As shopping trips go, our latest sortie to Sainsburys could be described, very accurately, as Shopping With A Purpose.
That purpose, I need to explain, was not just about
re-stocking our larder or our wardrobes. We had, in our possession, six vouchers, each of which entitled us to £12 off when we spent £60. Mr B (who is something of a mathematician, pointed out that this equated to 20% or, in my estimation, Quite
A Lot.) We would aim, said Mr B, to spend the princely sum of £120, which would then, through the judicious use of our vouchers, be reduced to under £100. Which, if you say it quickly enough, doesn't sound too bad.
I pointed out that, in order for this exercise to be truly beneficial, we should stick to basics. The only items to make it into our trolley should therefore be what might be termed "staples" - items which we would definitely use over the ensuing weeks,
not random purchases made on the basis that an offer seemed too good to miss. It did occur to me, even as I was issuing this edict, that Mr B's definition of a "staple" might not be the same as mine.
we mustn't do," I said, by way of further explanation, "is to throw things into the trolley willy-nilly..."
Mr B took mild offence at this, pointing out that he never, ever throws things into the shopping
trolley, willy-nilly or any other way. Had I forgotten, he asked me, that before my retirement two and a half years ago, shopping - like cooking the dinner and clearing the car's windows on frosty mornings - was completely his province and he hadn't heard
any complaints from me.
He had a fair point. What is more I must admit that he is, and always has been, the most methodical of shoppers. So much so that, when it comes to any supermarket check-out, he brooks
no interference from haphazard old me because (he says) I don't seem to understand the way in which he (i) lines up our purchases in a specific order on the conveyor belt and (ii) proceeds to pack them in different bags according to their eventual destination
e.g. larder, fridge, vegetable basket, garage etc. There is, in short, Method In His Madness.
I decided it would be best to change tack so I suggested that, to ensure we did not end up spending far more money
than was necessary to secure our 20% reduction, we should go on our shopping trip armed with a pocket calculator. Mr B, while not totally convinced of the need for this, acceded to my proposal. He did raise a quizzical eye-brow when he saw the size of the
calculator I was taking which would only be accommodated in a most capacious pocket indeed. I explained that I couldn't find our small, compact calculator which was doubtless hidden under the stack of papers littering the dining room table. Mr B took this
implied criticism on the chin and we set off for the supermarket carrying both vouchers and calculator. Well prepared, that was us. Like two enthusiastic and financially aware Boy Scouts.
It was my job to
record each prospective purchase on the calculator, supplying a running total when requested / required. This proved rather more difficult than anticipated, due to what can only be called my Errant Finger. Every so often, due to a slip of my finger on the
keys, the total displayed on screen would revert to a thumpingly inaccurate nought. This irritated the hell out of Mr B who had plenty to say about the inefficiency of his Not So Beautiful Assistant. Was it going to be necessary to go through every item in
our trolley all over again? he demanded each time it happened. Never fear, I reassured him airily, I was pretty certain I could remember the running total last time I looked, before the Errant Finger erred. Mr B harrumphed a bit and warned, darkly, that if
my total differed markedly from that of the check-out assistant, then there might be Trouble Ahead. No problem! I assured him, with a confidence I was far from feeling.
Remarkably, when the cost of our purchases
was totalled up at the check-out, I was just £1.24 adrift which, considering the number of times I had had to restart my calculations, was nothing short of a miracle.
We did have a potentially
shop-changing issue when the assistant said we could only use one voucher per transaction - but an appeal to her supervisor and a gentle, but firm, threat to decant our shopping into two separate trolley-loads if necessary, led to a swift capitulation. Just
as well, because the shoppers behind us were starting to look decidedly mutinous.
Mr B rejected my suggestion that we repair to the cafe for a spot of lunch. I think he was calculating that we would spend
every penny we had just saved on an unnecessary meal out.
You can tell, can't you, that he knows, from bitter experience, the incalculable problem of being married to One Who Is Always Thinking Of Her Stomach.