There was once a sitcom on the BBC centred on the goings-on at a corner shop in which the proprietor (played by the late Ronnie Barker) always had the last line. As he took in the various items on display outside the shop just before closing he would muse, 'It's been a funny sort of day'. I know just how he feels. On a normal Friday I have the house to myself for about three hours during the morning while the Old Bat goes to the MS treatment centre for a spot of high dosage oxygen in a contraption similar to those used to treat divers suffering from the bends, after which she toddles off to the local supermercado. Today, however, she didn't feel like driving, worried that the flurries of snow we had overnight might turn into a blizzard by the time she returned home. So I just had time for a quick cigarette after getting back with the dog before I drove her, dropped her off and went to do the shopping myself. I got back to the MS centre only a few minutes before Madam resurfaced and only had time to check my email before lunch. Then walk the dog again before the main excitement of the day - buying a Christmas tree.
We always have to have a real tree: artificial ones just don't cut it for She Who Must Be Obeyed. For the last few years we have bought one in France where they seem to be more plentiful and (more importantly) considerably cheaper than here in England, usually less than half the price we would pay here. This year we were unable to go to France in December because we were snowed in. The local Asda did have trees priced at £15 but quickly sold out. I looked around elsewhere somewhat half-heartedly but didn't like the prices I saw: small trees started at £25, in some places £35. No way would I pay that for a small Christmas tree. Today we bit the bullet. We bought an artificial tree for £15. It stands only three feet high - but rather that and bin it after Christmas than spend a ridiculous amount on a real tree.
Christmas trees aren't the only things we are short of. I haven't bought wine in this country for, oh, ages - until this month. There was a real drought in the wine cellar, and we do like a glass with our evening meal. We've even run out of coffee filters!
Desperate times indeed.
As I said, it's been a funny sort of day. But now it's four o'clock, the temperature is still below freezing outside (it hasn't got above zero all day) and I don't have to go out again. With luck, I might even catch up on some of the things I had intended to do during the morning. Those that don't get done will just have to wait: it won't cause the end of the world.