At eight o’clock this morning I resolved to make chicken pot roast in my new slow cooker. I was missing a single crucial ingredient and rather than compromise on taste, I decided to pop out to the shops right away. No matter that I wasn’t yet dressed – tracksuit bottoms pulled over pyjamas to beat the unseasonal chill – I’d be in and out before anyone noticed.
I drove the short distance to Sainsbury’s and ducked inside, heading straight for the alcohol aisle. I grabbed a can of cider and joined the short queue, where a wholesome looking family was paying for some pre-school shopping.
“We’re making pigs in blankets today,” chirped the eight year old girl.
Her mother gathered the children to her protectively. I shuffled my slipper-clad feet towards the till and self-consciously placed my solitary can of cider on the conveyor belt.
“I’m making chicken.” I said hopefully, wishing my pyjama bottoms weren’t so visible. I wondered if their Boden provenance would redeem me.
Apparently not – the wholesome mother stared at me with a mixture of suspicion and distaste. I rubbed fruitlessly at the pillow marks on my cheek and waited as the teenage cashier rang for permission to sell alcohol. She didn’t ask for ID – make-up free and sporting a tousled shock of bed-head hair, it would have been more apt to ask for my senior citizen discount card.
The wholesome mother took an unnecessary length of time to pack away her chipolatas into her reusable shopper, rearranging her features into something approximating sympathy. I wondered if she was going to give me a lecture on sobriety, drop me a few coins for the night shelter, or perhaps point me in the direction of the nearest church. But she just smiled sadly at me and bustled her children off to the school gates, where she no doubt regaled her friends with the tragic alcoholic woman she’d met in Sainsbury’s.
Frankly, the whole encounter left me needing a drink.
This incident is entirely the fault of Appliances Online, who sent me a slow cooker and some recipe books to try out. They sell cookers and other white goods, and run a blogger outreach programme involving a mysterious being called the Fairy Hobmother. If you have a blog, and you comment below, they’ll pick someone at random over the next few weeks for a present.