In April, I was given a very generous gift voucher which I accepted very ungenerously - in that I utterly dislike the place at which the gift voucher must be spent.
It's a Temple of Commerce and takes its resemblance to a temple seriously, being full of statuary: vaguely Grecian gods and - more oddly - dogs with large, intricately carved penises and shoddily hewn eyes. Why would a sculptor spend ages carving a dog's penis and neglect to give the creature a soulful or loyal expression? (That's a rhetorical question, but if an answer suddenly presents itself feel free to comment.)
Anyway, the place glitters with gold (paint), brass and copper and contains more brown-veined marble than is possible - surely? - or wise. The hotels of Dubai are visions of understated good taste in comparison.
But the gift voucher has an expiry date, and thus the Temple needed a devotee and heavy of heart, I drove to it and wandered and wondered (mainly at the dogs with large penises) and tried to spend the ethereal pounds represented by the piece of plastic masquerading as a credit card.
Erk! My prose is purple! I blame the architect and his addiction to liverish stone and every other sort of unnecessary ornamentation.
Normally, I have no problem at all with spending. Give me a bookshop, or a purveyor of jam-making equipment, or a stationer, or a pen-shop, or somewhere that sells remaindered items and I will divest myself of money quicker than Princess Anne/Zsa Zsa Gabor/Cheryl Cole (delete according to distaste) divests herself of husbands -
O! But the horror, horror, horror! of today's experience. In the Beauty Department (badly named - yet more brown marble) a girl with eyelashes like a Kewpie Doll encouraged me to spend £125 on something that resembled a vibrating wallpaper stripper for a dolls' house.
Kewpie: It will remove all the debris from your skin.
Kewpie: It's rumoured that Megan Fox has been seen buying one.
Kewpie: It injects oxygen into your epidermis.
Me: Didn't a James Bond villain kill someone like that?
Kewpie: You'll look much younger.
Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (Which wasn't polite.)
After hours of not finding anything I desired - because the dog statues weren't for sale, or so they said - I came close to blowing the whole voucher on a coffee machine ...
But I have a coffee machine - well, a little mocha pot, which bubbles espresso ever-so efficiently and can be stored on a window-sill rather than taking up most of a kitchen counter.
Also, the enormous, glossy coffee machine - a beast rather than a utensil - worked only if fed small plastic pots of coffee costing an arm-and-a-leg a box.
Also, my household have just discovered that their combined digestive systems will all grind to a halt if they do not each imbibe a drink of lactobiffidiffidopholopholus (whom I thought owned a laundrette in Albert Square) every morning, and I am already drowning in small plastic pots.
Also, I am having nightmares about small plastic pots never degrading (that's when I'm not having really dreadful dreams about midgets). Should I put my foot down in regard to delicate and demanding digestive systems? Or should I wait for the wind to blow in another direction and the sprouting their own alfalfa craze to kick in?
And if I return to the ToC and make enough of fuss, will the Temple let me spend the voucher on one of their dogs ...?