Internetted Dad

Today is Father’s Day. And don’t I know it. Having spent yesterday trudging around virtually all day trying to find something good for my dad (whose birthday is on Monday, so I had to find two presents) and failing quite miserably, I’m now in the rather sad position of having bought only a pair of trousers and a shirt. Dull presents, in other words.

It’s always nice to receive such functional presents. Socks are usually given as the obvious example, but clothing in general is the same, as is any kind of toiletries. They are good, but no one looks forward to opening them. But this year, I have failed. I pride myself on the fact that I always try to buy a really good present for my family on their relevant occasions, without resorting to tired old cliches. Something they actually want, yet doesn’t cost much.

I had a good idea for my dad, but it was on Friday, and it was on the internet. No chance of getting it here in time. Maybe I still will. But what yesterday really did bring home to me was the utter failure of the high street, and even the out of town supercentres, to deliver what it is I want. I’ve realised just how reliant I have become on the internet for shopping.

I went around ASDA George, Matalan and dozens of high street shops looking for the right shoes for my dad. He’s extremely fussy when it comes to shoes, and I’m convinced he’s been wearing the same pair for 10 years because of it. But none of them had what I wanted. Size 8, dark brown, and fairly sensible… casual, but smartish too. Yet, on the internet, I have found a pair with almost the minimal of fuss.

I never leave anything to the last minute, but yesterday I did, and have now paid the price. I don’t know what I’d do without the internet for my gift shopping now. It’s made me think – just how reliant have I become on the internet? The answer is a very high percentage, and not without justification. The pain of yesterday, the endless disappointment, the massive inconvenience, wasting seven hours of my life… that is my eternal memory of Real Life shopping. I don’t think it will ever die away for certain items, but for a lot of things, it means I can get on with doing more important things, such as firing up DOSBox and playing the ancience but wonderful PC classic “Dune” for the fiftieth time.

So, I count my chickens to be living in such a privileged age. My dad wasn’t so lucky, but he has at least caught on to it. Though there will be no way of replacing his once or twice weekly to the local Somerfield supermarket after work to buy us all a marked-down chocolate croissant/pastry of some description.

Here’s to him, and all the other great fathers out there who make life worth living. I know not everyone is so lucky, and they have my support. People find their own way around it. Not every dad is a fantastic person, but we can’t let the minority spoil it for the well-meaning large majority.

Happy Father’s Day. And I sincerely hope that one day someone may wish that to me…

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