Had anyone asked, I'd have said that I was a reader rather than a shopper. Online shopping disturbs me: I keep googling obsessively for the perfect duvet cover because the one I've found has stripes that are a quarter of a millimeter too close together. An hour later, I'm checking whether it's possible to import one from Australia and I give up the whole thing with a sigh. Non-virtual shops are no better. Impatient with age, I'm disinclined to queue so I end up in the sort of tranquil establishment where they tell you that this neckline really becomes you, Madam, but take All Your Money.
(By the way, has anyone noticed that if you buy anything from Monsoon, they tell you as you pay that it's lovely and that you've made a great choice? I'm all for this. They'd have a good sideline as blog commentators.)
So shopping shouldn't be permitted to define me. But reading: that I've always done. Perhaps less so since the children were born, as they grab my book to cut up the dénouement for artificial snow, but I still get through a novel and last month's newspapers when I set my mind to it. What's to read, though? My strict rule in a bookshop is never to buy anything that's confiding, hilarious or contains raw emotion. Raw emotion is what youngsters get up to on creative writing courses, and I like mine lightly cooked. Perhaps not always as boiled as Wodehouse, but edging in that direction. That doesn't leave much. Please tell me your recommendations for what to read this Christmas holiday. Meantime, this post will bump the books category up to 8. A good day's work.