One thing about being back in the same country together after our long period of job-enforced separation is that we can now go shopping together.
I’d kind of forgotten about this. I’d happily tootled around shops in Ireland (just happy to be there, frankly, after the epic journeys that necessitated getting to any decent shops), picking out just what I wanted and never thinking twice about it. Now there are several things about co-shopping that drive me insane:
Before we’ve even got into the shop, we’ve started. I like a big trolley and I like to push it. I also like to bring my own bags (they’re bigger and stronger and yes, more environmentally friendly). He favours trying to cram everything into one of those small granny trolleys and has no truck with bags hanging on the front (‘they give you bags at the checkout, FFS’), so I have to hold them. And apparently (bag-free) trolley pushing is the man’s job. Sexism: alive and well and living in Hertfordshire.
I know what I like. And I know what I don’t like. I don’t like shopping a deux and wish to be finished as soon as possible. Therefore I don’t want to stand around and look at all the cheeses in the deli (we always buy Cheddar – what’s the point?). Neither do I want to discuss the merits of wild vs farmed salmon at the fish counter (he doesn’t like salmon so it’s kind of pointless). The only time I like to dither is when I’m shopping alone in Waitrose – then I could spend hours. Fickle? Moi? I also like to tut loudly at those silly arses that stand in the middle of the aisle and chat, whilst blocking everything up with their trolleys. Want to chat? Sod off outside. Shops are for shopping. I’m thinking of writing to the supermarket bosses and suggesting a special ‘dithering/gossiping’ aisle, so the rest of us can bloody get on with it.
I will only buy free-range chicken. As the awesome Jimmy Doherty says in his book, A Taste of the Country, ‘if the chicken you buy in your supermarket is not labelled free-range, I’m afraid you are responsible for terrible cruelty’. I can’t have this on my conscience. The husband, however, cannot see the point in picking up a pack of two chicken breasts for £5, when there is a pack of four just below them for same price.
The chicken, being relatively near the front of the shop, causes us to bicker all the way round the store. We’ve kept chickens, I argue, and you know what intelligent and freedom-loving little chaps they are. He knows, he says, but somehow his wallet rules his brain…
Hence, every time he picks up biscuits (we don’t need them – I can make my own), chooses Perroni over Budweiser, or adds ridiculous items such as Rice Krispie bars to the trolley, he is reminded that he’ll spend money on that, but not on the welfare of a poor little innocent chook. It’s all wrong. In return, of course, I get told off for buying fresh herbs ‘in bags! Pointless‘ and arborio rice.
We’re just speaking by the time we get to the dairy aisle, then it all goes pear shaped again. It has to be Yeo Valley. I’m sorry, but I can’t be doing with that watery shite and I’ve a special affinity with the Valley of Yeo, seeing as I’ve visited a couple of times. The husband picks up Mullers. I put them back. Then we spot the big pots of Yeo Valley lemon curd and grab several. Marital bliss is resumed.
After relenting to his requests for the small trolley AND his insistence on being the one to push it, he then proceeds to do the worst stacking job in history… milk is rested on top of eggs and salad is squashed with beer. I tut and move things. He tuts about pickiness. There’s a lot of tutting.
So by the time we’ve bickered all the way round, him dithering to look at things, me charging ahead tutting at the gossipers, got to the checkout where he’s flirted outrageously with the woman behind the till (he’s never that nice to me), and we’ve huffed out to the car with my ‘ridiculous’ bags… we end up driving home in silence.
So I’m afraid I’ve asked for a trial separation. Oh not permanently, just every time we need some shopping.
I just need to be on my own… to find out who I really am.
I hope you understand, Hubby, it’s not you, it’s me. I hope we can still be friends…