Christmas isn’t right without a Christmas jumper, is it?
It’s Saturday, so Maggie and I had plans for a day out.
Plans that failed.
Plans that failed badly.
But at least I can teach you something now, so here it is:
Mr. Topp’s Guide to Failing at Having a Day Out.
In order to fail at something, there has to be success criteria first. So a plan is required, if you’re going to fail at having your day out.
A beginner might make a plan that has no reasonable chance at success. But this doesn’t generate a true failed day out. No, to properly fail, set out a reasonable plan for what you might do or achieve that day. It works even better if it sounds like fun.
Our plan today is a good example. It simply does not sound too difficult.
First, we wanted to buy a costume. Next weekend, we are attending a screening of The Muppet Christmas Carol, and there is an award for Best Costume. We don’t have time to make a costume, so we were going to buy one instead. This means that Maggie almost certainly won’t win, of course, but things will be more fun if we are participating. So the first part of the plan was to hit Oxford Street for a Christmas-themed costume to wear.
After buying a costume, we would grab lunch.
After lunch, we would head to Winter Wonderland. We would stop by a skate shop first, on the off chance that they sell skate runners that can strap over Maggie’s boots, so we could go skating.
My plans were starting to fail before I even got out of bed in the morning. One glance out the window showed it was raining. One glance at the weather forecast showed it was not going to stop.
So what do I think about Winter Wonderland in the rain? Skating at Winter Wonderland in the rain?
I don’t think highly of it at all. I think so little, actually, that I decided that if it didn’t stop raining, I wouldn’t even bother.
Like every day out with Maggie, a bag was packed. We needed a bottle of water, a couple of nappies, and some snacks. Additionally, we made sure we had mittens and hats, in case the weather cleared and ice skating returned to the menu. Finally, we took my camera. I figured that it might be nice to take photos, if we happened to make it to Winter Wonderland.
I put them all in a normal backpack. I have two camera bags, but one is too small (it could hold the camera, of course, but not all that other stuff) and the other is big, and hangs over the shoulder. This would result in some discomfort when I inevitably had to carry Maggie for long periods of time.
I should have sucked it up, and taken the large shoulder bag. Because if I had, I’m pretty sure my camera lens would have survived being dropped when I was on the train.
But I didn’t. And the only camera lens I brought was broken before I had a chance to snap even one picture.
We get to Oxford Circus, broken camera and all.
The streets are blocked off. This is good — Christmas crowds are too big for the sidewalks of Oxford Street, as wide as they are.
McFly is playing. This is bad. Not because I hate McFly, but because the crowds are even larger than normal Christmas-season-Oxford-Street crowds. Which is to say that even though the blocked streets had enough room to move, the insanity indoors (and out of the rain) was even crazier than usual.
But all this aside, Maggie and I have found ourselves at Oxford and Regent Street, before noon, thirty-one days before Christmas. We are here for one thing, and one thing only: a Christmas themed costume.
Success is inevitable.
We look in Hamley’s, the famous toy store. They have exactly one Christmas themed “costume” in Maggie’s size. It’s a red dress. An ugly, cheap red dress. It looks like it should cost £1 at Primark. It says “Little Miss Christmas” on the front. It is £26. I think about buying it anyways. I convince myself I can come back if I need to. I won’t need to.
We look in other stores. BHS. John Lewis (kind of). Sulfridges (halfway). House of Frasier.
Viable Christmas outfits can be assembled. But costumes? No luck. And it’s past time for lunch.
And this is where Maggie falls asleep.
It was good that Maggie fell asleep, because she was hungry. And I couldn’t find us food.
I tried the John Lewis “Place To Eat”. It had a giant queue. I was holding a sleeping baby.
I tried the House of Frasier tea room. It had a short queue, and every seat was clearly taken. I was holding a sleeping baby.
I walked past pubs and cafes, looking in. Free tables were not present. I was holding a sleeping baby.
Eventually, I found a random restaurant which actually had a place to sit down inside. It only took an hour to get there.
Remember the skate shop I was hoping to visit? It isn’t even on Oxford Street.
Maggie laid down in the store, and had to be coaxed back outside.
“Train home now?”
At this point, I wasn’t hard to convince.
In my seasonal search for perfect gifts for friends and family, I stumble on many a “perfect” gift with no recipient.
Take this, for example: a light switch in the book-on-shelf-opens-a-secret-door tradition.
This is a gift that is begging for a recipient — but who? While it ought to be a perfect fit for somebody, nobody outstanding on my list fits the bill.
Available for $50 (American dollars, presumably), from blight design.