Margaret Henderson Smith Margaret Henderson Smith
Margaret Henderson Smith
‘Golly gosh!’

This morning rosy apples are late. Their mummy arrives in a spin.

‘Calamity!’ she declares.

I wonder what could be amiss until I discover little apple’s been throwing a tantrum. In a strop because she can’t put on her mermaid doll’s plastic double-D, or thereabouts. The poor thing might be used to waving her fishtail against the watery rocks but without that she’ll surely freeze! So rosy apple’s mummy has been struggling away with this preformed perverse strip of plastic, to oblige.

‘Golly gosh!’ I’m thinking. ‘When I used to play with dolls they had nappies and bottles. These days they make them well on their way to The Big 40.’

We’ve got a birthday party tonight. It’s very creative relly-in-law’s birthday. Rosy apples tell me they are looking forward to it. Well they would. Very creative relly-in-law has always got something up his sleeve to keep them amused. Keep us all amused. I’m looking at my famous politician propped up against the office wall. I’ve managed to swing those fangs well out of sight. I’m thinking that’s a joke too far!

I’m steeped in thought as we take rosy apples to where they all go. I’m thinking how fortunate are those authors who can actually secure a celebrity for their book launch. Still, I’m more than realistic. I’ll go with my cardboard one just as long as I can keep those fangs well out of the way!

We are on our way home now. We are almost at the drive. Suddenly I spot that house down the road. The one that got sold. The board’s back again.

‘Golly gosh!,’ I utter to my better-half. ‘I wonder what that’s all about?’

I can just see the scenario. I’m thinking about our potential buyers. I’m thinking…..    Well, no, I don’t even want to go there. But I need reassurance.

‘It would happen that way. I don’t believe it!’ I continue. My better-half’s reading my mind.

‘It’s unpredictable,’ he declares. I can tell by his expression he’s not about to enter into lengthy debate. I go online. I check it out. It’s still reading ‘Sale Agreed’. I am suffering from online confusion.

I think on it no more. I must get on with Christmas shopping. I’m back online. I’ve asked for a list. I have it in front of me. All my rosy apples’ heartfelt desires. Pokemon leads the way. Big apple is desperate for one of those square boxes that sit on shop counters, stacked to bursting with sealed packs of those world famous must-have cards. I’m heading for my favourite auction. There might be a deal to be done. I spot them. ‘Buy it Now’ or ‘Best Offer’. Golly gosh! I decide I will make a ‘Best Offer’. At that price this guy’s wisdom is undoubtedly revealed. I umm and aah. It’s too much money. There’s no photograph. I change my mind. I google it. Almost double the price! Wow! This guy’s giving them away! I return to his website. Make a best offer. Now I am waiting.

I go back to the rest of the list. I’ll call her Princess Glam. She’s  next and then it’s her buddy Princess Ourus. Golly gosh! Two more of them both looking as though their Double-D’s are nowhere near adequate! I wonder what’s happened to childhood. Littlest apple is only three! I’m relieved to get back to Lucario of Pokemon. No letters of the alphabet for this one. I look at his face. Golly gosh! He’s enough to scare all these plastic girls back into their Christmas wrapping paper.

I’m checking my in-box. Mail! My offer’s rejected. He comes back with a counter-offer. I decline. He invites me to try again. I accept his invitation to up it and return to those dolls.

Brilliant! With hardly a scroll I find an online store stocking the lot. I go for it. I get to the check-out. I part with my details. Then I don’t believe it! Golly gosh! Such a personal question pops up. I struggle with it. I ignore the box. I carry on and click the ‘Proceed to next stage’ button. It comes hurtling back. A command in red letters. ‘This is a required field’. I ignore it and try again. No, it’s back! I can see I’m not going to get anywhere with this one. I empty my virtual shopping basket. I’ll go elsewhere. I’ll find an online store that is polite and blessed with good manners.

I check my emails again.

‘Ah! This has to be better news this time,’ I’m thinking. No! Not a bit of it. I’m reading ‘Offer rejected! Try again.’ I leave it for the moment.

I’m getting nowhere fast. I return to that store. I email them and tell them I wish to override this most intrusive of questions. I’m pinged an immediate response. Absolutely no response! In my opinion. I decide on a final email. ‘No thank you,’ I write, ‘I shall seek to purchase these items else where.’ I seek but I do not find. I’m clicking on every Double-D doll that ever graced the internet and I’m still getting nowhere fast. I go searching for my better-half. I explain my dilemma. He’s laughing.

‘Oh put it in my name,’ he says. ‘I don’t know what your problem is!’

Well he wouldn’t would he? I’ve already told you the men in our family don’t do The Big 40!

I am so thankful this is an online store. So much better than face to face! No, when things go wrong, face to face isn’t the place to be. I’ll tell you about it. I’m popping into a small local shop, now well closed and turned into something else. He sells the most delicious boiled ham. I go in. He’s beaming. I’m a regular customer, We always chat, set the world to rights, that kind of thing. But this particular morning I go in. The shop’s empty. He stops the conversation whilst I pay for my ham. Then he’s looking at me.

‘Not bad for an oldie,’ he’s suddenly saying.

Golly gosh! I don’t know whether to be pleased or annoyed. ‘I’m not quite at the Big 40, yet,’ I’m thinking. I want to change the subject. I find myself telling him how special his boiled ham is. I find myself telling him it’s the best boiled ham for miles around. I’m asking him where it comes from? What makes it so different?

‘I do it myself,’ he replies. ‘I’ve got one on the go now. I’ll show you.’ Instantly I am marched round the back. I peer into this large bubbling pot. I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to know his scientific method for boiling it. His stove is right by the door. He’s blocking the doorway. I want to get out. I want to get out now! We hear the shop door open, then again and again. I am so relieved. He wants to get back to his customers. He wipes both hand down the side of his sparkling white apron. I see faces. I see smiling faces.

‘I’ve been showing her how I boil my ham.’ He’s laughing.

I grab my ham off the counter and  rush out. ‘I won’t be going in there for a while,’ I’m thinking.

Back to today. I’m looking at my latest email.

‘No more chances to offer on this item. Don’t let it get away! Buy it now before someone else does.’

I panic. I press the button. I’ve bought it. I check my list. It says Pokemon EX. I check the web page. It just says Pokemon. Where’s the EX? I scan the page. It’s not written anywhere. Golly gosh! I’ve just spent a fortune and I’ve bought the wrong one! I’m still panicking. I can’t do anything about it now. I hope against hope there’ll be an EX somewhere on the box. When it arrives. I’ll just have to wait. To see. What with these things and Double-D dolls. It’s just not fair on the likes of us who’ve past the Big 40! I daren’t tell my better-half. This is definitely not one of my better days for online shopping.

He’s online shopping, too. I hope he’s having better luck. His is car insurance. How boring is that! Well at least you can’t go wrong with it. Or can you? Suddenly I hear him not being very polite.

‘Bl- – dy wonderful,’ I hear him say as he’s mounting the stairs. He arrives, laughing.

‘I thought I was talking to one of those recorded messages again!’

‘Don’t swear,’ I say. ‘It’s not very nice. I do hope you apologised.’

‘You shouldn’t have to, to get a decent service,’ he replies. I keep very quiet. My errors are all of my own making!

I go back to that store. I place the order on behalf of my better-half and hope the recipient of my final email isn’t looking. Within minutes, three in a row. Three emails all from that store. I’ll get round to opening them, but not today! I’ve had enough for today. We’ve got a party to go to!

My dearest relly has had much better luck with her online shopping than me. Her buffet is divine, heavenly! In truth, we all agree, ‘This is not just food, this is truly More? & Seconds? food. This is the epitome of temptation. We wine, dine and laugh the evening away. I’m asked about my new book. The party to launch it and when it’s likely to be. Suddenly I get cold feet. Those characters! They’ve taken on a life of their own! I can’t have invited guests thinking I’ve gone wayward. No! We’ll just make it an ordinary party. Just an ordinary Christmas party. I’ll leave the publicity to all places online.

It’s time to go home.

‘Oh, I’ve got something for you,’ says my very creative relly-in-law.

He gives me a small photograph. Golly gosh! I’m standing up and close alongside this ‘famous person whom I would most like to meet’ with my bunch of flowers. He has closed in. His head is leaning towards mine. We are an item! My creative relly-in-law has worked on this halloween image to perfection. Well, not quite! I am delighted until I spot those fangs! Delighted until he gives me a set of white fanged teeth.

‘Body bits!’ he says

‘Oh no,’ I think, ‘plastic body bits! Not more!’

I can’t believe I’ve wasted most of the day looking for plastic bodies wearing plastic Double-D bits. I’m suffering from online confusion. I’m suffering from online intrusion. I’m suffering from The Big 40! Oh and now my feet are freezing!

 

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