The Grossness of Tesco at Christmas
There's a running joke in the Meep household that whenever we're about to go somewhere guaranteed to be packed, I always say "Don't worry - there'll be no-one there."
Take Cardiff city centre on the day that Wales were about to take on Ireland to win the Grand Slam for the first time since 1978. The conversation went something like this:
Me: "Let's pop into town - I need some veg from the market."
Mr Meep: "Are you bonkers? Not only is it Saturday, but there's a big rugby match on."
Me: "Nah, it'll be fine - everyone will either be in the stadium or watching it at home. There'll be no-one there."
Half an hour later, we were in town. So were about 60,000 other people - spilling out of pubs and watching the game on big screens set up outside the city hall. It was loud, it was packed, it was hideous - I'd only wanted a few carrots.
I was faced with a similar situation today. Having lunch with a friend, I said: "I'm going to pop to Tesco to get the Christmas food tonight - there's still a few days left, so I can't see it being very busy."
So at 7pm, I set of to the temple of consumerism that is one of the three gargantuan Tesco Extra stores in the city (one pound in every eight spent in the UK goes through their tills, fact fans!).
Expecting to breeze in and out, flicking through the magazines and having a browse at the clothes, I was shocked to find that every family in Wales - nay, Britain - had decided to descend upon the aisles at 7pm on the 22nd December.
There were trolleys piled so high, they couldn't be pushed straight. There were babies crying, toddlers tantruming, teenagers huffing and mums screeching in despair. There was panic buying of mince pies and sprouts, and quite a lot of 'trolley rage'.
Feeling full of Christmas inner karma, I refused to get stressed out by the situation. Instead I became a social observer, wandering up and down the aisles, soaking up the atmosphere and watching the behaviour of my fellow shoppers.
And my discovery? Simply that I wanted to get hold of the tanoy and make an important festive announcement: "THE SHOP IS CLOSING FOR ONE DAY! THAT'S ONE DAY! DO YOU REALLY NEED 10 PINTS OF MILK AND FIFTEEN LOVES OF BREAD? AND YOU, PEOPLE FIGHTING OVER THE TESCO VALUE TURKEYS - HAVE YOU NOT SEEN THOSE TV PROGRAMMES ABOUT DODGY CHEAP MEAT? WOMAN IN KAPPA TRACKSUIT SCREAMING AT YOUR CHILD - CHARDONNAY IS A WINE, NOT A BABY NAME. THE FOOTBALLERS' WIVES THING WAS A JOKE. FAMILY WITH 12 MULTIPACKS OF CRISPS AND A SQUILLION BOTTLES OF RED POP - YOU WONDER WHY YOUR KIDS ARE RUNNING UP THE AISLES THROWING POTATO SMILES AT EACH OTHER? AND A NATIONAL SHORTAGE OF FOSTERS IS HIGHLY UNLIKELY, SO ACCOSTING THE STAFF AS THEY BRING CRATES OF IT OUT OF THE STORES PROBABLY ISN'T REALLY NECESSARY."
And relax... My inner buddha has retuned and now all is calm again.