The Duke - November 19, 2014

editorial image
Have your say

It’s beginning to feel too much like Christmas.

I think I’m one of the few people not to have seen this year’s John Lewis Christmas commercial (the joy of being able to record anything with adverts in it and then fast forward past them all) let alone any of the wanna-be ones full of false festivity, frolics and bunting.

Apart from dividing the nation into Scrooges and Spenders, like no other time of year the run-up to Christmas highlights the difference between Husband/Boyfriend Shopping (HBS) and Wife/Girlfriend Shopping (WGS).

HBS is the result of necessity and runs along the lines of “my two pairs of socks have worn very thin – I’ll need you to get me some more soon, but there’s no rush,” “my shoes have a hole in the sole – I’d best dig out those old trainers until you can get them mended for me” and “my favourite shirt seems to have shrunk around the stomach area – best put a jumper on over it until you can let it out a bit for me.”

WGS is more dictated by the change of season and accompanied by the likes of “oh this old thing? I’ve had it ages, you just haven’t noticed it before,” “they were half price in the sale so I got three pairs which actually saved money thank you very much indeed,” and “well you seemed to like something very similar to this on the blonde you found so attractive last week so I bought one for myself.”

Obviously supermarket shopping is a different kettle of fish – largely because it’s difficult to find a shop which sells fish by the kettle full these days.

Once very much a WGS thing, today it’s more often than not either a shared “experience”– or one which women have handed over willingly to HBS. Almost half a century ago I worked in Albert Hanson’s supermarket (later Fine Fare) in Pudsey and you very rarely saw unaccompanied males traipsing the aisles – although admittedly Cynthia on fruit and veg had a bit of a fan club following when reaching for the bananas from the top shelf and Norma on home baking could certainly shift Angel Delight with ease.

Maybe it’s something to do with that early training but I’ve always been in charge of the weekly shop in the Duke household. This is because (a) I quite enjoy doing it and (b) I’m cheaper at it.

The Manager is very loyal to her favourite brands which tend to be steeped in the history of advertising. So soup is Heinz (preferably tomato), sauce is HP (preferably brown), butter is Lurpack, tea is PG and cornflakes are Kellogg’s. Generally speaking they are also the most expensive.

I’m more a Buy One Get One Free kind of shopper. I’m a sucker for deals such as “spend £40 a week until the end of time and receive a 
£5 voucher to spend in the afterlife.”

I had a spell of comparative shopping, seeking out the best deal by spending a fortune in petrol driving from place to place in search of a bargain. This was fine until I realised I couldn’t tell my Lidl from my Aldi. Credit cards, shopping trolleys which does and doesn’t do what?

I fell out with Tesco when its carrier bags became so thin you’d to have to race to the car for fear they would biodegrade before you could pack them in the boot.

These days I’m more a Morrisons man. I’ve got a wallet full of points towards something or other and the computerised till even works out how much I’d have saved shopping somewhere else – and refunds me.

But where’s the fun in that?

Irrespective of when you were actually born what do you reckon was the best decade in history?

Well, according to the majority of 2,000 people aged 18 to 60 who were surveyed recently by the Yesterday TV channel it was the 1960s.

That’s probably just as well considering the fact it’s been running a 10-part documentary series conveniently called The Sixties. Imagine the embarrassed public relations team having to face up to spending all that cash on reviving something they’d rapidly had to subtitle “10 Years We’d Rather Forget.”

Fortunately for them people look on the 60s as a time of optimism and innovation – more Summer of Love and less Cold War, more Flower Power than high profile assassinations, more Moon landing than Mary Poppins.

As for music I find it difficult to believe The Beatles took four of the top five places for best 60s record when there were gems such as 45 Men In A Telephone Booth by The Four Top Hatters and The Popeye Waddle by Don Covay readily available for purchase.

I only mention this because I’m in danger of being awash with musical obscurities from that decade and have no excuse for just ordering four volumes of tracks originally released on Top Rank – which were mostly rubbish the first time around and are unlikely to have improved with age!