Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Joy of Shopping...

It’s probably not a good idea to use retail therapy to cure the blinding headache which was inflicted upon you by a 20 minute phone call from the tax office, however, good ideas are hard to come by ……and I needed to buy some anadins and milk.

Suitably wrapped up against the arctic conditions outside, I grabbed my faithful shopping trolley (sophisticated black, not OAP tartan) and headed off to the nearby tescos.

As I struggled to free myself from my thermal outer-wear, ready to face the sub-tropics of the supermarket foyer, I spied row upon row of Valentines cards. Personally, I’ve never been able to make the mental connection between spuds and romance, but in this consumerist society every whim has to be overly catered for, and tescos is no exception to the rule….. especially when it comes to spotting the potential to make a fast buck from those who easily succumb to emotional blackmail or peer pressure.

As an ardent fan of people-watching, it amused me to witness that in matters of the heart, it really does take all sorts! Directly in front of me stood a very nervous-looking adolescent male, who sheepishly selected three different cards, all announcing “To the ONE I love!”

Beside him, was a frail little old lady, sporting a rather hefty pair of bifocals, carefully reading every word……. she’ll probably still be there at teatime.

I witnessed several ‘drive-thru’ events. Obviously these unsung heroes, who juggle their roles of housewife, worker and mother with the same faultless precision as a full-blown military manoeuvre, had simply added the word ‘card’ to their gigantic shopping list, and grabbed the nearest one they could reach, regardless of price or appropriateness. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I needed milk.

I got the distinct impression that a local infant school must be closed today. ‘Little Linford’ was racing up and down the slippery floors at breakneck speed with all his playmates, terrorising those of us who simply wanted to buy stuff without risking accusations of child abuse from some chav-type when the inevitable happens and the aforementioned small-person nose-dives under the wheels of your stationary trolley…. while the unmistakable wail of bored, tired tots assaulted my ear drums from just about every direction. Hmmm….I had gone shopping to de-stress, however my plans were thwarted and I had no choice but to accept that I was now in Hell.

As a woman with no discernable maternal bones in her body, I’d struggled dutifully to raise all three of my daughters to the best of my limited mothering abilities, however, I have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever of other people’s ‘little dears’, especially now that my babies are now independent young women.

For reasons known only to themselves, I swear that half of the adults in there today were on some sort of a wind-up. Why else would a ‘normal’ human being discard a full shopping trolley sideways, in a narrow aisle, and then take a wander to the far end of the supermarket?

Why would any couple choose to have a loud domestic dispute right next to the milk crates, and then give everyone else the evil eye for trying to reach round them for some semi-skimmed?

What possesses people to panic-buy deodorant? Is there an imminent shortage that nobody told me about?

Why do people use the largest shopping trolley they can possibly find, if they only want a frozen curry meal for one and a bottle of blue stripy plonk?

If it wasn’t for the fact the poor chap is no longer with us, I’d have expected Jeremy Beadle to jump out at me, right by the Andrex.

I’d long since given up on the prospect of any peace and quiet by the time I reached the tills with my bargain-laden trolley. Of course, that’s when you find out that you’ve chosen the checkout with the girl who is serving her long-lost relative, and they simply HAVE to catch up on 10 years worth of family gossip.

Eventually, the penny drops that this is not a social gathering, and that they can talk til the cows come home, if only they’d exchange phone numbers.

Glad that cousin Dawn finally had a healthy baby after such a long and painful labour, and that Grandad’s gout is much better now he is on those new pills, I was finally able to pay for my groceries and get the hell out of there.

Re-wrapped in my multiple layers of cotton and polyester mix, I slowly dragged myself back along the same path I’d practically jogged along an hour earlier. I am, after all, only human, and the temptation of all the BOGOFs and big yellow labels proclaiming “half price” and “1/3 off” were just too hard to resist. Subsequently, not only did I fill my trundle-truck but also 3 rather heavy carrier bags.

By the time I reached my front door my arms were visibly longer and my patience visibly shorter. It was only after I’d unpacked £40 worth of “just a few bits” that I realised that in my haste to avoid being trapped a moment longer than absolutely necessary, in that child-infested, haven for the romantic consumer, and playground for the terminally insane, I’d forgotten to buy any headache pills!

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