The title is really supposed to be super-sarcastic. I'm not actually foaming at the mouth as I write; indeed, for the past week or so I have been torn between shaking my head sadly and - surprisingly perhaps - extolling the virtues of two of England's supermarket chains. All four of the big boys - Asda, Morrison's, Sainsbury's and Tesco - have a presence in the city, as do both those German upstarts, Aldi and Lidl. Our shopping is done at Asda on Tuesdays - that's the nearest to us - and Sainsbury's on Fridays because it's convenient for me to pop in there while the Old Bat is at the MS Centre. We could do the whole week's shopping in one go but splitting it means that the vegetables, fruit and milk are all that little bit fresher. And seeing how long it can take "fresh" veg to reach the supermarket, that's an important consideration.
I don't know why I'm blethering on like this because, quite frankly, our household's shopping habits are not what I started out to write about. And I'm sure they are of no interest to anybody anyway.
(I was just about to pause while I put the washing on the line but I see it's started raining so I suppose I shall have to use the drier instead.)
It all started back in May. I was anxious that Brighton Lions Club should spend some of the money that had built up in the bank and it occurred to me that a local food bank would probably be grateful for a donation. The Club agreed that we should spend £1,000 on groceries and I drew up a list of products to buy from Asda. I got the approval from the food bank for the items I had listed and wet into Asda one Tuesady to arrange for them to order in what I wanted as I felt pretty certain they would not have everything on the shelves. Anyway, I wanted tinned foods supplied in wrapped dozens rather than have to shift 96 individual tins of each of several foods.
I was astonished to be told by the duty manager that she didn't think they could help.
"You mean you don't want to sell me £1,000-worth of food?" I realised that £1,000 was no more than a flea-bite compared to their weekly sales, but all the same...
She explained that she thought they would be unable to override the automatic ordering system but did promise to pass my list to the grocery manager who would ring me the following day.
Twenty-four hours went by and I had heard nothing. I rang the city-centre branch of Sainsbury's and explained what I wanted. "Can you help?" I asked.
"Of course," was the reply, and my call was transferred to Sue, who confirmed that they could indeed do what we wanted. She suggested I should let her have my list before the weekend so that the goods would be in the storeby the time I wanted to collect them.
Half an hour later I received a call from Asda (this was the Wednesday) who said they thought they might be able to help but would not know until Friday! She sounded a bit shirty when I told her not to bother as Sainsbury's were happy to oblige.
I took the list into Sainsbury's the following day and on Friday Sue rang to confirm that she had put the order through. A few days later she rang again to tell me everthing had come in.
I went into Asda on Tuesday this week with a list of about 12 items, all common or garden stuff. Three of the things were out of stock and there were great gaping spaces on many of the shelves. So much for their brilliant automated ordering system.
But full marks to Sainsbury's.