Dante had nine circles of Hell, but I bet he’d never been shopping in Waitrose on the day before Christmas Eve. He’d have added at least three more, including the cakes and pastries aisle and the carnage that was fruit and veg.
Quite why I thought that mixing with a higher socio-economic group to purchase the Christmas comestibles was a good idea is anyone’s guess. I can only assume that I had fallen hook line and sinker for the adverts. I find myself very suggestible over the Yuletide season.
One glance at a picture perfect oven-baked filo-pastry parcel stuffed with goats cheese and cranberry and I am awash with delusions of grandeur. I see myself in a twin set and pearls, handing around canapés to the Chipping Norton set, instead of bunging more sausage rolls in the oven and trying to stop my kids overdosing on Quality Street.
Mind you, it’s quite something to watch the posh lads and lassies mix it up over the fresh meat when they believe there is only one turkey left in the shop. Actually, there wasn’t. A minion was hovering with an entire cage of oven-ready birds, but at least two women in Burberry were too intent on eyeing each other up to see who would make the first move to notice the relief column of supplies coming in behind them. One incident, involving the last pack of low-fat organic lemon and coriander hummus, was averted by a fast moving assistant who re-stacked those shelves with the speed of a carnival huckster running the three-card trick at the county fair.
In the main, though, despite the teeth gritting, the endless “excuse me”, “oh, no, my fault”, “sorry” and the constant trolley collisions, the Christmas mob was as merry as you would expect them to be.
Imagine the panic buying triggered by the imminent arrival of the zombie apocalypse, only with gourmet crisps, locally sourced cheeses, and till queues like M8 traffic jams, but brilliantly and efficient run by smiling cheerful staff.
There are times when I think we should just turn the whole country over to John Lewis and Waitrose. At least you’d get served efficiently.