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Shopping shufflers

Comment
Mike Gaunt


I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the shopping community.

There, I’ve said it! I feel better.

I do shop, of course, when I need things.

I went this very morning, in fact, to purchase the weekly items for the larder: avocados, salad and so on.

I even stopped at a DIY building kind of place and bought a new enxada – if you don’t know what this is, get one!

It’s a really useful sort of digging tool, a cross between a pick and a shovel, sometimes called a hoe.

The key to this, though, is that it was all necessary stuff.

I am not, as I said at the outset, a member of the shopping community.

I refer to what have become known as recreational shoppers.

These are people who, when a little listless, use shopping as a way to alleviate boredom, their sense of ennui.

They take themselves off to, typically, a shopping mall and just bimble around with no fixed purpose in mind, other than to pass the time and, of course, buy things.

Their purchases are usually items they would not have thought of buying if they hadn’t just wandered past the shop and seen something they “must” have.

This type of shopping is not an addiction, it’s a form of recreation. It passes the time and gets them out of the house.

I still describe the slow, plodding motion they adopt to perambulate between shops and cafes as the “Seef Mall shuffle”.

If I ever need (and I try not to, I confess) to visit a shopping mall, these are the people who I find the most frustrating.

I am commonly accompanying “she who must be obeyed” on a quest for an item of clothing and will attempt to assist by offering an opinion, as she emerges from one changing room after another.

I will even help select items I think fit the description I have been given.

I must point out that this is the bit I often get wrong, as my idea of a bluey-green, strappy top, say, seldom coincides with hers, but I do my best.

Notwithstanding my eagerness to assist, I find travelling from one emporium to the next positively trying.

There is nearly always a group of “shoppers” (sorry, but typically of the adolescent female variety) who are dawdling along, managing to block the esplanade completely.

They traipse around, mobiles evidently being used to communicate with each other, rubbernecking their way in front of me at a pace which would make a snail seem quick.

Finally, I escape and then cannot locate the car in the vast underground car park.

I thought I had noted the place, employing the letter-number code, but clearly some malevolent passer-by has decided to change the signs, or move the vehicle, preventing simple liberation from the concrete prison.

I deploy the key fob button and lights flicker distantly.

As I drive away, “she who must be obeyed” promises that it will be a while until I am asked to do this again.

A long while, I hope.

l Mike Gaunt is a former headmaster at St Christopher’s School, Bahrain – mikegaunt@gmail.com

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