One Sunday every month, in a small English town somewhere south of Manchester, market stalls spring up along the pedestrianised streets to attract fat-walleted locals from the surrounding area.
On this particular Sunday, in late November, the streets were more crowded than usual. With the orgy of consumerism known as Christmas on the horizon, many bargain-hunters were in town looking for unusual knicknacks, hand-crafted cards or jewelery, or interesting local produce to gift to friends and relatives who would rather just have the money.
Overhead hung sad monochromatic arcs of twinkling lights. A band played instrumental carols outside the town hall, overlooked by a sparsely-decorated tree and dull carven nativity scene. The warm scents of hog roasts, burgers and mulled-wine only served to accentuate the chill in the air.
It was into this hell that Miss-Matic dragged me, hungover and not in the mood. I tried everything I could think of to get out of it:
‘Can’t I just stay at home and read graphic novels instead? I asked.
‘How about I just go to the library and read their graphic novels?’ I suggested.
‘Can’t I just go to a bookshop and pretend to be browsing, but actually be reading the graphic novels?’ I proposed.
But Miss-Matic shot down all my requests with a steely look that said, ‘YOU WILL ACCOMPANY ME AND YOU WILL PRETEND TO ENJOY IT, OR I WILL MAKE YOU FUCKING PAY.’
So accompany her I did. Instead of moaning and rolling my eyes, looking impatient and trying to tug her away from the perilous event-horizons of clothes shops, I concentrated on making everyone else as miserable as I was. I used all my willpower to suck the festivity out of the air.
So if you and your significant-other were in that town on Sunday, looking at crappy pop-art pictures and wondering if your friend-couple who like crappy pop-art pictures would like another crappy pop-art picture for their crappy pop-art picture-covered walls, and you suddenly asked yourself what the fuck you were doing with your life – it may be that I walked past at that moment.
If you were standing in line for a delicious-smelling burger made from good ol’ British beef, your mouth watering at the smell of fried onions, humming along with the band’s carols, and you suddenly entertained thoughts of punching all the band members in the face until they got the idea that maybe the world would like some new fucking carols instead of the same old shit year after year after fucking year – it may be that Miss-Matic and I were also queuing for a burger.
And if you were with your family, watching your delightful children running alternately between the local cheese, local chutney, and local pie stalls, sipping local mulled wine and thinking happy thoughts about happy things, when suddenly a dark cloud swept across your twee imaginings and you began to hope the big Christmas tree would spontaneously combust and fall on the stalls and start a blaze so uncontrollably big the moon would glow ruddy for weeks and everyone would cancel Christmas and just fuck off for a while – it may be that I had to step out of the way of your kids because the little shits weren’t looking where they were running.
So if your Sunday was ruined by unexpectedly dark thoughts, just know this:
It was Miss-Matic’s fault.