Sunday, 21 December 2008

Shop Girl at Christmas

I’m not going out tonight because I’m conserving energy.
It’s Christmas and you never know what’s going to happen.
This morning I walked into the shop and it was littered with reindeers.
They were all over the place; collapsed, decapitated and with their cables trailing between their legs.
They’d been delivered the night before.
It was a massacre.
We managed to force their heads in place and plug them in.
They were lovely lit up.
Mum sorted out their mechanisms so their heads moved up and down or side to side.
One of them fell over every time it looked left.
Another one seemed a bit arthritic and creaked every time it looked up from its grazing position.
They attracted a lot of love.
“This is what we need,” one woman said, after telling us that her bearded dragon had laid twenty three eggs, “Pets that plug in.”
By lunch time we’d sold them all.
On a normal Saturday I would’ve felt quite tired. But I hadn’t gone out dancing the night before as I’d planned to, even though my cousin and I had just got new dance shoes.
Our grandparents, avid dancers themselves, had given us extra money for Christmas on the understanding we bought proper shoes.
We’d gone to that specialist dance shop on the corner of St Martin’s Lane.
“Go in with attitude,” the local Salsa addict had warned us.
But the shop assistant wasn’t a snob and didn’t test us on our dancing abilities.
Neither did she mind us trying out all the shoes in the shop; although she might’ve stopped us if we’d asked for the ballet tutus.
We’d thought to buy an understated pair; perhaps some discreet black ones.
We walked out with sparkly, gold sandals.
Mine even has a diamante buckle on the front.
Our intention to go dancing was pretty strong.
But Christmas is unpredictable.
At 10pm we find ourselves in my local church.
My fingers are covered in gold paint because I’m rubbing stars onto a deep, blue sky that my brother helped put up with drawing pins.
They've used pins because all the faith in the world wouldn’t have kept the heavens up with double-sided tape on those damp walls.
We cut out huge silhouettes of famous London Monuments.
My brother’s girlfriend cuts out Tower Bridge and my neighbour does Big Ben.
It’s not what the parishioners are going to expect.
Some won’t know what to think when they see baby Jesus so near Canary Wharf.
But expectations are not supposed to be fulfilled so easily.
And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if there were no surprises.

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