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Back in the real world

Yesterday, for the first time since Monday’s Great Emergence From Lockdown (or “GEFL”), I waddled into my local town high street in the bright sunshine and accompanying still ice-edged bracing wind gusts for little more than just the hell of it.

Well, not quite just the hell of it. I needed to send one of my offspring some money but my bank’s app on my smartphone seemed to have an upper limit that I couldn’t exceed but in this case needed to.

Thus my first stop was the local branch of my bank, where one of the always-friendly staff welcomed me and said she could probably assist with whatever my issue was.

When I explained it she asked “Have you not got online banking?”

I responded that I thought my smartphone app was online banking.

Apparently it isn’t – “online banking” is something you do on a computer.

I explained that when I had originally been offered online banking, I declined it because – since my computer was already compromised (I was aware of people who had easy access to areas in it that I had always thought were “secure”) – I didn’t want to broadcast my bank details in case, well … you-know-what.

In the event, my “helper” swiftly enabled me to transfer the amount I wished to send my offspring from behind her counter. Job done.

Was there anything else? Well, yes there was. I had noticed that – in my banking app – my list of twelve “regular payees” included seven who were not “regular” but in fact were e.g. tradesmen to whom I had been required to make “one off” transfers as a means of payment for services rendered. Within two minutes my bank staffer had deleted them.

I walked back out into the high street sunshine feeling an improved and satisfied (if not a little triumphant) man.

The public throng was interesting. Some shops (those that had been allowed to remain open during the “lockdown era”) were doing their usual light degree of business whilst others, newly allowed “out”, were to all intents and purposes under siege.

In particular yesterday Marks & Spencer and an establishment called “H & M” had lengthy queues consisting – I noted – mainly of the distaff gender.

Being male and of a certain (senior) vintage, I assumed these were what would have been known as “shopaholics” back in my day but, of course, in these “woke” times are not allowed to be described thus in case it should offend.

Having walked the best part of a quarter of a mile to get to my bank I decided that – rather than waste that journey – I might do a little window-shopping myself, partly just to register which establishments had re-opened post-lockdown and which had “gone to the wall”.

(Somewhat disturbingly, the large building formerly housing a Dickens & Jones department store is now boarded up and apparently advertising itself as a potential future “small business hub and/or meeting centre” and/or possibly a block of modern, box-like flats).

But I digress.

What happened thereafter on my excursion, dear readers, was that I succumbed to a personal bout of shopaholic-ism.

Passing a general “outdoor/hiking/camping” store, I went in, browsed, and bought an anorak.

Back out on the street the “spending” sap was rising in me and in quick succession I then bought a pair of shoes from a shoe shop (no surprise in that fact, particularly!), two T-shirts from an upmarket sports shop and then, as a coup de grâce en route home, a pair of spectacular “outdoor/hiking” trousers from a specialist Nordic emporium for not far shy of £200!

This final purchase was an act of complete madness. Although as a general rule I refuse to take my trousers down in a shop, I did retire to a fitting room to do so on this occasion.

As I took said trousers to the counter I quipped to the thin but slightly butch-looking female shop assistant that I was buying them “despite them not quite looking as cool on me as on the [slim, well-built, rugged] mannequin in the window that had first attracted me to them …”, a proposition with which her somewhat disdainful and off-hand reaction betrayed a clear “You’re not wrong there, matey …” agreement.

Back home, forty minutes later in the privacy of my bedroom, I tried on everything that I had bought and then surveyed myself in the full-length mirror.

I can honestly say that there’s little more absurd-looking in life that a somewhat generously-girthed old git decked out in teenager “street chic” and/or hip-hop gear …






About Bryn Thomas

After a longer career in travel agency than he would care to admit, Bryn became a freelance review of hotels and guest houses at the suggestion of a former client and publisher. He still travels and writes for pleasure. More Posts