Sunday, 23 December 2007


The first time you go into Sainsbury's after being out of the country for eight months is an ethereal experience. Particularly if you go at night, when it's dark outside and people in navy blue tracksuits have already started replenishing the shelves.*
Perfectly ordinary products seem amazing, such as Weetabix, fresh pasteurised milk and low-fat yoghurts (low-fat anything, actually). You rejoice over Marmite, spiral-bound notebooks and applicator tampons.
It's especially fun when you realise that the young couple in the Beers, Wines and Spirits section are speaking in Polish, and you hang around pretending to be interested in Green Ginger Wine so you can continue to eavesdrop.
After a few minutes, they approach a member of staff to ask a question, and you hover about, hoping for the chance to jump in and be a communications superhero.

Then you realise that all the staff are in fact Polish as well and you feel distinctly redundant.

Have you ever wondered why everything you put into a dishwasher comes out with specks of broccoli welded onto it? Even if you don't eat that much broccoli it's always the same: that tell-tale dark green flake dried between the prongs of a fork or on the rim of a teacup.
Perhaps the manufacturers add a special secret broccoli reserve to every model. I can see it now: the dutiful demonstrator loads the machine, opens the lid to put in the soap, and then opens a second lid and fills it with bits of crumbled broccoli florets.
There's even a special final cycle: heat-blast, to ensure effective bonding of broccoli to china...

*n.b. I did this job once. You get a lunch break at around 1.30am and they give you reheated chicken korma. At times like these, it is useful to have a strong constitution.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you in missing fresh pasteurised milk - try any Kefirek - they usually have it (can't quite believe I'm giving this advice though...)

Michael Dembinski said...

In Auchan they replenish the shelves while you're trying to shop. There's always a forklift truck with pallets of flour in your way, or else they've roped off the beer aisle to re-stock the Warka Strong bay, or else you can't get to the condiments because there's a huge cleaning machine sweeping up the mess left by a botched mustard delivery.

pinolona said...

Actually to my shame I'm one of those people who can't really tell the difference between UHT milk and the real thing once I've got used to it.
But I always grumble along with the rest of the expat mafia because I can't bring myself to admit to having such undiscerning tastebuds...

Anonymous said...

it has been so nice to get back to Edinburgh and use glasses and cutlery that aren't covered in broccoli!