I’m engaged in a battle of wills with the chap in charge of the fruit and veg section at my local supermarket.
I like to shop on a daily basis – it gets me out of a house – but must admit that I am a little OCD about what food I buy.
As anyone who has worked in a shop will tell you (as I did as a teenager), staff are instructed to ‘face-up’. Essentially this means putting the stock closest to its sell-by date at the front and hiding the fresher stuff at the back – the idea being that the shopper will take the packet/can/carton closest to them, thus getting rid of the old stock first.
This has stayed with me, so now, whenever I’m in a shop, I delve to the back to pick out a product with a much better sell-by date. (If, by the way, you are thinking at this point that I need to get a life, you’d be right).
These shopping habits infuriate Mrs Canavan so much, that one day in Tesco it nearly led to the demise of our relationship.
She was feeling tense anyway – time of the month, you know how it is – and had just reached for a pack of yoghurts from the refrigerated section.
“Not those,” I said, tutting and shaking my head as if I was dealing with an amateur. “The ones at the back will be more in date.”
She spun around and launched into a ferocious verbal tirade, the gist of which was “you boring, sad, pathetic excuse for a human – if you don’t shut your mouth right now I’ll hurl this yoghurt at your head and file for divorce”.
Undaunted, I pulled out a yoghurt from the back. “See this one is April 26, the ones you’ve got are April 7.”
Strangely, far from this making things right, she stomped out of the store and didn’t speak to me for four days. Women are odd creatures.
So you get the idea. I take shopping seriously, viewing it as a personal mission to beat the system and get the best possible best before dates on every single item I buy, even if it’s a can of Sheba for the cat.
Which leads me back to my local store.
I was in there the other week buying leeks (Mrs Canavan was making leek and potato soup and apparently you need leek for this).
There were several packs of leeks on display in a crate, dated April 9, but I noticed another crate underneath. So I put down my basket, lifted the first crate off, and, hey presto, the leeks underneath went out of date two days later. Punching the air in delight and feeling the same level of euphoria I imagine Wayne Rooney experiences after scoring for England at Wembley, I grabbed a packet of the April 11 leeks, turned to put them in my basket and saw this bloke, dressed in supermarket uniform, arms folded, staring at me with a look of what I can only describe as undisguised hatred.
I pretended not to notice and casually lifted the first crate – containing the slightly less fresh leeks – back in place.
“You finished?” barked fruit and veg man (who, ironically, wore a name badge with a smiley face and a slogan saying, ‘I’m Geoff, holler if you need help’).
“Erm, yes,” I replied, sheepishly, before realising I had done nothing wrong and growing a little bolder. “Why, is there a problem?”
He seemed a little taken aback. “No, there’s no problem, I just wondered why you were rearranging the leek display?”
I wanted to get fresher ones, I told him, to which he audibly tutted, made a big show of checking the leek crate was correctly in place, and then turned on his heels.
Since then – a week last Tuesday – I have made a point of going in every day, waiting for Geoff to appear, and then lifting off the nearest crate and grabbing a pack of whatever is underneath.
It’s worked a treat in terms of the effect it’s having on Geoff – he absolutely detests me – but on the downside I’ve had to purchase 28 oranges, 15lbs of potatoes, three packets of asparagus, six courgettes, four bags of spinach and a jumbo-sized bag of peppers, none of which I wanted, or needed.
The battle will continue; I’m determined not be to beaten.