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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 December, 2003, 11:57 GMT
How much will you spend on Christmas?

Consumer confidence is running high this Christmas, with one in three shoppers planning to spend more than last year.

The report from market analysts, Mintel, says that an average person is planning to spend more than £300 on presents for family and friends alone.

Over half of the populations say they spend more than they intend too, with only 38% sticking to their budgets.

The findings come a day after a separate survey said that UK consumer confidence had fallen since the Bank of England raised interest rates.

How much will you be spending on Christmas shopping this year? What are your most popular gifts? Will you be buying online?

Your comments:

I would love to spend less at Christmas and just spend money on the children in the family. Unfortunately, in-law family has a tradition of sending present lists from adults as well - it really does miss the point and has left me feeling really drained at the thought of it all. Next year we're going away!
Sarah Green, Brighton

Throughout most of my childhood I experienced the most awful Christmas spirit - it revolved around alcohol and arguing. Now I am married with a very good job and two beautiful children. I have not had much money since my training but this year I have spoilt my children because they deserve it and so do I. To see their happy faces will bring joy to my life too. I want to spoil my children because I can afford to and for once in the last few years I can be happy at Christmas myself knowing I have done them proud. We were all kids once and looked forward to Christmas and presents. But let's not forget the meaning of Christmas, its not just presents; get to church and give thanks everyone!
VG, Aintree, Liverpool

I have spent less than £100 pounds total and all the Christmas gifts are things we need (the whole family) like shoes etc, they will be wrapped up and opened on the big day - so it is only money that needed to be spent anyway. Apart from that we will have a family get together and sing hymns and carols around the piano and enjoy talking about God's best gift to us - His only Son. God Bless.
Anika, Shropshire UK

As a fourteen-year-old student it is hard for me to cast a clear-cut opinion of this issue. However it seems such a shame to see so many frantic shoppers when driving around in the evenings. It's almost as if they don't care enough to buy stuff in advance. I buy gifts in early December - to get it out of the way, mostly - so that I can appreciate the Christmas period and enjoy it.
Jonathan C, Paris

I find it very sad to go to a supermarket and see people behave as though the shops would not be open again
David Welham, Colchester, England
I am married to a Slovak so we try to combine the two cultures. This is good as I have spent Christmas in Slovakia and it is much more about the meaning than all the commercialism. I find it very sad to go to a supermarket and see people behave as though the shops would not be open again. Christmas is about being with your family so please let's celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Finally to all those that are lonely this Christmas god bless.
David Welham, Colchester, England

Try having four siblings, three in-laws, a niece and a nephew and being an impoverished student. I think my bill's somewhere between £150-£200, so I'm amazed some full-time workers can manage to do it for less! But I like to show the people I love that I care - and although I'm not materialistic, if the gifts I want to get them cost a lot, then so be it. It only happens once a year and what else would I spend the money on? Beer, probably.
Jo, Cambridge, UK

To all of my fellow countrymen, I wish you all a peaceful and a happy joyous New Year. Just remember Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and not about spending huge amounts of cash, don't get bogged down with spending, otherwise you will miss the magic of what Christmas is all about, take time to go to church this Christmas, to experience it's true meaning, go on I dare you!
Tracey, Nottinghamshire

It's not about the money. My only rule is to avoid any shop where I've found Christmas decorations before the start of December. These days that means shopping online.
Guy Chapman, Reading, UK

All this frenzy is unreal, and the comments here, are a real snapshot of the depths to which Britain has fallen. The overwhelming majority of comments that reflect the real reason for Christmas are from citizens of other countries, and God bless them for not losing sight of what they are celebrating, Jesus's birth and not competing with the Joneses
Tony Humphreys, Prestatyn, UK

We ask each other for ideas for presents, so we know that the presents will be appreciated, also there's voluntary spending limit (apart from spending on my mum this year!) My kids love to get books and clothes, they don't like the commercial aspect of it, but love the idea of spending all day eating with extended family and friends...result. A happy, almost traditional Christmas that doesn't break the bank, and everyone gets something that they'll actually use!
Claire, UK

I only buy presents for immediate family, so I have probably spent about £120. I do not want a credit card statement the length of a toilet roll come January.
Mia, Aylesbury

A couple of weeks ago, I sorted through all of my stuff and donated bags and bags of my stuff to charity shops. I thought it would help people who do not have a lot of money to maybe buy something that I do not need anymore as a present for someone else.
Maria, England

I've just cut up my credit card after blowing a small fortune on my daughter who's three. Well, you're only young once. Shame I'll be paying it'll take me about three years to pay it off!
Joanne, Cheshire

I'm not interested in the modern form of Christmas which seems to be "Queue, Stress and be Ripped Off"
Jon, UK
Gifts for both parents and the wife, and some food to take to the parents for Christmas dinner. Total damage around £250. I haven't exchanged presents with more distant relatives for years - there's no point everyone going out and racking up a bill by buying lots of doodads just for the sake of exchanging boxes. I'm not interested in the modern form of Christmas which seems to be "Queue, Stress and be Ripped Off".
Jon, UK

The cost of Christmas has gone down this year compared with last which was done on the year before. Why? I'm on a fixed pension and I have to pay Council Tax well in excess of any increase in my pension. Christmas spirit - I still have that, more than can be said for politicians of all parties.
Jade, UK

Don't know what all the fuss is about. People should spend all the money they have on Xmas so they have a really good time. Of course I've just had a whopping pay rise so I would say that!
Dave Harper, Birmingham, UK

I believe far too much emphasis is placed on money-spending and materialism at Christmas these days. Advertising from November onwards seems to show nothing but a barrage of expensive items, pressurising friends and loved ones to "prove their worth" depending on how much they spend. People appear to have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas - a time to simply be with loved ones and enjoy each others' company rather than frantically worrying about who's spent what. Christmas should be peaceful and sacred - and certainly not a time for over-the-top materialism.
Becky, Wellingborough, UK

My husband and I spend whatever we can realistically afford. Between us we spend around £500 on presents for family and a couple of friends averaging around £20 - £30 each. Next year may be different as we're having a baby and I might not be working so I think it's nice to 'spoil' people when you can! I am shocked at how many miserable sounding people there are on this message board. If people can afford nice gifts, why shouldn't they buy them? At the same time people who can't shouldn't feel pressurised into getting into debt; a discreet word to family and friends to say that you might not be able to afford much is nothing to be ashamed of.
Jules, UK

How miserable are all of the comments on this subject? I have saved up all year to spend loads on my family and friends. There is nothing wrong with trying to give a present that you know will be really well received. As for all of the self-righteous rubbish about how we are forgetting the true meaning of Christmas, get a life or keep your own miserly comments to yourself and let the rest of us enjoy Christmas!
Susan, Edinburgh, UK

This year I'm giving all my friends and family hand calligraphied copies of the Lord's Prayer, printed on rice paper, mounted and framed. Since we have a fairly religious group of family and friends, I know it will be well received.
Sarah, USA

Look in any bible and I defy you to find Jesus Christ exhorting his disciples to go forth and shop!
Max, UK
As little as possible. I now absolutely hate and loathe Christmas since it has long since been hi jacked by big business. I am not a Christian (or any other religion, for that matter) but even so I believe that Christmas should be a time for religious festival, and not one for getting into massive debt. At least there is much more truth and wisdom in the Christian Christmas than there currently is in the version now ruled by the God of Mammon. After all, look in any bible and I defy you to find Jesus Christ exhorting his disciples to go forth and shop!
Max, UK

Will someone please tell me why it matters how much anyone spends at Christmas? Is this what this holiday has been reduced to? I may have to protest this by making all my gifts from scratch.
Fiona, UK

We are having 16 family members for Christmas dinner at my in-laws' house. There will be lots of southern (USA) cooking and lots of cakes and cookies. This is a lively bunch so there will also be music, laughter and some dips in the pool (Gulf Coast Florida). It should be good fun. There will be presents too but the only expensive gifts my hubby and I buy are for our parents and our child. The rest are token gifts to let our family and friends know they are thought of and cared about.
Suzanne, USA

I am spending less that £100 on Christmas this year. This is because the best Christmas present in the world has already been given to everyone on earth who wants to know the truth and that is the present of Jesus Christ - who is after all the reason we are celebrating in the first place.
Helen, Chesham UK

Christmas! Spending not much as I don't use a credit card except in an emergency. We put a little away each month. Presents for me are a spontaneous thing, not pored over for hours and I buy over the year. This puts little stress on the finances and we don't get into debt. I don't owe anyone a living.
Tony, Welling, Kent

I have just finished me xmas shopping. The most I have spent has been on the rail ticket that will get me to the warm bosom of my parental home for Christmas. Oh, and an irritating squeaky toy for the dog.
Louise Keane, Reading, UK

Nothing! It's for the kids. We're not kids anymore!
Gavin, Cardiff, Wales

As little as possible. Have you tried living on £16k in this country? It's very tight and the only spare cash I have goes on running my car and food (other than rent, bills etc) and I am earning a lot more than most. I will not bow to the general pressure these days to borrow. If the government focuses only on cost then so shall I as I feel no need to be patronised as a 'consumer'. My skin crawls at the thought of bleating my way down a high street, surrounded by miserable looking people sheep.
Max Richards, England

Back to basics. One small pressie for each person and a lovely meal. I expect to not spend more than a week's wages. Seems the sensible thing to do.
Lola, UK

Spend today, pay tomorrow
John Lock, Wolverhampto
I can't afford Christmas this year, any chance I can postpone it? I've recently had to go bankrupt and can assure those that are going over the top with their spending that when the bills come in, you'll regret it, just as I have been foolish in the past you can't dodge your debt, it knows where to find you, take it from me, I know. No, I don't have anything to spare for Christmas, it's going to be just another day apart from the same old musicals and dated films on TV (if we have enough in the electric meter). No fancy meals either. Just remember, spend today, pay tomorrow. Have a nice one while you can.
John Lock, Wolverhampton

As little as possible. Have you tried living on £16k in this country? its very tight and the only spare cash I have goes on running my car and food (other than rent, bills etc) and I am earning a lot more than most. I will not bow to the general pressure these days to borrow. If the government focuses only on cost then so shall I as I feel no need to be patronised as a 'consumer'. My skin crawls at the thought of bleating my way down a high street, surrounded by miserable looking people sheep.
Max Richards, England

Financially, I'm spending a fortune, as always. I'm also spending quite a bit of time with people I want to be with, and doing 16 hours of voluntary work with a charity for the homeless. My kids, in anticipation of their Christmas presents, are currently making up parcels of old toys and clothes to send to Romania - I think it helps them to appreciate how lucky they are to receive gifts themselves at this time of year.
John, England

I'll be spending nothing. I have no sympathy for those that get themselves massively in debt. It's pointless.
Tony, UK

I did 98% of my shopping on line and it was FAB! I also have no idea how much I spent. For me the important thing is whether the gift is something that the person will like, enjoy, find useful not the price tag.
Carolyne, Manchester, England

I'm 17 years old and I usually spend around 200 American dollars on my Christmas shopping.
Emily, Illinois

I plan to spend all the Love I have on Christmas, after all that's the best gift! Love keeps the world spinning and as always I Love to receive Love as a gift. GOD BLESS ALL!
Steven L., Iowa, United States Of America

Surely Christmas isn't about the amount you spend but the people you spend it with. A £500 gift doesn't say any more than a £10 gift except that you spent more money on it. I personally would far rather receive something heartfelt than flashy.
Carys Pritchard, Sheffield, UK

Between my fiancé and I we probably spend around 5K
Nick Mik, Singapore
My parents live in France, my brother, his wife and daughter in Scandinavia and I live in Singapore. We only see each other a couple of times a year so tend to treat one another during Christmas. Christmas does get expensive with a tree, lots of parties during the month, flights to France for my fiancé to see her parents, then to Scandinavia to see my family. Between my fiancé and I we probably spend around 5K - although she doesn't seem to be contributing much to this. Merry Christmas
Nick Mik, Singapore

Even though I'm only 14 years old, I still am under pressure to buy gifts for many relatives and friends, so far I have spent over 300 USD (1 and 1/2 years allowance)
Ardy, Boston, USA

I will celebrate Christmas the way I celebrated 'Diwali' - by lightening lots of lights in my house and bursting crackers.. I don't count money when I celebrate festivals ...what I count is number of prayers coming from my soul for that one god.
Sunil, New Delhi, India

Christmas is like Valentines Day. One day just to show how much people mean to us. Why can't we show that all year round, not just on one day?
Sandra Bushe, Bristol, UK

I work in a mainly male environment and none of us send cards etc to each other, but last year we started to buy presents, not for the sake of spending lots of money, but as a joke to see what we could buy each other with £10 each, and the results were quite good, most of us used eBay! - it's the thought that counts.
Paul Gibson, Newcastle UK

The Christmas throng in central London shopping areas is enough to put anyone off the entire concept (your picture brought back memories of the sheer torture of this.) This year I have been shopping online instead and cannot fault the reliability of suppliers. I can highly recommend this method.
Pete D., London UK

I try my best to avoid this selfish and competitive time of year. I only buy presents for children in our family and only send cards to people I wont see. I make a point of giving to charity at this time of year. It's time to cut back at Christmas and say no to creating more debt in our country.
Ray Harrington, Newport Isle of Wight UK

About £600. It only comes once a year, and we enjoy every minute of it, even the washing up!
Jerry Steele, Swansea, Wales

Can anyone else see the fatal flaw in the commercialisation of Christmas? Retailers cashing in at this time of year aren't doing themselves any favours, as sales stagnate are Christmas Day, as people have less money and therefore can't afford to buy things for a short time....downward spiral until they pick up again (no doubt Valentines and Easter!) Wouldn't it make more sense to keep a steady level of sales rather than at one busy December peak!?
Michael B, Essex, England

I've spent about $100 on baking supplies which will yield about 24 dozen cookies to be divided up amongst family and friends as gifts.
Anna, UK

£100 pounds each for my three children aged five, three and one year(s) to be paid into their building society accounts supplemented by the cost of the cheapest dolls I can find (the novelty wear off after 24 hours). £50 for the Mrs, and may be £50 for decorations and card.
Dike Anyaele, London United Kingdom

I don't think it matters how much you spend as long as it is appreciated!
L.J, London
As much as I love Christmas, I do think that there isn't any need for shops etc to start bombarding us with songs, decorations and "fabulous" gift ideas as early as September. It just prolongs the whole thing and by the time December actually arrives many people are sick of 'mistletoe and wine' and people in dodgy Santa outfits! As for how much I'll spend this year, I don't think it matters how much you spend as long as it is appreciated! Merry Xmas!
L.J, London

Christmas is a time of fun, I've spent £500 already.
Tasha, UK, Poole

We usually buy one gift for our child from us and one from Santa. That is it. We do not believe it is healthy for the child or our bank account to deliver a boat load of toys Christmas morning. She will receive many gifts from many different people at Christmas and she will give gifts to them as well. We buy her gifts often and the holiday is merely an extension of that. We would rather focus on the religious aspects of the holiday and the joy of being with family and friends rather than the secular aspects of acquiring more things.
Caroline, Bristow, VA USA

Too Much

One of these years, it is my hope to convince my family to forget about having a gift exchange completely, in favour of spending the money on a Christmas trip to someplace inspiring. My personal first choice is Salzburg, home of Mozart, the Alps and the church where Silent Night was written.
Grace, USA

I have spent 15pounds on presents for family - including the paper to wrap them. We have very little money this year as we are expecting a baby two weeks after Christmas and even the most basic of baby essentials are expensive.

I have been shopping on line for years, and if you use a little savvy, you get things cheaper than shops, and now most retailers will deliver free. But the best thing about this is that I can do all of this whilst I am at work, leaving my evenings and weekends free.
Paul, Leeds, UK

The true meaning of Christmas has been lost amidst the rush for blatant consumerism, which starts now on 1st September each year. I dread to think of the number of families running up plastic debt in a frantic bid to buy happiness for a few days. Never mind, once it's over we can always look forward to Easter Eggs, after all - they will probably be in the shops by 1st January 2004!
Norma, Central UK

The relief of stepping back from Christmas consumer madness has been a revelation
Bas, Berkshire
Owing to circumstances, I find myself 'financially embarrassed' this Christmas. Friends will be receiving home-baked cakes and biscuits from me. My own children, who understand my situation, will be surprised and delighted to receive a modest present. I shall be spending about £150 overall on presents, compared to £750 in past years. You know what? The relief of stepping back from Christmas consumer madness has been a revelation.
Bas, Berkshire

I still budget £10 per person for gifts. I drink a little more than usual. Christmas isn't the financial nightmare that the reports suggest for me. Why spend hundreds of pounds on people?
Neil, Herts, UK

So far spent £300 on cards, gifts, tree etc. Major shopping ahead this week end and also travelling on Christmas day (25th) for a trip to Dubai, India and Sri Lanka for 20 days.
Issac, London

Our Family are middle class affluent and privileged - we have a 10¿ per person or home made rule this year for everyone. My children will be donating the many toys/books they have to those that hopefully need them more. I think with the commercialisation of Christmas - it's as well to occasionally remember that three quarters of the world live below the poverty line. If ten pounds can help some one to see or mend a hare lip - lets be a little more global about our largesse!
GS, France

This year I have spent about £200, most of which on gifts for my partner as he deserves a treat after a difficult year. I actually enjoy finding nice gifts for people I care about - the choice of gift is more important than the cost. I don't have Xmas decorations or send out cards as they are tacky and unnecessary.
Alison, Leeds, UK

So far I've bought paint, glitter, glue and cardboard and spent the cold, dark evenings making my own Christmas cards. I'd definitely recommend it as a way of unwinding after a day at work! I'll probably spend about £150 on presents - I'm only buying for my immediate family and three close friends this year.
Sarah, Cambridge, UK

Our presents are much more appreciated than they've ever been, because they're personal, made with love and care
Philip Holloway, Winchester, England
Anyone go to the nearest shopping mall and spend a fortune on things that no one needs or wants and wouldn't buy but for the fact that it's Christmas. For years we felt that we always had to buy bigger and better presents for everyone we know. In 2000 we spent £2,500 on 17 people. Three Years ago we started making our Christmas presents - seasonal items like Sloe Gin, pickles, chutneys. These days we're spending a lot if we spend £50. Our presents are much more appreciated than they've ever been, because they're personal, made with love and care.
Philip Holloway, Winchester, England

Nothing, don't do it, have not done it for seven years and do not intend to start again now. Dinner with friends and a visit to some family adequately covers what is an unnecessary waste of time and money. Bah humbug I hear you say? Just think about it. Have Christmas by all means but let's be sensible and drop the spending its so not needed.
Baz, Bristol

We make our own cards, buy reasonably priced gifts in local shops and HAVE found a nativity advent calendar without chocolates. I'm glad we moved to a civilised part of the country!
Sally, Norfolk, England

I find it amusing to buy a bag of humbugs and give one to each person I know - £1.34. I love a laugh!
Christian Tiburtius, UK

My friends and I are not as well off as we would like to be, and are choosing to buy each other small token presents. It isn't a contest about who gives better or who spends more, but it is about the birth of Baby Jesus, and the salvation He brings to all and everyone. Christmas is a precious time for us, and we are having a Church Christmas Party so that we can spend time together, and remember God's promise to each of us. Christmas is a time of blessings, promises, and hope. What more can we need?
Annie, Glasgow, Scotland

£70 for food, drink and gift for family and friend.
Yemisi, London, UK

Christmas is the one holiday I don't mind spending money on because it's all about family and love. This Christmas I have spent $400 on presents for family. And plan on buying gifts for the needy.
Blen Kebede, US

I know it's an indulgence and that we are totally missing the point of Christmas
Jakki, UK
My husband and I will probably spend about £500 on presents. That's apart from what we spend on each other. I know it's an indulgence and that we are totally missing the point of Christmas but there's nothing like opening surprises on Christmas morning listening to "Mistletoe & Wine". Then peeling the sprouts with a brandy and babycham at hand!
Jakki, UK

Are people spending more? In Stoke-on-Trent most of the major retailers are having sales, indicating that perhaps buiness is not as buoyant as we are led to believe.
Dave, UK

Forget the commercial Christmas, I prefer to treat friends and relatives the rest of the year, as appropriate. Christmas is a more personal celebration to enjoy. I get a few days off work with no hassle, plenty of freedom, and in the New Year back to work. It's great! What's the problem?
Richard Philips, UK

I'll not be spending on anybody at all. I also don't want the normal rubbish that would be bought in return. The supermarkets and chain stores have destroyed Christmas and turned it into a tacky 'shopping festival'. Some supermarkets had their Christmas decorations and tacky advertising up in September. I wish the worst trading year ever for them.
Chris, England

This year, I don't spending very much on Christmas shopping. Because the situation of the country is not good. I think to spend 100¿. My popular gifts are clothes, books. I don't, and I plan to do as much internet shopping as possible - it's often cheaper too!
Marlene, Portugal

Jesus was born on Christmas morn: I'll be emphasising that this year for a change. Put the candle in the window (an old Irish tradition) and forget about Santa, it's their parents that love their children, so they'll know the presents are from us.
Niamh Brown, Singapore

As I never have enough money at Christmas I try to spend only £10 on my mum, brother and sister but I make my own Christmas cards.
Gem, UK

Christmas? Ah yes, that time of the year when the baby Jesus got presents form his mum and dad and they celebrated under a big tree, eating a big dinner and kissing under mistletoe, right? Is it me or is Christmas just another time of the year when card companies can make more money? It certainly isn't about celebrating the birth of Jesus - More like celebrating getting presents!
Talash, England

As miserable as it sounds, I'm really not looking forward to this Christmas
Keith, UK
As miserable as it sounds, I'm really not looking forward to this Christmas. Last year, owing to circumstances, I had no money concerns, and all the time I wanted. This year, back to being a student, and I have enough money left to buy the petrol to drive home, and no more. I will get four days off work over the three week period, and I have mountains of coursework to do (doable, if I spent the three weeks at my desk) I'm going to need some of those fabled Christmas miracles!
Keith, UK

Sadly, Christmas has been replaced by "The Holidays" over here. In particular, any Christian Nativity scenes are BANNED from public places. Menorahs and Islamic images are OK though. Also, now there is a movement to remove the word "God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, i.e. "One Nation under God", as it is "offensive" to minorities. How sick, and how sad.
John(Ex Pat Englishman, New Rochelle, New York, USA.

Nothing. I have no memory of any Christmas being a happy occasion throughout my life. Mostly it was a time of drink and violence and other times solitude. After forty years it is impossible to be enthusiastic about the whole event. There are thousands like me who will be at home alone, branded with derogatory terms by the majority who then wonder why we no longer want to join in. I'll raise a glass of wine on the day to Jesus and whatever God is listening at the time and wish them all the best, but that's all.
Richard Holden, UK

Having read Richard Holden's comment I think that is one of the saddest things I have ever heard. I am 36 and when I was a child my parents were literally as poor as church mice, scrimping and saving for every penny and worrying constantly about money. Yet I had an immensely rich childhood as what I mainly remember is the love my sister and I received. Christmas was an especially magical time for us. My parents made such an effort with so little. So, Richard, whilst it may be inappropriate to wish you a merry Christmas I certainly wish you a peaceful one. It sounds like you have earned it.
Max, UK

Obviously being with friends and family is more important than shopping for gifts, but I enjoy buying things that make others happy. I always do a lot of shopping online and in fact now do roughly 80% of my shopping in that manner to avoid mall crowds. I will spend less this year than in past years, but will spend roughly $2500. I have a child I adore spoiling and 12 others to buy for. I pay cash for nearly everything to avoid the post holiday credit card debt.
Krista, USA

I do like Christmas. The Christmas meals, and everything about it. But I needed a new car so I got myself a nice 7.5K Car as a early Christmas present to myself.
Mark, UK

Gift-giving should be about thought
Tim Booth, UK
When you are a child, Christmas is a chance to get toys, books, etc that you would never normally be able to afford. Once you are an adult, you buy the things you want for yourself. Therefore, gift-giving should be about thought - spending time to seek out something that you know they would really enjoy/make them laugh/see as a luxury. The cost is not really relevant, unless you come from a selfish and greedy family. Either way, I hope you all enjoy it your own way!
Tim Booth, UK

I find it really sad that you can't but an advent calendar these days. When I was little (less than 20 years ago) all the calendars had a nativity scene or something similar on them - and no chocolates! These days you can only buy character/Chocolate calendars - with no relation to Christmas, and half of them count down to New Year rather than xmas anyway! I've never been particularly religious but Christmas and Easter were more than a festival of chocolate and shopping.

Very little on Christmas presents this year, my partner and I are off to Canada instead. Oh, there's the £3,500 for the holiday but that doesn't count, does it?
Gareth, England

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