Random Act Of Kindness

Don't push me, ‘cause I'm close to the (h)edge(hog)

Irish News journalist Claire Simpson is forever indebted to the kind soul who held her place in a looooooong queue while she nipped across the shop in search of a Christmas hedgehog. It's the little things, isn't it???

Mr Spiky the Christmas hedgehog. Picture by Mal McCann

It was the start of December. Already maddened by repeated exposure to Slade and Cliff Richard, crazed shoppers were hoovering up any and all deals in Debenhams in Castlecourt, Belfast.

I was in the middle of panic-buying tins of shortbread in novelty cases when I stumbled on a display of Christmas decorations. What could be more festive than a llama wrapped in fairy lights, a terrifying set of silver nutcrackers or a ceramic penguin with glittery golden wings?

Grabbing several kilos of tinsel, which will be fashioned into an escape rope whenever anyone in my family mentions watching the Eastenders omnibus on Christmas Day, I spotted a decorative hedgehog wearing a Christmas hat.

The hedgehog found its way into my shopping and we joined the queue for the tills. Even though it was lunchtime, several people had decided it was the ideal time to return approximately 3,275 items. We waited and the queue began to snake back to the coffee shop. Unfortunately it was only then that I noticed the hedgehog had a large chip in his nose. Should I get a replacement and join the back of the queue – now so long it looked as though we were waiting to file past Lenin’s tomb?

I glanced at the woman behind me. She looked relatively normal and unlike me wasn’t clutching 27 tins of biscuits and a novelty bauble. "Could I just run back and swap this?" I said, nodding at the hedgehog. "No problem," she said.

It was the most interaction I’d had all year. Thankfully there was one last hedgehog left. "I will call you Mr Spiky," I said aloud, forcing other shoppers to give me a wide berth.

When we got back, the queue hadn’t moved at all. Mr Spiky rolled his beady eyes. Typical, he seemed to say.

"Thank you," I said to the woman who had kept my place. Mr Spiky agreed. Thanks to that kind woman, the Christmas hedgehog and I weren’t stuck in a queue that stretched back to Moscow. Mr Spiky now has a prime position on my tree and is hedge(hogging) the biggest branch. He’s already insisting he has to stay up all year.

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Random Act Of Kindness