Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas if popular high street book retailers who shall remain nameless didn’t try to sabotage their employees’ celebrations of it, am I right? Course I am.
Captain Tact has worked for The Shop That Must Not Be Named for just over three years. He is not allowed to apply for time off during December, because this is a busy period and all hands are required on deck for festive scrubbing; even though they take on an army of Christmas temps every year to manage the soapy chaos. People may not read anymore, but apparently this doesn’t stop ‘em buying shedloads* of books.
On Boxing Day.
The captain has been rota-ed on for the 26th every year he’s been there, actually, but through skill and determination has generally managed to affect a switcheroo. This time, his luck has run out. Who is rushing out to retail parks on the outskirts of cities to buy books on Boxing Day, you might ask. Did they not get a load of things to read under the tree only yesterday? I do not have an answer to this; ask me on December 26. Except don’t, because I’ll be curled up with a blanket and a book and Harry Potter 12: Myrtle’s Revenge or whatever other films they bung on.
BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT BOXING DAY IS FOR.
Yes, I realise technically the New Year sales begin on Boxing Day. But I’ve been, and do you know what? They suck.
What are these amazing deals that people camp outside to nab? A pair of gold lamé jeans a size too small but it’s worth it ‘cause there’s £20 off! A new tent, even though you detest camping because you never know and this one has £35 off! Flesh coloured spike heels that will tear your feet to shrebbons, but will go with everything**!!
You know where else you can pay less for shit you don’t need or want? The internet. In the comfort of your own home, from behind a third tin of chocolate. People that are throwing themselves out into the cold instead of remaining with their loved ones and a bottle of gin are freakin’ idiots.
Now, some of those people will claim they have to get out of the house on the 26th because their relations are doing their head in. Apparently a child with a chocolate Santa stuck up its nose and an elderly aunt who smells a bit cabbagey are much more annoying than hordes of strangers deploying tactical use of the elbow as they grab for the last polyester flapper dress on the sale rail before you.
The festive cliché that families are horrible does not apply to us. Captain Tact’s dad is so adamant we don’t spend Christmas alone in our so-cold-it-makes-me-want-to-hurt-people flat that he has volunteered to do early Christmas lunch, then drive us back across the frozen wastes between Ayrshire and Edinburgh on the afternoon of the 25th so he can make this stupid shift. Meanwhile my sister, distraught at the notion of me spending Boxing Day alone with my thoughts, plans to drive down from Perthshire to whisk me into the bosom of my relations. Our carbon footprint is going to be monstrous, and all because some Scrooge in an office somewhere can’t bear the thought of missing out on two whole days of selling overpriced books to idiots.
Still, as I remember, famous book lover Jo March once threw herself onto the hearth and intoned ‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents’; then the next day she visited the January sales at Fort Kinnaird and indulged in retail therapy till her ears bled.
The Book Shop That Must Not Be Named is clearly doing something right.