A trip to the Co-op


I just walked up to the village Co-op to get some beer and a packet of crisps. Not the healthiest diet for a man of my age, but I figured I’ve done a good day’s work and intend to be working for a while longer and I deserve a goddamn beer (Co-op own-brand Czech lager) and some goddamn crisps (Smiths squares, grab bag, but still only about 40g). I have a thing about queues in shops – especially Holland and Barrett – long queues seem to form right after I’ve entered a shop and I suddenly find several people materialise there before me in a previously empty place. There’s obviously a far-reaching covert organisation ordering its minions to mildly inconvenience me.

I brought my own bag to hold the stuff but have always found it difficult to judge the orchestration of the transaction and bagging operation. I usually end up trying to do them simultaneously and find myself unsuccessfully juggling shopping and wallet, worse if combinations of notes and coins is involved, and even worse if the weather is cold and I’m wearing gloves, coat and hat. I’d given the man a tenner and fished in my pocket for a twenty p to make the change easier for him to handle, but I was holding a glove and the bottles were difficult to manoeuvre into the bag and clashed together, threatening to topple over. The man at the till, perhaps wisely, didn’t help me – I think the combination of own-bag, lager and crisps sparked off some nexus of shopkeeperly prudence, some muscle-memory pounded into him over and over again by his steely but wise mentor.

On the way back I passed the bus stop, where I saw a woman who looked like the sloughed-off husk of a pupating Brian Dennehy.

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