I can feel a letter coming on. Dear Gordon Brown, it will begin authoritatively. Please petition the House of Parliament with a legislative proposal to... Okay, I haven't yet thought out the rest of the content, but I feel aggrieved. Even though I'm not sure what they are, I feel as though my statutory rights have been violated.
At lunchtime today, I flung open my food cupboard with all the bravado of a starving warrior and sighed melodramatically. At that moment, I knew how Old Mother Hubbard felt as she shrugged sheepishly at the hungry doggy waiting patiently for its bone. As my stomach grumbled like someone walking over fresh snow, I eyed the sorry state of my personal larder. Its contents revealed the lonely remnants of food that no one ever eats. A packet of pork flavoured pasta shapes that simply just need boiling water in order to allegedly transform them into a delicious treat; half a Rivita that lost its way some time ago; an oxo cube; a curiously empty bottle of TCP and a tin of sardines that I think I've had since university but don't ever throw out as I am immediately filled with a hideous guilt. I've tried binning it before. As I approach the dustbin lid, my mind's eye liberates a thousand images of a starving Ethiopian child looking distant and forlorn as a load of flies decide to have an orgy on the end of its nose.
At five pm, I switched off my PC terminal and groaned as the monitor faded to blackness. 'Enjoy your trip to the supermarket,' my colleague chirped happily. 'Yeeeahhh...' I chuntered, unconvincingly. at 5.30, I pulled up - inexplicably - outside Lidl in Stanmore. One word fogged my mind as I entered the premises: grim. The first drama played out as I realised that I needed a pound coin to secure a trolley. I fingered my change resentfully as I totalled it up in my head. Twenty three pence and a piece of red cotton. One trip to the cash machine later and I entered the bizarre world of economy shopping.
There seemed to be no plan to the layout of the store. A variety of fruit juices blended into fizzy drinks with questionable names presented in garish colours: Fizzo orange, Trezpo cola (diet and regular, no less) and Popcob pineapple. As I passed by them, by trolley remained empty, except for the pound coin leering sheepishly out of the handle. And then the strangeness started: opposite the fruit and veg was a random assortment of things that I didn't expect to see: there were luminous yellow workman's vests sitting next to a smorgasbord of 'yoga fleeces' (I mean, what the eff?), car batteries, sewing kits, a tasty variety of flavoured condoms (citrus johnnies - yum!) Next to the disputatious prophylactics was - obviously - dog baskets and neighbouring those were toilet roll holders. My trolley remained empty and continued this way as I got to the shower gels. A range of bright colours with - again - odd names tried to tempt their way into my trolley. I picked up Opang and smelt it: vomit. I had a whiff of Torrance. It smelt of bread. Pookonk smelt like a corpse and Driftkit reeked of an unclean old woman that had recently pissed herself.
I wearily continued on and finally reached the checkout. In my trolley was a one solitary jar of olives. I took in the length of the queue (that read of a who's who of Romania's Mafia) and deserted the olives, trolley and all.
Dear Gordon Brown, my letter will begin. Please petition the House of Parliament with a legislative proposal to... retrieve my pound from the trolley that I legged it from in Lidl...