Alyson took me shopping the other day in Carmarthen.
Now, I don't mind shopping if it involves books or DVDs. But this wasn't any old shopping trip - this was clothes shopping.
Just the thought of it sends shivers down my spine. I know it's a stereotypical male response, but I really can't think of anything more excruciating.
Personally, I'm relaxed with what I wear. During the past 12 months in particular, I've been glued to my suit, shirt and tie -as Mayor, it goes with the territory. But then I'm a farmers boy and I rather like relaxing and 'dressing down' and given the opportunity, I will. Tracksuit bottoms, trainers and a hoodie? Yep, I'm happy with that!
I must admit and anyone who knows me will testify, I do rather like wearing one of my rather eclectic range of loose-fitting tops that I've bought on my travels. I admit, it really isn't a 'cool' look but then I'm not hurting anyone so what's the problem?!
Well, in fairness, Alyson thinks that I can look smarter and she's right - so off to Carmarthen we went!
Trendy Mr Cole circa 2003
Now, I've been here before and in my final year in University, one of my Lib Dem student friends Ruth Martin decided that I needed to be 'taken shopping'. So, to my total horrow I found myself being taken around 'trendy' shops in Aberystwyth. I spent a hell of a lot in Burtons that day I recall but actually, it was all good stuff and the clothes that I now owned were much better than what had gone before.
Trendy Mr Cole circa 2010?
Now I've gone full circle and with the expert eye of the lovely Alyson, I've now got a new generation of nice clothes.
Don't get me wrong, it isn't the clothes themselves that scare me - it's the process of buying them that sucks the life out of me! Fair play though, Alyson was on a mission and before I knew it we'd been in Marks & Spencer, Next, Top Man, Matalan, Peacocks and New Look. Considering the ground we covered in a relatively short space of time, it really wasn't that bad an experience.
But don't tell anyone, I'm in no hurry to go again! But, when the time will come again for another 'full on' clothes shopping experience, I'll know to take Alyson with me again. She made the whole nightmarish scenario a hell of a lot more bareable!