Living up here means that I'm never at the epicentre of world news. Never. Then today happens and I'm 20 miles away in Liverpool when a seal was found sitting in a field a few hundred yards from my front door. This should have been my chance to make the papers. 'Man attacks seal with book of spoof letters. Website address scrawled across his buttocks.' Hated reading newspaper reports of the story. Usual insulting comments about my home town and its people (and therefore about me). I can be as critical as any about the place but I live here. I hate listening to London types making the usual snide comments about us being thieving, work shy and dumb.
Liverpool was busy and not much fun. Disappointing. I didn't go to shop. I went to walk, to browse and to generally play with gadgets I can't afford. I had a quick go of a Samsung 12 inch tablet. Heavier than I expected but didn't feel much different to the 10 inch. Can't say I felt much love for it. In PC World, they had a Surface Pro 3, which was something else. Felt big and familiar but much lighter than I'd expected. True dream machine. Can't believe it's a full Window PC. This was my time touching one, though it didn't have a single thing I could use with the pen. I was stood there clicking the pen's top button, expecting OneNote to appear, as per the ads. Nothing. In John Lewis, they did have OneNote installed but I couldn't get it to load with the pen button because... well, there was no pen. Waste of time.
Never my favourite shop, Dawson's Music had moved into bigger premises. Very flash. Hugely expensive guitars, which I look at and melt slightly. Not so much at the thought of being unable to afford one but from the thought of owning something that expensive. They're not made for causal finger pickers like me. Music has moved on since the day I bought my now battered Gibson acoustic. Moved on to Curly's Music and things were much more friendly and sensibly priced. Nicer staff too. Brief mooch around. Bought nothing.
Waterstones was just depressing. I sat with a coffee but wanting to scream at people: if you took this much interest in books the rest of the year, then authors wouldn't be struggling. However, it was pointed out to me that if people didn't take such an interest in bookshops at Christmas, there wouldn't even be a Waterstones the rest of the year. Fair point. I fell silent and ate some kind of flan.
Amused to watch the queues on both ground and first floors snake around the building. This is now my second or third year of not giving a thought about Christmas and I still find it's much more tolerable. I can look on with an amused sense of detachment. Despite being an increasingly self-confident atheist, I don't begrudge Christians their Christmas. I love so much about the church. I love the architecture, the art, the music, and even, strangely, the theology. Christmas for Christians seems sensible and generally good. I just don't know why every other bugger makes a big thing out of it, except it's some kind of psychological conditioning. People turn a little bit rabid. I buy presents for those that matter (i.e. the people who still expect me to buy them presents) but I otherwise don't care a damn about Christmas. I don't ask for anything and, to be honest, there's nothing I really want. I rarely find myself wanting much, until, of course, I catch sight of high end drawing equipment well beyond my finances. In January, I have to do something about this. It's can't go on.
I quit Waterstones. Turned left at the front door and followed the road to Bluecoat Books. It says everything about Christmas book buying that Bluecoat Books was empty. Another mooch around. Not enough cartooning books for my liking. £12.50 for a nice book about comic narrative art but it had stuff by David Shrigley in there and I refuse to encourage him. I am utterly baffled by his popularity. Shrigley is one of my blind spots. Drawing: terrible. Jokes: non-existent. Depth: zero. Anyway, left having bought nothing and feeling as pissed off as I always feel after seeing Shrigley's stuff.
Across the road to Evans Cycles. Another shop that has insane prices. £650 for a bike is crazy but £2000... It's a different type of cycling. Nothing like the cycling I know. Lost two spokes in my back wheel. Need to get it fixed in the New Year. The guy warned me about not using it in the meantime. Fat chance of that.
The only purchase of my long jaunt was a £2 book of cartoons in The Works. I don't know why they have such a great track record for cartoon books but I'd not seen books by Norman Thelwell anywhere else. Some great cartoons, much in the style of Searle's St. Trinian's books. Different age of cartoonists. Better age too.
Train home. No seal waiting for me. News from Glasgow horrible. People making jokes about it on the internet about it shameful. Hell is other people, said Sartre. I think he meant to say: hell is other people on Twitter.