Ian Hart Braving the shops

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CHRISTMAS shopping – is it an art form?

With our youth football unsurprisingly called off, and having visited Santa at the Ferring Country Centre with my nephew mid-morning, the commander-in-chief despatched both me and Harty junior into town with a list.

First and foremost, it was great to see the town vibrant, full of shoppers all putting money into the local economy (the aforementioned Harty junior does a lot of his shopping on the net, something I’m trying to wean him off, if only for the fact that he could end up with a load of tat that doesn’t fit and a girlfriend from Thailand).

We visited a number of shops, got a lot of what was on the list, with a few notable exceptions, but ended up declaring the mission a success.

Mrs Hart, a lady not easily pleased, was satisfied with our efforts, although we will have to return to change a couple of things before the big day.

However, aside from the obvious parking issues, to my mind Worthing does lack a couple of vital ingredients for the ultimate Christmas shopping experience.

With the sad demise of Gamleys and Woolworths, with all due respect to remaining outlets, Worthing doesn’t have enough tip-top toy shops where the kids can go and wallow in an array of toys.

When I was a kid, Gamleys, in Portland Road, was the Mecca.

Possibly for the whole month of December, the shop was packed, and latterly, when my two were young, Woolies in Montague Street always had a great selection of toys and games.

Now, they are sadly both gone, victims of changing high street trends and the internet, and, to my mind, Worthing is certainly a sadder place at Christmas without them.

The other factor, which actually would apply all year round, is the lack of a pub in the Montague precinct where husbands and boyfriends could make a welcome “pit stop” during the rigours of shopping.

On the subject of shopping, by way of an encore, the c-in-c has had me up at Tesco in Durrington – now that’s a whole new experience!

And, finally, I’ve done it again.

At the end of every November, I sit down on a Sunday, write out reams of Christmas cards, yet at time of going to press, with three days to go, I’ve hardly delivered any.

Although 31 days appear on the calendar, is December actually a month made up of only about 10 days?

Many close friends, confidantes and colleagues could be reading this column, thinking, the miserable git hasn’t sent me a Christmas card again this year.

Problem is, I certainly intended to, and as my dear old Granny used to say, “it’s the thought that counts”.

Then again, I’m lucky in the fact I have this column to wish all the readers, whether they are friends, family or the fortunate ones who have never met me, a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.