A Christmas Tale

 Seasons greetings to you all. It is Christmas eve and my day to go shopping. Now you may or may not be aware that our local shopping centre (Chermside Shopping Centre, affectionately known as 'Chermside') is open all night prior to Christmas eve, so it is my habit to rise early and do my shopping at about 5 am. My theory is that there will be less crowds at that time.

 This annual sojourn is a bit like Christmas's past since this is the only time I would go near Chermside. So as I tootle into an almost deserted car park I can enjoyably muse on the ghosts of Christmas past. There is a minor problem, like Topsy Chermside just grew and grew and grew. Higgly piggly everywhere in all directions and now occupies 17 square miles of what was once pristine park land. Perhaps I exaggerate a little but it really is huge and has grown in a completely random fashion. So to avoid the problems of where to park and how to find my way, I go to the same spot each year on the roof over Myer, then I use the same entrance and all is well. I am thankful that the car park is still there this year, when it too disappears Chermside will lose my considerable patronage as there is a limit to how much change I can tolerate.

 It is now 5.30 am and time is awasting so I hit the down escalator and enter the land of the living dead. Let me tell you there is not too much HO HO at 5.30 am for which I am truly thankful. Those around me, including the thousands of shop assistants, are glassy eyed, perambulate with somnambulistic movements and would make an excellent crowd scene for "The Attack of the Zombies".

 It is now 5.35 and I am behind schedule, I hurry off to fill my sack with gifts of gold, myrrh and other things, soap on a rope etc. It is now 5.37 and I have finished my shopping, time to head for the sleigh. Already I have spotted one other bright eyed individual who walks without the gait of the sleep deprived, I must get away before the crowds arrive. I spot a sign I have not seen before "Roof Car Park" and an arrow, ah a short cut. I arrive on the roof but the lift I took must have been a concealed Tardis because I have emerged into another dimension, nothing is familiar as I look out across acres of cars. Panic stricken I rush off to the north west - nothing. Then south east, still nothing. I breathe into a paper bag for a few minutes. This helps. I realise I must return to the shopping centre below and regain my bearings.

 I take the nearest lift and emerge once more into the twilight zone. I set off hopeful that I will soon see something familiar like Myer, after all I parked on top of it. And it is huge so how hard can that be? In my absence on the roof someone has redesigned the shopping centre and it is now completely different. I become aware as I pass The Shaver Shop for the sixth time that I am lost. I use the paper bag again. Desperate straits, I will have to ask someone, preferably someone conscious. I spot a bright eyed shop assistant nearby and rush towards her, as I enter the shop I become aware that I am being eyed with suspicion by the (all female) customers. I then become aware that the shop is called Bras n' Things and is full of things I have never seen before. Too late - I must brazen it out, so I ask the pretty bright eyed 12 year old behind the counter the way to the Myer roof car park. She looks at me sympathetically and tells me she has only been working there 6 months and has only just learned to find her way to the staff car park alone.

 I rush out and use the paper bag again. I now see a sign for Myer and know that if I can get into the shop and find the perfume counter I am home free!

 Success, I am on the right up escalator and throw the paper bag into the nearest bin. I have made it, by next year my harrowing experience will be forgotten and once again I can enjoy the thoughts of Christmas past.

 Merry Christmas to you all.