In my younger years of my early 30s, it was perfectly possible to ‘pop’ to the shops to buy something I needed. Perhaps a loaf of bread. Maybe some fruit. More likely some chocolate and alcohol. In fact, it was almost as if the word ‘pop’ was designed for the act of quickly visiting a local shop. And bursting balloons, of course.
These days the act of ‘popping’ to the shops has been replaced by the act of ‘meandering’ to the shops – a process that includes numerous unnecessary stops, abject terror whenever approaching a road, and ultimate failure in purchasing the intended items. This account of a recent journey to our local shop may help illustrate my point.
Picture the scene – September 2016, moderate sunshine, sky scattered with white fluffy clouds, wife on way to work, and zero baked beans within the confines of her home. I repeat – ZERO BAKED BEANS!
Given my intended dinner for one options required the saucy, beany goodness that only the Heinz company can provide, I decided to ‘pop’ to the local shop. As our little one was looking sleepy, it felt like a good opportunity to stick him in his carriage, take the five-minute stroll, buy the beans, and stroll back, by which time he would no doubt have nodded off, ready for a seamless transfer into his bed and two consecutive hours of peace.
“No, Daddy, Joshy walk,” came the predictable response to the baby carriage as I wheeled it through the hallway. Shoes in hand, my son plonked himself down on the stairs. He waited for me to accept defeat and put his shoes on for him so he could, indeed, walk to the shops.
Off we trotted, with me pushing an empty stroller on the assumption that he would be so knackered after the walk there that I would inevitably have to push him home in it.
We predictably achieved our walk to the shop in staccato fashion. Even before the end of our road, we stopped for a few minutes to examine the ‘apples’ (that looked suspiciously like red berries), which had fallen from a bush. We exhibited wonder and amazement to find some still attached to the bush, further amazement to discover more a few feet along, and unbridled awe that still more berries grew on the same bush even farther down the road.
The pinnacle of the apple-berry episode was the need to squash a few of them underfoot before we could continue our journey.
Next, a road-crossing safety lesson, which generally involves my son spotting a car about 17 miles away. We can’t cross, of course, until it has safely passed, by which time another few cars have appeared on the horizon. As snails, slugs, pensioners in mobility scooters, and one-legged badgers speed past us, we finally reach the end of our road, knowing that we have made it safely through one twentieth of our voyage to the center of the Earth (a.k.a. local shop).
The remainder of the epic journey included such delights as:
Stopping to look up at planes
Stopping to touch the pavement for no apparent reason
Jumping up and down at the edge of every gravel driveway
Stopping to admire every hole in every piece of brickwork
Holding on to the green railings of our local school and walking sideways along the entire length of them
Jumping on every drain and manhole cover
Sitting down at every bus stop
Walking on my shadow behind me so I couldn’t see him
A solid eight minutes staring at the digger mending the road
Stopping. Then running. Then stopping. Then running. Then Stopping. All for no apparent reason. (I’ve stopped at 10 for brevity, but could happily have added another 30 or so to that list.)
So now we arrive at the local shop, and in he trots, grabbing a basket on the way. In goes a Kinder Egg. “We don’t need any eggs, Josh.” Out goes the Kinder Egg.
“Shall we get some nanas?” (He either says ‘nanas’ or ‘banananas,’ but not ‘bananas’).
“Okay, Daddy.” In go the bananas, thrown with the force of a bullet fired from a gun (after having checked that no man-eating spider eggs lurked on them).
The following things temporarily entered the basket at various stages of our shopping endeavor:
Jar of pesto
All of which quickly left the basket following a short discussion.
I felt sorry for the banananananas by the end of the shop because, within the space of 20 minutes, they’d had so many items thrown on top of them that they must have been as bruised as I would be after a game of five-a-side football. At least the man-eating spider babies were probably squashed in the process.
The ending is as predictable as one of those films my other half watches on the 24/7 Christmas Movie channel. Having finally struggled back home and tucked my son up in bed for his nap, I made the harrowing discovery that I hadn’t actually bought any beans.
Fortunately – due to the mysterious connection between mother and son – my mum decided at that very moment to invite us both to dinner. So it was goodbye to ready-made meal of beans and hello to gammon joint with vegetables!!
All’s well that ends well.
It takes a village!
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