There is a spirited argument underway at the bookshelves in the Guild Care charity shop. A gent wearing a natty trilby hat and an indignant expression is complaining that £1 a pop is far too much to pay for a secondhand
paperback. His companion begs to differ, pointing out that, after all, it is all for charity but Mr Indignant is having none of it. Hasn’t he just donated two books to the cause, he argues? Why should he have to pay out another quid for a book which
he will be bringing back in as soon as he has read it?
The woman sees me smiling and is at pains to assure me that Mr Angry is not her husband but her next door
neighbour; I get the impression that she doesn’t want me to think she would have chosen him as her soul-mate. Not that it is any concern of mine, you understand - in any case, I am of the “Each To His Own” persuasion. Just to show that I
am non-judgmental, I chat with Mr Angry about his favourite authors (Peter James, in case you need to know.) I leave the pair perusing the bookshelves anew for a book worth the pound he will have to pay for it.
In the butcher’s shop I am served by a young man whose first day on the job this is. He is very conscientious, making sure I am happy with the piece of pork belly he has selected for me before he weighs it. I’m
not sure what I’m looking for (the pork belly being for Mr B, not me) so I say it looks fine to me. Then he does the same with my lamb steaks, turning them over so I can see both sides and reassure myself that the underside is as meaty as the topside,
if you follow my drift. He doesn’t offer me the opportunity to inspect my chipolata sausages - but then, when you’ve seen one of our butcher’s chipolata sausages, you’ve seen them all. His colleague helps him with totting up the bill
and tells me that this new recruit is doing just fine. I am inclined to agree and tell him so.
Lots of people suggest that I would make my life a little easier
if I did all my shopping on-line, saving myself at least an hour a day trailing to and from the local shops. I reply, self-righteously, that while I rely on the ever-helpful Ocado staff in their colourful vans named after fruit and vegetables to deliver all
the “heavy stuff” which I wouldn’t be able to carry home myself, I do like to support local shops. This makes me sound very virtuous but is, I admit, only half the story. There’s nothing like a shopping trip, I’ve found, for Interesting
Observations on Life.
Why, the other day there was real excitement in the Coop when a shop-lifter was caught red-handed. No, not by me, as it happens, I was over
in the home baking aisle trying to decide which type of jelly to buy (Mr B likes his jelly) when two young women, both with babes in pushchairs, collared a member of staff to tell her what they had seen, over in the vegetable section. I was all agog to see
what happened next but it was very low-key; an announcement over the tannoy system brought the store manager out to deal with the miscreant. It was over before I’d even got as far as the checkout with my jelly.
When I reported on this exciting episode to members of the Nomination Whist Group on Wednesday, my friend Avril said it was always happening in the Coop, she had, herself, reported several shop-lifters to the management. This
was not only a somewhat disappointing reaction to my story but also set me wondering why I have never spotted a shop-lifter, what with all my legendary Powers of Observation. Perhaps not so legendary after all.
In the Samaritans charity shop, where I am looking for a birthday card to send my sweet niece by marriage, a grandmother asks the shop assistant if he can fetch a lava lamp out of the shop window; her grandchildren (a rather
miserable looking boy and a girl accompanying her) have had their eyes on this prize purchase all week, she tells me, as it sat in the window doing whatever it is lava lamps do. She has finally given in and is about to buy it for them. “Every home needs
a lava lamp!” I trill. The kids look at me with expressionless faces; who is this Mad Old Bat? I can hear them thinking.
The shop assistant retrieves
the lava lamp from the window. “Sold at last!” he mutters under his breath. I guess the lava lamp has had a long sojourn in the shop window.
my drift, I’m sure. What an entertaining hour I have had, what with the argument over the bookshelves, meeting the newest butcher’s boy, reflecting on shoplifting I haven’t seen, and witnessing the Sale of the Lava Lamp.
Shop local! You know it makes sense…