I ordered groceries for home delivery this week and this presented two points for the blog. The first is that I am English, I know that we knew that but this was true proof. The government need to forget any residency texts or history of the UK there are far easier tests. They have started of course with the queues at immigration in all of our airports, you think that is because they are short-staffed? think again. English queue patiently and that my friends is the test, those that jostle, push and shove are immediately marked as ‘not English’. There is another test, as I concluded yesterday, and that is the ‘being a nuisance test’. When my delivery driver advised me that there had been substitutions to my order he gave me a printed list and the option to reject or accept. There is no point in the exercise because I am English, when faced with this task I quickly scan the paperwork and agree to accept. In truth I did see familiar items on the list and checked that the brand hadn’t changed to something that I didn’t use. Putting my shopping away I discovered that the substitutions were not as expected. Of course I could have gone through the list line by line but that is just not the English way.
The second thing that I learnt from this experience is that the ‘shoppers’ at Asda are as mad as a box of frogs. My face wash was substituted for moisturising sun block, where is the similarity? The leave in conditioner had been replaced with shampoo, it is just as well I read the bottle or I would have foamed up in the rain. They appeared to generally substitute with products that had the same colour. There was no rational or logical argument for the substitutions many of which went straight in the trash as no use to me whatsoever. Speaking to Andrew last night I discovered that he had also suffered at the hands of the substitute loons and that in the past he had challenged them. Apparently he was told that there were no substitution rules as such it was just what the picker decided. I can now imagine a 50-year-old picker looking at the list that says “men’s face wash” and finding the shelf empty. A natural reaction would be to think “tart it wasn’t like that in my day” and throw in some moisturiser, it’s all too personal. I have to share Andrew’s older substitution though as an example of dogged determination. He had ordered a deep fat fryer and they were out of stock, the substitution offered was a frying pan, maybe that little human touch does serve a purpose, even if it is only comedy.
I know I am revisiting a subject here but I really think it deserves it. As I look from my window both sides of the street are lined with cars that appear abandoned rather than parked. Between these stationary vehicles runs a slow moving snake of cars leaving town. You rarely see traffic moving as slowly as a bank holiday by the coast. These cars slowly making their way out of town are the same ones that sat in solid traffic to get here in the first place. All morning the high street was solid, the 5 minute journey into town was taking 25.
The sight of this mass of humanity in tin cans was partnered by the traditional scent of sunblock. Yes this is a chip eater bank holiday, sweating in a car and shouting at the kids. Fighting into town they find no parking so either abandon cars or join the endless circle hunting for a space. When they leave the car eventually they race to the shops, you thought I was going to say the beach, oh no. Having made it to the coast they need to shop and fill the town window shopping the few tiny shops that we have. The grocery store is rammed, heaving with tourists that are only here for a day! It’s Tesco guys, ours is the same as yours.
The takeaways, ice cream stores and cafes all have queues out of the door. Eventually they will make the beach, more for somewhere to eat their food, before the hellish journey home. What is it that drives this mass migration? Is it some pheromone deal like marching ants? I remember when the only place that you would be able to get hot doughnuts and cotton candy was at the coast. That’s not the case now, so why do we still feel the need to chase each other to the beach, are we trying to recreate childhood memories?
I spoke to Dave earlier and he confirmed that the zoo and his local superstore car parks were also groaning under the weight of visitors. With Internet shopping is there any need for this? What genetic code orders us to spend our bank holidays queuing or sat in traffic?
While I consider that answer I am going to walk to the pub and engage in a time honoured tradition. Sunny bank holidays seem so much nicer when your sitting on the wall with a pint watching the exodus, hey thanks for coming.
A delightful journey to work this morning was made so much more enjoyable by a short formed train which always results in further compacting the assortment of humanity that uses the train. The oversize, in both numbers and weight, family that joined with me to fully occupy a row that comprised 9 seats were a real treat. I was treated to the combined delights of small children that were incapable of either sitting still or moving without randomly falling into me, an experience that is only heightened when said children have handfuls of food. Watching these people provided, once again, an education sadly missing in our legislators you see they had purchased healthy option crisps for the brood but completely missed the point by emptying packets of them into said children throughout the journey. It is this belief that when there is nothing else to do we should eat, combined with an assumption that if it looks healthy you can eat as much as you want that is a big part of the ‘obesity epidemic’, if we change the labels they will simply select an option that involves the words ‘lite’ or ‘lo-cal’ and double the volume. I know that your reading this and thinking that this is just my angry old man ranting mode, but to illustrate my point allow me to share the parent’s discussion over the Maoam* sweets that they gave the hoard. Having distributed the cubes of manufactured junk Mum pointed out that it was good that the kids liked fruit sweets, Dad agreed that it was a good way to give them fruit, the flaw? they were eating Cola flavoured sweets!
I now have a full-time station attendant at my home station, although full-time in this instance is a matter of only a few hours a day, which means ticket purchasing now occurs at the office rather than on the train. This morning being a Monday there was more call for purchasing than normal and when I arrived there was quite a queue, the lady at the front of the queue used a card for a purchase that the young guy had entered as cash so we waited while the purchase timed out. At one point the lady at the front offered ‘would you like to serve someone else?’ and a woman who was not a day under 70 leapt from her seat, charged through the queue and yelled “YES”, this was a full ten minutes before the train was due to depart but I have never seen such an energetic burst from such an unlikely source. I only recount this experience because it caused me to wonder, if the English are a nation that queues then elderly English must be the most experienced so what is it about public transport that overrides not only all the history but also arthritis?
In other news top marks go to my dreamy partner for succeeding in a discussion over the post with only a delicate shade of pink, not the physical violence that some had predicted or the vivid scarlet I had envisaged. Congratulations go to my friends Andrew and Helen who are steaming towards a well deserved 3 star from the AA, well done people and all before Andrew reaches 40 ;-).
Thank you to my super sis for ensuring that my stomach was lined before I went to the pub yesterday and for always believing my glass is half full and of course to my bruv for always being there despite my tendency to go off roading on the journey of life. One more thank you to a rare reader, Davina, another good friend and stoic supporter. I love you all guys but only one in her dreams! enough of this now, I am off to do my press ups and see if I can teach these wrists that hurting me is not going to get them anywhere.
*Maoam is manufactured by Haribo probably in a factory in Korea and is marketed as a low-cost fruit flavoured sweet, note ‘flavoured’ which does not translate to ‘contains’.