"Ding-dong” The PA system comes alive, “Can Kate from the Mobile Phones department please go to the Mobile Phones department.”
This is Monday night at ASDA, and Bristol is throwing lumps of everything into trolleys packed with lumps of everything .
A short angry looking near-pensioner lady in a green jump-suit pushes past me quickly with her trolley, ushering her partner along with frantic head-movements. “Whatever happens I really need to get some butter!” she announces as if something's about to happen to cause this task to become an epic challenge.
“Well get some butter then”, comes the disinterested but startlingly logical reply from a disinterested but startlingly logical looking husband.
“You’re the one who spreads it on your toast,” she responds in a tone that indicates she believes spreading butter on toasted bread is the deviant act of a sex offender.
“Not all of it I don’t!” comes an overly-hostile and rather disconcerting reply.
And off they go, the trolley trusted forward, a woman with unnecessary purpose. A women with butter safely wedged into her trolley. “Shall we get two loafs of bread or one?”.
“Don‘t be stupid Brian!”
My turn. I’m staring at thousands of types of spread trying to remember which one I got last time, and if I liked it better than the one I bought the time before that, which I don’t remember the brand of either. I decide on Flora. But do I want ‘Flora’, ‘Low-Fat Flora’, ‘Low Saturates Flora’, ‘Low Height Flora’ or ‘I Can’t Believe it’s not Fucking Flora Flora”? I close my eyes and grab the first thing my hand touches: A rather portly lady in her mid-forties. I apologise.
Next aisle. A girl in her late teens stood next to her trolley, a toddler screaming in the seat. “You can’t have those” mum insists whilst an outraged young girl strains at a tin of Transformers shaped spaghetti.
“But I want them” comes the well thought out argument.
“YOU CAN’T HAVE THEM!”
“BUT I WANT THEM”
I admire the mother; a lesser woman would extinguish this screaming cycle by pushing the trolley away from the object of her daughter’s attention. A lesser woman would have decided that this was an unwinnable argument. Not this lady. If it’s going to take a thousand “YOU CAN’T HAVE THEM”s to emotionally crush this two year old big-shot, then I am in no doubt this lady’s in for the long-haul.
There’s another announcement over the PA. Kate’s still not made it back to Mobile Phones.
Kate’s not coming back.
Kate’s found there’s more.