Theres a Marks Spencer at the station. Generally, I dont go in.
Its on the way home – although I suppose it isnt, really, if you dont happen to live in Brighton, but if you do, and you happen to come home through the station, which I do, and do, then it is.
The reasons I dont go into Marks–Spencer-in-the-station are legion.
Or more accurately about six, but I like the word legion.
Main reason: Because you walk in there thinking you need milk and, five minutes later, blinded by the bright colours and pretty pictures, you walk out only to discover that youre clutching a punnet of chopped pinapple, a tray of Brie and Coconut canapes, a small bottle of fizzy water, and a receipt saying youve just spent £947.80
Other reasons: The whole food-porn advertising campaigns that are frankly getting a little tired now.
The fact that people say well, it costs more, but its worth it, so Ill still buy it. Yes, you fools, thats why it costs more! Youre led like lambs to the stilton.
(Although its stilton with cranberries stuck in it, so apparently its fine that it costs £16 per wodge)
– Its fancy fast food. Dont pretend otherwise. I know it is convenience, and thats the point, but I get annoyed at the fact that you cant seem to buy anything untouched.
Scenario: So occassionally, Ive got a plan for dinner, but I know Im missing an ingredient.
The only shops on the way home are Marks Expensive, and Budgens. Budgens sells two bags of rice, a lot of biscuits, and sweets. They also sell my favourite Bloody Mary mix, but that is all they are good for.
So, in my idiocy, I will attempt to look in Marks Spencer for whatever it is that I need; lets say a tomato. Tomato. Tomato. Tomato. Lets call the whole thing off gosh that really doesnt work so well in writing, does it.
And it doesnt work, they have tomato juice, tomato and fancy things soup, tomato presse, tomato salad, tomato pudding, tomato souffle (in individual ramekins), stuffed tomato, pre-sliced pre-grilled antipasti tomato, and organic tomato wine.
What they will not have, of course, is a tomato.
And – apologies if Im losing the international audience here oh hell too late – all the way around, all I can think of it the sultry voiceover from their TV ads, saying This isnt just a tomato, its specially prepared This isnt just a tomato, this is lovingly squeezed essence of tomato with, and I just want to shout BUT THATS all I WANT! I WANT just a tomato, thats all I ever wanted! A tomato! JUST A TOMATO!
But no. Everything has to be prepared for you to within an inch of its life. It would be inconvenient for you to do it yourself. They havent, as far as Ive seen, started chewing your food for you yet, but its only a matter of time. Pre-masticated tuna steak: only £17.50!
Or why not something you can simply pierce the lid, pop in the microwave and then tip straight into the toilet?
Anyway. Why I was in there: I wanted a glass of wine when I got home, and frankly, shopping in Budgens for wine isnt fun. Its behind the counter with the worlds most hardened anti-moron-moronissistants, and youre forced to stand there for whole minutes on end directing them
No, the Shiraz. To your left. The other left. A bit more left. Yes, thats right. No, youve just picked up something else. No, thats Smirnoff Ice. The one to the right of that. No, thats also Smirnoff Ice.
while half a dozen swaying day-trippers get all tetchy waiting to buy 20 Lambert and Butler behind you. And then you end up going home with a bottle of Smirnoff Ice.
It seems that Marks–Spencer-in-the-station, meanwhile, seem to have decided to only employ pretty Middle Class morons. Seriously. They all have badges that read Marcus Sienna (the alternative title of this post), or Geraint, or Isabella, or Augustine; though the same gormless stares as their budget Budgens comrades.
Augustin served me today, by the way.
I took my bottle of wine and pint of milk to the counter.
It flashed up on the display
That will be Six pounds sixty six, please
Ah. I said. The Shopping of the Beast.
You know, like The Number of The Beast, but with Shopping replacing the word Number.
And also Metal! Like those dreadful bands with the spandex and the hair.
For a spur-of-the-moment witticism, therefore, encompassing both classical allusion and pop culture, it was a hotty.
Augustin didnt laugh.
He didnt laugh!
No, I dont care if he was French. Thats no excuse.
Also the fact I may not have (strictly) said it out loud. Thats no excuse either.
If I was just a little braver, and less shy, I would have said it, and that was obvious, and anyway, I said it WITH MY EYES, and he still should have laughed.
And, yes. That weak pun I thought of at the counter of the shop tonight was the entire point of this post.