>in the bag

Christmas. Shopping. Two words which, when paired together, can induce despair in people like no other seasonal disorder. But it needn’t be such a nightmare, for the Christmas shopping list is a beast that can be tamed. And we should know: we sent a gang of our most wanton consumerists to ferret out the most inspirational gifts our two cities have to offer. So over the next eight pages find out just what to buy, who to buy it for and just how much it’s all going to set you back.

Compiled by: Maureen Ellis

18 THE US? .7.‘ Nu. 1‘ Eran 12"“;5

he journalist and novelist India Knight has vvritten a book about shopping. In this. she lists the lovely places vvhere you can buy lovely stuff and gives helpful ’lifestyle‘ advice about hovv. where and when to spend your money. But do vve really vvant to he told hovv to shop'.’ Isn‘t that a bit like vvriting a book about bodily functions‘.’ lior the haves and the have nots (people who shop on what my mum endearineg calls ‘the never never"). shopping can deliver a ground-shuddering release jtist as satisfying and intrinsically important to human well-being as sex. In short. most of us do it fairly regularly. and when we do. we get plenty ofenjoyment out of it.

There are. of course. good and bad times to shop. Now some women and even some men. will say that any times a good time to spend money. I. hovvever. disagree. Take for example - my example a time when you‘ve been recently ditched. Not so long ago. I got shown the door. literally and othervvise. early on a Saturday morning. The shops were open. 1 had money in my bank account. What else was I to do'.’ (io shopping. of course. But much to my disappointment. none of the shiny nevv things I purchased had a positive impact on my state of mind. It was a cold exchange betvveen me and the recipient of my cash in every instance and on that day shopping was anything but retail therapy.

Another bad time to shop is when it's busy or you’re in a hurry. Which brings us to last-minute shopping at Christmas. For those who are organised ~~ (iavvd bless ‘em (‘hristmas shopping is done early to avoid the faux pas of the panic buy that in most cases results in a scornful look from the recipient of said gift. The sort of look that says ‘you bought this in seconds. and it shovvs‘. .\'ovv most of us have had that look at some time or another and. let‘s face it. it‘s not nice. And so easy to avoid. especially given the benefit of Johnny internet. vvhich lets organised people shop online for their (‘hristmas gifts in the centrally-heated comfort of their ovvn homes. Hell. even if you have to get up and go dovvn to the shops. you‘ll find that the cunning marketeers lay on all sorts of enticernents like Santa's grouos. roast chestnut stands and funfairs. If you shop early. you may even be relaxed enough to forget that they’re there to take your money. and bask in the seasonal glory of their artificial light. lior the rest of us. old habits die hard. Which is vvhy I'll end tip leaving it tmtil the last minute. as l have done for tnost of my adult life.

So this ('hristmas. don‘t be like me and leave it late. You've got to get those presents sometime. and if you vvant to enjoy it. do it early. What you see on the following pages might even help you along the vvay. 'I'lrr' [J's-1‘s shopping special doestfl tell you hair to shop it just gives a bunch of ideas about vvhat you could buy. ordered according to the type of people you might knovv. And if you vvant to get any pleasure out of the annual present spree. it‘s time to get those credit cards out and hit the streets. (Anne Westvvood)

The Shops, by India Knight, is published by Viking, £12.99. On sale now.