I rang up the consumer psychologist Sue Keane to find out why we are shopping for Christmas in early autumn only to find out that she bought one Christmas cake last week and will buy another this week. Her sister-in-law is in charge of the crackers or she'd have those too by now.

Life is full of tough decisions but most of them are not as tough as the one involving the Christmas crackers. Last year this became so fraught that I still had not decided between Super Deluxe and Luxury Deluxe by Christmas Eve. When I finally arrived to buy something - anything! - the shelf had just been cleared out. "Too late!" shouted the shelf-clearer with too much seasonal glee. "But it's not Christmas yet!" I protested. He shrugged and started going on about shelf-stocking schedules. I suggested that perhaps he could go get six Super Luxury Deluxe from wherever he had just carted them. "No can do!" he chortled. "Better buy early next year!"

Now there's early and there's ridiculous and I think that October falls into the latter category when it comes to Christmas shopping. Every year perfectly good food is removed (where does it all go?) as early as September to make way for 25 kinds of Christmas pudding that are probably all made by the same company. Row after row is given over to chocolates, biscuits, cards, crackers, wrapping paper, pet stockings etc. Last week the gifts, hundreds of them, whipped in. Not all are in the best of taste. "For the man who wants to date a model the inflatable Super Model in a Can (pounds 4) or the kissing Super Model Wine Bottle Cover (pounds 4.50) may be the next best thing," says Tesco's. "Women too can have fun with an inflatable Toy Boy in a Can or the wolf-whistling Toy Boy Wine Bottle Cover."

I rang up the consumer psychologist Sue Keane to find out why we are shopping for Christmas in early autumn only to find out that she has already got most of her Christmas cards and presents. She bought one Christmas cake last week and will buy another this week. Her sister-in-law is in charge of the crackers or she'd have those too by now. "There are two sorts of shoppers," she explains. "There are people like me who are terribly boring and get on with it early. I would feel horrible if I didn't have everything done by the end of November. Then there are the types who can only shop in some kind of adrenaline rush and they leave it as late as possible. They make it all very exciting."

Well, if I can give up nicotine I can certainly give up adrenaline-rush shopping. So last week I placed myself firmly in front of the Christmas crackers. Was it going to be Super Deluxe for pounds 14.99 (pounds 2.50 a cracker!) or Luxury Dinner Party for pounds 19.99 (pounds 3.33 a cracker!) or perhaps just the Deluxe (pounds 1.67 per cracker). My hand was heading towards one of these - it really was - when two other non-adrenaline shoppers pulled up to peruse. They talked, compared, touched and compared some more and suddenly I felt quite ill about the whole thing. I snatched back my hand and fled. This adrenaline thing may be harder to beat than I realised.

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