Shopping, like housework, is one of those unforgiving tasks. Christmas comes but once a year and so do birthdays but shopping, that’s another matter: hardly have you done it when you have to do it all over again.
I am here talking about food shopping, of course, that regular visit to the supermarket that, for atheists like me, is the equivalent of the religious person’s visit of obligation to the church or temple. Not that dragging myself around the shelves provides any of the sense of awe, devotion and adoration that religious folk claim to feel at their place of worship. It’s more a sense of irritation: irritation that someone else’s trolley is parked across the shelf I want to get to, that the tinned vegtables have been moved so I don’t know where to find them or that the essential item I came in for is missing from the shelf and won’t be available until Thursday. Why not: don’t they carry out stock control anymore?
In a sense, we are spoilt today. Time was when we had to go to different shops according to the items on our shopping list: to the green grocer for fruit and vegetables, to the baker for bread and biscuits, to the grocer for cheese, eggs and jam, and so on. Nowadays we find everything under one roof and a degree of choice we could only have dreamed of in the old days. Instead of waiting while Mr Jones slowly adds up the bill, counting on his fingers, supermarket tills speed us on our way as they price each item and add up the cost without human intervention.
I still love those old specialized shops, though. There is a small green grocer’s in Borough where I go just for the pleasure of visiting a well-kept little shop selling quality fruit and of being served by the owner or his wife who put the goods into brown paper bags, not heat sealed plastic packets.
Near us is an old fashioned grocer’s cum dairy that stocks an amazing range of products. Unfortunately, it closed over the summer for vague reasons and is still shut. We fear it may never open again.
But wherever you do your shopping, it is still the case that barely have you got home and stacked it all in the fridge than you need to do it all over again. If we could give up eating we would save time, frustration and money. Perhaps I will win the Lotto and if I do, I will eat out for the rest of my life and never pass through Sainsbury’s doors again.