Friday 18 March 2016

Basket Case

Do you remember, back in the sixties, when the cost and contents of the average household’s weekly shopping basket was a regular feature on the evening news? Silly me, of course you don’t, you lithe young things, you. Actually the shopping basket as an illustration of retail prices in the UK dates back to 1947 when a typical haul contained such everyday items as loose tea, lard, wild rabbit, ox liver and mutton. Times have changed and it is interesting to see what would nowadays be deemed the ‘typical’ basket. Aside from the relative prices compared to yesteryear, the comparison reveals so much about the country's living habits and the national basket reflects the cumulative choices of its individuals.

In the nineties and into the early part of this century, there was a frisson of excitement among the unattached about ‘singles nights’ in supermarkets up and down the country, some of them actively encouraging the idea of meeting your new partner and taking her up the aisle, so to speak. Your shopping basket, goes the theory, reveals as much about you as an exhaustive CV of your romantic experiences; what better way to choose a match? And so began the awkward formalisation of a tradition long indulged in by the single males of Britain; stalking an unsuspecting female up and down the rows of symbolic fresh meat...

A ‘friend’ of mine, emboldened by a few pints after work was intemperately patrolling a branch of Morrison’s one Wayhey Wednesday - or was it  Titillating Tuesday? - when I - I mean he - spied a lone shopper with a half-full basket of produce. ‘He’ discreetly followed, for about twenty minutes, careful to remain out of sight. She continued shopping as slowly as possible, coquettishly checking from time to time that she hadn’t lost her tracker to a temptress, toting tortellini and frequently back-tracking so that he, in his confused state, drew the conclusion that she was in fact following him.

Eventually she, certain she was indeed the subject of his curiosity, made her way to the checkout and proceeded to place on the conveyor belt in as come-hither a manner as possible, a litre of low-fat milk, a whole Camembert, half a dozen eggs, cornflakes, coffee, a rather nice Pouilly-FuissĂ©, some chicken fillets and a small box of Belgian chocolates. My friend sidled up behind her and began to place his own shopping on the belt. As he emptied his basket he looked over her purchases and said, “I’m guessing you are single?”

Nothing says 'I fancy you', like pornographic veg...

She was a little taken aback by this direct approach, but was intrigued as to exactly how her purchases had so easily given away her status. She perused the eight items looking for clues but saw nothing she would have immediately associated exclusively with the lifestyle of a singleton. Curiosity getting the better of her, she said, “Yes, in fact I am. But how on earth did you deduce that?” My drunken friend, lips loosened by the booze, replied “Because you're fat”.

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