Did you know that [counter] people have been having a skeg at my little autonomous region?


Walking in a Wiltshire wonderland


It was Christmas Eve babe . . . in the drunk tank . . .

Actually it wasn't at all because Chippenham doesn't have a drunk tank. Another reason to make me wonder why I stay here. 

However, there were two really good things that made me feel happy and festive this morning. One was the stunningly magical beautiful pink and orange sunrise which I witnessed as I was LEAVING Sainsbury's. The other was the fact that Sainsbury's turned out not to be as busy as I had expected it to be so I didn't need to use my crowd control baseball bat once. They have so many different types of shopping trolleys at supermarkets these days. Huge trolleys for fat greedy people who buy loads of stuff, scabby little trolleys for sad lonely people who buy very little more than a boil-in-the-bag meal for one, trolleys for disabled people, trolleys with child seats for people with hundreds of kids (you'd think they'd chuck in a free packet of condoms) and all sorts of other weird and wonderful designs but never a shopping trolley with a much needed flame thrower on the front. I might just write to the producers of Dragon's Den on the telly in this respect.

The gym wasn't very busy today. So that's another good thing about Christmas. I'm trying to spend a lot of time there in an attempt to get myself fit for my travels to far away places where there is lots of fresh air, open space and natural food. Really I suppose those far away places are the best place be to get fit so perhaps I should go and live there and just come to England for my holidays instead. Any road, no sign of a bauble, a sprout or a figgy pudding as I cycled my almost traditional 16 km so I was happy there, sweating my reproductive organs off.

I spent the rest of the day wishing I'd put a bit more effort into planning Christmas and in the afternoon I dragged myself out into the hustle and bustle and throng of Chippenham town centre. Well it is Christmas and I suppose I should make the effort to be like everyone else on Christmas Eve, apart from the ridiculous Santa hats and the 'Donner und Blitzen' tattoos and vomitting in shop doorways and the letting fat, bloated taxi drivers kiss me as everybody else seemed to be doing to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus . . . they'll have to wait until Easter for me to join in properly!

My favourite shop in Chippenham is Magpie which is a sort of up-market car boot sale that often sells some pretty cool and swanky stuff as well as a pile of unwanted Christmas presents from many a year gone by. Madonna, Kylie and Simply Red must be the most environmentally friendly artistes of the popular muse of our time as their CD's are recycled on such a great scale.

In Magpie today they had a 1960's style juke box for sale. I'd have bought it for my Mum for Christmas but she's oft told me that she's not a lover of Showaddywaddy and also they wanted a couple of grand for it. To play a record on it was free. I put on 'Runaway' by Del Shannon and went travelling back to a more beautiful time as I listened to the scratch rock 'n' roll. Ecstasy!

I met an old friend, Sergio, in Body Shop. I have spent many a cold Sunday afternoon with him standing in the piss pouring rain on windswept muddy fields the length and breadth of Wiltshire as we watched our respective sons turn out to play football for the pride of Castle Combe, Castle Combe Colts FC. We spent a good twenty minutes reminiscing over the good old days and talking about football, our kids and our kids' involvement in football. We toyed with the idea that one day we should go along to have a few beers and watch the Colts' Under 10's team play.

Eventually a Body Shop assistant, heavily laden under a layer of make up not too dissimilar to the decor of Bobby Sands' cell walls, asked us if we needed any help. I got a fairly negative reply from her when I asked if the shop sold whiskey so Sergio and I agreed to meet in the same shop at 1.00 p.m. next Christmas Eve, shook hands, wished each other good luck and each went on our way.

Hopelessly wandering around the shops in search of last minute gifts for my loved ones, I came to the conclusion that neither I nor the shops were much good at doing Christmas. I suspected that by this time next year both they and I will have tried a lot harder or given up completely.

I soon decided that, apart from whiskey, gin, vodka, brandy, rum and wine, the only answer was beer so I went to my favourite pub in Chippenham, the Three Anchors (without a 'W'). It's not hard to be the best pub in the town as they all seem to be closing down due to lack of custom. Each time a pub closes I feel quite bad as I probably haven't patronised some of these fine establishments as much as I should have done. So my new year resolution for 2012 is to drink more beer.

The pub was lovely and cozy with a huge open fire and quite a gathering of fat, long haired but balding, middle aged men standing around and staring into space as they drank beer that always looks like and tastes like Baby Bio. I was slightly different to the crowd because I sat down and I didn't comment upon how hoppy my brew tasted.

This trip to the pub may well have been the highlight of their year. A whole Saturday afternoon to immerse themselves in their hobby. And why not? I would have pursued my own pastime in the same way had I had the funds available to buy an airline ticket to Venezuela to spend Christmas Caracas style.

I looked around the pub . . . it was gloomy. I looked through the window to the outside . . . it was gloomy. I looked at the man sitting opposite me . . . he was gloomy.

I turned my face away and dreamed about Peru.


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