I am a man of modest requirements, particularly in the footwear department. A pair of Doctor Marten's famous shoes, some trainers, sandals for the summer months and a pair of Wellington boots. You would think that Meadowhall, one of the largest shopping malls in England, would be able to supply my, not particularly demanding, needs. They have a vast array of different shoe shops and department stores selling everything from the chavviest of trainers to the glitziest and most impractical creations for ladies with more money than bunions, but do any of them sell the humble welly? Do they buggery. Not a sniff of a rubber item, feet for the wearing on, to be seen anywhere.
Do people no longer need to go out walking in inclement weather? Are the nation's dogs destined to go unwalked for the winter months, and any other wet days for the rest of the year? Will gardens go untended and lawns unraked? Will piles of leaves go unkicked and puddles go unsploshed? What has happened to the great British boot?
In the end we had to go to Homebase in the retail park where I had a choice of any colour I liked as long as it was green, for some rather cheap and thin boots that will last me a year at most. My last pair of stout boots were over twenty years old. Go figure.
Still, at least the trip to the particular circle of Dante's hell that is meadow shaped gave us an excuse to mooch in the shops and boggle at the christmas lights and the Santa's grotto that had a queue stretching halfway along the shopping mall - it's not even the middle of November yet! In fact, I saw a packet of mince pies in the supermarket with a best-before date of the 28th of November. Madness. Utter madness.
We were going to go for a coffee in Cafe Revive in M&S but there was a long queue, tables waiting to be cleaned and lots of items sold out on the menu board (patently, it all goes to rack and ruin when Loops is not on duty) so we gave it a miss and went to Starbucks instead, where I had a delicious Gingerbread latte - mmmmmm.
Returning home suitably booted, I took Barney for a walk and settled down to play a bit of Call of Cthulhu. Hoo boy, scary stuff.
After repairing the generator and frying the shoggoth, as well as releasing poison gas into its lair for good measure, I found myself trapped in a small temple like room far beneath the basement level of the Marsh family gold refinery. At one end was a statue of a bat winged monstrosity with tentacles where its face should be. As I examined the statue I could feel my heart start to race and see my vision blurring as my fragile grip on reality started to loosen. From behind me I could hear an eerie voice whispering one word, repeated over and over - 'Cthulhu ... Cthulhu ... Cthulhu'. I turned around in a state of panic (in both the game and real life) to find that the source of the voice that had nearly tipped me into gibbering insanity was ... Jamie. Aaaargh!
What wonderful children I have ... :-)