Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sales and sleeping bags

Well I did it. I didn’t kill anyone, I didn’t injure anyone and I didn’t even argue with anyone except for a cretin who sat 6 inches from my tail on the motorway. He didn’t like me laughing at him as I eventually moved out of his way after slowing down. But other than this minor and diverting incident I was purely pacifistic, full of sweetness and light. Totally calm. For the first time in half a century I have been to the Sales and to boot I have been to the sales on the morning of the first day, to Decathlon. I surprised myself and just sort of moved in a haze through the crowds of shoe shoppers and fleece shoppers which is what most people seemed to have their bags full of. This filled me with foreboding as I well remember the hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy shoe event horizon.

But I knew what I wanted. A –5°C sleeping bag, a one man tent and snow shoes. The snow shoes went right out of the window right at the start as the wife with usual sanity assured me that I would never have the patience to put them on more than once, which if I think about it is probably true. So I didn’t even look at them. I noticed in passing that it was though the emptiest section in the shop. They didn’t have any tents of course so ‘up yours decathlon!’. Why put tents in your online catalogue if you’re not going to sell them? The –5°C sleeping bag was not in the sales so I got a 0°C one instead. I’ll just have to wear an extra fleece and a pair of long-johns I suppose.

So all in all not a very successful trip. I did get two jackets though for wet weather so once the howler gets out of the bath I’m going to try them under the shower. We have 8 days to take them back. I’m also going to try out the sleeping bag tonight as it’s –0.3°C at the moment so it should be a good test. If it doesn’t pass it’s going back and I’ll get the minus five one and pay the full price.

I must admit though in a perverse sort of way I enjoyed looking at the people. One clamourously obvious thing: women are more aggressive than men in the sales. Those snatching, shoving, elbowing, giving each other nasty looks and snarling were all women. It was worrying. The men seemed completely dead-herring like, clammy and floppy, trying their jackets on whilst the women pulled and tucked and inspected them. The expressions on many of the men’s faces was one of quiet resignation tinged with ‘this one will do’ raised-eyebrow and enthusiastic nodding sort of looks. Anything you want darling just let’s get the hell out of here. The women in the fleece section were frightening. I didn’t see anyone actually having a tug of war or any blood but you got the feeling there might be at some point. And of course all the sizes anybody wanted weren’t there which meant the competition was on to the full. The fleeces went from xxxS to xxxxL which was about all there was. One box of sizes for normal people and 15 for people with arms the length of legs and in general after only 4 hours of shopping there was hardly anything left.

Then as if Decathlon wasn’t enough we then went to the hated Ikea crapshop. The lets-all-have-the-same-furniture-and-trappings shop. As I suspected they were too stingy to have a sale on so we just bought the usual rubbish everyone buys when there’s nothing interesting on offer; a bar to hang stuff off, two fleece blankets and potato peeler. But they sure do know how to market. The quantity of people was beyond belief. It just shows you how much the police are in the pockets of the big retail chains. The parking was abominable, jeeps on the grass, jeeps on zebra crossings, jeeps blocking entrances. The Turin local authority could have made millions in fines today. And not a zebra crossing in sight. We got in about oneish and the car parks and verges were full to capacity. When e got out at two there were hundreds more cars arriving in two lane queues.


Well the jackets stood up to five full minutes under the shower with no problem. The Quechua ultralight sleeping bag was interesting. I got in under a beautiful starry sky and a shimmering upside down half-moon wearing just my long-johns, a short sleeved t-shirt, a lounging fleece, walking sox and a neck fleece to keep my nose from freezing. At 0.3°C warm as toast. As it started to get colder you could start to feel some patches of ever-so slightly colder air and at minus 3 you could feel it was colder but still no problem sleeping. I think if I had had a hat on, a track suit or something and a long sleeved t-shirt I could have easily gone to minus 5 which, considering the bag is rated to comfortable at plus one degree is pretty good going and for 50 euros not bad at all. They say that the extreme comfort level is minus 4 which felt about right. Fantastic, for once the makers are not telling porkys and for once I have nothing to complain about. Makes for a boring blog though so I must make a not to find something else to moan about.

No comments: