Buying Christmas decorations on your own is no fun. I always forget this until I’m actually there, though, and this afternoon I headed to Notcutts to pick up a tree. I usually treat myself to £10 worth of decorations too. For years they’ve had an enormous room full of trees, lights and sparkle, and I always look forward to walking around it, alone or not – it’s just a pleasant experience.
Unfortunately this year it was like an Edgar Allen Poe Christmas nightmare. Not because of crowds, but because of the sounds. It started with the background music, which was repetitive and quiet – all you could hear was a regular chick beat. But not in a nice way – it was like music from a thriller, as the heroine is creeping down a dark corridor, looking for the intruder. It set you on edge immediately.
Then there was the ringing. Oh god, the ringing. Something, somewhere, was making what was probably intended as a festive trill, but it sounded like an unanswered phone. I counted, and it was ringing about three times every two seconds. When I have nightmares they’re always heavy on endless repetition – it’s just something I dislike. And it never stopped.
I could maybe have ignored the ringing and the music, but then came the tunes. A group of ornaments contained little village scenes in glass domes under which snow was regularly sprayed upwards while some easily recognisable midi carol played. But all of the ornaments were playing at once, so four different tunes in four different keys intertwined in a horrible mixture of tunes just-comprehensible-enough-to-be-recognisable while simultaneously merging into something awful. You could imagine it being the chaotic, atonal soundtrack to a scene where Santa goes mad as a wide-angle lens 20cm from his face spins as he reels around a workshop of broken dreams. Nasty, nasty, nasty.
But that wasn’t all. Another display contained a revolving carousel on an ice-rink. Every few minutes the children on board would yell in delight. On its own it would have been fine, but with the atmosphere of everything else in the room the children were simply screaming. It was like some fairytale hell.
And then, finally, I saw this:
Is it my brain, or has Santa has hung himself from a Christmas tree?
I picked out some baubles, found a baby tree and got the hell out of there. Ugh.