Sunday, May 20, 2007

Drowning polar bears by the pound

I APPEAR to be at war with two of Britain’s biggest supermarkets. And it’s not my fault, honest.

It all began when I pitched up at the cigarette counter in Tesco carrying a shopping basket containing two bottles of beer, a baguette, and two newspapers. What I took to be a nice old lady was behind the till.

Before I’d even had the chance to ask for a packet of fags and two lucky dips, she was at my throat like a pit bull on speed.

“Only three items here,” she barked, triumphantly pointing to a sign behind the desk.

“Err … why?” I asked, somewhat mystified.

“Because it causes queues,” she said.

I looked behind me - no-one there apart from a special needs kid pushing a broom and a tramp lurking with intent by the sell-by-date sausages.

“But there’s no-one waiting,” I ventured.

“Doesn’t matter,” she said, “Rules are rules.” Her eyes gleamed with the fervent certainty of someone who’d Been On A Training Course.

I had two choices at this stage. Number one, for that mad second that the red mist descends, was to empty the basket out on the floor, turn on my heel and walk out, dignity intact. Number two was to swallow my pride and get on with it. I wanted a beer, I wanted a fag, I wanted to win the lottery, so number two it was.

“Right,” I said. “I’ll have these two newspapers and the baguette, 20 Silk Cut Purple and two lucky dips for tonight.” Rosa Klebb smiled thinly and proceeded with the transaction. I had plenty of cash, but paid by card just to annoy her. She handed me my receipt and began to turn away.

“And now,” I said, “I’ll have these two bottles of beer.” She froze in her tracks. We eyed each other across a display of cut-price Caramacs, like gunfighters at the Pic ‘n Mix Corral.

“You can’t do that,” she said. “Only three items.”

“Yes,” I said, “but this is a new transaction, and I’ve only got two items.”

“Then you have to go to the back of the queue and wait your turn.”

I looked behind me. The special needs kid had stopped pushing the broom and was picking his nose. The tramp was hurrying across the car park, a suspicious bulge in his trouser department. Of waiting customers, there was none.

I smiled; the smile of victory, the smile of napalm in the morning. Rosa had no choice but to bite the bullet. But if she could have spat in my beer, she would have done.

SO TWO days later I’m in Waitrose, just about to go through the checkout, when I notice that there are no carrier bags for my shopping. So I asked what I took to be the nice old lady on the till if I could have some. She only turned out to be Rosa’s long-lost sister.

“Don’t you want a Bag For Life,” she asked. “They’re better for the environment.”

Yes, well, they might be, but I’ve already got 137 Bags For Life. They tend to lie around in the car boot for a few months and then get thrown in the back of the garage. They never, ever, get taken back into the store to be used for the purpose for which they were intended.

“No thanks,” I said. “I’ll just have some carrier bags please.”

I think I’d have got a better reception if I’d asked for half a pound of horsemeat and a big bag of smack. I was then subjected to a lecture from Rosa’s sister delivered with the fervent certainty of someone who’d Been To An Environmental Awareness Seminar.

Now I was getting a bit cheesed off by now. I don’t go to Waitrose to be preached at. I go to worship at the altar of excessive consumption. So I pointed to a shrink-wrapped cauliflower lurking on the conveyor belt amongst my shopping.

“Well if you’re that bothered about saving polar bears from drowning, why have you wrapped that in plastic,” I quite reasonably asked.

“It’s to keep it fresh,” was the reply.

“Well it was fresh before you wrapped it up, wasn’t it? How is half a yard of clingfilm going to help?”

“And we need somewhere to stick the barcode …”

“Why? Why do you need a barcode on it? Can’t the till tell you how much a cauliflower costs?” I was on a roll now.

“In fact, I don’t want the packaging. You keep it; you dispose of it.” And I stripped off the plastic, left it on the belt, and handed Rosa’s sister the barcode back.

Then I emptied out the two avacados from their rigid plastic shells (it’s a Jamie Oliver recipe for fish), took the wrapping and box off the asparagus, and even liberated Mrs B’s Vietnamese Whirls from their cellophane, cardboard box and plastic container. And then Rosa’s sister called Security…

Not to worry. I’ve heard that Lidl does a very nice line in German Stilton.

SO NOW the private sector has started bullying us with the same relentless vigour as the public sector has been doing for the past few years, and all in the name of “Theenvironment”.

I'm still not quite clear why another polar bear drowns every time I ask to buy a pound of mince, but I'm sure there'll be a government-funded advertising campaign coming along to explain it some time soon. After all, does anyone not know that smoking is about to be banned? There must be someone, because the government is currently spending £1 million pounds a week telling us.

No wonder smoking causes high blood pressure.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Theenvironment is nothing but a money making scam for the government. If there was a real threat of global warming they'd be banning 4x4's off the road and confiscating folk's dish washers, instead of wasting their time picking on smokers.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Heaven, God went missing for six days.
Eventually, Gabriel the archangel found him, resting on the seventh day.

He inquired of God, "Where have you been?"

God sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, "Look Gabriel, look what I've made."

Archangel Gabriel looked puzzled and said, "What is it?"

It's a planet", replied God, "and I've put LIFE on it. I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a great place of balance".

Balance?" inquired Gabriel, still confused.

God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth. "For example, Northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth while Southern Europe is going to be poor; the Middle East over there will be a hot spot. Over there I've placed a continent of white people and over there is a continent of black people". God continued, pointing to different countries. "And over there, I call this place America.
North America will be rich and powerful and cold, while South America will be poor, and hot and friendly. And the little spot in the middle is Central America which is a hot spot. Can you see the balance?"

Yes" said the Archangel, impressed by Gods work, then he pointed to a small country in Northern Europe, "What's that one?"

"Ah" said God. "That's Scotland, the most glorious place on Earth.
There are beautiful snow capped mountains, untouched rivers, streams and lochs of exquisite, timeless beauty. The people make a drink called Uisge Beatha or Whisky which means "The Water of Life". The people are good looking, intelligent and humorous and they're going to be found travelling the world. They'll be extremely sociable, hardworking and high-achieving, and they will be known throughout the world as warriors, engineers, inventors and pioneers.

Gabriel gasped in wonder and admiration but then said: "I thought you said there will be BALANCE!"

God replied wisely, "Wait until you see the shower of bastards I'm putting next to them!"

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another sporran swinger posted that one ages ago.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try buying your cigs at WH Smith in Cambridge if you want a taste of short shrift!

12:39 AM  

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