The Middle of the Darling Daughters has helpfully texted me a shopping list of Things To Buy for tomorrow's barbecue. Shopping is the least I can do, bearing in mind that the Son in Law has offered to be in charge of the
cooking, while my daughter will be preparing All The Trimmings. Besides, her shopping list is rather more interesting than my usual bill of fare and so will quite likely take me into new and exciting shopping aisles.
I have left Mr B at home, it being far too hot out for him. Besides, I reckon I will be able to negotiate my way around the store more efficiently on my own. Or, if not more efficiently, at least without incurring Mr B's wrath when I realise I need
to retrace my steps to find (i) a small tub of humous and (ii) red cabbage. Perhaps, after all, I wouldn't be qualified for a job as one of those staff who push a trolley about, collecting goods for on-line shoppers and getting in everyone else's way.
I have to eat my words when I struggle to find "Homepride crinkle cut chips in a blue bag" and am forced to check it out with one of the trolley-pushers. He tells me there is no such thing and directs me to "home chips",
suggesting that maybe I have been caught out by predictive text. I find a blue bag, cross my fingers and hope. I wonder how often the trolley-pusher has to resort to guess-work?
My main problem lies in finding
the Nando's peri-peri chicken barbecue rub. It doesn't seem to be where I thought it would be, supposing I actually knew what it would look like. Is it in a packet, a sachet or a jar? I ask myself. After a bit of unsuccessful searching, I phone the M of the
DDs and admit defeat. It turns out I am looking in the wrong aisle completely and my daughter guides me expertly - pretty impressive when you consider she is at the other end of the phone and is not familiar with the layout of our local supermarket - to the
very spot. I grab two sachets, throw them into my trolley and make for the checkout.
I am feeling decidedly chipper at this point. This is nothing at all to do with the blue bag of crinkle cut chips, but because
I have zipped round the store in just half an hour. I find a checkout with only one customer in front of me and a till operator who appears to know what she is doing. Swiftly I unpack my trolley, thinking that (crinkle cut chips apart) my shopping looks healthy,
wholesome and flavourful. If anyone behind me is playing the Supermarket Game, they will have assessed me as a Healthy Eating Type. The Supermarket Game, in case you hadn't guessed, involves inspecting the purchases of other shoppers to see if you can guess
their way of life. Live alone? Big family? Couple of a Great Age? That's usually Mr B and me though today, on account of the M of the DDs shopping list, we have been promoted to Wholesome and Healthy. As a game it is quite reprehensible but good fun for Nosey
Parkers. It also helps to while away time spent in a long and boring queue.
At this point everything goes pear-shaped. Funny that, I have all kinds of fruit stacked up ready to be checked out and made into
a (healthy and wholesome) fruit salad tomorrow - but not a single pear. With all my shopping stacked and ready to be scanned I discover that I have picked up two completely different sachets of Nando's peri peri chicken rub - one barbecue, one garlic. I ask
the checkout girl if she minds if I trot off to collect a substitute. She waves assent - she can't really do much else, I suppose. Off I hare, only to realise that I can't remember from which aisle the sachets came.
I know, I know but it's like when I am driven somewhere rather than driving myself; I take no notice where I am going. So when the M of the DDs issued directions, via the mobile phone, I simply followed. Blindly.
A helpful shop assistant takes pity on me and leads me to the correct aisle. I thank her rather too profusely, exchange the garlic rub for another BBQ one (always hoping I've made the right choice) then turn to make my way back to the checkout.
Except that I can't remember exactly at which checkout point I unloaded my trolley. I try - and fail - to visualise the face behind the till. I wander along the line of checkouts, looking for Wholesome and Healthy shopping.
By the time I recognise the tail end of my shopping - pineapple slices and four kiwi fruit - almost all my goods have been expertly packed in plastic carrier bags by yet another helpful shop assistant. My recyclable bags remain unused.
To be honest, it's probably the best checkout experience I have ever had. No trying to decide which bag to use for the fruit and veg, or how to pack so that no bag is too heavy to lift into the boot of the car. "Shall I carry on for
you?" the Helpful One asks me. I nod, gratefully.
Apparently according to the little slip of paper handed me with my receipt, I have saved £1.24 on today's shop. When I trundle the trolley back to the
trolley bay, however, it refuses to give me back my pound coin (trolley for the unlocking of.)
I tot it all up in my head. I have bought everything on my daughter's list; I have discovered in which aisle the
Nando's peri peri chicken rub lives; I have experienced life shopping for others; I have had my bags packed for me (why, oh why, in the past have I always turned down the offer, so kindly made?) Plus, even with the Pound Coin Trolley Malfunction, I am 24p
better off than on a mythical shop at another supermarket.