Move Yer Arse

Spry. Sprightly. Fleet of foot. This is my default mode when it comes to perambulation. I like to get about at a pretty handy speed when wandering about, get to the place I need to be to perform the act I need to perform then get the fuck out of Dodge. ‘Stride out, get out’ being the motto I live by generally when it comes to walking. I do have other pedestrian velocities to call upon depending on the situation. A venture into the big outdoors can easily be performed at an amble, taking in all the goodness of the fresh air and scenery of the locale. In transit between pubs, when on a pub crawl, a snail’s pace allows for witty, nonsensical banter to be had in a relaxed and amiable fashion. The latter example is weather dependant and if it is pissing down the chat is at a minimum as all energy is conveyed in a legward direction to facilitate getting to the next boozer at double time. Another caveat being how many pubs have been visited as the crawl can become a stagger which means more steps in reverse or sideways than forward not to mention rebounds off street furniture – lampposts, bins, or those stupid solid rock seats that seem to be the fashion in the city centre and at the perfect height to shatter shinbones.

An additional style of locomotion I employ when on Shanks’s Pony, one that is specific to an onerous task I avoid as much as possible, is the frantic semi-sprint I use when ‘weekly’ shopping. One of the greatest things about the internet is the freedom it gives you to buy almost any shit you want and have it delivered to you without making an effort to move your arse from the couch. Although I have in the past, in the pages of ‘The Bickering Press’, stated I will never pay p&p, the exception to that rule is grocery shopping. I have no problem with shelling out a fiver for delivery to have soap, bog roll and snacks (the essentials) shoved in a van and driven round to me if it means I can avoid having to go the supermarket. Classically there are 9 Circles of Hell but that was accepted fact before retail parks were invented and I think we can all agree that ‘insert supermarket name of choice here’ is the 10th Circle and much worse than red hot pokers shoved in any orifice you care to mention.

The problem I have is that I want to get in and out of the Palaces of Plenty as quickly as possible so I can go and do stuff I would rather be doing, like hitting myself in the face with a hammer or drinking bleach. And this should be feasible, I should be able to kick into my frantic semi-sprint, grab the shit on my list and beat a hasty retreat. It should be if it wasn’t for one thing…ducks. If it wasn’t for all the ducks slowing me down by restricting my free movement amongst the aisles I’d be in and out of the shop quicker than a sailor paying a hooker by the minute. Wham! Bam! Thanks for the spam! But for the ducks I would be saving hours of my life to utilise in far more enjoyable and fulfilling pursuits like going to church and helping the deserving. When I say going to church, I mean going to the pub and when I say helping the deserving, I mean getting myself leathered. Anytime I go to the supermarket, everywhere I look there’s ducks blocking the way and generally ramping up my blood pressure and homicidal tendencies.

Maybe you’re thinking I go to a weird supermarket to be hampered by ducks but I’m not talking about Daffy or Donald, ducks of the ‘Quack-Quack’ variety; ‘ducks’ in this case is a mash up of the two words ‘dawdling’ and ‘fucks’. Hence ‘ducks’. And now that I have explained that moniker you know exactly who I’m talking about, don’t you? Yeah, you do. These non-feathery ducks are bleeding everywhere and they move with a speed as if geneticists had spliced snail DNA with tortoise DNA and sewed it into a sloth’s fur. At times it is hard to detect a duck moving with the naked eye they’re that slow. Put a drag-inducing shopping trolley in their hands only makes it worse and they affect the time flow of the Universe, shoving its arse into a vat of treacle. And every time I go shopping there is a badling of them, that being the weirdest collective noun I could find for actual ducks and pretty apt it is because it contains the word ‘bad’…and that’s exactly what these supermarket ducks are, if not downright evil.

I can’t count the times I’ve drifted my trolley at full pelt into an aisle and been faced with a jam of ducks waddling at the speed of blancmange through a sieve, like a wave of level-one zombies from an old Amiga game. Or, to put it another way, plodding along bow-legged like they’ve recently got off their horse after galloping non-stop across Texas or as if they’ve got one snapped off inside them. Much like that latter comparison, it’s a serious pain in the arse to face such a delay when you don’t even want to be in the shop in the first place.

Generalisations regarding the ducks are now going to come thick and fast and without due care but considering my last rant about clueless, sagging-off school kids was not greeted with universal approval or agreement, I consider myself in possession of no fucks to lose when it comes to the popularity sweepstake. Ducks, regardless of gender/race/creed, can tend to be on the generously proportioned size (I could have said ‘plump’ or ‘fat’ but I didn’t, that must count for something in my favour) and this talent to take up more space than the mean enhances their ability to be a blockage to rapid transit within the confines of produce shelving spaced far enough apart to allow three average-sized shoppers to pass safely and easily. It seems the ducks also know that if they walk two-a-breast, like synchronised divers sponsored by ‘Kebab International Inc.’, smack bang in the middle of the aisles they can cause a bottleneck of despairing customers that goes from ‘Sauces and Garnishes’ snaking all the way back to ‘Bread and Cakes’ and they will do this at every opportunity…or so it seems to me when I’m shopping and having a childish, albeit silent, tantrum. A nuance I have noticed, and I have no idea if the ducks are doing this consciously for ironic humorous effect or not, is their common desire to dress in sports clothing; tracksuits, Lycra, a favoured team’s colours, training shoes, etc. Kitted out like that you would expect them to be veritable speedsters but no, they’re creaking along with a shuffled pace measured in inches per minute. Whether this is unforgiveable aisle-rage twisting my outlook I’m not sure but to me there seems to be far fewer ducks in the fruit and veg section than the snacks and confectionary section. Coincidence? False observation? Or damning insight?

Of course I have an answer to this problem and it can only make all parties happy because I understand* some people might want to spend hours ambling amongst the beans and Persil without being tutted at and hassled by those of us who want to spend as little time as possible in the realm of consumerist Hell. There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying several, tedious, painful hours in gathering supplies at the speed of dark if that’s your thing but I can’t stress enough how heinous it is to do it whilst hindering my method of high-octane shopping. In my perfect world supermarkets will be split in two, a demarcation defined by speed of transit. At the moment we all pass through some kind of barrier/gate system on entering the threshold of a supermarket, those automatic pinball machine flipper type things that open as you approach them; in my Utopia they will be fitted with the same tech as a copper’s radar speed gun, clocking the pace you pass through the gate. Above a certain speed you will be channelled to one half of the store, below that speed and you’ll be herded in the opposite direction. It so simple and brilliant I am considering making contact with the Noble Prize Institute and asking for a gong, ‘Services to Speed Shopping’ or something.

It could be argued that we would need supermarkets twice the size than we have now to implement such a regime but I’ve thought about that. To keep the shops the same size, and thus keep the speed up for those of us who want out on the quick, there will be a halving of the lines of produce on offer now because let’s face it, how many different shapes of pasta do we really need? 72 varieties of yoghurt, fuck that off. Bread is bread, grab a loaf and shut up. Bottled water; do you really want to murder dolphins and turtles you selfish bastard? There you go, you see the multifaceted positives now…unless you are an active dolphin murderer.

Two speed shopping, or ‘deux vitesses’ should we want to give it some Gallic flair is a great idea. One side of the store filled with self-centred sociopaths (me) doing 200mph and possibly murdering each other for being too tardy when selecting cold meats, whilst the other half will be populated with shoppers who could leave two days after they arrived if they wish and then possibly congealed together as one mass in a patchwork of tracksuit material. I live in hope that all the big noises in the retail sector take my system seriously and so I suggest you decide which camp you’re in on this one because one day soon you could find yourself in the wrong half of a supermarket, my half of the supermarket, and if I break your shambling ankles with my speeding trolley you’ll only have yourself to blame…according to my unbiased, totally balanced and sane opinion.

*I can’t really understand it but I’m trying to be more empathetic and less judgemental of others …it’s not going overly well.