Everything you need to know about Shopping.

Believe it or not, I like shopping. Yes, really! I actually like shopping. Although born into the latter half of the 20th century I am a man who has embraced 21st century ideals. I don’t expect women to stay at home and do the cooking, washing, cleaning or shopping. No, as a new age man I am willing to get in there and sort out the shopping. Not the daily shop you understand, more of the occasional shop. .

I love shopping in Lidl and Aldi and I love checking out all those special offers in the centre aisles. You know things like, well the other day I saw this great set of ski goggles in Lidl. They had these special lenses and this special strap, and they were tinted and had this special anti-glare stuff on the lenses. Now it just so happens that I have never actually done any skiing. In fact I’ve never really been that interested in it. I mean actually paying to go somewhere that is cold? I don’t think so but then again. Imagine being on a flight that gets diverted and ends up in the French Alps. What would I do then? Sorry, can’t go skiing because I haven’t any ski goggles. You can see just from that quick example those ski goggles might have been worth it. Anyway, I managed to resist them in the end.

Another item that caught my fancy was some really tasty drill bits in a really nice case. I was tempted even though I don’t do that much drilling. Of course I do some drilling. I have a really rather nice drill and it was only months ago when I used it last. Actually, it may have been last year, or was it 2017? I know I did put up this really cracking set of bookshelves back in 1995 but anyway, once again I managed to resist the temptation to purchase.

Interestingly, a few weeks back Liz and I went into Curry’s to look for a new TV. We had already seen one on the World Wide Web but thought why wait for delivery? Why not just run up there and pick one up?

Of course the TV that we wanted wasn’t available. ‘You’d have been better ordering on the Internet’ said the salesman. No wonder Curry’s is only one third of the size it used to be; everyone is just ordering on the Internet.

When we mentioned we wanted a 32 inch TV the guy said ‘right, it’s for a caravan is it, or for the bedroom?’

Actually it was for the lounge, it’s just that we don’t want an oversized monstrosity taking over the entire room! (Actually now I think on, I quite fancy one of those huge TVs!)

When we mentioned we wanted a integrated DVD player the guy once again looked right down at us. A DVD player? ‘Well that’s old technology’ he said. ‘People tend to use Netflix nowadays.’

Look, whatever, It just so happens we want a DVD player, OK!

Right, said the guy but what about a Smart TV? You can watch Netflix, YouTube and all sorts of things. You do have Internet don’t you?

We do, only Liz’s bungalow is rather long and the Internet tends to stay over the other side of the house. Sorry Mr Smarmy Curry’s salesman: no sale and if I want a DVD player I’ll get one elsewhere!

Of course most of my shopping I do for my elderly mother in her local Asda store and there are some excellent departments there that I do like to visit. The CD section in Asda isn’t quite as interesting as the music area used to be. Now it’s a rather small section with only a limited few CD’s on sale because a lot of people tend to download their music. Sorry but once again I’m of the old school of music buyers, I want something physical for my money. I know I’m not going to get a big sleeve like in the vinyl days with some interesting sleeve notes. These days the sleeve notes are so small I need a magnifying glass to read them but I like to have something I can hold and look at and touch.

Sometimes I think back to those long gone Saturday afternoons flicking through records in the numerous record shops in Manchester. Sadly, that is just a distant memory now. Once I was always down at HMV in Manchester where they had an in store DJ. She was a really nice girl, very approachable and very into her music. She recommended all sorts of albums to me but I was usually in there hunting for some album or artist I had heard on the radio.

I remember going in one day to find the in-store DJ had been replaced by a radio version, someone, presumably at head office in London, who broadcast music to all the HMV stores. Later, in 2013,  the  store closed down completely after more than twenty years on the same site. Browsing records and videos in HMV and then popping into my favourite book stores before settling down in some back street pub for a drink, ah, those were the days.

Music shops are few and far between these days so where is left if you want to buy a record rather than download? Oh yes, the CDs and DVD department of your local superstore!

Moving on through Asda I do like to check out the the clothes section. It’s not so easy finding clothes to fit a huge gynormous great lump like me so it’s always worthwhile just checking out the supermarket menswear section because sometimes I will actually find something that will fit me.

Occasionally in the sale section I’ll find some really great XXL shirt lingering among the unwanted items but even then, I find that sometimes one man’s XXL is another man’s L!

Right that’s the proper shopping sorted, now for some day to day stuff, a quick whiz through and I slap a few things in my trolley; bacon, eggs, tomatoes, bread, milk and so on.

The big problem in any supermarket for me is that no matter what, some strange force will unerringly guide me to the totally wrong till. Now, I won’t just jump onto any till. I will observe closely, check out the options and then choose the wrong one.

Here’s a for instance, yesterday at Asda. All the main tills were full of people with a huge trolley of goods, enough to last me about a month so I ignored those and went on down to the basket section. Two tills were open here, one with about four people ahead of me, the other with about ten. A no brainer I thought, go for the one with four people. I just managed to nip in before a crazy looking lady with a failed 1960’s style beehive hairdo. She waited behind me for a short while before bailing out in favour of aisle 2.

Now my usual tactic is not to unload any stuff until I am sure of the lie of the land but on this day I felt confident enough to do so. Big mistake! On till number 2, weird looking crazy beehive lady seemed to be moving forward at a fair old speed while my till wasn’t doing much. Strange because the four people in front of me had only a sparse collection of goods and in till number 2 each of their people had a good selection of items.

Shortly after, crazy beehive woman seemed to be pretty much on a par with me and moments later was actually ahead. That checkout girl in aisle 2 was certainly doing the business. Up at the front of aisle 1 my checkout lady was far too chatty but not only that, something seemed to be going on up there and our checkout girl called over the checkout girl from aisle 2 to assist.

This didn’t go down well with the people from aisle 2 and crazy beehive lady clearly wasn’t happy as she was now stalled only a matter of feet from the till and freedom. Over on my side there was a battle under way to remove the security tag from a bottle of spirits, possibly vodka, but sadly checkout lady 2 gave up and returned to her till while we waited for the manager to sort out the security tag.

I felt like saying come on, do you really need a bottle of vodka at 2 in the afternoon but I kept silent and moments later, crazy beehive woman was off although not before shooting me a victorious look which seemed to say ‘that’ll teach you to nip in front of me at the checkout!’

Eventually, our till got sorted, the vodka bottle was freed up for sale and we moved on.

I knew that till was going to be a big mistake!


Floating in Space is a novel set in Manchester 1977. Click the links at the top of the page to buy or for more information.

Manchester

It was shocking to watch the events in Manchester unfold the other night. I was on a night shift and I looked up from my desk in the control room where I work, glanced at our large TV screen and saw Sky News revealing the dreadful news. I hoped as the night wore on that it would all turn out to be something and nothing, some minor incident inflated by social media but sadly it was much more serious.

One of my Mum’s favourite sayings is ‘nobody wants war’ but I have to disagree. War happens because some people want it. Hitler wanted it badly because it was a medium for him to realise his dreams of revenge, domination and murder. War also took a different turn in World War 2 because Hitler had the means to take war to innocent people, raining down bombs on England in the Blitz with bombing raids, V1s, and later V2 rockets.

In the 21st century war has taken another turn and now those consumed by hatred feel they must bring death and murder to peaceful places like a music stadium in Manchester where young people throng to see their musical heroes.

This is a sad day for my home town and for people all over the world because in this age the world is truly a global community. Terrorists will never succeed but they do leave nothing but pain and sadness in their wake. Let us hope that this incident will not sow the seeds of more hatred but will instead fan the flames of love and compassion so much so that one day hatred will have nowhere to show its face.

Death on a Monday Morning

This web page announces me as Steve Higgins: writer and Blogger, but writing is something I do in my spare time. I do have a day job. My usual place of work is an emergency control room and this last weekend my team and I have dealt with two fatalities on our night shifts.

quotescover-PNG-31The first one involved a pedestrian who crossed the M6 motorway running lanes and was hit by a car. Police officers believed he had spent the afternoon and evening at a nearby race course, attended some evening festivities and for whatever reason, decided to walk across six lanes of motorway traffic. Initial reports were for a drunken pedestrian so I can only guess that the man was intoxicated and in that inebriated state made a foolish decision and was killed.

The other death was different. A lady driver spun on the motorway and her car was left sideways on in the carriageway. It was an unlit section of the motorway, it was night or rather early morning. The next vehicle along was an HGV which crashed into her just as she had got out of her car to examine the damage.

As I drove home the next morning I thought about the woman. She may have been on the way to work on an early shift. Perhaps she worked like me in a control room. Perhaps she worked for a transport depot or it could have been anywhere that has 24 hour a day working. I did’t know where she worked or anything about her at all really but I imagined her getting up early, perhaps shutting her alarm off quickly so as not to disturb her partner, if she had one of course. I imagined her getting ready for work, hurrying on to her appointment with death. Perhaps she had a tea or coffee before leaving. I always have a tea and some cereal in the morning or even my favourite fast food- toast. Perhaps she would have said goodbye to her husband. Perhaps not, after all, she would be seeing him later. I can imagine her hurrying if she was late, hurrying to her doom. If only her car had not started.

If she had a car problem she would perhaps have had to call the RAC or AA. They usually take about an hour to arrive. They might have fixed the car after say, thirty minutes or so and she would be back on her way. The spot where she would have crashed would have been full of slow traffic an hour or more later and she would have been forced to slow. Her boss might have told her off, her colleagues might have been annoyed, perhaps they had missed a break because she was late. You can imagine the conversations about that missed hour. Would she have to say behind after work to make up the time? Would her employer take an hour’s pay off her? Either way, she would be alive and well and would see her husband again at the end of the day. Not now, though.

Strange isn’t it, to look back and think what might have happened? I’ve written posts in the past about James Dean and Marilyn Monroe and as I look at the minutiae of their last hours, I’m sometimes drawn to certain things, certain decisions they made and think, if only they had done this, or that, instead, they might have avoided their fate. Still, you cannot change the past. You cannot undo what has happened.

Later, I found an article in the Manchester Evening News about this fatality. The lady in question was a young woman. She was not on her way to work but on her way home so a lot of my assumptions above were incorrect. Either way, she was killed. Whatever plans she had for the future, nights out, holidays, all gone.

If there is a message there, it is this; wherever you are, enjoy your life and your days on this earth, for they can so easily be taken away from you.


Steve Higgins is the author of ‘Floating In Space’ available from Amazon.