Picture yourself in the pasta aisle of Sainsbury’s on a Saturday afternoon.
It’s noisy and busy. You are pushing a trolley. In that trolley is an effervescent two year old, to whom some well-meaning member of staff has given a balloon on a stick.
You are being repeatedly bashed in the face and you’re trying to navigate round browsers, chatters and elderly shoppers who prefer to take their time. Your shoulders are burning from the effort of steering a top heavy trolley with four independent wheels. Your mind is whirring with a list you didn’t have time to write down. You’re making a paella and need such awkward ingredients as tomato paste, squid rings and saffron. Three different shop assistants aren’t even sure what saffron is and you feel like a fool informing them it’s the stamens of crocuses. It has also occurred to you that, since you have blindly run this gauntlet, you may as well stock up on the things you need for the home. But your arms are now a bit numb and your hair is so static it’s sticking to your eyelids. A man steps forward, not to show you where the goddamn saffron is, but to ask you if you’ve considered Sainsbury’s bank. You stare at him, trying to decide if you’re actually about to lose it, but remain British and politely tell him you don’t generally shop here.
The balloon escapes from its stick. There is a wail and a helpful dad trots up with the errant balloon. Your toddler grins, delighted with this new game. You now have to steer the trolley with two dead arms, partial blindness and precarious patience while playing a kind of slow motion keepy-uppy. You search for the toiletries aisle and find it round the corner, next to the clothing and up an imperceptible hill. You let go of the trolley for a second to grab the shampoo and it rolls into a woman, who not only gets a bruised ankle but a head bashed with a balloon. She is clearly childless. She doesn’t share your slightly hysterical giggling. You decide its probably best to just check out and accidentally unload your trolley on the basket-only belt. The assistant opens her mouth to protest, notes the grimace, frizz and cackling child, and closes it again. You prepare to gasp with relief as you get close to the exit – only to discover the skies have opened and your jacket is in the car.
But your paella is fucking good.