How John Nice ended up spending £180 on a pair of slippers (sorry house shoes) because he was too embarrassed to admit his Christmas clanger
14:46 23 December 2014
I’ve always loved Christmas. The festive season in Blighty is an opportunity for us all to catch up with family, friends and loved ones.
Everyone seems to have a spring in their step, and in essence, the world takes a week off and gets the chance to reflect, relax and rejoice.
Yet before you can get to that bit, you have to endure the slog of present buying that creates a whole host of problems that are generally surrounded by panic stricken faces in shopping stores.
We all endure it knowing full well that our prize at the end of it is a few days on the sofa with a plate of turkey sandwiches, whilst re-runs of Only Fools and Horses make us chuckle and doze in equal measure.
In a bid to bypass the commercial folie (shopping madness) as the French call it, I thought that this year I would try and get ahead of the queues.
So I hit the shops at the end of October with a few gifts for relatives in mind.
First up for me was a present that had just jumped out at me from a shop window a few weeks earlier.
Resplendent was the only word when I clocked a pair of slippers that had my dad’s name written all over them.
It was the sort of present that I could see myself wearing (Don’t we all end up buying presents that we would wear ourselves sometimes?) and I knew that I just had to get them for him.
The slippers are what I would describe as being a tad Hugh Hefner – he of the Playboy empire.
The personalised dressing gown was out and so was the mansion – but the slippers – well surely I could afford them?
So off I trotted to the shop to see if they had my dad’s size in stock, fully chuffed with myself, daydreaming at the prospect of my father opening his gift amidst the smell of Brussel sprouts.
As I toddled inside, I was greeted with an array of absolute corkers.
The ones I liked were velvety black with a regal purple trim – they looked magnificent.
‘Have you got these slippers in an 11?’ I asked the man in charge.
‘I will go and check for you, Sir,’ he replied politely, before clarifying the situation by adding, ‘But sir, they are not slippers, they are house shoes.’
Off he trotted up the stairs before swiftly gliding back with a pair of 11s. These boys looked the business close up so it was the easiest decision of the year to say ‘I’ll have them.’
Before long we were at the till and I was digging deep into my pocket with the sudden realisation that I hadn’t discussed the price.
Now these were a top notch product so I was expecting to pay handsomely.
Normal slippers are what: about £20? So, I was thinking perhaps around the £50 mark.
How wrong I was.
‘That will be £180, Sir,’ he said, without flinching.
I almost fell over.
That was almost half my Christmas budget on one item.
I couldn’t afford these. But I was committed.
I suddenly became overwhelmed by a wave of quintessential Englishness.It was like one of those scenarios in the ‘Very British Problems’ book. Perhaps I should have just bought Dad that?
The problems in the book are very real but specific to our culture.
An example being a time where you try and force everyone to have the last piece of cheese from the cheeseboard in a restaurant, when secretly you want it for yourself.
Here I was in my very own British problem predicament and like all good fellow countrymen I said nothing.
I simply sweetly smiled as I handed over nine crisp £20 notes whilst inwardly I was dying.
I came out of the shop feeling a mixture of elation and deflation and headed straight home for a cup of tea.
On reflection, with tea in hand, there was no turning back.
The deed had been done and my father’s gift will now take pride of place under the Christmas tree.
I won’t be able to tell him how much they cost as he is a man who loves a bargain who would be absolutely horrified if he knew.
So, I shall have to smile sweetly when he says his traditional refrain, “I hope you’ve not been spending your hard earned money on me”. And when he schleps around the muddy field in them, as he always does in his slippers when he goes out to take the dog.
I may be a victim of my own Britishness but my father will soon be the proud owner of some of the most expensive slippers (I mean house shoes) in history.
May I apologise in advance to all other members of my family for the meagre gifts they are about to receive.
I only hope he likes them – if he doesn’t, that really would be a very real British problem.
That said, being British, he probably wouldn’t tell me anyway.
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