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Smallville: Shop Around

Your wife insists that a new ironing board cover is essential for the smooth running of the household. You accompany her to the store, wishing all the while that you were back home constructing a wormery. Then you go and buy that expensive plywood...

Peter B Farrell, writing wih his usual gusto, turns a shopping expidition into a rollicking good read.

“If that’s all we need, can’t it wait until the weekend?” Of course it couldn’t, I should have known better. A new ironing board cover was essential for the smooth running of the household, assuming the urgency of the selection of a new Pope.

While we were out we could also choose a set of new curtains at the “Only Blinds & Curtains” shop, a more up to date style was needed. Decorating the lounge and the acquisition a new sofa and easy chairs had somehow rendered the old curtains obsolete. I readily accepted this, thankful that the idea of new carpets had not surfaced.

Choosing the right material proved to be easy. The courteous sales assistant produced a suitable range of fabrics and an appointment was made for the following Monday, during which measurements would be taken and the correct colour and pattern selected. All that remained was to find an ironing board cover and I would back home constructing this year’s wormery. Last year a small supply of plant food was produced with the aid of a handful of worms, a bucket, a filter, a length of tubing and about a half a ton of household waste.

On taking a short cut through the multi million pound Euro shopping precinct - controversially developed only after the demolition of various buildings used by the local community - my wife was drawn to the new superstore.

“Just might be the place,” her eyes glazing over as she moved through the automatic barrier.

“I shall never set foot in that place” was a vow I had made only last week, but of no avail. She had never seen such a diverse range of goods in such quantity, colour or size. I picked up a large plastic basket and followed with small plastic card to hand.

Aiming for the Household department my wife rapidly located the ironing boards.

My “This is just about where the Snooker club stood” fell on deaf ears as she searched for separate covers without success.

“You’ll just have to find an assistant” and I was despatched to the far corners of the store before locating the t-shirt clad adolescent with access to management via the latest communication equipment.

“Opposite the ironing boards.” Quick as a flash the message came through loud and clear.

“Must have missed it” and it wouldn’t the first time. A more intensive search followed and a suitable cover was unearthed. A set of towels was added for good measure.

More exploration followed and a vital bunch of silk flowers was selected from just about where the Pensioners Community Centre used to stand.

“The Youth Club must have stood here” I estimated. This was in the Gardening section, which provided an opportunity to add a large earthenware flowerpot to her burgeoning purchases.

“Can’t miss an opportunity like this and surely there’s something you need?” Well yes there was, but not in this shrine to despondency.
I sensed her irritation at my negative attitude and made an attempt to placate her.

“Plywood. I need to put a back on that bookcase. We’ll call at the wood yard on the way home.” The large flat pack - that seemed such a good idea at the time - wobbled dangerously when assembled and I had relegated it to my workshop pending demolition.

Passing rapidly through the Point-of-Purchase with the aide of Chip-and-Pin we made our way through the new Car Park - constructed after obliterating the Bowls Club.

On the way to the wood yard my wife seemed well pleased with her purchases and would be content to wait in the car while I organised the plywood.

“We only sell it by the sheet, 8’ x 4’” I was informed at the wood yard. I wouldn’t get it in the car. Too long.

However, I only needed a piece fifty inches long and it could be cut to the required length. I paid for the full sheet.

“Fifteen pounds, are you sure?” I was astounded.

“The price has gone through the roof this last month sir. It’s the Chinese. They’re buying everything up. Wood, cement, oil, steel…you name it.”

Later after thanking the operator for expertly cutting my plywood to size I attempted to squeeze it into the back of the car. Impossible, it was too wide. “Bit of a problem?” My wife had used this expression quite a lot of late, but had the good grace not to ask why I didn’t measure the car in the first place. “Well, I could carry it home with a struggle, but you would have to wait in the car until I got back. About an hour. Failing that I could have it delivered.”

I took the easy way out.

“Five pounds sir.” I paid the extra charge and delivery could be expected the following day.

Later my wife was congratulating herself on her bargain purchases. The ironing board was covered, the towels were stored and the silk flowers displayed in the earthenware pot.

“…And all for under fifteen pounds.”

“The new curtains will make a big improvement too.” This was a hasty diversionary tactic on my part. It failed.

“What did your plywood cost?”

“A bit pricey I’m afraid. It’s the Chinese…”

She remains unconvinced.

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