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Smallville: A Grave Situation

A bargain battery is a flash in the pan - sorry, camera - when Peter B Farrell tries to photograph a church interior. And if one bad buy isn't enough, Peter follows it up with a "cheap'' mayonnaise disaster at the supermarket check-out.


“...And then he tripped over a wall and ended up sprawled on next door’s patio.“ My wife, Margaret was indulging in small-talk with the nurse at the local Surgery while giving a blood sample.

“Only because I hadn’t got used to the new Vari-focals.“ I added, interrupting their laughter. I had insisted on accompanying her as she often forgot what she was there for, in this case an annual check up. I was also keen to impress upon the nurse that I was hardly to blame for my most recent accident.

Later we headed off into the countryside to take some photographs of a local church. I had discovered that a long-lost relative had been christened, married and buried in the churchyard. Perhaps the record of this foray might prove a suitable subject for this years family Christmas card?

“Well, I ‘m buying cards from Animal Welfare and Cancer Research.” Margaret didn’t wholly embrace my idea that close family relatives would enjoy a reminder of the past...

“Or a hint of what’s to come.” she interceded.

Leaving her reading this month's Country Living, parked by the side of the graveyard, I reconnoitred the church, looking for a suitable vantage point. It proved difficult. Close-up, I lost the impressive Church tower. Further back, and it was obscured by large trees. Making my way past old gravestones I was drawn to the entrance by the sound of the church organ.

The interior was not well lit and being November, was quite gloomy as I located the organist, obviously practising for the next Service. I intimated that I would like to take a tour of the church with a view to taking some photographs and was pleased he so readily agreed. Not only that, he also gave me a brief history and showed me some unusual features. Unfortunately, after only a few shots it soon became obvious that I had omitted to charge up the camera’s batteries and the flash failed to operate. Luckily I had a spare set. I had recently bought a bumper packet from Bargains Galore - “16 long-life batteries for under 99 pence” ran the blurb. Changing the batteries however made little difference. After one weak flash the battery gave up. I could see myself in dispute with the manufacturers.

“In defence M’lud, the package states best before 1995.“ Perhaps not then.

Outside photography was still feasible however and I spent some time trying again to get some decent shots of the church, even having to cross the road to get the bell tower in view. Wandering back to the car I saw the organist in conversation with my wife. It had dawned on him that we could be burglars up to no good. Placated by Margaret’s explanation regarding my defunct ancestor, they were now discussing the possibility that he had inadvertently locked me in the church after finishing his practise.

After being invited back to view the old parish records at a later date, we left for home, I was still smarting over the dud batteries.

“False economy, just like the time you bought the super-glue at the market in Barnstaple.” I needed no reminding. The glue had no adhesive qualities whatsoever, but at £1.49 for ten tubes I should have known.


“The supermarket, they sell everything nowadays.” Without decent batteries the camera was useless and tomorrow morning we would be topping up with the weekly shop...

Next day, and still trying to recoup my losses over the batteries, I was scouring the shelves for special offers. Margaret turned down my suggestions of a bumper pack of 36 toilet rolls and a 20-bottle case of Australian wine.

“Coffee, buy one get one free?“ I hinted. No luck. It was neither Kenyan, Fair-Trade nor decaffeinated. I checked the list. Mayonnaise! Margaret’s favourite brand, was on special offer and we were always running out. I placed the extra large jar behind the cornflakes while she was otherwise engaged choosing the ham.

I pushed the trolley to the check-out and hurriedly loaded the conveyor belt while she exchanged banter at the till. Unfortunately my attempt to pick up the mayonnaises with one hand while juggling with bananas failed. The jar slipped from my grasp, there was a loud crash and I was soon standing over a large pool of slimy white liquid and broken glass.

The considerable attention that this attracted didn’t faze the check-out lady, who merely buzzed for the duty cleaner.

“We’ve had more trouble since he bought those new Vari-focals.“ While I went back for a replacement jar, Margaret regaled everyone within earshot of my recent escapades, laying the blame squarely on my inability to master the new spectacles.

By the time I returned with a much smaller jar, the cleaner was busy with a mop and bucket and the queue had grown.

“It’s his age you know,” Margaret told the amused assembly. I was soon being given advice on the advantages of laser surgery over contact lenses especially if I played table-tennis or snooker.

The general consensus though was to give me a wide berth while in the car park.

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