Sunday, June 05, 2011

It was the cat what got it.

I find myself in Wales at the moment. That in itself isn't particularly strange. The Horse Doctor managed to get two tickets to see Paolo Nutini at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre, and since I hardly ever get to see live performances it seemed a good idea to come down for this one. OK, so the man himself is from Paisley and is likely to be playing a bit closer to home in due course, but you take these opportunities when they come your way. It's so unusual for anyone of any note to make the trek to Aberystwyth - the last concert I went to was Julian Cope about eight years ago - that when someone does actually make the effort, it's only fair to support them.


So, down in Wales to see a Scotsman sing. Nothing strange about that at all. Nothing all that strange about going to the supermarket on Sunday morning, either. We didn't need much, just a basket of bits and bobs and a chance to get rid of all the green waste I'd generated by digging over the garden. That's the problem with being four hundred miles away most of the time. When I do make it back here there's a list of little jobs to do that's a mile long.


Anyway, we needed cream. You can't eat rhubarb pie without cream, and there was a whole rhubarb pie just waiting to be eaten. So I picked up a small tub of cream and put it in the basket. I won't bore you with the rest of the shop; it involved bread, biscuits and deodorant amongst other things. It didn't take too long to get everything we needed, and the queues weren't too horrendous either. I piled everything onto the little conveyor-belt at the checkout and then started packing things into our reusable plastic bag as they came through. 


Which was when I noticed that the cream was nowhere to be seen.


I checked the basket, sitting on the top of a pile of its brethren - no cream. I checked the edge of the conveyor belt where lost items accumulate - no cream. I checked the floor - no cream and no slippery white puddle. It had vanished entirely.


Much to the annoyance of the people waiting behind me, I hurried off and got another pot. There was a rhubarb pie with my name on it after all, and nothing was going to stop me from enjoying its tart rhubarby goodness. But I couldn't help wondering as I loaded everything into the car, what on earth had happened to it?


I will admit to being a little scatterbrained at times. There is also something in the design of supermarkets - all shops really, but supermarkets in particular - that robs my brain of the ability to function beyond the most basic level. I am quite capable of going shopping with a list and coming home with only half the things on it, regardless of whether the shop has them in stock or not. Mostly I just forget to take the list out of my pocket, my brain having regressed to toddlerhood as soon as I've crossed the threshold. Sometimes I can wander around ticking things off as I put them in the basket and still forget something important that's on the list, but mostly I manage to leave it on the kitchen table at home and just guess at what we needed.


All of which makes it quite remarkable that I even noticed we'd lost the cream on Sunday, except that I remember picking up the smaller of the two tub sizes available and showing it to the Horse Doctor, looking for approval or otherwise. I then distinctly recall placing the approved pot in the basket, alongside the bananas. So where had it got to?


There is a very slim possibility that I put it in somebody else's basket. Time was, for a laugh, I used to like slipping the odd, expensive item into someone's shopping, then watching them go through the checkout to see if they bought it in embarrassment, didn't notice at all, or sometimes discreetly placed it in someone else's shopping. I hadn't intended to do this on Sunday, and a small pot of cream isn't exactly high value. My brain might have been distracted by something shiny though, and another shopper with nothing but bananas in their basket might have been standing very close. I can't discount it as a possibility.


Another game I used to play, back in the days when mum used to drag us along to help with the weekly shop, was taking random items out of other people's trolleys. Oh the laughs! Perhaps someone, seeing me coveted cream and remembering that they had forgotten some for themselves, decided it was easy to filch mine than to go back to the dairy aisle. It would, I suppose, be poetic justice of a small kind, after all the supermarket shenanigans I've got up to in the past.


Perhaps a rip opened up in the space-time continuum, a wormhole the exact shape and size of a small tub of cream. If so, I hate to think where and when it will turn up. A few feet above my head at an awkward moment, I've no doubt. 


Or maybe you found a pot of Morrison's own brand double cream in your fridge, and had no idea of how it came to be there. Well now you do.



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