Friday, December 21, 2007

Me and Jeanette and Julie go shopping

This is a bit previous, but I think I have already decided what one of my new year resolutions should be: I must make more pronouncements, and make them confidently and without equivocation. I must be more like Julie Burchill or Jeanette Winterson. To incorporate both would be a challenge as they are at opposite ends of a spectrum, but they definitely have what it takes to pronounce for England (I wonder if it has something to do with their both being only children, this unshakeable self-belief).

“Shopping is what you do when you have stopped living,” says Winterson, though actually what she really thinks it that it is ok as long as you go to small, independent shops (and doesn’t she have one of her own called Verde’s?) and buy organic. Julie Burchill, on the other hand, says that if you don’t like Tesco’s you need to get a life and that shopping is brilliant and fun especially when you can whizz around and do it all in the one brightly-lit place.

Well there’s shopping and shopping, I suppose. Signs, Christmas 2007 (I told you I needed to make a resolution). The kind of shopping I almost never do is the clothes and accessories kind, and I was recently reminded of one of the reasons why when I ventured into shopping hell in the Brighton malls. Why anyone would choose to go there rather than all the interesting small shops in the Lanes perhaps Julie would understand: I thought I could do it all in one, stupid me, forgetting that mall shopping isn’t like that, especially not for the orthostatically challenged, as I most certainly was the other day, and feeling sick to boot. I got some wrapping paper, gift tags (why? I don’t use them), an item that I took back for refund half an hour after having bought it and four disgusting plastic painting set things for nieces and nephews that I never would have got if I’d been in my right mind.

But shopping for food is something I understand in my soul. Not so Mr. Signs who, on being asked to purchase a selection of interesting cheeses got a hunk of Cheshire. No disrespect to the good folk who live there, but really this is not a cheese that can by any stretch of the imagination be called interesting. Son of Signs complained about it and then I noticed a tub of duck fat smirking at me from the top shelf of the fridge. It is for roasting the potatoes, apparently. But I do not use duck fat for roasting potatoes, and neither do Jamie or Nigella, and actually I prefer your common vegetable oil. I have suggested to Mr. S that he should consider carefully before using his initiative in supermarkets and some very droll banter ensues – don’t be thinking that we are not entering into the Christmas spirit here. But sick or not, clearly it was time for me to make a move, so I did, to my favoured supermarket which was not quite as serene as this, but not far off. I bumped into several people I knew, well we nodded to each other and they gave me a wide berth – I looked awful, felt worse and had a near-death experience when trying to decide between a Duchy Original pudding or Waitrose’s own richly fruited. This may have had something to do with trying to do a spot of Process-inspired creative visualisation. There are moments when even my richly-fruited imagination fails me. It does so now, dear reader, as I try to come up with a fitting pronouncement to rival those of Jeanette and Julie.

Just give me time.


Kahless said...

Poor Mr Signs!
He battled the crowds of the supermarket and did the best he could. (I say that because I am the Mr Signs of supermarket shopping. I bet he picked up some good 2 for 1 bargains on his shop trip which I hope you applauded him for!)

Tell Julie B I dont like Tesco's btw; their 'finest' range is far from it!

And Signs, you have all the time in the world; I will still be here!

Reading the Signs said...

It'll come to me in the middle of the night, Kahless.

Applaud Mr. Signs? I expect to deliver a veritable fanfare - but not for the BOGOFs, which, as you uncannily intuit, he is rather good at spotting.

cusp said...

Well personally I love opposite ends of the spectrum.

I love the 'elbows out to repel boarders' attitude of the Lidl Experience ('Ist billig, yah ?!)and I like the everso middle class Guardian/Indie reading experience of going to the local Farmers' Market every third Saturday. This is deffo an elbows-in-and-mind-your-p's-&-q's experience.

Anything else is torture and/or a necessary evil.

* Don't be too unkind to poor Mr. S. It's the male hunter gatherer instinct that draws him to the BOGOF signs and in this mind- boggling era for the mere male, the buying of duck rather than goose fat for the roasties is surely only a misguided attempt to dispaly his inner Nigella: does he have an humungous rump ?

That's So Pants said...

Hi Signs

Poor Mr Signs. Did you not tell him that all supermarkets have those platters with six different kinds of cheese on them? I like the one with the green flecks through it.



Reading the Signs said...

Cusp, as it happens he has a very neat one (was going to use the word Petite but that didn't seem quite right). Hunger gatherer instinct, huh? This explains much.

Pants I did tell him that very thing but, like I said, he used his initiative. Well, to be fair, we do have cheese with green bits in as well as the Cheshire, but still -

Reading the Signs said...

I will say this, though - Mr. S does make a near perfect saffron rice.

Anna MR said...

(Love the way you came back two hours later to say some conciliatory words about Him Outdoors, Signs. Also love the term hunger gatherer, except that I was going to make it one step madder still and typo hunger fatherer - in fact did, but changed it.)

Hei, Signs. I think you pronounce beautifully, although I have read a lot of Jeanette in my time and (as I believe we discussed somewhere, sometime) used to really properly fan-boy dig her writing (can't place Julie anywhere right now. It may be I don't know her). One of your pronouncements in particular caught my eye there - the "unshakable self-belief [of only children]". Hurrah. By Pronouncement of Signs, I, the Princeling of the House of FomP, finally have self-belief. About bloody time, I hear my inner Princeling sigh. And not just any old self-belief - I have unshakable self-belief.

Signs, that must rank amongst the nicest Christmas presents I've ever been given. Thank you. However, with the aid of my shiny new (unshakable) self-belief, I would say I deserve every bit of it. Mwah...

(I share your views on shopping, my dear - I too really rather like to go foody shopping, and even more I like coming home and putting it all away and looking at my cupboards, all full of good things to eat, and congratulating myself for actually really coping with and managing it (=life) so well, just like a real grown-up. Needless to say, this habit will be on the up now, what with my brand-new ussb.)


Reading the Signs said...

Anna, by all that's wonderful, I never even noticed that typo but this proves that I'm a poet to the core, even my typos are eloquent. In fact they are more eloquent than I am.

Ah, Him Outdoors is wonderful, and that's the truth but, you know, one has to rant from time to time for form's sake. (do not ask who form is)

You did not know this thing about only children? Actually, I think it was Julie Burchill herself who talked about this. Doesn't matter, apparently, if childhood was happy or not, you're still the centre of the universe with no-one to displace you. I am delighted to offer this as Christmas present, my dear. Shine on! Mwah!

Anna MR said...

Hmmmmmm. I was made top-full of self-doubt in my childhood by people going on about the unshakable selfishness of only children (teachers, too, which I find despicable - it's not as if it's the fault of the child that they're a singleton. Ooh, I can feel the rant in defence of the wee singleton brewing and bubbling). But self-belief is a new thing. Do I have it? I shall have to retire to my virtual hermit's cave for contemplation (and Christmas baking).

Mwahs, Madame Signs, and a Happy Christmas in case I don't see you till then...

Collin said...

Other than food, I do most of my shopping online these days. Clothes, music, books...the whole lot. I just can't be bothered with going to a mall or some sterile retail box. I try to support the small indie bookstores when I can. If there was reliable grocery delivery in Atlanta, I'd never go in supermarket again either. I'd make a great recluse.

Andrew said...

I'm a heck of a fan of cheese, though it's doing its best to kill me. Decent Cheshire cheese has a lovely close texture, a pleasant saltiness and a bit of an 'edge'. Honest! I'm from Lancashire, by the way, so no vested interests, or axes to grind.

Reading the Signs said...

Andrew, yesterday I met someone who worked in a cheese shop who said the same thing. It's still sitting in the fridge though, waiting to be eaten, whereas the Stilton has all but disappeared.

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