Category Archives: shopping

The small print is the most important ingredient on the label …

There are lots of reasons why Rocco’s mother should probably remember to take her reading glasses to Food-o-rama. Without them, she can just about drive the car there, negotiate her way across the carpark in a fairly basic manner and stumble through the sliding glass doors of the mall – and mostly, she can even tell which aisle she’s in. She knows her way around Food-o-rama well enough to almost locate the products she requires – and sometimes even gets it right. Last week however, she managed to get it wrong in rather an epic and spectacular display of misjudgement – and Rocco paid for it the next day. Indeed, Rocco’s hapless colleagues probably paid, too.

Rocco’s mother, who is definitely not renowned for Nigella-esque bursts of culinary activity (or mesmerising bosoms, even), decided to try a type of bottled coconut curry sauce in which to cook chicken. It looked delicious altogether and was – which is important – in an aesthetically pleasing jar. Obviously, there is far more to curry sauce than the illustration on the label – indeed, if Rocco’s mother was any kind of mother at all, she’d be making her own curry sauce with a million exotic spices ground lovingly with a pestle and mortar hewn from million-year-old volcanic rock. Rocco’s mother is not that kind of mother –  a fact which has been long established – and any foray into the kitchen is miraculous in itself. People are expected to show gratitude.

Rocco was prepared to show quite a bit of gratitude, because the curry smelt delicious as it simmered away – and Rocco was hungry.  He was happy his mother had made enough that there was some left over for him to take for lunch the next day. Goodo, and much anticipatory gnashing of teeth.

It became apparent to Rocco’s mother, as she sampled the first forkful, that she should not have gone there. The coconut curry was arsebreakingly evil – even the fumes entering the nostrils were ringing out a warning. Fumbling for her glasses, Rocco’s mother examined in detail the beautifully illustrated label on the jar, and discovered, in small print, ‘… with HOT peri peri’. Rocco’s mother did not have a clue of the meaning of peri peri. She did, however, have a working knowledge of the meaning of ‘hot’. It is a word she associates with water bottles, roast dinners and Alan Rickman. It is not a word she had ever considered in the same sentence as peri peri. Nevertheless, so it was written, and she felt it necessary to issue Rocco with a timid and somewhat embarrassed warning:

‘I don’t think we’re going to be able to eat this …’

Rocco and his mother sat with tears streaming down their faces and their nostrils twitching alarmingly. Rocco managed to finish his – though his mother was less enthusiastic about having her internal organs perforated, decimated and spat out at the other end. Both parties reached for tubs of fruche in order to put things to rights – and Rocco’s mother suggested Rocco may not wish, all things considered, to take the remains of the curry to work the next day.

Imagine her surprise the next morning on discovering the container of curry had been removed from the fridge and taken to Rocco’s place of employment – which, fortunately, is an open-walled timber mill. The thought of Rocco being cooped in a small, musty, air conditioned office was more than Rocco’s mother could bear thinking about. She thanked the Great Mother he was not performing brain surgery that day. She worried all morning about her son’s health – flinching each time she heard ambulance sirens, fire sirens – or even police sirens, as she considered excessive flatulence in the workplace could certainly constitute a crime against humanity.

In the middle of the afternoon, Rocco’s mother received a txt msg. ‘Thnx heaps – thr ws plastic in my lnch.’

There are lots of reasons why Rocco’s mother should wear her reading glasses whilst cooking. One of which is that, after snipping the plastic strip from the top of the noodle pouch, she would be able to ensure it went into the bin, rather than into the stir-fry. Rocco’s mother cannot comprehend how this happened – but consoled herself with the fact a strip of plastic probably would have done far less harm to her son’s digestive tract than the food in which it was lodged. As Rocco assured her his lunch was ‘nicer today than last night’, she saluted herself on having improved the recipe with her surprise ingredient inclusion. She may now patent a new range of curry sauces:

‘With HOT peri peri – and plastic strip.’

Rocco’s mother can almost hear Nigella wishing she’d thought of it first.

.oOo.

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Rocco’s mother shops by appointment only …

Rocco’s mother is feeling a bit maverick today. She was booted out of Food-o-rama last night, and that’s a pretty big thing. Rocco’s mother is the type of person who would never dare take more than eight items through the eight-items-or-die checkout. She’d hate to upset anyone or be accused of cheating. If she happens to have nine or ten items, she puts a couple of them in her wellies. Joking. She really puts a couple of them down her knickers. Also joking.

But I digress. Rocco’s mother had a lovely week in Darwin and flew home yesterday morning – a four hour flight. Followed by a two hour train journey and another couple of hours on a bus because – what’s new – there was trackwork happening and the train couldn’t go all the way, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Anyway, on finally reaching home, it was necessary to purchase several items which Rocco (who had been at home alone) had run out of, and which were necessary for the humane survival of his parents. Such as bread and milk. Therefore, Rocco’s mother set off for Food-o-rama with her little list. Which she wouldn’t be able to read when she got there anyway because she hadn’t remembered to take her glasses. And, in fact, she hadn’t actually remembered to take the list either.

Food-o-rama was nice and empty, so Rocco’s mother pottered around in the fluorescent quietness, thinking nothing in particular and winding down. She might even have been singing. And doing little dancing things, even, because she was happy. At the cheese fridge, a cheerless pudding of a girl was restocking, and gave Rocco’s mother a baleful glare – not moving across to allow her to choose cheese. Or select stilton. Pick parmesan. Buy brie. Whatever. Rocco’s mother settled for plasticated slices and moved on. She might have still been singing – or at least emitting a cheerful little hum – at this stage.

As Rocco’s mother started up the bread aisle, a gargantuan troll in a Food-o-rama tunic came bearing down upon her. ‘Madam,’ she said, puffed up with self-importance and the aftermath of consuming too much roadkill, ‘Are you aware the store is ACKshilly … erm … closed?’ Rocco’s mother felt a hot flush up the back of her neck, over her head and down her front.

‘I thought you closed at eight!’ Rocco’s mother protested. Aghast. She had, after all, looked at the trading hours outside and thought she had well over an hour to spare.

‘It’s AFTER eight,’ Foodbitch said smugly. She now had her arms folded in front of her. She looked as if she were getting ready to barge.

‘I’m terribly sorry,’ Rocco’s mother said. ‘Would you like me to put everything back on the shelves?’

Foodbitch’s brain was ticking over. It didn’t have far to tick, because it wasn’t very large. She obviously, however, decided Rocco’s mother would take a long time to replace the offending groceries – and she wanted her gone NOW.

‘Take them through, then,’ FB decided grudgingly. ‘As long as you don’t want anything ELSE.’ She gave Rocco’s mother a look which implied she might be the type of person who wished to strip every shelf of every possible item. Just out of spite.

At the checkout, the girlie had emptied her till and tallied up – but started putting Rocco’s mother’s purchases dutifully over the scanner. She then noticed the bag of oranges – carefully selected because they were (for a change) large and orange – happened to have a squashed and broken fruit inside, the orangey contents of which were smearing themselves over the other, non-offending fruit.

‘Oh dear,’ said the girlie. She turned to Foodbitch, who was standing there tapping her foot like the guardian at the River Styx. ‘Would you mind getting another one of these?’

Foodbitch looked as if she might kill Rocco’s mother – but snatched the bag of oranges and huffed off to the fruit section, returning with a bag of the smallest, greenest-tinged, crappy looking oranges she could find. Rocco’s mother knew full well it was Foodbitch’s revenge, along the lines of the Poo-in-the-Gelato punishment which had been enacted upon an unpleasant patron at an hotel a few weeks prior. Rocco’s mother figured Foodbitch was entitled to her little victory. Just this once, and because she appreciated the customer is not right all the time.

It is fortunate there are other supermarkets which Rocco’s mother can frequent. She’s rather embarrassed, and doesn’t know whether she wants to go back to Food-o-rama again. On the other hand, her memory is so jaded these days she’ll probably have completely forgotten about it within a day or two, and will wonder why staff members recoil in horror next time she makes an appearance.

ACKshilly … she doesn’t really give a hoot.

.oOo.

Omni, omnus, omnibus …

It’s marvellous how we have that clichéd little thought every time we do something unhealthy, isn’t it?  ‘Oh well … I could be hit by a bus tomorrow.’

Yep – that justifies everything. The miniscule square of chocolate that shortens our life by five hours –  the cigarette that robs us of two extra days – the sound of Alan Rickman’s voice stealing at least a week – blah, blah, blah. We’re not allowed to just enjoy anything anymore. And that’s a bad thang. A very bad thang altogether, because who wants to live a long life without ever hearing Alan Rickman inviting you into his boudoir for some choc-coated cherry numnums. Or even issuing you with a parking ticket, for that matter.  And yes, I’d pay it. Even if he was wearing the Professor Snape wig.

It’s getting so you can’t do anything without the naysayers telling you it’s bad for you. And to be honest, that makes me feel just a teensy bit rebellious and wanting to indulge in whatever they tell me not to. After all, if I added up the chocolates, cigarettes (which I gave up over 25 years ago anyway) and random invitations from AR to do various things both frisky and deluded, I should have died several years ago. And because I clearly didn’t, I’m thinking rampant buses are probably not the b-all and end-all of ways in which to be taken out.

A friend of a friend of a friend swears he stayed in a seedy motel room somewhere in America, and noticed the room had a particularly grim and mortuaresque odour. On pulling out the trundle bed in order to put his child to bed after a hurried meal of takeaway pizza throughout which the family pegged their noses closed, imagine his surprise on unearthing (tra-la!) a deceased prostitute. Whatever had happened to this unfortunate lady to have placed her in such a dire predicament was not made apparent  – but I’m betting she wished she’d eaten more chocolate.

A few years ago, a very strange thing happened in our town – and you’ll probably think I’m making it up. When I heard it, I thought the radio lad and the local paper were making it up – but not so. Read it and weep. A lady had her old cat put down at the vet, and because she wanted to bury him in her rose garden, placed him in a shoebox in order to take him home.  On her way back, she stopped in at Food-o-rama to return some tins of cat food and purchase several economy boxes of tissues and a bottle of medicinal gin – and on returning to the car, opened the boot and placed the shoebox’o’moggy carefully on the car roof whilst packing the shopping bags inside. As luck would (or indeed wouldn’t) have it, some lousy thieving chancer happened to spot the shoebox and, thinking her luck was in and she was about to score a brand new pair of Nikes (because yes, it was indeed a woman), swiped the box from the top of the car and took off across the carpark.

And this is where the old cliché comes into play, because karma being what it is, the thieving chancer was then very karmatically and thuddingly hit by a bus. The afternoon one to Jolly Havens Retirement Village, as it happened, which was full of pissed and randy pensioners high on bingo winnings and Mylanta after the prawn cocktail/chicken parmy two course luncheon special (and $2 extra for the rhubarb cheesecake, please).

But the story doesn’t quite finish there, because when the ambulance turned up, the paramedics tucked the shoebox carefully on to the stretcher next to the thieving chancer – and both were transported to the hospital where the shoebox was placed reverently in the bedside locker, from whence the police eventually recovered it after finally finishing their alleged Krispy Kremes and grudgingly deciding to turn up.

I have absolutely no idea what the moral to this story is – or whether there is one at all. But whatever Alan Rickman has in mind for the rest of the evening, that’s fine with me. I hope he brings chocolates, Danish pastries with walnut and maple filling, a couple of bottles of very sweet and fizzy champagne – and oh alright – he can wear the Professor Snape wig if he likes, too. If I lose another week because of it … whatever.

.oOo.

Puff pastry can make anybody feel like Nigella …

It’s no secret I hate cooking. The only good thing about sticky summer weather is that nobody really wants to eat anything. You can be sitting there at 9pm sponging perspiration from your face with your legs spreadeagled over the coffee table (a charming vista from almost any angle) and nobody’s likely to say, ‘How about some roast suckling pig and a dozen treacle dumplings (with custard).’ They’d sooner die. Not only do they lack the capacity to plough into such repast – they’re also well aware I’d have to kill them.

My friend Jules, whose claim to fame is cooking ‘from scratch’, is quite astounded when I’m game enough to mention convenient things like fish fingers. I do it sometimes purposely when I feel she’s being too smug and needs stirring up. I have no doubt Jules makes her own fish fingers, forming hand-minced flaked flathead into artistic oceanic shapes with her bare hands and crumbing them. With crumbs made from scratch with … yes, bread. Probably home-baked and grated with her own toenails. Opening a frostbound box from the freezer department of Food-o-rama is probably as foreign to Jules as a working knowledge of what to do with a Brussels sprout is to me. Furthermore, I just don’t care. Some of us were put on this earth to nurture our families – and the rest of us weren’t.

There is something mind-numbingly boring about going to the supermarket anyway. Filling your trolley with vegetables, taking them home, nuking them – then scraping them from your children’s plates into the bin. If you took them straight home and binned them immediately, you could cut out the middle man completely. It must be the ‘guilty mother’ syndrome which keeps you battling away – so when the doctor tells you your family has scurvy and every nutritional deficiency known to man, you can say with complete honesty, ‘I tried giving them vegetables, sir … but they wouldn’t eat them!’ It sounds lame, but you’ll get away with it because it’s no longer legal to jam things into kids’ mouths and tape them shut.

I once remember cooking something – but it didn’t work. It’s tempting to try again when winter sets in and the aroma of the neighbours’ pot roast comes wafting through the kitchen window. Tendrils of gastronomic extravagance curling through the barren wastes of my non-productive kitchen. Sadly, the Hunter Gatherer sometimes thinks the aroma’s ours. He looks hopeful and asks what I’m cooking. I tell him to stand near the open window and breathe in. It’s called ‘passive eating’ – it’s inexpensive and you won’t gain weight. Our neighbours have no idea how many of their meals we’ve enjoyed by osmosis. If they cook something really hideous, we just close the window and the HG is forced to endure yet another dalliance with fish fingers.

A very convenient tool in the art of feeding your family is the knowledge nobody will ever let themselves starve. When they start making whimpering sounds, you point to the loaf of bread. Your only contribution to the scheme of things is to make sure there is a loaf of bread. The survival instinct will then take care of the rest. If you’re really fortunate, one of your offspring will discover they have a flair for cooking and will shove rudely past you to get to the spice rack. You may be lucky enough to get quite a few years’ mileage out of this before they leave home.

But the best invention since sliced bread (or any bread, really) is the packet of ready-rolled puff pastry sheets. You can wrap them around just about anything and people will be incredibly impressed. Just open a tin, bung it on the pastry, do a bit of artistic crimping … and voila! Your family thinks you’re Nigella. Not only that, you can use up those tins of Pal you don’t need anymore since WoofWoof moved down the street to where the dogs are spoiled rotten with home-made beefy numnums.

Necessity being the mother of invention, feeding the family need only be limited by your imagination. You will find you can fool almost all of the people most of the time with the pastry trick. I was telling Jules about it the other day and she refused to believe there would be any call for such a product. Fortunately for some of us, there most definitely is. Due to consumer demand, the packs of ready-rolled pastry now come in an economy pack of 10 sheets. Bliss on a stick, and bring on the dog bowl!

Eat your heart out, Nigella …

.oOo.

Lies, excuses and are you taking the piss …

We start making excuses the minute we’re born. And why not? Being born is not our fault. It’s the consequence of someone else’s actions. Therefore, nothing we do after this point is directly our fault – and don’t we know it!

Kids discover pretty quickly you can blame the dog for the wet patch on the carpet or the mutilated copy of Chow Down which your Mum hasn’t read yet. It might be harder to explain the crayon marks on the walls, but if you have a dog with attitude you can fake it.

 It’s wise to remember – only ever admit to that which might bring praise upon you. This is why fathers say, ‘YOUR son’ when Rocco is expelled from school and ‘MY son’ when he’s opening the batting for Straya.

If you’re really intuitive you will be able to read between the lines of just about any excuse and be able to substitute the correct information automatically. To start you off on the road to sniffing out honesty and integrity amongst your family, friends and colleagues, here are some hints for use when dealing with various demographics.

Schoolkids – ‘The dog ate my homework.’ If you are a teacher there’s no way you can swallow this. The dog didn’t, either. The correct information is; ‘I didn’t do my homework because I was playing Rabid Hamsters from Zeron. I was on Level 10 and couldn’t give an arse about your poxy algorithms. There is every probability I won’t ever give an arse, so please don’t ask again.’

Workmate – ‘The alarm clock didn’t go off.’ Truth: ‘Last night I was SO out of it. Got home around 5am and couldn’t stop throwing up. I’ve got this itchy rash and feel crook as. I’ll have some coffee and a fag before I go to the clinic.  I haven’t the faintest idea who I woke up with either. He was still unconscious when I left and his head was in a brown paper bag.’

Housewives – ‘I’ve got a headache.’ This is a given. It doesn’t even matter what the truth is – men haven’t the remotest business arguing with it.

Politicians – ‘At the end of the day …’ Stop right there. Everybody knows at the end of the day the truth won’t even linger momentarily in the realms of probability – or even in the same stratosphere. The only decent out for these people is to keep their mouths shut, never say anything again and pray they can collect humungous superannuation early and move to a country where nobody has ever heard of them and they can start a new life. Preferably under witness protection.

Shop assistants – ‘We’ve only got what you can see on the shelves.’ This is SO crap. They’ve got other stuff too, in those big drawers down the bottom. Check them out yourself next time. There is even more stuff out the back, probably in 30 different colours and sizes – but there’s no way they’re going to go look for it. It says in the induction manual the correct response to most queries is, ‘We’ve only got what you can see on the shelves,’ and they’re sticking to it with murderous tenacity. Doing more would be showing initiative. Having initiative would mean they’d be employed as rocket scientists and you wouldn’t have had to wrangle with them in the underwear aisle of Fatfittings in the first place.

Used car salesmen – ‘It’s a tidy little unit.’ Which part? The rear passenger ashtray? A tidy little unit means the detailer did a brilliant job. The mud has been hosed out of the wheelguards and there is fresh gaffer tape over the rips in the upholstery. Don’t you dare go there.

Real estate agent – ‘It’s a nice, quiet neighbourhood.’ Yep. Lucky your inspection is during school hours. He’s hoping the hell you’ll hurry up and check the place out before the 2pm booze bus from the local pub drops off the old dears in nubbly orange cardigans who’ve been out playing the pokies and getting off their faces on gin and lemonade. And Lord help him if the paddy wagon turns up with the tossers from No.9 who’ve been away on weekend detention.

Now you’ll have to excuse me. I’m doing lunch at the Savoy and the plane leaves for London at 3pm. Not.

But I do have to check in with my parole officer and work out who the hell is lying on my bedroom floor with his head in a brown paper bag.

.oOo.

Dial 9 after the beep to go barking mad …

The Warrior Queen – and this is the truth – was once caught bending over a freezer in Food-o-rama saying; ‘Hello little peas … do I need you?’ She didn’t know I was behind her and heard – and to this day, doesn’t actually believe she did it. But the fun is being taken out of fronting up at grocery stores – and indeed, with enjoying a bit of tele-biffo when trying to get something organised over the phone.

Like me, The WQ isn’t a fan of making phone calls. Not so long ago, she had to contact an insurance company for some information on renewing a policy. They had one of those phone systems whereby you can talk to the handpiece but the handpiece ain’t listening – because they’ve sacked the roomful of happy telephonists they used to employ. Instead, they have a recorded voice to do the business for them. It makes them feel good a bit of money is being saved on all those girlies sitting around dunking digestives in milky tea and applying their nail varnish in between calls. Couldn’t have that, because it might reek of customer service.

Anyway, the WQ’s particular machine told her to press 3 after the beep if she wanted to talk about insurance. Which she did. If she’d wanted to talk about hiring a gigolo she would have phoned BadLads-R-Us. There followed an indeterminable wait, in which awful music was played. The WQ sat back patiently and fondly remembered riding in elevators in the fifties.

After what seemed like forever but was probably only about an hour or two, an electronic voice butted in to thank her for waiting patiently.

‘You’re welcome,’ said the WQ. So they played some advertisements, advertising themselves.  And their fast, competent, personalised telephone service. By the time the voice came back, the WQ was feeling a little peeved.

‘I’m starving,’ she told it. It didn’t seem to care. Instead, she was treated to another series of numbers, from which she was invited to make a choice, depending on the make of car she was interested in attempting to insure. The next time the voice came back, she said, ‘I’ll be a skeleton by the time anyone answers.’ The music at the other end was turned up louder. ‘I need to have something to eat soon,’ the WQ said crossly. ‘If I’m dead, I won’t need the car insured, will I?’

A Barry Manilow song came on. It was the last straw. ‘Sod you, then,’ the WQ said, hanging up and calling it a day for the year.

Which begs the question – how much business is being lost by these companies because the great unwashed won’t deal with machines? You never actually get to find out whether the service is going to be any good or not. There’s never anything human on the other end of the line to tell you.

What price have we paid for our autoteller machines? At least if you walk into a bank, the girl behind the counter doesn’t chew your card up the third time you forget your number. Sure, she might chew gum and you might have a long wait in the queue – but when you finally get there, that girl’s not just another unemployment statistic.

They try to justify unemployment by saying the technological age has spawned a whole new range of jobs. Jobs we hadn’t even heard of 50 years ago. Like being the person who records the electronic voice on answering machines. Or the person who unlocks autotellers and retrieves the sad little pile of chewed up cards left inside (most of them my son’s). And what happens when finally we all turn on our computers to do our grocery shopping electronically? No more fun trips to the mall. No more trolleys with uncoordinated castors. No more waiting in the 8-items-or-die queue behind the thick arser with two months’ supply of goodies for the Australian Army’s next bivouac. You won’t be able to feel the packet to check the biscuits aren’t broken. Or check the use-by date of anything. Or be dragged, screaming, 50 metres across the car park in front of an oncoming bus with your knickers showing when your rogue trolley hits an unexpected speedhump on the way back to your car.

Saddest of all, the WQ will no longer be able to converse with icebound vegetables or assure them of their necessity to her wellbeing and happiness. All the excitement will have gone from life. Those little daily adventures in which we interact with other living things – including moribund broccoli florets – will have been wrested savagely from our sorry lives in the interest of progress.

Was it worth it, we will ask ourselves, as we are reduced to gibbering idiots reaching for the phone to call Lifeline.

‘Dial 1 after the beep,’ it will sonorously intone, ‘if you’re just mildly pissed off. Dial 9 if you’re totally, barking mad …’

.oOo.

Taking a walk on the wild side …

            You wake up, do the usual, go to bed, wake up again. Nothing strange about that. Just nothing particularly interesting, either. I realised how predictable things had become one day when I found myself in the supermarket – without a list. Shock, horror, abomination! Impromptu shopping! Should I return home, collect the list and set out again on my fortnightly epic adventure amongst the stainless steel shelving and Barry Manilow soundtrack? I think not. Now is the time to indulge in something new, frightening, and knee-tremblingly different. Join me for a round of Extreme Shopping!

            There are a few games in the genre. Firstly, you can merely complete your shopping to the best of your ability – sans list – and have an extremely amusing time on your return home, ticking off the things you remembered and shouting BINGO at the end if you were 100% successful. Which you won’t be if you’re my age and have a brain already well past its use-by date. Even if you manage a 90% success rate, there’s something satisfying in looking at yourself smugly in the mirror and saying, ‘Not ME for the Alzheimer’s, thank you very much!’ It’s daring. Flying blind, so to speak. Out of your comfort zone and hanging free!

            Now, before you get judgemental and say, ‘get a life’, take a look at your own existence and consider whether there are any areas which could do with some excitement being injected back into them. If everything’s jolly hockey sticks, you can be excused from having to read further. If, however, you realise there’s something lacking – trust me. I’m almost a qualified fruitcake.

            Included in the Extreme Shopping stable is another activity I like to call Supermarket Chaos. It involves you changing supermarkets. Just for the week, just for the hell of it. This is a real bastard, because you won’t be able to find anything. All supermarkets have different ways of arranging their stuff. You’ll need a thermos flask and a pith helmet. This is because you’ll be theriothly pithed off. Be prepared to take extra money, as naturally there’ll be ‘foreigners’ – things you can’t buy in your usual venue, which you simply must try out. Afterwards, in the totally alien car park, you get extra points if you can’t find your car. This will add to the excitement, and there’s a free set of steak knives if you actually have to call the security guard to find it for you.

            If you lack the intestinal fortitude to brave the aforementioned adventure, maybe you’d like to try Product Alienation. In this game, you’re permitted to go to your usual supermarket, but you’re not allowed to buy anything you normally buy. You have to choose totally unsuitable things which you wouldn’t normally pick if you were half pumped with amphetamines and having a psychotic episode. That’s the rule. By the time you reach the checkout, you won’t recognise any of the contents of your trolley. By the time you reach next shopping day, you won’t recognise yourself. You’ll be too full of polyunsaturated fats and dangerous (but exciting) food additives you never knew existed.

            A variation of this game is Trolley Alienation. This is where you do your normal shop – then covertly swap your trolley with someone else’s at the checkout counter. It’ll make you happy that they’ve done your work for you. It’ll make their husband happy that you chose the DoubleChoc GreedyGuts Cream Cake and he’s reaping the benefit.

            You can employ the same tactics at home with a variation of the supermarket game  called Program Alienation. Throw away the telly guide with your favourite shows carefully marked. Buy another one and pick totally crap sitcoms you wouldn’t dream of touching with Gordon Ramsay’s tongs. Make yourself sit in front of them and watch. If you have to go out, tape them. Find out what a night’s normal viewing is like for those members of the community who are brain dead and can tolerate whining American voices and horrifying smartarse kids with tombstone orthodontia who are in dire need of taxidermy. Give yourself bonus points for sitting still during the commercial breaks and enjoying them too. If you’re still awake and your dinner hasn’t come up through your nose – double points.

            Getting a little bored with your Bing Crosby CD every night? Try Headbanging Horror. Go to the loudest music store in town. The one with the monster speakers which cause the entire mall to vibrate. Take notice of what ‘young people’ are buying. Especially the ones who keep saying ‘Huh?’ This is a good indication they have deafened themselves by listening to the kind of sound you require. Buy it. You will immediately feel very, very grateful you are old and not compelled to bow to peer pressure ever again.

            Just bear this in mind – if you run into me in the supermarket and notice my trolley’s full of rhubarb flavoured Shagalot Condoms and Just-Add-Double-Cream pudding mixes, it’s not normal behaviour. I’m just in the middle of a thrilling round of Product Alienation …

.oOo.