Here I was, Christmas shopping for my sons, family, and friends.
I couldn’t have been happier! The atmosphere everywhere was so warm-hearted, and it really did give one a sense of cheerfulness after a long hard year’s work. I made my decision that I would go to Oxford Street; after all, it was only thirty minutes away. This sense of enthusiasm enabled me to ignore the slight, yet (understandably) inevitable traffic congestion on the way to my destination.
Anyway, after getting a ticket and thankfully finding a parking space, managing to edge open the door without smashing it into another person’s car, I eventually got out. As I made my way to the shopping street, I noticed the air was surprisingly warm; however, there was no sign of the sun. This was strange for a day in the middle of winter. My initial impressions of the place (I had never been here before) were that of surprise at how huge and overwhelming it was- even on the outside.
All the buildings matched one another, with the same dark-brown architecture, and some of the buildings rose to nearly fifty metres high! As I exited the car park and in a matter of minutes entered the street itself, all the feelings of happiness and excitement just simply disappeared – this was bad. Everywhere you looked you saw shoppers, thousands of them, taking up every single, physical, vacant space there was on the street. I looked in the shops, and my emotions sunk yet again as I saw what I expected: long and tiresome queues, even for the smallest and simplest things.There were stressed parents, angry kids, serious-looking businessmen, and OAPs alike. I couldn’t understand what the fuss was about – okay, it was Christmas, but surely not everyone had to do their Christmas shopping at the same time as me.
I immediately felt like a cheap battery-farmed chicken, introduced into a pitiful environment with no space to even move my neck.Whilst I felt this, a seemingly arrogant man shoved past me as I was trying to work out which shops were where, snarling “Watch where you’re going, mate! His voice could barely be heard over the overwhelming sounds of the street, and I frowned impassively back at him, not exactly taking in what had happened. Only then did I come back to terms with what I was doing – trying to cross the street to the other side where the shops I wanted to go to were, and where there were a few less people.
I couldn’t even try to do this without again crashing (well I say ‘crashing’, but I wasn’t moving particularly fast) into even more distressed, rushing mothers, obviously not knowing what to get their children for Christmas.As for mine, they might have a tough time getting any presents at all at this rate. There just seemed to be endless amounts of people, and the fact that this particular shopping street was one of the biggest in the country did not make a single difference. Overall, I kept making out pale, drawn, miserable, worn out faces and noticed that nobody even looked, smiled, or greeted each other anymore as you would have expected at Christmas time; they were only lost in their own little digital world, pre-occupied with texting and answering phones, oblivious to the world around them.I also spotted that everywhere there were superficial, commercialised Christmas decorations, not the ones that I was used to, with smiling Father Christmases gesturing ‘Buy this! “, “Buy that! ” There were also, as you might expect, the tiresome, loud and tacky melodies of ”Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” etc. blurting out from almost every shop, trying to lighten the almost depressive mood of the place but unsuccessfully contrasting with the atmosphere, via the means of ‘cheesing’ everyone off.
Every so often a sales person would cut the noisy rubbish, and attempt to get the people interested with “Half-price Christmas offers”, and of course “Buy one get one frees! ” Undoubtedly, there was always one cretin who fell into these mercantile traps, and was willing to give his/her money to these selfish profit-making organizations that use the theme of Christmas to brainwash people into buying their products. All this re-iterated the fact that the whole meaning of Christmas has now simply turned into money-making commerce, not the original idea of loving and sharing.It was completely and utterly impossible to hear yourself think, let alone speak, and instead the shopping street was full of the simultaneous sounds of moody kids screaming, unnecessarily loud police sirens screeching, shop tills beeping, fancy high heels clacking, and irksome chavs shouting. This was clearly audible far from the street (bizarrely I had not noticed this) and, put together, it was as excruciating to the ears as being hit round the head with a leather belt!After an extensive five minutes of attempting to get to Beales merely eighty metres down the street, I developed a splitting headache, and left that idea until later. Furthermore, the dense, warm, putrid air of the shopping street was full of the smell of greasy KFC bargain buckets, salty grilled sausages with ketchup, and other such odorous monstrosities. Even if you were hungry, the mere aroma of this fast “food” at such a high concentration made you feel sick, not to mention the collective foul, rancid smell of many people’s body odour on such a hot day for the Christmas holidays.What should have been a happy, satisfactory, yearly experience had turned into, unfortunately, a real nightmare of an outing.
After taking all of this in, I felt the best option would be to have lunch first and wait for the massive wave of people to die down a little before actually attempting to get some shopping done. Unfortunately (and I emphasize this), all I could find was McDonald’s. No matter where I looked, there were no simple cafe , no half-decent sandwich bars; forget the idea of maybe having a Christmas lunch, all I saw were the familiar golden arches staring back at me, happily inviting me to eat at their restaurant.
I was slightly put off by my earlier experiences of fast food but, at this point, I was too tired to look for anywhere else to eat, and besides, if this was so bad then why would people actually want to eat here? I came to a mental conclusion that basically meant “Sod it! ” and so I reluctantly made my way across the street and stepped into the restaurant.Inside, it was relatively busy, but not as much as I would have expected it to be. After having a quick look around I saw that even here they had put up an artificial Christmas tree in the corner of the restaurant, with glaring lights, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor tree as somehow it seemed to reflect the false sense of Christmas we have nowadays.
I joined the back of quite a large queue, however, this still didn’t give me enough time to know what I was going to choose to eat.I glanced up at the board and saw over-extravagant pictures trying to sell the food by making it seem juicy and healthy, and I really doubted that that was what the food actually looked like by the look of what other people were eating. The whole thing just basically confused me; there were ‘Big Macs’, ‘Big Mac Meals’, ‘half-price medium drink if you choose a large portion of chips with a McChicken sandwich meal’, and loads more. Before I even realized it, I was in front of a moody looking member of the McDonald’s staff. “Yes? ” She said this in a very impolite, scruffy manner.She was roughly in her late twenties, with numerous metal studs on her nose and lip, and to be honest, I found her pretty revolting. “Ummm.
.. “- I was lost for words.
“I think I’ll have a beef burger thanks. ” “Yes, a Big Mac? ” She sounded ever so impatient. “What’s that? ” I asked. “A Beef burger with cheese” “Oh right, ok, I think I’ll have that, and to drink I’ll have an orange juice. ” At this point I could even feel the queue behind me starting to get impatient with my lack of knowledge of McDonalds terminology. Finally, I paid and found a place to sit down.I was intrigued with the contents of the small, cardboard box I received, and opened it straight away. What I saw was a revolting-looking pile of junk with pale lettuce and perfectly square refined cheese hanging out of a soggy mess of a bun.
I picked it up, and it felt exactly how it looked. The stuff that entered my mouth in the next few moments was so tasteless and rubbery that I would classify it as completely inedible. After swallowing the burger (with difficulty), I left the remainder to be tidied up by one of the unfortunate people who had to clean at this place.The orange juice didn’t taste particularly good either, but it was good enough to rid my mouth of the taste of that wretched burger. As I walked out of McDonald’s, I had had quite enough, and was definitely not in the mood for doing any more shopping. As soon as I had arrived here, thinking that there would be much more opportunity and choice than my local high street, I was bombarded with bad impressions, and therefore I felt like leaving the shopping for another day, and I certainly wouldn’t be doing it here again!