I’m baffled. Why oh why do people insist on flocking to Oxford Street in London to do their Christmas shopping? It may well be iconic for being ‘the’ place to shop in London but I can tell you now, this place is hell on earth. In fact, if it was possible to kick Oxford Street in the shins or even pinch it on that extra painful bit behind the arm – then I would do it in an instant. I hate Oxford Street. Who cares if its Christmas.
I have just spent the last hour battling through the crowds hell bent on getting their festive shopping done even though there is not enough floor space in the whole area to accommodate the hoards of panic buying shoppers who’ve journeyed to London from around the country to snap up what is already available on their local high street. There are literally people everywhere and they all have a steely look of determination in their eyes which says; “get out of my way or I will trample you to the ground and then smack you upside the head with my 15 Primark bags”. Trust me, they mean it.
It’s like central London has been taken over by some kind of virus but instead of turning humans into zombies, it has turned them in to psychopathic shoppers who’s manners have been long forgotten.
Lets not forget that we are in England. We are known worldwide as having excellent manners. (that and binge drinking) Just watch any American film which has to briefly portray a room of British people and we are inevitably shown as tea drinking, crumpet eating posh twits who say please and thank you too much and more often than not, have suspicious facial hair. If those film makers could see us at Christmas time – they would seriously change their opinions.
I feel that I am one of the minority who have remembered that physical violence against ones peers is not the done thing and have clung on tight to the manners that my parents instilled in me. I know for one that if I bash into anyone on the street I don’t stop and glare at them menacingly daring them to stand up again just so that I can knock them down. Not like my fellow shoppers. No, I apologise profusely, even if I just grazed their handbag. My resolve is wearing thin though I tell you. If I trip over one more suitcase that someone has conveniently decided to bring with them to the busiest street in London, at rush hour, then I will not be responsible for my actions.
The relief I experience at leaving the office at the end of the day is short lived. Inevitably, the tube is closed because of over crowding which means I have to get a bus. Fine. I’ve lived in London a while now, I can handle public transport issues, it goes hand in hand with any commute. What I cant handle is people charging at you from all angles, lost in their own thoughts of what to procure their loved ones for Christmas and all the while staring in wonderment at the (largely underwhelming) Christmas lights. The lights don’t make me feel Christmassy – they make me angry.
If any of you were avid ‘Gladiators’ watchers in the 90’s then I feel that you will understand what I go through everyday at 5 o’clock. Recall, if you will, the game ‘The Gauntlet’. The rules were easy. The competitor had to get to the other end of the track. Simples. However, in their way were 5 angry Gladiators with various weapons just waiting to take them down. My journey home is exactly the same – apart from no-one is wearing a leotard. The Gladiators are replaced with shoppers and the weapons are replaced with shopping bags, trolleys, suitcases, bikes, prams and anything large that’s going to hurt you if you collide with it. At least at the end of Gladiators you won something. Here, the only thing that you win is your right to walk down the street and get home in one piece.
The weird thing is that the crowds just don’t seem to subside – in fact, they seem to grow on a daily basis. The one thing that I am grateful for is that my hatred of Christmas shopping and members of the general public led me to complete all of my shopping in a record 1 hour and 10 minutes. I can only attribute what must be an international world record to my daily training on Oxford Streets’ own version of the Gladiators. At least it’s good for something.