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When The Mom came to visit in Bristol, I was trying to think about how best to show the place off to her. There are of course many interesting sights that one might take in: the Suspension Bridge, the University, the nice old buildings, the harbourside. But I felt that what she’d really like were the card shops. And there are so many of them it’s ridiculous. It’s as though a good fifty percent of the city is made up of card shops, as though Bristol were some kind of twee gift shop, ready to help you express yourself at any time.

I spread the card shopping over two days knowing that I would lose all sense of myself in the process. The first day we hit mainly chain stores, but I have never in all my days seen someone so in thrall to a Paperchase before. It was as though she’d been living in some kind of Soviet-era version of Canada with no card shops. I think we looked at each card they had. And it’s a big Paperchase.

Two asides here: for those who don’t know, Paperchase is a stationary store that would make the average seven-year-old gush. It’s got notebooks, wrapping paper, coloured paper, ribbons, stickers, fun pens, and that sort of thing. All in all, a pretty handy place.

And yes, I did say that we looked at the cards. Because The Mom cannot enjoy such things on her own. It brings her no joy whatsoever to just look at a card and giggle quietly to herself. Oh no. She has to come running and flap the damned thing in front of my face while reading it aloud and then going through all the many reasons it’s great. Which is cute the first few times, but on the 50th card it make me want to lie down on the floor and throw a tantrum.

We also visited another store in an old shopping arcade that I thought The Mom might enjoy because it’s pretty and old. She did enjoy it, briefly, but then there were shops that sold cards. This time they weren’t funny, rather they were more artistic – you know, water colours of birds and such like.

At this point I think she’d bought about 8 or 9 cards. Which for her is nothing. She hoards them. She says this is because we never have cards and always turn up to hers looking for one – which is in no way shocking seeing as she’s essentially running a card shop that’s never open and doesn’t take money.

A few days later, we went to the other side of town to see some graffiti because now she’s been to Australia she’s an afficiando, and en route, we passed what I think of as the Maker Street, which is where Bristol keeps a row of cute shops with cute things that are made by local crafty artistic people. Tiny felt mushrooms in bell jars and that sort of thing. And cards.

Lord, the first one we went into I thought she was going to lose her mind. I actually had to caution the poor woman not to lose it here because there were so many, many more waiting for her. She was impossible to contain. I think the shop lady though, got quite a big kick out of The Mom’s level of enthusiasm. Sadly, she did not purchase the felt mushrooms in a bell jar which is a shame because I quite liked them as they serve no real purpose other than being put on my shelf with my other small things that I sometimes imagine about.

Our card shop tour ended in a slight bit of disappointment because the one shop where I thought she’d really lose it was shut. We pressed our faces to the glass and she sighed mournfully.

All the more reason to come back, though.

And believe you me, the next time she does return to Bristol, it’s going to be an exclusively card shops trip. Now that she knows where they are I’m powerless to keep her from them.

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