Not just shopping, but Christmas shopping. Christmas shopping in a crowded mall. Maybe my tolerance to crowds has increased after the exposure in Vietnam! Maybe I’m just getting old… Mindless hordes and soporific muzak, glazed-over eyes and screaming babies, Chadstone at night. Oh well, it had to be done, for in this society it is imperative that at this time of year you must buy more stuff.

A sense of humour was maintained, some gifts were acquired. I even resisted the impulse to either correct the nonsense that the Tandy staff was spouting regarding firewalls, or to simply punch him in the nose. I did feel sorry for the customer, glazed over eyes and $150 poorer by the end of it.

Some squinty-eyed rummaging found me a copy of The Triffid’s In the Pines, and Treeless Plain in the bargain bin in JB Hi Fi. I even managed to buy them once the staff decided to stop chatting to each other and deign to serve a customer.