Aimee Horton

When you visit the Supermarket

May
07

I LOVE supermarket shopping.  No. Really.  I’m not being sarcastic at all.  I love it.  While everyone else was flapping about doing the Christmas food shop I couldn’t believe my luck when Mr Aimee ducked out and offered me the chance to go to The ‘Trose ON MY OWN in the EVENING.  I snapped his hand off, picked the kids up from school, threw them at him through the front door and was off, my printed off excel document print out in hand.

I grabbed my trolley and walked through the automatic doors pausing to sweep up recpie cards and take in the smell of the cafe (our Waitrose is the only supermarket on earth I know that doesn’t pump fresh bread into the foyer), and I was off.  Whilst everyone seemed to be in a rush and a panic, I sailed down the aisles pausing to look at everything that there was to offer.  I returned home two hours later with a significant dint in the Christmas budget and slightly ruffled, mumbling something about the twinkling light up Kleenex tissue boxes being on a BOGOF.

And this is why I’m not usually allowed to venture into the supermarket on my own very often.

Sadly, it really doesn’t happen very often these days.  I am usually escorted by my entourage, all with their special stop-spending-super-powers.  I have Super Scrimper – with his “HOW MUCH?” and “What do we need this for?” whilst looking stressed, anxious to get the the alcohol aisle (thanks for that, local Morrisons btw – having the booze at the beginning means I rarely make it past the salad and crisps before I’m ushered to the tills).  Every item I pick up is frowned at, before he nips off to the shelf to check if there’s an equivalent product for 20p.

Following closely behind is Super-Wanter.  The four year old who is unable to walk around the supermarket, but hates being sat in the trolley next to his brother. Grudgingly he takes up position in the trolley, his super sonic eyes flicking around, taking in everything whilst he inhales a packet of raisins.  “I want that” is repeated frequently.  Whether he’s motioning to a Spider-Man toy, a giant bar of Dairy Milk, a book, or randomly a solar light hedgehog.  He also makes tactful remarks such as “Look at the massive wheels on his wheel chair, do you think he’s in that because he crossed the road without looking left and right?”“Gosh. That man is very fat – perhaps he should buy some bigger high-up sleeve tops”. “I’m BOREEEDDD mummy, this is BORRINGGG…OI GET OFFF MEEEE…MUMMYYYYYY HE’S LOOKING AT ME…MAKE HIM STOP LOOKING AT ME”.  The first few comments I can cope with, the embarrassment of the innocent insults to the general public..well…perhaps SHE should have bought some bigger t.shirts (that’s right. She).  But I know that I’m on a clock when he’s having an issue with his brother LOOKING at him.

Then we have Super-Loud.  Nothing is quiet, from the second we enter the shop he can be heard.  If we’ve managed to find a trolley outside he’s wailing because he wants to walk, and if we’ve just found one, he is screaming “NOOO MUMMYYY NOOOOOO” In that way that causes people to turn around and witness you karate chop the back of his knees so he buckles and falls into the seat.  They consider calling the Social Services, but realise that sadly, while they wait for them to appear on a Saturday afternoon, they will probably have to look after the child in question, and nobody wants to deal with the trail of snot that’s worked its way down his face and is slowly dripping from his chin onto his mucky jeans knees (do they not clean supermarket floors? My children end up being filthy, gathering black muck on their clothes, while they’re lying there kicking and screaming).  After removing the packet of raisins he’s thrown in my hair he slowly calms down and is pacified with some Mini Cheddars.

This is when he usually spots the numbers.

Suddenly Super-Loud is in his element, causing a competitive number shout off between him and Super-Wanter.  “FOUR” “ELEBEN” “SEBEN” “LOOOK MUMMYYYY NINBTEEN”.  That’s not the snot causing him to talk with a B, he pronounces all the numbers with a “B” in the middle rather than a “V”.  As I’m hurrying through the shop the aisle numbers are pointed out to me in glee, both seeing who can spot the next number first.  My thoughts are becoming muddled – have you ever tried trying to work out which spice you need whilst having various things barked at you continuously until you respond.  It’s not just the aisles aisles, every price is spotted “LOOK MUMMYY EIGHT EIGHT…” Yes, that’s right, you’re reaching to grab an £8 bottle of wine to cuddle.  For a child so against fruit you sure as hell don’t mind carrying a delicate bottle of wine about whenever you get to the supermarket.  By the wine aisle Super-Wanter is sitting in silence. Sulking because he’s spotted a spiderman gob stopper which I refuse to let him have.  Sullen he glares in disgust at the snotty brother still enjoying the game.

Then I make the mistake of having to double back.  I’ve forgotten something.  Usually cherry tomatoes.  Aisle number four at Saisbogs. Just so you know.  Which means I am treated to backwards counting, I feel as if the clock is ticking “MUMMY TEN-NINE-EIGHT-SEBEN-SIX…”

I shove the trolley in Super-Scimpers direction and order him to a till, “I’ll meet you there” I say, grabbing additional bottles of tonic water and wine that’s at the end of the aisle, stopping for an extra lime.  

We don’t need to discuss where to meet, the foghorn in place ensures we never lose each other (dammit).

The tills is the really tricky bit.  There’s no room to spin the trolley ’round.  There are no distractions.  Super-Loud is hugging Super-Wanter.  Big Mistake. Neither children make small talk with the checkout girl, who starts to coo then takes one look at them and decides better of it, firing the contents of the trolley down the conveyer belt at double the speed packing some bits of me to get us out of her face as quickly as possible.

We tumble out of the shop and into the car, vowing to do online shopping and have it delivered to the house from now on.  During school hours.

Pass the gin.

 

Anti-Social Nation?

Sep
13

I’m a geek. I’m addicted to all things digital, let’s face it I grieved when I smashed my iphone, but the more I think about it, the more I begin to wonder if they’re good for us all.

In a world with more opportunities than ever to talk to one another, have we turned into an anti-social nation?

Now that it’s meant to be easier to respond to people as all it takes is a few clicks of a button (whether you’re in the queue at the supermarket, on the loo or even in the bath?!) have we become less personal? Lots of “LUL x” to touch base rather then a phone call, switching from unlimited free minutes to unlimited free messages. Plus, has the sheer amount of communication which lands in our inbox/timeline/voicemail become so overwhelming that we’ve become rude, oblivious and at times inconsiderate to other peoples feelings, whether we mean to or not?

I know, I for one, am AWFUL at responding, messages coming in over a variety of apps, work emails, text, Instant Messaging facilities, facebook WALLS, facebook MESSENGER, Twitter mentions, Twitter Messages, Instagram, Path, private emails, voicemail, blog comments. The list is endless, and because it’s so accessible, they tend to pop up and appear at the most inconvenient moments, when I’m in the car, picking up at the school gate, in a meeting, I glance at them, and then I leave them. Reminding myself to respond to them. Then I get distracted and forget, meaning that they get lost in the whirlwind of communication landing on my phone, only remembering about them when I pop into the messenger service to touch base with my contact myself. How can anybody be capable of responding to everything instantly? The guilt is awful, I always feel bad for not responding…but then I do beat myself up about silly things.

Are personal relationships suffering due to lack of real life communication? Couples who surround themselves with gadgets and smart phones have the potential to go days without actually speaking to one another out loud, communicating across the room by ipad and iphone, sitting across the table tweeting and taking photographs to share with the world, but perhaps not each other.

Are we heading towards (or are we already in) a reality whereby a romantic dinner will pass by in silence, aside from the sound of keypad clicks; a loving gaze directed downwards towards an illuminated liquid crystal display rather than towards an illuminating companion holding a crystal wine glass?

If that wasn’t enough, businesses are appearing to be struggling to react to the consumer, now that it’s possible to shoot off a complaint instantly in anger to a company, have we actually hindered their ability to respond coherently? With the volume of interactions received, some of which I imagine excessive for the hands dealing with them, are we actually making it easier for us to be ignored, disregarded, anonymous? After all, when did the days of a quick “thanks but no thanks” to a job application disappear? When did the personal (if any) customer service response vanish? Have we made it too easy to be rude? Or do we not realise?

I KNOW that I’m bloody useless at responding on a day to day basis (as I have 1,580 unread emails in my gmail account – although I have ASOS/French Connection/Top Shop to thank for a lot of that), HOWEVER I can not abide poor customer service. I cannot ABIDE tweeting a company 7 times and not getting a response (Sainsburys I’m talking about you), and had to pick up the phone and sit on hold in order to get a response. Nor can I STAND the fact that I booked a table online to take the boys to lunch on a Bank Holiday weekend, and not only was the table not there when we turned up, but we get an email saying “somebody from the restaurant will be in touch…” THREE DAYS AFTER WE WERE GOING (Pizza Hut – if you can’t do a live online booking system – perhaps not do one at all? Or maybe go to a better agency – I can recommend a good one). It FRUSTRATES me that all it should take is keeping on top of your queue on hootsuite/outlook. It INFURIATES me that you pick and chose who you respond to dependant on their comments (ok, I’ll delete that complaint as it makes me look good but I’ll RT that comment about our amazing customer service). It’s YOUR JOB for crying out loud. There’s a surge of dedicated agencies, employed staff for the sole purpose of dealing with social media and customer service. Why are they doing such a bad job?

This is the age where we can interact with the brands we are interested in and passionate about, and they should be engaging us. It’s amazing how a quick response in 140 characters can pacify somebody who has been sent 12 pints of milk with a best before date of the day before. Or a “sorry” for your “network being down” from a mobile company.

Is it because everybody thinks they know what they’re doing are big companies hiring duds/juniors who are way out of their depth – or do people just not give a damn anymore?

And from a point of view of the individual, another subject which needs to be an entire post on it’s own, but we can’t not touch on briefly when we talk about the digital age….how can we ever switch off? Emails coming in on our phones at home, our bosses being able to call us wherever we are. It’s become the norm for people to use their personal mobiles for work. The premise being that these days all packages have free data/minutes, but the underlying fact is, now you are at your works disposal day and night. HOW is that good for anybody? HOW can anybody be commited to their job when they don’t get a chance to let loose and be them.

Even when I go for a run (HA when being the operative word), I’m getting messages popping up on the phone, a ring tone interrupting my Cheryl Cole motivational soundtrack. Yes, I could switch it all off, but I can’t seem to be able too. After all, I get cold sweats on a two hour flight were I don’t have a signal. I get twitchy, like an addict, when my phone isn’t in my hand, when I can’t swipe up and down to refresh one feed or another, and I KNOW I’m no the only one.

We think it’s good that we have everybody at the tip of our fingers, but sometimes, is it a bit too much? Are we in danger of suffocating and not allowing ourselves any private time?

Chilli Meatballs, Bistro Salad with a Chilli & Mango Dressing

Oct
28

This is one of my quick and easy meals, I try and keep the Jamie Oliver meatballs in the freezer all the time, however sometimes if I’m lazy I also buy the supermarket ones pre-made.  They hold together better than mine! 😉  I’m also very lazy and buy my dressing and salad ready made.  So I guess this isn’t a “cook” more of a “when I put together”. Er.  does that still count? (more…)