safety.

They might have a point. Think of the hot air they generate. Must be a factor in global warning.