Fan shopping mall | P. PELLICER

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is finally just around the corner, and although Covid through 2020 has done its best to dampen our spirits, the festive season is well and truly looming over the chimney pots and heading our way.

Oddly enough, it doesn’t seem that long since I took the last Christmas tree down, and stashed it away with all its sparkly baubles and ‘deccies’ at the back of the cave – my very useful storage cupboard which burrows into the mountain rock. Following a new media led trend, nurtured by fans of the festive fairy light, I left my tree up way after Christmas, and gave the fake fir an extension by up-cycling it into a Valentine’s Day installation, replacing the festive baubles with hearts, to celebrate the big ‘Day of Lurve’.

Let’s face it, I’m always late taking the tree down anyway, and never fret about the hollow curse of superstition. I don’t think I’ve ever quite made the traditional 12th night deadline, which translates as 5th January, so utilizing the tree for a few more weeks made perfect sense. Then, showing solidarity in support of the ‘Seguridad Social’ during the first lockdown regime, when everyone was applauding our valiant heroes on the emergency Covid wards, I left the ‘heart tree’ up to twinkle in silent homage, honouring the uncountable casualties of the pandemic.

Eventually, the tree simply had to come down, but it was only with the passage of spring into summer that it finally got packed away. And in all honesty, back then, we all thought that by December this pandemic would be well and truly over, with lockdown restrictions remembered as a thing of the past. And perhaps it would have been if the suggested protocol was practised more stringently by the masses, and the warnings of gatherings with both family and otherwise, were taken a lot more seriously. But we’ve come this far, and with the light of a vaccine shining at the end of the tunnel, Christmas to many is representing the start of getting life back to normal, moving forward into 2021.

For the past seven months, Other Half and I have not socialised at all, and only venture out for regular country walks and necessary trips involving banks, hospital appointments, check ups etc. The idea of just randomly shopping or casually meeting up with friends for coffee or a meal, no matter how tempting, has simply disappeared off our personal radar!

But with Christmas just around the corner, and the prospect of it being celebrated very quietly at home, I wanted to plan ahead, and make sure we had all the luxuries generally associated with Christmas, purchased ahead of time, to avoid the usual, hectic last minute shop when the supermarkets are heaving like battlegrounds with shoppers taking no prisoners in their quest to fill their trolleys.

I also needed to visit my optician regarding a very expensive pair of super-specs with exorbitantly priced, state of the art lenses, which although purchased just over two years ago, suddenly developed a crackle-glazed appearance across one optic, which was like looking through sellotape.

Very expensice lents

So, grabbing the reindeer by the horns, we thought we would do an early (and one off) Christmas shop, to avoid the crowds. Our favourite shopping precinct sporting everything under the one umbrella, including a big supermarket is FAN, just outside Palma, and also home to the said optical outlet. We arrived early, and being a Monday, didn’t really think it would be that busy. SURPRISE!!! Seemed like quite a lot of like-minded people also had the same idea! How is it that no matter how early you get somewhere, there are always canny crowds who manage to get there well ahead of you?

Of course, the shops were a lot less busy than normal. And the swathes of shoppers were all wearing face masks, apart from those who for medical reasons needed to smoke; and despite the outside smoking ban, obviously continue to live their lives in a parallel universe! For a while, the experience offered a welcome promise that life could resume to some kind of normality, and that people really could behave responsibly with their distancing etc. But then, caught up in shopping mode, people under the influence of retail therapy soon forgot protocol. Two feet is NOT two metres. And no way is two inches ever going to be justified as a safe distance. And people always look surprised when you point that out.

Even the optician kept edging forward when putting his point across, explaining that the very expensive lenses were only guaranteed for two years, and the more costly the optic the more fragile and sensitive the material! Didn’t tell me that when I forked out a small fortune for the anti scratch, anti glare, anti everything uber-super-spectacles! Mr Optician didn’t seem to grasp that it was my eyes that were the problem, and not my ears which are in perfect working order. I could hear quite clearly from two metres thank you! As he continued to move forward, I continued to glide backwards, and we circumnavigated the showroom like a same sex couple on Strictly Come Dancing!

It transpired that they were not prepared to replace the faulty and very expensive lens, but offered me what they considered a generous discount. The same discount they were offering to any new customer who happened to blindly stumble into the premises. It also transpired that the other lens, although showing no signs of glazing whatsoever, would start deteriorating in the very near future. Plus they couldn’t guarantee that the photochromic tint would be exactly the same colour, or react at the same time, so I would definitely need two replacement lenses, not one! That was a sharp surprise!

After a few more laps of the showroom, demonstrating something between a Foxtrot and a Quickstep, silver tongued Other Half managed to get through to the live finals , and wring a further discount out of the manager, so all in all I suppose it was a result! It still cost a lot more than I was expecting. But hey! It was a Christmas outing, and with the retail famine we were dying to spend a bit of money on something! It was also getting a lot busier and riskier, pushing me a bit too far out of my comfort zone, so we called it a day and swiftly retreated to the home grotto where the twinkling tree was waiting. For a brief period it was great to be out and about, shopping and trying to do normal things. But on reflection – I should have gone to Specsavers!