Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Alternate reality

Asda. A strange place at the best of times.

Our office is only a five minute walk from the local “superstore”. It’s like a social experiment. I often wander around agog at the things people think are appropriate to wear when grocery shopping. On the plus side, the prices are ace and I always come away feeling better about myself.

In the lobby bit outside the main doors, there’s a display of patio furniture. You know, a display. Like where they put stuff out with the prices on it so you can see how it looks and decide whether you might want to buy it. Inspired the phrase “for display purposes only”. You wouldn’t generally take it as an invitation to take the weight off your feet while waiting for your spouse/sister/helper to finish trudging round the store, breathing through their mouth and filling the trolley with processed food in brightly coloured boxes (the manufacturers are missing an opportunity for a great inter-company game of Pro-Am Inappropriate Packaging Wars. I am of the firm belief that as long as there’s a picture of a pizza/pasty/frozen roast dinner on the front, and some primary coloured shapes, they could write anything they liked in the Nutrition Information panel and nobody buying that shit on a regular basis would ever, ever spot it. Things like “May contain strychnine in fatal quantities. Please ensure that your family can afford to bury you before attempting to ingest”. If I worked for Dr Oetker I would totally do that). Unless, of course, you’re the sort of brain-dead, low-browed shuffler that makes up at least half* of the regular clientele at our local Asda.

About three weeks after the display first went up, a sign appeared asking people not to sit at the table and eat their sandwiches. Then one asking people not to smoke at the table. I was already wondering what on earth possessed people to sit at a display of garden furniture and have a spot of lunch (in full view of everyone entering and leaving the store), considering that they would have had to have moved an enormous price label from everything before settling down. The practice eased off (I expect they employed a member of staff to read the notice out to people) and Asda took its collective eye off the ball. They got complacent.

As we approached the lobby this lunchtime it became apparent that, in view of the current heatwave (Look Out! Global Warming! Death! Horror! Destruction! Ice Lollies!), the display of tables and chairs had been replaced with furniture a little more suitable for sunbathing. Top idea Asda. Well done you.

The large hairy lady reclining on the sun lounger, with shopping placed carefully nearby, dirty flip flops on the floor in front of her and a refreshing bottle of own-brand cola on the side table seemed ever so happy with the new arrangements. I am fully expecting to go back tomorrow and find that someone has dragged the lounger into the car park in order to catch a bit more sun.

Jesus. Some people really have no shame.**

* The rest of the shoppers are people from our office and middle-class mothers doing that reverse snobbery thing where they have a coffee morning and conspicuously put own-brand Asda biscuits out so that they can talk earnestly about how it’s all the same, you know. Of course, they never eat any of them – they wouldn’t want to spoil the organic corn-fed chicken they bought from Waitrose for tea.

** I might be over-sensitive about this sort of thing. I was brought up to believe that you should never eat while walking down the street, and that brushing your hair in front of people is horrifyingly rude. Therefore I would never eat my lunch from display furniture. No. I would die of shame. I’m not judging you though – please feel free to go right ahead and take a picnic to your local garden centre. I’m sure they’d be happy to see you. Really.


Blogger The Boy chimed in with...

Not eat whilst walking down the street? But.. but... but... that's a well thought out time saving experience!

However, sitting and drinking a cola on a display lounger does have to make you think about just what is going on in that persons mind.

19 July, 2006 18:04  
Anonymous Ropes? Check. Chloroform? Check. See you tomorrow! chimed in with...

You think Asda's full of pondlife? Try the Pakefield Morrisons - yesterday there was a woman walking around with poo stains on her elephantine arse.

19 July, 2006 18:21  
Blogger Jools chimed in with...

Asda is a haven for fashion crime spotting. I love it as I get to indulge my mullet spotting passion. Such diversity all under one store and where else can you buy items only to take the box home and find someone's nicked the contents!

19 July, 2006 20:27  
Blogger rockmother chimed in with...

I've seen lots of large people in unfortunately straining peach-coloured leggings in Asda over the years. I remember the one in Battersea had an aisle labelled 'Foreign Food'. Still makes me laugh to this day. Do they still sell 1kg bags of broken biscuits?

19 July, 2006 20:40  
Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...


this so is not waitrose on morningside road

19 July, 2006 20:50  
Anonymous kristy chimed in with...

I want an alert when someone decides to go there for nude sunbathing. Seriously. Call me. Day or night (although why anyone would sunbathe at night, I'm not entirely sure--still it might be one of those time zone things, but call).

19 July, 2006 21:43  
Blogger Spinsterella chimed in with...

Surly, if I didn't think that you lived somewhere on the other side of the country, I would have sworn you were describing my very own local Asda.

(Or As-dawls, as it's inexplicably known around here.)

I do have three supermarkets closer to me though...

Tragically, they are Lidl, Kwik-Save, and Iceland.

19 July, 2006 21:46  
Blogger tom909 chimed in with...

God, I thought Safeway was bad until it got taken over by Morrisons. I try so hard not to be a fattist but when I see the huge bastards pushing their cartloads of shite around the store with all their fat bloody kids following, I sometimes struggle to stay on the middle path.

19 July, 2006 23:15  
Blogger First Nations chimed in with...

used to run an account at the local hardware store, while i had my own business. taking a look around the bath section one day i discovered someone had seen fit to take one of the display toilets for a test run, in the middle of the store on a raised platform IN THE THE LIGHTING SECTION. oh yes.

some people just can't resist the lure of the stage.
(how is the small person's arm?)

19 July, 2006 23:19  
Blogger mig bardsley chimed in with...

Goodness, what an interesting place. I wish any of the customers at any of our local supermarkets were half so entertaining.

Just as long as they don't start brushing their hair or *shudder* checking their zits in the bathroom aisle.

19 July, 2006 23:24  
Blogger Arabella chimed in with...

I took The Husband to Safeway once, when he was visiting me in
Birminghamptonshire. I said it was important for him to see 'care in the community' in action.
When I emigrated he took me to WalMart. No contest.

20 July, 2006 01:07  
Blogger Perry Neeham chimed in with...

Forget the garden furniture, forget the sun beds, what ASDA need to put in their Foyers are real beds: the sort you can sleep on. After all the mental anguish of writing a list, getting to the damn place, picking up airborne diseases while squeezing past the fat assed gits in the aisles and queuing (sp?) to pay I need a rest.

Rockmother - You're right about the ASDA in Clapham junction. But the frightening thing is that it feels like Harrods compared to the Lidl next door.

20 July, 2006 09:20  
Blogger frangelita chimed in with...

I may have been known to brush my hair in public and eat while on the move. But sunbathe in the middle of a shop? Do they have no shame?

20 July, 2006 11:08  
Anonymous Mr Angry chimed in with...

When it comes to being rude in polite company, I think it really depends which bit of hair you're brushing.

20 July, 2006 11:40  
Blogger funny thing chimed in with...

I live for Dr.Oetker pizzas. And I breathe through my mouth because it's easier.
And I start sentences with 'and' just to piss people off.

I shop at Tesco though, which makes me a better class of person.

20 July, 2006 12:29  
Blogger Geisha chimed in with...

I'm with you on not eating while walking. Reminds me when I still lived in manchester and see scrubbers with buggys walking around eating Greggs (replace Bakers Oven for Southerners) pasties. The smell still makes my stomach turn.

20 July, 2006 12:42  
Blogger rockmother chimed in with...

I really try not to cry (but have done) when I've seen c.18 month old children strapped in buggies with a McDonalds on their playtray and coke in their bottle.

20 July, 2006 14:41  
Blogger tom909 chimed in with...

Aagh, I mustn't comment now - I'm getting serious. I so hate junk food - I hate what it is doing to everyone.

20 July, 2006 18:03  
Blogger GreatSheElephant chimed in with...

I eat on the hoof, and quite often it's Greggs pasties or (better still) steak bakes. Yum. So time efficient.

20 July, 2006 23:32  
Blogger rockmother chimed in with...

Oh GS - I know we share a mutual love of the jelly in Mattesons/Pork Farms Pork Pies - but Steak Bakes?! I see the attraction I honestly do but I just can't go there. I bet you like Ginsters too don't you? Filth. Dirty.

20 July, 2006 23:55  
Blogger Invicta chimed in with...

This sounds just like Asda in Swanley where all human life, and quite a bit of inhuman life, can be found

21 July, 2006 00:40  
Blogger LC chimed in with...

Oh god, I spent 2004 working in Swanley - the Asda there was like the alien bar in Star Wars with all the super-freaks. One day they put a sign up saying: "All customers must be fully clothed."

I'd love to know what sequence of events led to that sign being necessary... Market day in Swanley was always especially scary.

21 July, 2006 10:05  
Blogger GreatSheElephant chimed in with...

even I can't bring myself to try Ginsters

21 July, 2006 12:02  
Blogger zanna chimed in with...

you make me laugh til my toes itch. I take it all back, you are upper middle class! I'm hot on your heels because this hick town I live in (with it's reputation for cousins marrying) has just opened M&S food and I almost wept with joy at not having to slum it in tesco anymore!

21 July, 2006 13:35  
Blogger DavetheF chimed in with...

What about people who eat in the lift? It makes me want to shove the stuff in their faces. What's up with that? The lift snacking, I mean, not my atavistic impulses.

23 July, 2006 20:11  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

uurgh. people who eat anywhere in close proximity to me that isn't a restaurant. ick.

am i on the autistic spectrum, do you think? mind you, aren't we all, in some way?!

24 July, 2006 07:29  
Blogger zanna chimed in with...


27 July, 2006 15:43  

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