Well – that’s Christmas over with for another year. If we had been organised enough to realise it was coming and actually made plans, it would have been a bit of an anticlimax but we didn’t, so it wasn’t. To be fair, there were a few new experiences or, more accurately, an old experience – a shopping experience – re-visited. Setting aside the inconvenience of car problems and the last minute exercise in logistics to get them fixed we had to contend with no delivery slots.
I’ve been on-line shopping now since Tesco first introduced it years ago, since they distributed the software on floppy discs (was it really before “apps” became mainstream jargon?) and I had to upload my order using a modem and a dial up line after constructing it off line. For a few years I still visited the supermarket at Christmas. It was useful, especially after real on-line ordering and the loyalty cards were introduced. I could try new items and they would be listed on my previous purchases for convenient selection into future shopping baskets. But I haven’t done that since about 2007. So, no delivery slots was a bit of a blow.
At first I ignored it. SEP (someone else’s problem). It wasn’t until the someone else was up to his elbows in grease and preparing to search for scrapyard car parts that I realised Christmas dinner would be off if I didn’t go to the supermarket myself. It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but I like to take some of the credit for selecting the right time and place (or at least best time and place given the proximity to the actual day itself).
Delia and Hugh (via my daughters and Google) had already provided the menu and recipes plus list of ingredients which quickly converted into a handy shopping list, which in keeping with the retro-nostalgia of actually visiting a real store I compiled on the back of an envelope – no, really! a used envelope – and armed myself with a pencil. Yes – a pencil for crossing out items I managed to acquire. Thus prepared I set off, having been given the directions by my other half before he escaped to the scrap yard in search of alternator. Providing the directions was not necessary. I may not have done any shopping for five years but I have visited the dentist in the same (small) town so I know where the supermarket is – even the way into the car park.
The supermarket looks too big for the town, but it was very busy. My first surprise was that the trolley wheels worked co-operatively, all agreeing in the direction of travel, so it was a shame that the shoppers still veered around randomly. Maybe supermarket regulars hadn’t realised the wheels worked and they could steer in straight lines.
It didn’t take long to realise that a great many other people were supermarket novices but they, unlike me, were mostly accompanied. The reins between them and their handlers were almost visible as they were subtly steered away from over priced luxury packages to extra-value home brand products.
I struck up a conversation at the cheese counter. I was looking for goats cheese and she was looking for greek cheese. Between the two of us we found the desired items – she also was shopping to someone else’s list – and discussed the benefit of limited choice, summed up with “this will have to do”. Then I asked “where the hell do I look for soured cream” and another woman walking past answered without even pausing. Unfortunately soured cream appeared to have been replaced with a variety of what I assume were pots of ready to use, seasonal flavoured custard. Ah well, one missing item wouldn’t be too bad and the recipe did say “optional”.
By the time my husband returned from the scrapyard the shopping was unpacked and stowed away.
“I’m impressed” he said
“Just because I don’t shop often doesn’t mean I’m not an expert”
“Not with your ability to shop. Impressed you actually went!”