There are all the genders, races and religions gathered outside what I will later find out is ALDI Manchester. There are black men, asian women, white old people and young swimmers: the complete social palette. In fact there are two gungans from Naboo behind me, discussing Jason Grimshaw’s detecting skills in Coronation Street.
I am not on the set of a Benetton advert in the early 1990s. I am waiting for the aforementioned ALDI to open. There are quite a lot of us. For my part I have nipped out for some oven bottom muffin – but I’ve forgotten the religious influence on British trading legislation and have gone on my bread quest at six minutes to eleven. ON A SUNDAY. I live 37 seconds walk from ALDI, but still the prospect of walking back to my flat for four minutes to walk back at eleven seems idiotic.
Even a quick walk to the shop for The Observer leaves me with several minutes to kill. I’ll have to stop here and explain something I know you’re thinking. Why didn’t you get the oven bottom muffins from the shop you got the paper from? The oven bottom muffins in the NISA are OK but they’re overly dough-y, while those on offer at ALDI are a solid 7 out of 10 oven bottom. Are we OK now?
Enough of what I am thinking you are thinking. I was thinking what were the people outside ALDI thinking? Had everyone else forgot about the eleven o’clock opening? Did they all live so close that going home was an option, but an option that was frankly silly? Did they live too far away for it to be an option?
Because it SEEMED a little bit like they were all there to get in ALDI as though it was the first day of the January sales at Next. People were edging in front of each other – and then being edged in front of by the people who’d just been edged in front of.
Perhaps there was some special offer on. Perhaps I’d missed out on some announcement that ALDI were selling iPhones for £45 or Polo mints for 10p or something similarly magnificent in the bargain ratings. In between scanning the front page of the paper (you can’t have a flick through a Sunday broadsheet with any dignity) and wishing the fucking shop would just open I intermittently glanced at the people thinking how terrible it was that I was judging them all – mainly as scum.
When eleven o’clock struck all my questions were to be answered. The shop doors opened and the people piled in. After they’d piled in I went in and witnessed the very reason they’d all been waiting to get so eagerly: general groceries. No-one was after anything specific, in short supply or a particular bargain. They were just pottering around the store in a quite slow way collecting products wit similar names to high street brands. They had just been jostling for position because that’s what British people do when there is anyone else near them wanting to go to the same place.