Sunday, 28 December 2008

New Year Wishes

I ventured into town yesterday for my annual trip to the sales. This news will doubtless come as something of a shock to those readers who imagine old Bill is immune to the seduction of retailers.

It shouldn't do. A semi-retired journalist has to make his limited income stretch as far as he can, and a canny trip to the sales has become a staple in my quest to make ends meet.

Of course, those of my vintage may well remember when, here in the UK, we had something called The January Sales. They at least allowed a certain amount of time to pass before we had to endure the horror of seeing everything we'd bought as Christmas presents for our nearest and dearest savagely reduced in price.

Now, the sales begin not just on Boxing Day, but in the days (and weeks) leading up to Christmas. If you're after a new sofa, in fact, there afre few days of the year when you won't manage to catch one in the sales. Amazingly, millions of people spent their Christmas Day on the internet, taking advantage of online sales to supposedly save yet more money. That's one rubicon-shaped threshold I haven't stepped over.

In these uncertain times, though, it's clear that folk aren't spending as much as they have done in previous seasons. Wandering around PC World and Currys looking for a laptop yesterday, a sense of the nervousness of retailers could be glimpsed. Of a good two dozen laptops on display, fewer than a quarter were in stock - and I don't think it was because they'd been flying off the shelves. I was invited to buy the display model (at no additional discount, I might add), but the risk averse, anti-MRSA side of me baulked at the idea of a machine that hundreds of people had already had their digits on. I sensed a real anxiety in the sales staff, and I only hope they're still in jobs this time next month.

As for other shops... well, Next wasn't as busy as I remember from previous years, and good old M&S had little to offer in the way of real bargains. The latter had already shot their bolt with a series of pre-Christmas discount days when all stock was reduced by 20%

It's cold out there, campers - so don't forget your booties!

All the very best for 2009!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Well, it's that time of year when I make my annual posting to a blog that has become - err... just a tad moribund of late.

It's my chance to save a small fortune on Christmas cards, and save the planet to boot, as I bring friends and family up to date with my life over the past year, with the Bill Blunt Round Robin.

First off, apologies are due to Justin, Jasper and Barbara who, by the time they read this, will probably be preparing to open their Christmas presents from their old pa. Knowing their prediliction for popular music, I decided last week to buy them all gift vouchers from that solid retail giant, Zavvi, who have today gone into administration. I have always prided myself on my prescience.

On a brighter note, my friends will - I hope - be pleased to learn that I spurned the dark corner of my soul that almost tempted me to make contact with the ex-Mrs Blunt. Once I had sobered up, and come to my senses, I realised what a favour Tommy Fishfinger had done for me.

But it's been a strange old year. The credit crunch has brought a chill wind to a world that's grown giddy on borrowing. Let's hope 2009 brings a healthier approach to economics and finance. It won't do us any harm. It's A Wonderful Life, really...

So, my condiments of the season to blog readers and writers of the world, one and all!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Getting On With Life

Separation... divorce ... the break-up of a family. It's never as 'amicable' as some people would like you to think.

I don't wish to rehearse the circumstances that led to the breakdown of my marriage to Mrs Blunt. It isn't really of any interest to my readers to know that, after almost three decades with a woman who (single-handedly) helped Scottish & Newcastle Breweries to achieve one of the healthiest profit ratios of any UK listed company, our relationship foundered (or should that be floundered?) on the rocks when she fell into the arms of an erstwhile fishmonger from Ipswich. That's too much information for anyone to have to digest. Even with a side helping of chips.

I thought I had put all this behind me. Then, my eldest son (Justin) furnished me with the latest 'stats' from my blog. I was expecting them to make grim reading - after all, why would anyone bother checking in on a blog that seems to be updated only when the moon's blue? But I wasn't prepared for his findings.

'Pa!' he exclaimed. 'Take a look at this!' Did I detect a note of relish in his voice, as he showed me how my site had been 'chanced upon' via Google searches - courtesy of

As you can see - quite clearly - someone, somewhere, is trying to get in touch with Enid! I know it can't be the fishmonger - he's supposed to be with her now, as they enjoy their place (or should that be 'plaice'?) in Norfolk. So, what's going on?

Take a look at that entry for 29 November - mid-morning.

Call me an investigative journalist if you must, but I can't help feeling that a search via Google for a divorce club in Ipswich, so swiftly followed two days later by a hunt for Mrs Blunt's e-mail address tells a story all of its own. What if Mrs B and the fishmonger have fallen apart? I always thought that mackerel and Mackesons weren't the best table-mates.

Just as I thought I had got over her, her spectre comes back to haunt me. If you're out there, Enid... I'm still here for you! Whatever you've heard, or read about my life since you left, it isn't true. You know where I am, if you ever want to come back. And I promise you - faithfully - I will NEVER make disparaging comments about your size ever again.