There is only one thing I dread more than the weekly big shop and that is the Christmas big shop.
For the past couple of weeks I have been hatching a plan as to how I can make it easier for me to get around the local Sainsbury's and leave without: a) wanting to poke my eyes out and b) wanting to run over someone's feet with my trolley. The best way of dealing with the Christmas big shop is to have a strategy.
Should I bring the two children? Although that sounds like I might as well put hemlock in my cup of tea, actually, having the two children could make life easier because their wailing and screaming might help move people who dawdle whilst weighing up the differences between a Taste the Difference Christmas pudding and a normal Christmas pudding (er, the price!).
Should I stay at home with the kids and let Rob go and do the Christmas big shop on his own? Not a good idea. Whenever Rob does the weekly big shop I have to have my phone handy so that he can ring me as he walks down the aisle telling me that they have run out of jam tarts and what should he get as an alternative. At Christmas, time is of the essence and Rob and plenty of time equals an oxymoron. Once Rob went out with Bethan to do the weekly shop after he had finished work; three hours later I seriously considered phoning the Police to see if they could find where he had taken my daughter. I actually thought he'd had enough of my pregnancy hormones and fled the country to somewhere tropical. "It's not my fault I forgot my phone"; of all the bloody times to forget your phone is the one time when I am seriously considering phoning Interpol. Indeed, that's the hazard of hormones - the unlikely always seems likely.
No, the best plan of action is to beat the crowd. My plan was to get there as soon as they opened the door and be out before Saturday Christmas Kitchen began.
Unfortunately, that was the plan that half of Ipswich had also decided to adopt. Yes, at 7am in the morning, I couldn't get a parking space; I found myself driving up one way lanes in pursuit of that one elusive parking space that is actually near the supermarket doors. As the rain was battering on the bonnet of the car, that seemed like a bloody pipe dream. And if even if I did manage to find it, the Mini that followed me everywhere I went, as if I had the secret to where the elusive car parking space was, was so far up my arse I could tell what he had for breakfast!
Inside...well, there are no words. The shelves were devoid of products. I couldn't even get our breakfast staple; porridge. Although I could find copious amounts of goose liver parfait with a hint of cranberry. Yes, I'm sure that would go down very well whilst watching Daybreak in the morning.
Indeed, we looked like a band of refugees desperately clambering for whatever products we could find. As the crates were put in the middle of the aisle so that the shelves could be re-stocked, people were going in for the kill and if that meant taking you out with their trolley, so be it. I mean, if we didn't get those parsnips now would we be sure that we would ever be able to get them again? I'm ashamed to say blog that I too was part of the bourgeois carnage. At one point, I asked one woman to give me a leg up so that I could sweep the Taste the Difference Carmelised Red Onion Chutney from the back of the shelf. I also managed to get her one - I felt like such a hero. That chutney was vital in going alongside my goose liver parfait with a hint of cranberry.
As well as the chaotic nonsense, there were also people who had bumped into people that they hadn't seen in ages (probably since last Christmas) and were casually chatting with their trolleys head on, down the aisles. These were the people that were despised the most as they were in the way of us getting our eclectic cheese board. Somebody took the last peice of Wensleydale with cranberries so I had to settle for Wensleydale with apricots instead; what is an Alpha mum to do?
And finally, the checkout. I managed to befriend an old bloke from Yorkshire who was very lovely and really made me laugh. We were there that long he gave me a peck on the cheek and a cuddle as he and his wife wished me Happy Christmas. The woman behind me was having a complete meltdown as she was giving me a detailed account of how much she had spent on Christmas food so far. I asked her what on earth she was doing back in this godforsaken place again; she said she didn't know, she couldn't help it. She kept panicking that she needed more stuff.
By the time my shopping had been bleeped, bagged and paid for, the checkout woman said, "I could do with a drink after that", to which I replied "You could do with a drink!!!". I mean, all she had to do was scan the items and oh yes, press the keys on the till which works everything out for her. Meanwhile, I am frantically working my way through the products that are flying at me at a hundred miles an hour and trying to sort them into the right bags otherwise the carnage of unloading the shopping when I get home with my nearly 3 year old asking me "what've you got mummy?" would be the last straw.
On the way home, I prayed I didn't see anyone I knew as the car clinked past. Aisles 42 and 43 had a lot of offers on.
Once through the door and looking like a broken woman, I got a huge cuddle from Bethan who was complaining about the Christmas "mikit". Rob was trying to put on Harry Sycombe's Christmas Cheer which was going down like a lead balloon in a swimming pool. Beth wanted "The Pretty Flower Song"(aka Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is you"). I know, it was 10am in the morning, but a glass of Bailey's has never been so well received...EVER!!!!