I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Towards a dusty death

Boredom's a bit like an STD, it has no social cachet. Guardian readers believe boredom is a symptom of low intelligence, may even define that state. They haven't thought it through.

If you're an active part of a household boredom is ever-present. It's there in the loo (What's the best brush technique?), the washbowl (The menace of soap curd.) and over and over in the kitchen (Could an unwrung dish-cloth kill you?)

Routines keep boredom at bay. Washing-up has a logical sequence - learn it. Making the bed is a two-person job. Always return the TV recorder remote to its unique place. Why waste time peeling a spud with a knife? The best books for reading on the loo are the best books. A casual approach to re-sleeving a duvet never works. Very few items are entitled to occupy the coffee table.

I'm good (ie, obsessive) about boredom-defeating systems. But the supermarket defeats me. They rearrange product locations to prevent me doing an in-and-out in less than seven minutes. Bastards! However long they detain me I'll never buy marmalade-flavoured Popsicles.

A shelf of multi-coloured packages turns into a blur, transmitting no useful information. I am forced to draw close in order to interpret marketing hyperbole, This is not a leisure-time pursuit.

Ironmongery (eg, screws) has been dropped - probably because it's low margin. Not knowing this I waste time looking; I could be home cutting my toe-nails.

Books. The sort on sale discourage me from reading.

"Colleague announcements" over the tannoy follow peculiarly irritating cadences as if the announcer is pretending to be a robot. Just one more reason why supermarket time is longer than outdoor time.

I feel older; the other customers look older. We are all victims of cumulative retail boredom - insidious and probably terminal 


  1. May I suggest that you to vary your chain of routines with the seasons.
    Bring life into the monotomy.

  2. Robbie: I think you certainly have a point about moving products around in the supermarket. When I shopped in the UK, if the product for which I was looking wasn't in its expected place - or nearby - I'd go elsewhere. I quite deliberately chose not to buy products that had been heavily advertised. My bit of rebellion against corporate mind washing.

    Maybe boredom is the emergent property of the interaction of intelligence with pointlessness.

  3. Supermarkets often make me think of the movie, Modern Times. Shoppers become slaves rather than beneficiaries of the system scooping up the goods, loading them on to trollies and then, pursued by their fellows pressing from behind, packing the stuff into bags and paying for the privilege in a panic. "Mustn't hold things up. Mustn't let the side down. Have you ever listened to theme "music" the persistent and monotonous bleeping of cash registers and now the digitally imposed voice with which the self-check out machines address you? Philip Glass would understand it. Supermarkets are like enormous bellies fed continuously from even larger warehouses and transport systems which, with equal intensity and urgency they digest and expel through the cloaca provided by us customers, poor sods.

  4. Ellena: In modern-day life boredom is always just around the corner. Well-planned routines reduce the time spent on boring matters to a minimum. I'm not against wearing a Santy Claus hat in June but the routine, once established, should be immutable.

    Tom: Ah, there's the rub. Pursuing a policy that the time spent on boring activity should be cut to a minimum, I cannot escape the fact that our Tesco is a mere ten-minute walk away. To go elsewhere would be self-defeating. And to seek out charming boutiques where apple-cheeked serveuses practise non-intrusive obsequiousness would be to devote more time to retail than I care to.

    I'm not sure about "pointlessness". If these boring activities were pointless they could be ignored; unfortunately a stained cuvette requires attention. And the solution may lie in an - as yet univented - limited-action hand grenade which acts on certain specific human waste products.

    Joe: I did touch on the matter but one anti-boredom technique in supermarkets is to spend incidental time on observing how supermarketing (the practice requires this newer verb; shopping is too feeble, too non-inclusive) affects its customers. How some of them are reduced to a shuffle, using their trolleys as zimmer frames, looking uncomprehendingly at the aisle describers. The people who've got it right are the most offensive - they elbow you out of the way, they reach across your front without apology. They're the ones who will best survive.

    Your evocation is most imaginative and deserves a post to itself. Repeating posts within six months may well be detected and attract charges of senility; recycling a comment made to someone else's blog is less dangerous. Unfortunately the tone of your Modern Times re-creation is slightly less detached than the one you normally adopt.

  5. Some of my best posts (in my opinion) have arisen from an intended comment on another's blog. You start writing and then pretend to yourself that it is going to be too long, and an unreasonable trespass, then comes the selfish realisation that you want to kidnap it for your own, and a new post is born.

  6. Sir Hugh: I have noticed a certain tendency towards that in my thinking. I described that process as using comments as a seed bed. Mmmmm!

  7. The Kindle is great for reading on the loo, fits neatly on top of the Ikea toilet roll holder and Kindle pages are smaller that regular book pages so provide handy dosettes of reading. I get a puerile snigger from the fact I am currently mostly reading 'The Golden Bowl' in this setting (Yes still. I feel I must finish it in honour of Heather and also you and Joe. I blame my slowness only partly on my being on an obsessive knitting jag.)

    Sorry to say I quite like food shopping. Only the big Carrefour now leaves me with a sense of distaste, but I don't go there much. Ecomarché is handy and functional without undue distractions or temptations and I like seeing what the country folk are buying - galettes, buckwheat flour to make galettes, and buttermilk to drink with galettes mostly, and once, a young couple who could barely contain their enthusiasm at the thought of supper, kidneys, cream and mustard. Lidl has good chocolate, prawn crackers (a Molly-essential treat at drinks time) and surprises: international speciality weeks - including Brit specials like picallili and frozen packs of fish and chips, yes I do, they're not bad - pads of coloured paper, knitting wool and even appliances, our toaster and small oven came from there, the latter is German-made, solid and efficient. Hyper-U is for when one feels a big shop coming on. Lamballe market from late spring - about now - through to autumn, is heaven on earth, even if I didn't buy anything I'd go for the smells and the people watching.

    I'm just a hackenyed, rose-tinted old expat type really. Dafür kann ich nichts, as Rouchswalwe would say.

  8. Lucy: I have always read in the bath and have never caused a book to get wetted. However, anticipatory heebie-jeebies have prevented me from reading my Kindle there. I was aware VR was similarly inhibited but I needed to test your new revelation with her. The answer is no, she doesn't. It seems there's been a cross-infection; training in the RAF left me with a sense of unease when electrical appliances are brought too close to sources of water (I even worry marginally about washing machines) and it seems I've passed this weakness to her.

    However, should you ever be a guest at Dorchester Way let me hasten to reassure you. There are small libraries in each of our three loos and none of them includes The Golden Bowl. Nothing heavy, you understand... ah, how tempting the fool's gold of double entendre is under certain circumstances.

    My quarrel with supermarkets is their meretricious claim that they are eternally customer-conscious when what they're really into is profit maximisation. Shifting round product locations is merely the most visible evidence of this. I make the best of a bad job during my visits and am much given to censorious inspection of other customers' trolleys, looking for evidence of Les provisions, ces sont l'homme. I fear my conclusions - in France - diverge from yours. The myth is that the French eat well at home, but the mounds of made-up kickshaws they stack on to the check-out conveyor belts tells a far less ambitious story.

    And yes I did notice how you carefully repositioned the goalposts in almost the last sentence with your reference to street markets. Away from the humdrum confines of Intermarché where an interior voice seeks to comfort me by saying that the smell I smell isn't really meat "on the turn" I am, when faced with the living organism that is Clermont l'Hérault street market, a perfect example of what happens to fools and their money. One powerful reason among several for under-passing the Channel.

  9. Very true about the average trolley haul here; plus there is that longstanding predilection for those kind of white sugary starchy things that started fairly harmlessly with things like brioche and has now branched into all manner of pap. However, and I don't know if it's a feature of the place, that there are more elderly country folk there, the shoppers at Quessoy Ecomarché seem to be quite traditional.

    The best advice about French markets if one doesn't wish to be beggared by the experience is to avoid the cheese stalls. Tom's brother-in-law is still smarting from paying 15 euros for a point of Brie. I still tend to spend a bit much, so don't go too often, and to overload myself with weighty vegetables which I then have to lug up the hill to the car. I do in fact possess a wheeled shopping basket but frequently forget it.

  10. Lucy: Quessoy Ecomarché sounds like Waitrose combined with Webster's, grocer to the Bradford suburb of Idle where as a youthful (sub ten) customer I asked myself will these women ever stop talking. I have no nostalgia for Webster's since I frequently had to struggle home carrying half a stone of potatoes. Doesn't sound like much, but that's seven pounds added to rest of the individually wrapped purchases and I was a spindly, weak sort of lad.

    It's all very well saying avoid the cheese man but at Clermont l'Hérault it's almost impossible. He's a polished and well-regarded performer, standing in the aisle, in effect thrusting taster nuggets between one's lips. And, oh his portion control! Ask for three hundred grams and he hacks off eight-hundred and cheekily says: Ca va?. I've never dared say no