I was an idiot.

Commerce Spent the morning in the city centre. The streets and shops were eerily quiet. Well, quiet for a Christmas Eve. In previous years, I've actively wanted to leave as soon as my feet and a bus would allow, but this morning there were few queues. Chatting to the clerk in HMV about this, she said that she thought that people had "got the message" and that it was best to get all of their shopping out of the way before Christmas Eve and that the last few days had been "manic".

Last year, there were gift bargains to be had on Christmas Eve, but presumably because of the facility for early online sales, the department stores have decided to return to the old model of having the "physical" January Sales in January (or as close as odds will allow). Which means, along with the snow, this has been one of the most traditional run ups to Christmas in years. With the exception of British Home Stores, none of the big in-shop sales have begun.

Which leaves the special pop-up BHS Christmas shop in Clayton Square with something of a dilemma because what do you do if you've managed to discount and sell out (or sent back) of all of the stock which was the reason for your store's very existence? Stepping beyond the cheap cards, crackers and novelty items, the shopper is greeted with this sight by way of an answer:

Pillows. Rows and rows of pillows. Three quarters of the shop, rack up on rack, mostly all the same and as pictured. For the few moments I could stand to be in a space that was sucking the sound out of the air, I watched shopper after shopper entering this slumber zone, offer a bewildered look and make their way back for the front door. Not too long ago (perhaps a few years) I (for some reason) was advocating a shop that simply sold one item for a week and then went on to something else. I was an idiot.

The lack of proper sales didn't stop me from my usual ritual of buying something in the afformented music shop with a sometime dog logo, this year Juno on dvd for £3 and the Children In Need single. No, not that one. All You Need Is Love by Bandaged ...

... which in the tradition of these charity records, throws up a zeitgeist exploding juxtaposition, in this case Paloma Faith (who's ace), one of the Corrs, Heather Small and plenty of blokes from Peter Gabriel's generation including Peter Gabriel himself, many of whom were in the same studio at the same time. But it's really entertaining and for a good cause and at least I feel like I've done something charitable this Christmas.

Happy Christmas!

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