A superfluity of Washing Powder

When one has a vitally important, home based activity occupying much of one’s time, the arrival of the post becomes a vital anchor in the day. There are few more enjoyable ways to procrastinate than checking to see if the post has come yet and, once it has come, opening it all and sorting it into Very Important Piles which need dealing with immediately. That done, you are allowed to have a cup of tea.
In my house, the post usually arrives mid afternoon just as I am growing bored and disheartened. Usefully, my post box is on the gate at the bottom of the drive but has no indicator of mail within, so if I grow really bored and disheartened I can take a short but bracing walk down the drive to check on it.

Last week, those nice people at Tesco sent me some helpful discount vouchers designed to save me money on things I already buy, as well as tempting me with offers for things they feel I might like to begin buying. It is an instructive insight into one’s life.
I, rather smugly it should be said, receive vouchers for fresh meat, fresh veg and posh bread. They are trying to tempt me with some Denny Delicious Traditional Pork Sausages. They won’t succeed. Irish sausages are awful. They are 8 to the pound. You can’t tell me that’s right.
Along with the discount vouchers, they provided me with four coupons, valid separately over a period of weeks, which give me €40 off if I spend €150. That’s a saving of just under 27% which is pretty good going. In addition to this, the last time I was in, the till roll spat out a voucher offering me €24 off if I spent €160. That’s only 15% but even so, you wouldn’t walk past it in the street would you?

Like all apparently generous offers, there was a catch. Each voucher could only be used in a single transaction and both ran out at the end of the week. Could I manage to spend €310 without wasting it on things I didn’t want or need? And, would I be able to break it down into two neat transactions once I reached the checkout? The challenge was on.

Clearly, this task was going to take a lot of thought. With my freezer full of imported British sausage, meat was off the list. Christmas calorific goodness would be a perfect way to get up to that magic number but if I bought it, would I be able to leave it unopened until then? Bottles of spirits for the festive revellers who descend upon me each year would easily achieve my magic figure but with He Who Knows Everything and Mammy in the UK, it makes far more economic sense for them to bring bottles back with them, thus avoiding the extortionate Irish tax on alcohol.
I would need to be canny and concentrate my purchasing on the Christmas goodness I wouldn’t want to open between now and then. Several jars of gherkins went into the trolley. They were joined by beetroot, ploughman’s pickle, red onion chutney, some red cabbage and Marmite. I dithered over the pickled onions. Should I grab a couple of jars, adding four euro to my total? Or should I leave this mediocre Irish brand on the shelf and have HWKE import some proper ones along with the Baileys? I imagined his happy face at Christmas teatime; turkey and beetroot sandwiches with a pickled onion on the side. I imagined him biting into the inferior Irish pickle and picked up the jar. I remembered the real meaning of Christmas and put it down again.

As €17.26 worth of preserved vegetables would be enough to see me and my family through a nuclear winter, I cleverly made my way to the toiletries aisle. 2 bottles each of shampoo and conditioner added another €30 to the total but did nothing to explain why, at that price, my hair still looks as it does.
Shower gel; facial wipes; mouthwash; toothpaste; the total was rising.
In desperation I went to find the bubble bath only to find it was on special offer and I could now save 43c. My heart sank.

The bread aisle was useless to me but I threw a wholemeal loaf in anyway. A couple of bags of sugar followed. I knew I would use it eventually.
In pasta and pasta sauces I stocked up on Tagliatelli and Coriander pesto. I’ve always had a theory that I could cook something really delicious with that stuff. 6 jars would be plenty to experiment with.
Tea and Coffee came to my rescue. I’d never realised how expensive the Twinings Assam is. Gleefully I built a wall of tea to separate the pickles from the pasta and bread. I headed down to mixers but was disappointed to find it was three for two on all Schweppes 1ltr bottles.

It was in the cleaning aisle that I really managed to load up. A giant box of Ariel at €18? I went for two. Firelighters? They’re always useful! Fabric conditioner, washing up liquid and bleach; all hideously expensive but all necessary at some time or another. In they went to the trolley.
I was somewhat foiled by the dishwasher tablets and toilet rolls. Both were on special offer but I purchased them anyway along with enough cat food to last the cat for as long as it takes her to decide that she hates Whiskers and wants Sheba instead. About 10 minutes then.

Gingerly I added up the rough tally I had been keeping. It wasn’t enough. What was there left that I could buy that would push my total up to the magic number?

Then it hit me.

I would buy some cheese.

It felt good as I scanned my items on the self-service checkout. The checkout minders gave me odd looks, clearly making a mental note not to accept any invitations to my place for dinner but I didn’t mind because the system works.

Pickle, anyone?