Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas past, PRESENT, and future.

I'm hoping that everyone and anyone that takes the time to read these has had a very merry Christmas, and will have themselves a happy new year too. My Christmas didn't feel as I always hope it will, but then that's most likely what working in retail at this time of year does to you. It literally saps your Christmas spirit. Case in point; three days ago, on Christmas eve, I was worked a mammoth ten hour shift. Now at the beginning of the day I was, as were many of my colleagues, full of life, energy, and excitement. Nine hours later though, and those of us still there were completely drained mentally, physically, and emotionally. I believe that one colleague was actually contemplating suicide.

Anyways, we made it reasonably unscathed to the end of the shift, and some of us went out for some drinkie-times and general merriment in a rather crowded regular pub of ours. Due to tiredness (and maybe a little because I didn't want to ruin Christmas by bumping into Santa, thus earning a spot on the naughty list), we left at the somewhat early time of 10:30pm. Christmas morning came earlier for me than I had hoped, for that young little sister of mine came knocking on my door at 5:30am. I took the bullet for the rest of the family by keeping her occupied for a good hour and a half, before we went downstairs to open presents at seven. In what was my highlight of Christmas, my little sister received a new bike, which was covered by a thin plastic sheet. She didn't seem to realise what it was though, despite the front wheel sticking out from under the cover, and she even reached over it to pick up another present; a bicycle helmet, which she seemed a little confused to have been given. To top it all off, when the penny finally dropped, she accidentally knocked the bike over, causing to crash onto the floor. I would say that you couldn't write this stuff, but clearly I just have. It was absolutely hilarious to see though, and gave us something to laugh at for the rest of the day, and a brand new Christmas memory.

Christmas day shot by, with only one argument which broke out between my dad and me over a board game, and then it was straight back to work on boxing day. The joy! It wasn't as bad of a shift as it could have been, but there was still a queue of... well, losers waiting outside before we opened. I had to push my way through to get to the front door. Seriously, it was as if every inbred person in town had turned out. Working again so soon completely killed off any festive feeling that I had left, which is I think why Christmas seems to mean slightly less each year for me. I've been working in retail for six Christmases now, and as I've mentioned in a past blog, the public can sometimes be proper arseholes, and it just ruins the most magical time of the year for me. I just try to think of the money that I'm earning and it makes me smile a little. Luckily we were treated to some light entertainment during the working day though, as the slush machine exploded, and the back of my head was covered in blue, raspberry flavoured, slightly frozen tap-water. The machine quite literally decided to break with a loud bang, and caused quite the mess. In seriousness though, we were lucky that none of us were too near it at the time, as we could have been injured quite badly, because the spirally bit that mixes it all in had come flying out, and was rather pointy and dangerous looking.

I got to leave early, if you can consider finishing work at 6:30pm on boxing day early, and got to spend my evening playing games with Stacey's family. I felt a little happier here because I'd finished work and actually have a couple of days off now, even if I do have to get some Open Uni work done.

So, yeah I've had a little rant, but it's my issue and I have exaggerated slightly in order to try and entertain you, and myself while writing. At least I got to work my shifts with people that I like, which is always a plus. Also, the boxing day shift did seem to fly by in no time at all, so it wasn't too bad at all. Right, anyway, I seem to be rambling on and on in circles now, so I might attempt now to cut to the chase in terms of what inspired me to start writing this piece: PRESENTS!

As much as it shocked me, because being an adult (according to numbers and laws at least) I don't expect to get too much for Christmas anymore. But somehow, someway, it turns out that my family, and my girlfriend actually like me, because they did buy me things and stuff, and left me feeling pretty darn spoilt.

My biggest, most expensive, and absolutely awesome present this year was from Stacey. An Amazon Kindle. For those of you asking 'A what?' right now, I'll quickly fill you in. It's Amazon's own version of an e-reader, an electronic device on which to read downloaded books. Essentially it's an MP3 player for literature. The features on it are amazing, as you can download books on the device direct from Amazon, you can also download newspapers and magazines, and can even subscribe so that a newspaper will automatically be delivered to the Kindle overnight for you. For many books it, you can tell the machine to read the book to you in one of those slightly odd robot voices, and of course when reading in the traditional sense, you can adjust the font, text size, and positioning. It even acts almost like a tablet computer, as it can read PDF files, and Word documents can be converted onto it, and it even surfs the web. Looking at Facebook on it was rather bizarre to the screen, which is the most impressive thing about it. You see when viewing a website on the Kindle, it appeared as though it were a black and white printout of the page, as the screen of the device looks just like paper. This means that I can read outside in the summer, and there will be no blinding glare on the screen from the sun. It also doesn't drain the battery at all to display pages, power is only consumed in changing the page, which was proved by the fact that when I got it out of the box, what we thought to be a sticker stuck over the screen was in fact a screen saver!

In all, it is a very impressive bit of kit, and to the readers out there, I whole heartily recommend them, as I've started reading a book on it and must say that it is so much easier to read from that regular paper books. It's also easier to hold, as it is extremely light, and is thinner than a standard pencil. As for other presents given to me this Christmas, ironically I received quite a few books. Now I will read them all in time, but that I have to read them in regular paper form just seems boring, old, and obsolete to me now. I'm a modern reading man now dammit!

I was also given the usual array of films and a couple of games including the brilliant Super Mario AllStars 25th Anniversary pack that features the first four Super Mario games, as well as a soundtrack CD and a History of Mario book.

Now, the Kindle was in my mind, the coolest, most exciting Christmas present that I've received in years. Since I got the Wii in fact, four years ago now. This got me thinking down that lane of memories, which I'll call Memory Lane, to some of my favourite, and most memorable presents of Christmas past. The Nintendo Wii four years ago was definitely an exciting one because I mean, it had motion control for heaven's sake, it was ground-breaking, different, unique. Of course four years later it's hard to remember just how damn exciting that was back then, now that Sony and Microsoft have copied Nintendo's idea (to be fair, I will say that Microsoft's Kinnect is rather impressive).

I can remember being over the moon at Christmas when I was five, as there was my first ever remote-controlled car under the tree, just for me. I can still remember spending the whole day driving around the house, and in the evening at my grandparents' house. Well, between having to repeatedly charge it up of course. I can also remember the most disappointed I felt of a Christmas morning too. I must have been seven or eight, and had been asking for nearly a whole year for my very own train set. I was desperate for one. And then on Christmas day, under the tree, was a big box, addressed to me. This was my train set, I just knew it. I waited and waited until I was finally allowed to open it, and when I did I was shocked to find a box that had not pictures if locomotives on the front, but rather cars. It was a Scalextric. I was upset, and my dad and my uncle had a wail of a time that day playing it. Now, I must seem a little ungrateful here, but I can't describe how much I had wanted that train set, and to see racing cars instead of steam engines killed me a little inside. I did end up having some fun playing the Scalextric, but was more than a little peeved the following year when my little brother was given a train set of his own!

There are a few others that I remember fondly, such as my ride-on tractor which I thought was very cool because it had a bit that you could attach to the back that you could carry stuff in while you peddled along. Looking back it was just a glorified tricycle, but at the time I thought of it as the real deal. I must have been about four or five back then. Another very exciting present was a decade ago this Christmas, when I was eleven, as I received myself a copy of WWF No Mercy for the Nintendo 64. It proved to be the final game that I would get for that console, but it was easily one of the best. If ever I have access to an N64 nowadays (mine died a tragic death the day after I upgraded to my GameCube) I always try and get a go on what is often considered one of the best sports games of all time.

As I believe this blog has gone on for long enough now, I'll leave you all to enjoy the rest of your Christmas week. I'm going to the panto later, which should make me feel more than festive. Yeah! I hope that you all got what you wanted under the tree this year, and wish you all a happy new year.

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