Monday 22 December 2008


This morning, I awoke unsure whether to admire supermarket dodgers for their guile or despise them for their weakness.

And I got to thinking if assault with a shopping trolley would one day set a legal precedent with lawyers touting outside store entrances next to ribbon merchants who trade in conspicuous compassion.

The entire experience of shopping for groceries in superstores requires the astuteness and foresight of a snatch-squad cop in a soccer riot added perhaps with the rebellion and responsibility of a drive-by paintballer.

Before entering a superstore, I am already riled by the hopeless and spineless looking men who choose to wait in their cars reading newspapers, believing the adage that shopping and cooking is a woman’s obligation. Stepford Wives, like Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream, can today be found in every British supermarket.

When entering, I check either side before proceeding forwards and my vigilance is normally rewarded by a reassuring nod from the security guard.

Then, just moments later, I incur my first bruise as I plot a course around the dithering rabble gathered around the newspaper stand glancing through the sport pages or scrutinising the evenings television schedule. Sometimes, unable to break through and reach a paper, I relent, stopping at a newsagent on the way home instead.

By the time I’ve reached the fresh vegetables, first blood has been spilt by a woman whose trolley proficiency probably equals that of her driving, and rams hard into my shin. And when I arrive at the bakery section I am pushed, shoved to the floor and heckled by a gaggle of Stepford Wives in an abhorrent demonstration of shopping rage eager to grab the warmest and freshest loafs for themselves.

No aisle is safe, with shelf stackers, gossip merchants and vociferous children testing my assiduousness and diligence to that of a combat soldier on a routine fighting patrol.

Finally it’s checkout time and the length of the queue normally dictates whether I run the gauntlet, pay for my goods and go home, or dump my basket and scuttle, returning hungry the following day for second attempt.

Either way, as I leave the store, I am rewarded again by the security guard but this time with a knowing smile. And I smile back, satisfied and warmed as if only he understands what I have been through. But before I climb back into my car I look around once more but this time with a little envy, at the sad little men still locked safely inside their cars reading their newspapers that were probably delivered by a friendly and likeable paper boy.

Express & Echo