Saturday, 22 June 2013

Bag-Packing Philosphy

Ladies and gentlemen, if I could give you one piece of advice, strategic bag-packing would be it. The long-term benefits of strategic bag-packing have been proved: you could save, oo, several nano-seconds per trip, and also nobody will bother you because they think you're nuts.

Each week, I go to the supermarket and whoosh round with my trolley, placing items into it with no real care or arrangement, save for the eggs and fruit - because nobody wants a squashed banana. No, here in the trolley, all foodstuffs are equal: noodles rub metaphorical shoulders with cheese, carrots fraternise with face-wash, and there's a veritable party going on between the herby sun-dried tomatoes and the mammoth-sized piece of cod. It's the grocery equivalent of the Roaring Twenties. (Apart from the eggs - they're the grocery equivalent of Cinderella: they can't go to the ball, but if they do it won't be spells that are broken.)
However. Once at the till, the game changes. You've got to be on the ball. Some food is more equal than others. Heavy and bulky stuff go on first, get them out the way; they go at the bottom of the carefully arranged and outspread bags UNLESS there are boxes of tissues, in which case they go directly into the trolley - they ain't taking up valuable veggie space. The fruit and veg have an entire bag to themselves; there's a dairy section, a meat section, a fish section; there are subdivisions within classifications; bread and croissants go last so as not to squash them. Save the shopping, save the dinners.

Today, it was all ruined, quite horribly, in fact. To the extent that I will have nightmares about mangled raspberries and stabbed yoghurt-pots for quite some time. Queueing up to purchase one's shopping, at the end of the tills I could see Volunteering Bag-Packers. Not competent Volunteers; oh, no. Child 'Volunteers'. People forced to be there. People who would rather be playing videogames. People who couldn't give a caramelised sweet about other people or their shopping. The worst sort of people to pack your bags.

The youthful pre-teen asks: "Do you want your bags packed?"
NO! I inwardly, seethingly cry; NO! You don't know your arse from your aubergine!
But you can't say no; it's a fundraising, charitable deed. If you say 'no, thanks, I have arms and would like my eggs with their shells intact', you will be booed by fellow shoppers, even if they secretly agree with you. You will be evicted from Morrisons with the disgrace of tutting and pointed fingers. The NSPCC will be called and your name will be put on their list of Child-Haters and children will be permitted, nay, encouraged, to hurl packets of broken biscuits at your head as you try to lead a normal life, wondering what would have happened if only you'd said 'yes'.
So you must submit to the indignity of spring onions limply protesting beneath pots of Muller rice and cry dry tears for the croissants now inhumanely stuffed between a butternut squash and a bottle of washing-up liquid. The mushrooms will be paté by the time they arrive home. All this you must suffer for benign civic duty. And then give them money for it.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

My what I would like to call Miranda blog-post but I'm not called Miranda

Everyone has a Gary in their life, even Spongebob. My Gary, however, spells his name with an 'i' and belongs in the past with the Spice Girls and a boyish haircut when I was going through one of those embarrassing tomboy phases every girl goes through at some stage... No? Just me who wanted to be called George then (I blame Enid Blyton). Moving on. My Gari is a local celebrity on a small scale - he plays football for the Reds and is blessed with good looks. Don't worry, he won't read this; he's probably forgotten all about me, and if he does read this I'll just claim Alien Hand Syndrome. I didn't write it, my hand did. Oh look, it's doing it now.

I also firmly believe that everyone has a Stevie, and if you don't you should certainly think about acquiring one - who wouldn't want a pint-sized Heather-Small-singing coeval you can regularly shove off a stool in the name of comedy? (I haven't done this, and if I did I would at least have the good grace to take her to A&E.)
My Stevie is in Spain, only she's not Spanish and I've never seen her in a flamenco dress, although I have seen her decked out in Princess Fiona kit. We once conspired to ask for a celebrity's autograph on something entirely inappropriate (it was the only thing I had in my bag) and we regularly have competitions involving words, cats, and moustaches - although we've never attempted to combine all three. Stevie, Stevie, Stevie...!

The thing is, I have a Stevie and I have/had a Gary/i (slash - funny word - 'slash') but I don't have a mother determined to see me  married at any cost, despite references to little sprogs - "we'll keep these books for the grandchildren" - which is a good thing, and I'm very grateful: it'd be far too socially perilous for me to enter into any sort of conventional relationship. I couldn't cope with an extra person to know inside out, trying to recall whether it's grapefruit or kiwi they're allergic to; I have lapses in concentration putting the shopping away. With so much ultimately useless but super interesting information stored up here I might even forget I am married. I'd be terrified of being arrested for spousal neglect. And as for children, one is not fit for motherhood when one thinks  'Baby changing facilities available' means a forthcoming baby swap-shop event.