So this is Christmas
It was meant to be fun
But I can’t stop sneezing
And my cold has just begun

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A short poem about Christmas

December 21, 2011

My mind is all a-fidget
With a million tiny thoughts
Of silly socks, and ticking clocks
And what Santa might have brought

Last January, I spent three nights working at a well-known, up-market department store on Regents Street (Liberty, obviously) sticking new labels to all their products in preparation for the rise in VAT. I was therefore one of the first people in the country to feel the financial benefit of the tax hike. Anyway, I sent the following message to a friend while I was working there, and I just came across it again. It tickled me, and I hope it might tickle you too.

I was waiting till the madness took hold; after 7 hours of sticking labels to confectionery I think I’m there.

It’s a bit like being in a prison; but a nice prison, like the Shawshank Redemption but with less anal interference and more sweets and soft furnishings. If Willy Wonka and Laura Ashley got together and ran a prison, this would be it. And we are the wool hatted Oompa-Lumpa’s, but taller. The security guards watch us the whole time, lest we should attempt to smuggle out a box of Mint Thins in our socks; and they escort us to the toilets and the break room so that we don’t attempt to steal a jumper, or a lampshade.

After this long peeling and sticking, your brain starts to come unstuck. You start hearing things: there can’t really be a chocolate bar called Lavender Rapist can there? Maybe there can. You start thinking that seconds are actually stickers, and that if you stop sticking then time will stop ticking so you stop for a bit just to see, but time keeps going because stickers aren’t seconds, that was just in your wake-addled mind.

I hope it will end like the scene in Shawshank with all us men on the roof, watching the dawn break over London as we sit back and enjoy a box of Champagne Truffles kindly allowed us by the guards; but I know it will end with a bus journey home and, quite possibly, with me falling asleep and ending up in North Finchley, which is not a scene from any film I know, but is a scene I have played before, one too many times.

Until tomorrow, when I shall be reporting from the beauty department, this is Neil signing off.