I expect you are wondering what on earth is the meaning of the title I''ve given this newsletter. Well, you''ll have to be patient because I''m not going to tell you what it means until the end of the essay. Nowadays we have to rely on advertising to pay for our television programmes.. Every so often there is a break in the programme and up pop what we call the ''commercials'' (advertisements), which sponsor any particular show we''re watching. Invariably there are products advertised for losing weight... Young women are seen gorging (eating excessively) even stuffing themselves with the sort of food we all hanker after(want). But unlike the rest of us, these waif like (very thin) young women remain ridiculously slim. Of course in the old days you just bought what was available in the shop and there wasn''t much choice. It was as simple as this; the shopper went into the shop and shopped. You asked for something at the counter and the assistant ran off, fetched it, brought it back and you paid then and there with cash.
Today you go into a supermarket no, it''s grander than that, you enter it. Invariably at the entrance you are attacked by a draught of hot air as you see before you the bright lights, the hustle and bustle (people moving this way and that) and hear the noise of people talking and machines buzzing. It''s like a world out of Dante''s Inferno or Milton''s Paradise Lost. Then you are faced with a dilemma. Should you stride in without bag or basket as you only want one or two things? Should you pick up a wire basket and risk that it might get overloaded with things you didn''t think you were going to buy and then end up with one arm longer than the other as you stagger round the store? Or should you go for a trolley (the basket on wheels). Then which size trolley? The sports model that is more manoeuvrable or the heavy weight 4 wheel drive variety?
Funny really but whenever I hear the word ''trolley'' I think of those buses that ran on electricity with long poles coming out of the top, which were supposed to link to overhead electrical wires and invariably became disconnected. And by the way there is an expression ''off your trolley'' meaning mad or crazy. But back to the supermarket. As you wander up and down the aisles (the pathways between the shelves), it is easy to be seduced into buying more than you want. There are so many offers like - Buy three for the price of two (but you really only want one) Buy two and get a third one half price (but honestly you really only want one). Special offer today only!
Special price for all these -when they are gone, they are gone! Well that''s obvious, isn''t it? Once near where I live a giant sized supermarket opened that had previously been just a big supermarket. The owners thought that people might be confused at the changes ( I certainly was!) and so to help guide the shoppers, they employed extra staff who carried bright blue sashes across their front announcing: ''I am your aisle guide''. Finally the time has come to pay and you go to join a queue for one of the checkouts, carefully examining who has the most items, the biggest basket or who looks the brightest and most nimble (quick) fingered check out operator.
You are an exception if you want to pay in cash and so you produce your plastic card and enter your PIN, as the assistant turns her head away as if you''re going to do something unpleasant. By the way, PIN stands for personal identification number. Before you reach that stage you have either filled the goods in your own bags, used some of the free bags - these are the thin plastic ones that stretch hopelessly if you put too much in them. and are supposed to live on for ever. You can see them in the branches of trees near supermarkets, which have been blown there by the wind and like ghosts haunt all those who believe in the green environment. Or you can buy what is called a bag for life. It''s as if you are entering into some kind of civil partnership with a strong healthy plastic bag but unlike the human relationship, you can exchange your plastic ''partner'' for a new one if it becomes infirm, starts cracking or develops holes in the side. And then you exit through the hot air again into the real world knowing it won''t be long before you''re back again.
And now I have to explain, as promised, the meaning of BOGOF. It is an acronym whereby the first letter of each word is used to create another word and it means: Buy One and Get One Free.
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