- “Asda doesn’t have nearly the same selection it used to…”
In 1999, US retail giant Walmart bought UK supermarket chain, Asda. You probably already know this. What you don’t know, is that ever since, my mother has been conducting her own covert, in-depth research project into the effects and fallout of that takeover from the perspective of a long-time, loyal customer. And she is not fucking impressed. Gathering data almost daily for over 30 years from Asda, Summerston (now known, controversially, as Asda, Maryhill), her before/after comparison shows a post-takeover decline in the quality of fresh meat, fresh vegetables and own-brand bin liners. Research also reveals the troubling but gradual disappearance of the proper fresh produce counters, a shrinkage in floor space dedicated to cheap bras by George at Asda and a wholly unnecessary increase in the quantity and variety of frozen ready-meals, confectionary, fizzy pop and Pot Noodles on offer under Walmart ownership. An investigation into how the store itself can be smaller on the inside yet bigger from the outside is on-going but is proving problematic due to access issues.
2. “Away ye go, ya fleekin’ eejit!”
Usually uttered while chuckling, and shaking her head, ‘Away ye go, ya fleekin’ eejit!’ is usually a response to, say, a seemingly preposterous (?) offer of help: ‘Mum, I reckon I could just repaint that bit of wall with the dirty scuff on it. It would take 10 minutes. Shall I just pop to Homebase now?’ [‘Away ye go, ya fleekin’ eejit!’ she’ll say, before getting back on her hands and knees to scrub the wall with a Flash-soaked scourer] or say, an equally preposterous (?) effort to avoid unnecessary household chores: ‘Mum, you really don’t need to wash my bath towel every single day. I’m not that dirty! I only use it AFTER I’ve showered!’ [‘Away ye go, ya fleekin’ eejit!’ she’ll say before loading the washing machine for the fourth time that day]. That sort of thing.
3. “Shit ‘n’ parsley!”
‘Shit ‘n’ parsley’ is one of my favourites – and really, my mum’s only swear. Delivered either as a growl through gritted teeth or spat out at volume, ‘Shit ‘n’ parsley!’ is the signal that something has been forgotten / accidentally thrown out with the recycling / is bleeding / has burned onto the ceramic hob / is leaking / etc..
4. “Formed chicken? No thank you!”
The ‘real chicken’ versus ‘formed chicken’ discussion (which occurs much more frequently than you might first imagine but definitely becomes a much hotter topic around Christmas time) becomes tricky and sometimes a little bit heated when either chicken kiev or formed chicken breast is introduced to the conversation. So it’s best not ever to go there. Just leave it.
5. “Eyes bigger than…” (belly)
When my mum was better able to enjoy cooking, she cooked a lot. Not as in, all the time. As in, a lot of food. At once. Until very recently, I thought it was quite normal to cook an entire packet of spaghetti to feed two people. I thought it was normal to serve 3 kilos of mashed potatoes with Sunday dinner. And why not have half a cheesecake for pudding? It’s pudding! Turns out portion control isn’t my mum’s strong suit and now and again that extra spoonful of mash, that extra potato scone or blob of jelly proves to be a bite too far. ‘Nope. I’m all done. Eyes bigger than…’, she says, tapping on her belly.
6. “When you come, do you think you could bring me 16 pints of milk?”
I honestly do not know what the woman does with all that milk. I honestly do not know.
My mum features highly in my stories. Mostly because I love her with all my might but also because I’m lucky to have spent an enormous amount of time with her growing up. The internet tells me that today is the International Day of Older Persons. I’m not sure how my my mum would feel about being called an ‘older person’. I think she knows she is one. And I think she likes having a free bus pass. Here’s to the older persons, to the stuff they teach us, to the things they say that ought to be remembered and to all the times we laugh together so hard we fart.