These days I’m less Hunter S Thompson, more John Lewis

Sometimes I wonder whether my horizons are shrinking too much. My delightful housemate spends her time either being chased by the police, reporting from the barricades, appearing on TV (proper TV: Question Time, BBC Breakfast, that kind of thing) or zooming off round the world. Other friends get up to scrapes that sound morally dubious but are certainly exciting (and not repeatable in a family magazine such as this one). As for me, I have reached a state of more or less complete inertia. Since I bought a pair of new pillows from John Lewis after the giddy success of a relatively good financial month, I have found fewer and fewer reasons to get out of bed during the day.

Look, these pillows are seriously good. They're only 12 quid each but they're full of feathers and they don't have all those weird stains and smells that pillows accumulate over the years, even if they live blameless lives. (What it is with these stains? They make the pillows look as though they've been violated and peed on by a rampant invading army. And yet to my certain knowledge they haven't.)

BBC bikini

As for my media appearances, these have been confined to one appearance on the Today programme during the last overseas series against Australia, for which I was invited to talk about the sleep deprivation induced by listening to cricket being played on the other side of the world. BBC Breakfast picked up on this as well, so it was pretty much an endless whirl of early-morning cabs to and from the BBC for a while, but since then all I've done is occasionally be asked to join the panel taking calls on BBC Wales, which involves sitting in a broadcast studio about the size of an upright coffin and providing Solomon-like wisdom on such matters as whether women in their forties should wear bikinis. Apparently the producer of the programme is a fan of this column, so let me just say hi to him to remind him I'm around, although whether I am brave enough to step through a moral minefield like that one again is moot.

Anyway, since then things have dried up and the most exciting thing I do these days is sweep the Hobnob crumbs from the bed when a sufficient quantity has amassed itself. God, to think I once went on a 1,000-mile trip on a Harley-Davidson the size of an ice-cream van round California and Mexico, or went to Aspen and drank Hunter S Thompson under the table.

How did this happen, that the most thrilling thing these days is a trip to John Lewis? Or, more specifically, because - believe it or not - some trips to John Lewis are actually quite dull, to the electrical goods complaints department in the basement.

I have written about this place before, when I told the story of the woman who claimed that it was only because of the vigilance and protection of the Lord Himself that she did not die when her kettle exploded, and that the kettle concerned had never been sold by John Lewis was no reason to refuse her a replacement. On that occasion John Lewis crumbled, like a Hobnob, but these days they seem to be made of sterner stuff. In front of me is a posh-looking old man who appears to have come to this part of the store solely to have a nap, and a German-sounding woman with strange earrings like gyroscopes who is complaining that her juicer is broken. Apparently her juicer, which when switched on leaps about the kitchen as if possessed by spirits, is going to have to be packed off and fixed, which could take two weeks. (I have brought a very good book with me but it sits, unregarded, on my lap. I am agog.)

Juiced off

The German-sounding lady (who, to reinforce the stereotype, has a blonde coiffure in the shape of a Viennese pastry and a leather skirt) is not happy. "Are you telling me I am going to have to go without juice for two weeks?" She says this in a way which suggests that, to her, juice is at least as important as fresh water, electricity and a breathable oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere. I am tempted to pipe up and say that humanity managed for uncountable millennia without electric juicers - indeed, I still manage without one to this day - but hold my peace.

She leaves eventually with the look of a woman who is going to her doom, but not happy about it. I have a quick chat with the assistant about his clientele. "Yeah, it's a matter of life and death for some people," he says, before telling me I have to take my defective light to the lighting department instead. Golly, what a day I'm having.

I want a job in the defective electrical goods department at John Lewis, but I don't know if I could handle the excitement.

Nicholas Lezard is a literary critic for the Guardian and also writes for the Independent. He writes the Down and Out in London column for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 21 November 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The myth of the Fourth Reich