The economy's in a shambles, as is the airline industry (we can blame Iceland for both), as is my study (should I blame Iceland for that? O, go on then.) My kitchen cupboards have been tidier - all right, they're also in a shambles. I'll skirt over the state of my sock drawer (shambles) and knicker drawer (drawers' drawer?) Do I really need to spell it out? S.H.A.M.B.L.E.S.
And guess where I was yesterday? In The Shambles - in fact, due to the crowds of people who hadn't gone to the Harrogate Flower Show, I was shambling in The Shambles - looking at the shrine of Margaret of Clitherow who was pressed to death for her faith and not buying fudge. To clarify: Margaret wasn't pressed to death for not buying fudge. I wasn't buying fudge - which was difficult as every other shop in The Shambles sold it. (I won't tell you what the shops in Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate sold.)
Yesterday, someone told me that in ages past, The Shambles were populated with slaughtermen and butchershops: shambles were the innards of butchered beasts which tumbled bloodily onto the street and made a mess - or a right shambles. However, research suggests that a shamble was the table or bench the beast was butchered on. No matter, shambles has come to mean mess and muddle, clutter, ruin or a scene of bloodshed, carnage and great devastation.
Perhaps because the airplanes were grounded and the airline industry propelled into complete shambles, we were saved - quite literally - from complete shambles.