I had forgotten why we had stopped visiting Bluewater Shopping Centre.
The Dartford Crossing was unusually free of traffic and we were tempted to make the crossing, noting as we did so that the toll had increased by 33.3 % from £3 to £4 round trip.
On arrival we noted that every Bluewater car park was full but somehow a vacant space became available as if by magic, Big Wheels was conveniently parked.
But as we wandered into the grand emporium, I had that familiar sinking feeling of being somewhere utterly pointless unless you were a teenage girl with a must-have mentality and no wherewithal to acquire.
For that reason teenage girls pose and cackle and flirt occupying all the available public seating.
One shop, a supplier of indeterminate goods, provided an unidentifiable celebrity hunk with his shirt unbuttoned to his belly button and a high heeled glamorous photographer to record celebrity hugging teenage girls who were besides themselves with excitement while trying but failing to look cool for the camera. Further along the mall two further would-be hunks were stripped to the waste selling something I also failed to notice.
To escape all this, I needed a newspaper, because I would surely be spending at least the next two hours of my life in this place. I consulted the Bluewater map to find Smiths and invested 30p in the Independent which I knew would have at least three sudokus.
Adopting my usual escape route, I made my way to the John Lewis furniture department, where you can find the only comfortable lounge sofas unoccupied by teenage girls. The last time I settled into a John Lewis luxury sofa I found myself unsettled by John Lewis customers hovering about me like would-be customers. I carefully and deliberately selected a couch that was so ugly, no one could possibly be interested in purchasing it.
Nevertheless, before I could get going on my first sudoku, a middle class couple appeared and began studying a swatch of fabrics directly in front of me. They discussed each fabric and as they flipped they in turn looked at me as if they were choosing the fabric of my next bespoke three piece suit.
I did the decent thing and vacated the sofa.
Before too long I reunited with Mrs Monk who was resplendent and refreshed by a new fragrance, blagged from an unwilling perfume sales girl.
Mrs Monk demanded to be fed so I suggested a sandwich from a coffee shop. She did not fancy the long lines wherever we stopped, but thought we might try Jamie's Italian, which happened to be on the way to the exit. I had not expected to find any free tables, since we had tried this twice before and were turned away on both occasions. However we were surprised by the many free tables all beautifully set up to receive the Monks for lunch. Or so it seemed.
We stood at the maitre d's station for some ten minutes and finally he appeared. He did not show us to any of the made-up tables, but did look down meaningfully at a clip board before telling us that there would be a fifteen minute wait.
"Are you saying you cannot seat us for fifteen minutes when there are free tables right now and the restaurant is half empty?" said Mrs Monk.
Then we remembered why we had not been back to Bluewater for so long.