Saturday, 16 January 2010

Every Little Helps....

If it’s Friday, it must be time to visit the supermarket to replenish the meagre supplies now that the locusts to which I gave birth have decimated last week’s mega-shop.

“I know,” says the Shah brightly, “I’ll come with you!”

“Wow!” I can hear you cry. “He’s a new man who is not above trailing round the supermarket with his beleaguered wife. What a hero!”

Yeah right. Although this gesture is meant kindly, it makes my heart sink every time he offers to accompany me to Chavco. The thing is, that it’s all a bit of a novelty on planet Shah. Not for him the weekly trudge, taking up to an hour and a half, and straining the back muscles while you haul an over-stuffed trolley around the aisles and the wheels go in one direction as you try to go in another. Oh no, visiting Chavco is an opportunity for an outing of Mr Bean proportions.

First of all, the Shah insists on driving. Nothing wrong with that, only he doesn’t get that the trick is to park as close to the exit as possible so that you have the minimum distance to push said trolley. No, he sails to the far end of the car park, oblivious to my harrumphing from the passenger seat. As we trek back towards the supermarket which, by now, is but a speck on the horizon an ominous drizzle starts. I grumble. “It’ll be fine!” insists the Shah, ever the optimist.

We collect a trolley but of course find ourselves spending the requisite five minutes emptying it of the assorted crap swilling around in the bottom. Several vegetable bags, screwed up shopping lists, damp receipts and empty sausage roll wrappers later (well, they help to keep Kylie and Ronaldo quiet while I get the shopping in, innit?) we make our way through the shell-suit clad throngs towards the entrance and the Shah gives me a look I know only too well. “Er, I’ll just be upstairs for a bit,” he says shiftily. Like most blokes, the Shah is a gadget man and can spend many happy hours gazing at the ranks of televisions, Blu-ray players and other electronic wizardry on display. Maybe it’s the male equivalent of shoe shopping...

So I set off, through the vegetables, round the toiletries, trying to simultaneously find what I need and avoid incurring the wrath of my fellow shoppers with my unwieldy trolley. I am reminded of a friend who moved to this area some time ago, knowing nobody but hoping she and her husband had chosen a nice locality in which to put down roots and start a family. On her very first visit to her local Chavco, she happened to nudge someone else’s trolley with hers which caused its owner to glare at her and demand “wot’s your facking problem?” It took a lot of persuasion on the part of her husband to prevent her calling in the Estate Agents there and then.

I almost collide with a harried mother who has children of varying sizes sitting in and hanging off her trolley which also contains a small mountain of packets and ready meals. Suddenly, two of them let go and make a break for freedom, careering off down the biscuit aisle. “Oi!” shrieks their mother, “Destiny! Brooklyn! Get back ‘ere”.

All at once, I am distracted by the pinging of my mobile which signifies the arrival of a text. "Where ru?" it reads. Uh-oh. Then I spy the Shah, clearly his need for an electronic fix is sated. This is very bad news. I am less than half way round the store and I really need to keep him otherwise entertained until I have got everything I need. The reason for this is that, revelling in the novelty of his visit, he is inclined to meander up and down the aisles, picking one of everything he sees and dumping it into the trolley. As a rough rule of thumb, I can expect the bill to double if I take the Shah with me. I reverse back up the aisle I am iun, hoping to fend off his well-meant attentions a bit longer. As I begin to tip toe around, hoping to remain invisible, we play cat and mouse and I see him looking bereft, wandering about like a little boy lost - a look he is inordinately good at and which fools everyone except me. I stop at the top of every aisle and peer round the corner, the better to elude my pursuer. I can hear the theme tune from Mission Impossible pounding in my head and my heart thumps in time. All of a sudden, backing away from the beer aisle (where he is guaranteed to be lying in wait) I reverse into something solid. "There you are!" cries he with delight. I try to muster a smile.

Just to prove my theory correct, some twenty minutes later, we stagger for the checkout, the trolley groaning with stuff I wouldn’t dream of buying under normal circumstances. Half a hundredweight of Bombay Mix anyone? Every possible variety of nut? (hmm, I could comment further but I won’t go for the cheap laugh. This time.) He also helpfully insists on pushing the trolley now that it is full. Here we encounter another problem. He doesn't get supermarket etiquette. He abandons the trolley, broadside on across an aisle and wanders off, in search of yet more delicious morsels to satisfy his (more than healthy) appetite and returns, looking bemused as irritated shoppers bash into him and our food mountain on wheels as they try to get past, giving him evils all the while.

We arrive at the checkout. Let battle commence. “Awright? Joo need any ‘elp wiv your packin’?” says the checkout girl and, not waiting for the answer, begins to scan items at the speed of light, hurling them down to the end of the bay. I am still getting the shopping bags out of the trolley, but the Shah is quicker off the mark than I am. He obviously sees this as some sort of challenge to his manhood and so, leaps to the end of the checkout like a young gazelle in flight and begins to chuck the shopping willy nilly into bags. I see bleach packed with milk, I see a massive bag of King Edwards landing on top of the eggs. I want to scream, I want to cry, but a strange inertia has come over me and I am powerless to protest. I just want to get out of there as quickly as I can with what remains of my dignity intact. “That’ll be £168.00 please, doyouhaveaclubcard?” parrots the checkout girl. I fling cards at her randomly and punch something akin to my pin number into the keypad. The Shah is gasping like a superannuated goldfish. Just as he regains his senses he opens his mouth and begins to roar “A HUNDRED AND....??” With dexterity born of long practice, I flick the full trolley round and catch him neatly in the balls.

Outside, the ominous drizzle has become a monsoon. We wade to the car in silence.

1 comment:

  1. Would that be the Chavco at the Cross? That place puts the fear of god into me. Likewise I hate shopping with the CH as we invariably come home with hundreds of pounds worth of food but nothing to put together a single meal! I do wish he'd go back to work! x


Oh go on - say something for God's sake...