Oh my, what is happening to the world? The Queen is touting driverless cars, EastEnders is killing off the Queen of the Vic – and now this bombshell.
We’ve stopped doing the weekly shop. It’s a genuine surprise. The weekly trudge round the supermarket seemed as ingrained as the actual Queen and Barbara Windsor (?) combined.
But lick your finger and hold it up: Feel that? It’s the wind of change a-blowin. We’re just not doing that supermarket sweep anymore.
Yes, it did feel like a religion, but we’ve gone and lost faith. We’ve left the rigid routine behind and become all flexible. We do a bit of grocery shopping online, we do a bit in the convenience store down the road, we do a bit at the budget chains. We are spending billions, some £37billion at the last count, in the equivalent of corner shops, and by 2020 that figure is expected to increase massively.
Basically, we’ve gone more pick’ n’ mix than Woolworths in its heyday.
What’s interesting is the way this shopping shock has brought us full circle, back to the way things used to be. What with that and talk of us all giving up the family car, it’s going to be 1950 again before we know it.
The ramifications are huge: children could be in for a change of lifestyle no-one could have predicted. Instead of sitting inside playing on their various technological devices, they could be walking to the shops.
Remember that? When being sent to the shops was a thing? Not just a thing but a daily, sometimes hourly, occurrence.
Looking back, most of my childhood was spent walking to the grocers at the top of the hill or the chemist next door, or the corner shop halfway up the hill, or the bread shop on town street, or the paper shop round the corner from the grocers.I was up and down that flippin’ hill like a young gazelle.
But this wasn’t just random, ad-hoc shopping, there was a hierarchy: my mother could send me, Sandra-next-door could send me; but I, in turn, could send my younger sisters for sweets, and they were obliged to obey. It was the rules.
Anyone from 2016 able to open a kitchen cupboard of that time would think the householders were starving, or the entire town was under siege by a foreign power.
Compared with now, those cupboards were bare. You were expected to always have a few eggs and some potatoes in, so that egg and chips could be rustled up for surprise visitors but, apart from that, it was pretty much done daily - even once we all had fridges it was hard to break the little and often habit.
I mean, we’re talking a time when it was normal to eat the same thing on the same day each week: if it’s Tuesday it must be liver and onions, sort of a thing.
The big shop really became a feature during the big, bad eighties. How seldom you shopped was a badge of honour. Those determined to be amongst society’s winners got it down to once a month. You would see them staggering down the aisles, quite often with not one but two trollies, piling in four weeks’ worth of everything.
Their brows were furrowed with concentration, beads of sweat rained down as they heaved a big box of everything in there. The status came not so much from the shopping as from having the space to store it. These people had freezers the size of Alaska, they had entire rooms devoted to toilet roll storage - and they wanted you to know it.
I didn’t do that. I would have had to leave the toilet rolls out the back, which doesn’t work in a rainy climate like ours, but I did pile everything high once a week. On I would trudge, as the child in the front seat gradually disappeared under a mountain of baked beans and loaves of sliced white.
Praise the Lord all that is over. I’m a mix and match shopper these days, and chances are you are too. I like it. It’s old-fashioned, but in a better way.
My love is artificial
I feel a bit of a fraud - but then again I don’t. I’m not sure. You decide.
It’s gardening. Gardening has once again been touted as the medicine the nation needs. A think tank has described our lawns and borders as an extraordinary national resource, a thing of beauty that can also heal us.
This learned group says the NHS should prescribe gardening for practically everything. A spot of mowing and digging will help guard against all the big ones - heart disease, cancer, obesity, and help people with dementia as well.
Once I would have scoffed at such a notion. Once, my back garden was a strange land to me. If I accidentally found myself out there, I would feel a bit bewildered, frightened even. The phrase “out of my comfort zone” didn’t even begin to cover it.
But I’ve changed. By which I mean, I’ve aged. Now, I like my little patch of earth. I have fenced it, I have levelled it, I have made some rather ambitious borders.
I have bought plants and dug holes in the glorious earth for them. By which I mean, the wet clay that passes for soil in my garden.
So I am totally onside. I love Monty Don and I love my tiny garden. I know that my soul is nourished whenever I reach for my trowel.
The only thing is, bear with me, I have just ordered some artificial grass. Does that make me a plastic gardener. I hope not.
Smile, we’re all much nicer now
We’re nicer than we used to be, I’m sure of it.
For evidence, I point to the case of the wedding singer.
Kevin Owens was up on stage doing his best turn when events took an unexpected turn.
Kevin was giving it all he had, so much so that as he let fly a particularly challenging note, he let fly his dentures alongside it.
His top plate headed for the crowd - and that could have ended proceedings right there.
I believe that in previous times Kevin would have been given a hard time as his falsies were bounced around the room. I believe he would have left the stage in ignominy.
These days? Not a bit of it. Alright the crowd had a bit of a giggle but then someone picked those teeth right up and handed them back to Kevin, who slotted them in and carried on without missing a beat.
Like I said, nicely done.