Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Buying as much as you can carry

Yesterday, after my visit to the hospital, I decided to make best use of my walk back to the station and quickly pop in to the supermarket. I had run out of milk. On the way there I decided to buy something nice for breakfast. Hmm.. now what shall I have? Bacon. I fancy a nice bacon sandwich. Right then – milk and bacon.

Half an hour later I emerged from the supermarket having bought the following:

Milk (Lactofree, £1.36)
Bacon (Smoked streaky - £1.77)
Jacket potatoes (on offer – 60p for four)
Salad cress (on offer – 29p – bargain)
2 parsnips (53p)
3 carrots (42p)
Houmous (£1.01)
Sour cream and chive dip
Breadsticks (to go with the dips)
Doritos (to go with the dips)
Basics Pepperoni (to sling on top of Basics pizza base, sitting in freezer)
Taste The Difference Black Ham (£2.96)
Toilet Duck (have just run out)
Jaffa Cakes (half price – bargain – feeling clever because I didn’t buy 2 packs)
Champneys Double Enzyme face mask (desperate attempt to sort skin)
Family pack of Peanut M&Ms
Family pack of Maltesers (saving 52p by buying both – should last until Wednesday at least)
Box of six Cadbury’s Crème Eggs (on offer - £2 – here today, goo tomorrow)
Vidal Sassoon Ceramic Hair Straighteners (£14.99. Could have bought a pair for half that but these came with a two year guarantee so they must be good… sigh).

So my £3.13 planned shop ended up costing me £39.14. I know – I went over the top on carrots. Somehow I always come home with more than I plan to buy.

Strangely enough, it reminded me of when my ex, Jon, and I were travelling, 14 years ago. We had been on the road for 10 weeks and by that time I had already bought more wooden carvings and blankets in India than we could comfortably carry or possibly put on display when we finally reached home.
We were enjoying a few days in the Thamel district of Kathmandu which at the time was a great little backpacker area and hence filled with people trying their luck selling anything and everything. Walking to the nearest café meant pushing through sellers leaping in to our path crying “Tiger Balm! Tiger Balm!”, “Chess Set! Chess Set! Real Wood!”, “Flute! Look! Sandalwood”, “Buy T-shirt!”, “Change Money!”, “Hashish! Hashish!”

I so dearly wanted a Sandalwood Nepalese Flute, waved under my nose the previous day. Jon put his foot down. “We cannot buy any more” he said (which actually meant YOU cannot buy any more but was either trying to save my feelings or was doing his best to avoid listening to a high pitched whine for the next 8 months). I sulked. So many souvenirs, so little time.

The following day we visited a postcard and poster shop, to write to the folks at home (this was in the days before mobile phones and email – yes, we were authentically intrepid). As usual, I spent too long deciding which card to buy for whom, and Jon left me to it.

When I stumbled back in to the daylight twenty minutes later, I found Jon standing on the steps in front of me with a curiously stunned expression on his face.
I just bought a Ghurkha knife”, he said, holding it out for me to see.
I thought you said that we weren’t going to buy anything else?!” I cried, “How the hell did you ‘just buy’ a Ghurkha knife?
I don’t know”, he said, looking as confused as I felt.

This was no insignificant knife – it was about a foot long in total, with an eight inch blade, protected by a chunky wooden and leather sheath. How the fuck are we going to get that through customs? (Or rather ‘How the fuck are you going to get that through customs?)

This lad just came up to me”, he continued as though trying to work it out for himself, “and asked if I wanted to buy a knife. I said ‘no thanks’. He said ‘just 2,000 rupees’(£25 at the time). I said ‘I don’t want to buy a knife’. He said ‘Okay, okay, 1,600 rupees. Real Ghurkha knife. Good blade. Real leather’. So I thought I would get rid of him by saying ‘Look, mate, I don’t want to buy your knife. Do I look like I need a knife? I’ll give you 200 for it’. But he still wouldn’t go away. And before I knew it, he was down to 400 rupees, and I thought, hang on a minute, that’s a fiver. So I bought it”.

This moment of weakness was Jon’s undoing for the rest of the trip. The next day – oops! – a sandalwood flute just happened to find its way in to my rucksack. The first of many purchases. Okay, so the sandalwood smell faded by the time we got home, but I still have it on display…


  1. This is so funny. I can just imagine his slightly perplexed expression as he relayed the story to you. And at least you got to buy the flute without further argument. Funny that I don't remember ever seeing it - how come you haven't played me a ditty on it? Maybe our next phone call....xxx

  2. Actually, I bought two flutes :o) One for me and one for Clarkie! And of course you won't have seen it, it's tucked away amongst all of the other wooden crap in my living room! (behind the elephants, next to the monkeys and the dragon)
    I will try to play it on our next phonecall - might have to blow out a few spiders first..
    And yes, I will never forget Jon's face - I think I stepped outside at just the right moment! xxx