Back when I was a child it was a bit fiddly but relatively straightforward. Saturday morning I’d set off from the house with a shopping basket and go to the butcher; home, unload, head for the greengrocer; home, unload, head for the grocer. If I needed clothes or shoes my mum and I would jump on a bus into town.

You were pretty limited in the time you could go, and hardly anything opened on a Sunday. This has all changed. Now the malls are open seven days a week, though from my point of view that’s neither here nor there, since you’ll only get me in Lakeside or Bluewater by threatening my loved ones with physical violence.

We’ve all made purchases we regretted later. Well, I haven’t, because I loathe shopping so much I know exactly what I want/need, and if I can’t find it in the first half hour I’m going home. I don’t browse. However, others do make some rash purchases, and these seem to be all too common among people who use the wild wacky world of internet commerce.

I’ve never bought anything online, but I know people who do, and one of the cardinal rules is never to go shopping online when you’re full to the brim with beer. My friend The Electrician failed to adhere to this rule, and made some very odd decisions indeed.

First off he bought a pair of slippers. Pretty safe there, though I a/ wouldn’t buy footwear I hadn’t tried on (I have asymmetric feet, and a condition known as ‘equine arches), and b/ would prefer not to purchase slippers.

He persisted with the footwear idea and moved onto hosiery. He bought himself a pair of socks. Sadly he was browsing the ‘Clowns’ section, and ended up with a pair of red and white hooped kneelength socks like those beloved of Mr Moffo’s victim.

Still no harm no foul. But there would have been had a technical glitch not stopped him impulse-buying a violin. Those things sound pretty terrible when people are learning to play them, so his long-suffering wife was spared that ordeal. She was struck lucky when The Electrician got outbid on a set of bagpipes, also notoriously discordant in the learning stages. Even when played properly they’re a bit like sheep, better from a distance.

Having fallen at two musical hurdles, he soldiered gamely on, and managed to purchase an ‘authentic’ Irish penny whistle, though it appears to be made in Taiwan to judge from the delivery time. It does come with a ‘free’ instruction book. He had to pay extra for the instruction book for the harmonica.

The perils of demon drink, eh?