Let me make one thing clear from the start. I really don't like shopping.
Going shopping is like visiting the dentist, paying taxes, or having a crap - unpleasant yet unavoidable.
When the unthinkable happens and shops do need to be visited, the only way I can dilute the experience is by buying a new CD - just that little something that reminds you amidst all the crowds, greed and adrenaline, there's the prospect of getting back to a calm home and sitting with a nice mug of tea listening to the latest offering from Coldplay.
I feel very lucky that the wife's idea of a satisfying shopping trip consists of a visit to the local garden centre where she'll spend a tenner on some potting compost and a small cactus.
Many men are in the unfortunate position of having partners who love nothing more than being let loose with a credit card at Lakeside shopping centre, and I really do pity these poor chaps. There really is nothing more soul-destroying than hanging around while someone tries on an endless parade of clothing articles. There's only so long you can carry on pretending to be interested before you take on that glazed and resigned look worn by ninety percent of men you see in the city centre on a Saturday. The other ten percent have just managed to grab a few minutes in HMV to relieve the monotony.
I suspect this is why we've seen such a proliferation of coffee shops that all manage to do enough trade to survive despite the obvious level of competition - the blokes are all desperate to use any means necessary to avoid an argument due to falling asleep during yet another extended bout of shoe testing, and if that means overdosing on caffeine with a large Americano at Costa then so be it.
On the occasions that I do have to go shopping I generally have two distinct modes.
The rarest form involves a significant outlay on something that has either an engine or a plug, and will often be accompanied by a bottle of single malt scotch to numb the intense feeling of guilt.
The commonest method will see me entering a shop to buy the thing I was after, looking at the price tag, and walking out again having suddenly come up with several reasons why I don't really need it anyway. Sometimes I have to be coerced by the wife to go back in and get it, and stop being so stupid.
This happened the other day when I was trying to find a new winter coat to replace the crappy looking thing I bought on sale two years ago from Mountain Warehouse, which I'm told made me look weird. Having looked around various places like Next and Zara, I found the ideal thing in M&S but balked at the price. By this time the wife had reached tipping point and told me to wait outside while she bought the damn thing.
To be honest I'm glad she did - it's a vast improvement and actually makes me look decent. I know that if she hadn't then I'd still be wandering around wearing something that makes me look like a subject of 'care in the community'.
I don't usually buy clothes unless the old ones are falling apart, too tight, or so faded from repeated washing that you can no longer tell what colour they were to begin with and have reverted to that well-known shade called 'Not even good enough for a jumble sale'.
Clearly however, there exists a breed of person whose attitude to clothing is the complete opposite to mine. Such creatures were paraded on TV last night during Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's program 'Hugh's War on Waste'. One was a young woman who would go out every week clothes shopping and sometimes wouldn't even wear her purchases. To me this qualifies as a serious mental condition.
Not only was she absorbed by her own addiction, but she was also a serious fan of numerous vloggers who devote their YouTube channels to enthusing over their latest acquisitions.
How bizarre it seems, not only that someone feels the need to go clothes shopping and then film themselves showing off what they've bought, but that anyone would want to spend time watching the videos.
Oh well, they say there's nowt as queer as folk.....