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Yesterday I went to the seventh circle of hell.

We went into town to pick up my beeeeautifully sparkly clean engagement ring, and do a spot of shopping. It’s not something I do a lot of, but I have to admit it was rather pleasant, pottering about in the sun, and we picked up a couple of bargains as well as a fabulously gorgeous new handbag for the honeymoon. It’s pink. I luff it. And it was under budget, a fact which I celebrated by buying a couple of nice tops and then going to Joules, where I was thoroughly spoilt after trying on half the store.

It was fun. We had lunch, and didn’t talk about the wedding once. Instead we discussed how excited we were to be going on holiday, plans for the garden, how lovely the sun was, and whether we’d be chucked out of Fat Face if we shared a changing room (we weren’t – we do live on the edge).

And then we started the hunt for a new pair of running shoes for the Other Half. Specialist shoes were not required, just bog standard runners, so the decision was taken that we were not going to the rather good running shop where they take you outside and make you run up and down the pavement so they can assess your technique, joint stress and laugh inside at the fact you look like an absolute eejit doing this in jeans. Oh no, I was assured that a good brand pair would be fine. Yes, I know, recipe for disaster, but these aren’t my joints we’re talking about. There’s only so much I take responsibility for, and someone else’s knees isn’t on the list of Fiance Duty of Care.

So off we went.

Have you ever been to a Sports Direct?

I should have guessed that a ‘sports emporium’ which has escalators instead of stairs at the entrance was never going to offer a positive shopping experience.

A part of me died in there, smothered in badly fitting nylon and painted in fluorescent orange.

I was hemmed in by individuals swathed in static attracting tracksuits, gazing intently at the latest running and multi-purpose sport shoes.  It was plain from the girth on display that most of these individuals had never moved faster than a shuffle towards the chipshop.  To them, bonking and hitting the wall was probably something to do on a Friday night.   

I tried to engage the unhelpful and disinterested yoof who stood limply by the side of the display in conversation whilst the Other Half attempted to try on running shoes which had been so tightly strung together with security tape he was unable to wear both at the same time for fear of falling over.  Said yoof had nothing to advise us on in terms of support, trainer width or suitability of different shoes for different types of sport. It was hard to discern whether he was even awake, to be honest. Every so often his radio crackled and he jerked in response before agreeing with whatever I said. Thankfully it wasn’t long before a suitable pair of trainers were located and we could fight our way through the cut price footballs, coffee mugs, basketball tops and budgie smugglers to the till.  Who buys this stuff?

Stores like this make me want to scream. Clearly, it’s pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap, but the whole experience made me want to come home and have a long shower. There was no pride, no pleasure, and a distinct lack of cleanliness about the store.

I clutched onto my Joules bag, and practiced deep yogic breathing through my mouth, rather than my nose.

Never let it be said The Other Half doesn’t take me anywhere.